Faculty Advisory Council
Meeting Minutes: October 8 - 9, 1998
An orientation session for new members was held by Ivor Page (Chair) at 9:00 AM.
1. Call to Order
The meeting was called to order by Page at 10:10 AM. Minutes of the June 25-26, 1998 meeting were approved.
2. Grievance Policies
Helen Bright from the UT System Office of General Counsel (OGC), Charles Zucker of the Texas Faculty Association, and Catherine Moore, counsel for the Texas Faculty Association, discussed grievance policies.
Ms. Bright began by discussing the "model grievance policy" as circulated by the Office of General Counsel. She commented on the dissimilarity of grievance policies across the components and spoke to the question of "what is grieavable?". She claimed that denial of tenure was not grieavable. Basically the model policy allows for faculty "to informally grieve up the chain of command". Only in limited circumstances does the model policy provide for hearings: non-compliancy with university established criteria, violation of university procedures, decisions without rational basis, and unlawful procedures. She described the activities of the grievance panel as specified in the model policy and the presidents' final role.
Lois Hale (UT Permian Basin) said her campus had had a policy very similar to the model policy placed into their Handbook of Operating Procedures without faculty approval.
Dr. Zucker gave his historical perspective on grievance procedures within the System in the early 1990's and specifically the progress towards a policy at UT San Antonio. He said there has been "an ongoing process by the UT System to limit faculty rights to have access for [grievance] resolution".
Ms. Moore quoted the purpose from the model policy and then stepped through the details to gauge the agreement of the policy with the stated purpose. She found it too inefficient (allowing 7-8 months for review), not conducive to finding truth, designed to trap, heavily weighted in favor of the administration and the status quo, and relying upon an informal process without guarantees for response. She said the process begins and ends with the president and the president selects the grievance panel. Thus the administration has its hand in the process all the way up. The OGC provides counsel to the panel chair and could thereby have great power. The administration through its authority role can "essentially compel attendance" whereas the faculty cannot. She summarized "if you want a system that has meaning, you can do better".
Ms. Bright rebutted that the model policy was not as bad as portrayed.
Michael Siciliano (Past-Chair) commented on the role of the OGC-provided counsel and said that his experience agreed with Ms. Moore's scenario of the counsel running the grievance committee.
Dr. Zucker drew attention to Section 2.4 of the model policy and posed the question of who decides what is "bad faith"? He added that there was no guarantee for legal representation in the informal process and that the grievant must file the grievance within five days of the action even if the grievant did not learn of the action until after the five days had passed.
Robert Nelson (UT Dallas) asked Ms Bright if the model policy was, in fact, "the policy of the OGC?". She said it is simply a model policy. He responded that were campuses to submit policies to OGC, that office often rewrites them.
Page asked Ms. Bright if there must be approval by both president and faculty governance organization. She responded no, since such policies do not pass through the Board of Regents (which would require both presidential and faculty approval). Page followed up by asking if a president could write and submit a policy alone. Ms. Bright responded affirmatively.
Gerald Brazier (UT Pan American) commented that his campus sent OGC a revised policy but what was returned from them had no resemblance to what was submitted.
Hale added that UT Permian Basin sent OGC a policy that included grievance panels and the response replaced the grievance policy with the informal process only. She also wondered what actions were grievable and specifically asked Ms. Bright if faculty vs. faculty actions were grievable under the model policy. Ms. Bright responded negatively.
Mellick Sykes (UT HSC San Antonio) asked Ms. Bright how the model policy compared with grievance policies at private schools. She did not know. However, Dr. Zucker commented that the approach is an old one compared to policies in other states.
Barry Peterson (UT HC Tyler) asked if there shouldn't be equality of employer and employee is such processes. Ms. Moore replied that there should be equality if the goal was problem solving and that public employees do have some rights that private employees have.
Anthony Knopp (UT Brownsville) asked whether should there be mediation in a grievance policy. Dr Zucker said there ought to be the possibility of mediation in reviews and Ms. Bright added she had no objection to mediation.
Alan Cline (Secretary) asked Ms. Bright what Regents' Rule said regarding grievances. She responded that there were no references to grievance in Regents' Rules - grievance policies are set forth in the various Handbooks of Operating Procedures. She said a campus president could place new policy into the handbook if the handbook itself gives that authority to the president. OGC, however, when consulted regarding a change in the handbook, does not check the handbook to see if the procedures are themselves in conformity.
Siciliano asked Ms. Bright if OGC considered policies solely in order to establish conformity with Regents' Rules. She claimed that nothing more than such conformity was considered (although later in the meeting she mentioned OGC was concerned with risk management).
Allen Martin (UT Tyler) asked Ms. Bright why his campus had not received response from OGC to the questions they had posed. She said she was unaware of the questions.
Rod Hissong (UT Arlington) asked if the grievance deliberations were subject to open records. Ms. Bright said the records were open. Ms. Moore responded that certain hearsay might not be open. She also added that to preserve openness, the grievant should file the grievance against an action as opposed to against individuals since the meetings cannot be closed if the complaint is about an action.
Page asked if high administrators could be present during the grievance procedure under the model policy. Ms Bright responded that the policy neither precludes nor insists upon such attendance.
Joel Dunnington (Chair-elect) said the complaint could go to court and yet that might not be desirable - that a fair process would not necessarily lead to court. Dr. Zucker added that the model policy is designed to discourage complaints.
Cline described situations in which the Faculty Advisory Council had worked with OGC staff on policies and asked Ms. Bright "Do you want our help?". She responded "Let me think about that."
3. Campus Reports
Campuses were encouraged to include mention of the status of post-tenure review (PTR) and of grievance policies.
UT Arlington: PTR is underway: departmental and college committees will be formed by mid-October and candidates for review will submit files by Oct 30. Files and evaluations will be submitted to the provost by March 1999. A new grievance policy is being implemented this semester. Work continues of a policy for evaluation of administrators.
UT Austin: The PTR process has begun smoothly with no problems reported. The grievance policy is being studied and some ideas from the OGC Model Policy are being considered for inclusion. However, there is concern that any change to the current policy might lead to OGC rejection of the entire document. The legislative rule on 99 doctoral hours continues to be of concern on the campus.
UT Brownsville: The same faculty-selected committees that handle promotion, merit pay, and tenure will perform PTR. Modifications in the existing grievance policy to allow for special hearing tribunals have been made and are now in effect. An ethics hot line has been established.
UT Dallas: Of concern to the faculty are the faculty workload policy, monitoring the PTR process, scholarship distribution, the growth and expenses of athletics, inter-school "turf-wars", the academic calendar, student plagiarism, teaching effectiveness and course evaluations, and the summer budget.
UT El Paso: The faculty is occupied with a 5% enrollment decrease, a new grievance policy, core curriculum, and evaluation of administrators.
UT Pan American: There is a proposal to reduce the faculty workload from 24 hours to 18 hours per two semesters. The 60-hour core curriculum is to be examined in light of SB 148. The deans are considering a proposal for selection and evaluation of department chairs.
UT Permian Basin: A campus-wide PTR committee has been elected by the faculty. A new governance organization, a University Council, is in the making. The current Senate is dealing with the question of transfer courses with D grades. A question has arisen about PTR for administrators with faculty positions. Page suggested the Chancellor should address the question of administrative PTR to all campuses.
UT San Antonio: The search for a new president is underway. The Faculty Senate continues to work for a grievance policy. A policy without faculty approval was placed into the campus Handbook of Operating Procedures; the Senate has three times approved a policy but that one has not been adopted by the administration. Implementation of PTR has begun but there is a dispute with the administration over the size of the review committees.
UT Tyler: The campus has its first freshman class as well as a new president. The grievance policy has still not been approved in spite of its submission to UT System years ago.
UT SMC Dallas: The campus has a new dean and is recruiting several department chairs. A Public Health masters program has been initiated. PTR began last academic year and led to the abdicating of tenure by several candidates for review.
UT MB Galveston: The campus has a new president. A novel form of administrative evaluation (called "360 degree evaluation") will have administrators evaluate both those they supervise as well as those who supervise them. UTMB is facing a downsizing of 700 employees and the closing of two wards to free up funds to cover the increased costs of indigent care. There was a twenty-five percent increase in indigent care at UTMB last year. This has caused a $13M shortfall that is being covered out of university reserves. There have been 26 new faculty senators elected from the four schools at UTMB. UTMB is in the process of electing officers. The President is getting office space, part-time secretary, and administrative liaison for the new senate. However, the campus has yet to send faculty selected representatives to UT System FAC meetings.
UT HSC Houston: A faculty satisfaction survey is beginning. An ad hoc committee has been charged with defining "teaching excellence" and recognizing it on the same level as research excellence. A Masters of Informatics Program has begun.
UT HSC San Antonio: The $17M settlement for inaccurate record-keeping was associated with no finding of fraud. There was misdocumentation, however. It was added that the settlement could have consequences for all components
UT MD Anderson CC: Once again there is concern regarding the loss of two faculty members: one whose contract was not renewed, the other whose term-tenure was not renewed. In response to such actions, the president has reduced the role of the Chief Legal Officer in such matters and has impaneled an internal review committee to evaluate the grievance process. Following the inaugural faculty evaluation of administrators, the director of the largest division has seen a reduction in resources and influence. A UT System mandate that an incentive-based salary plan be on-line by Sept. 1, 1998 has now been declared to be simply an "option".
UT HC Tyler: A salary plan for the clinical faculty cuts pay by 5% but allows it to be earned back on the basis of seeing patients (and 90% of clinical faculty have received full salary plus a bonus). A salary plan for the research faculty allows for a 25% increase by using money from externally funded grants. Faculty evaluation of administrators has begun with good participation - although no changes based upon the evaluations have yet been noticed. Tenure (possibly as term-tenure) is being explored as a replacement for the current one-year contracts. The campus has an interim director currently and no search committee for a new director has yet been formed.
4. Discussion with Chancellor William Cunningham
The chancellor was asked if he had any special topics he wanted to discuss with the FAC. He said he would respond to questions after briefly mentioning the legislative session. On that, he indicated that an increase in state funding for higher education in 1997 (initially thought to be $200M but eventually $600M) was caused by the work of Senator Bill Ratliff. He added that this year they were seeking $1.4B budget for higher education.
5. Discussion with Dr. Bill Sanford and Ms. Kathryn Parsoneault of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
Dr. Sanford began with a story to suggest that the task of implementing SB 148 (an act of the 1997 legislature calling for institutions to develop mutually acceptable core curricula and lower division "fields of study" coursework) was similar to presents one receives but did not request. (The manner of the telling of the story and another remark made by Dr. Sanford were subjects of a motion made later in the meeting.) Dr. Sanford said that transfer students "need a smooth, seamless transition from one school to another". Specifically, he said that a university may deny credit for courses with grades of D. He posed the question of whether "native" and transfer students must be treated the same. (Dr. Sanford's term for transfer students was "wetbacks".) He answered that a university could treat the two differently. He clarified by saying that a university could deny credit for transfer D's or it could accept such D's should it choose to.
Currently the Coordinating Board is considering that the core curricula have a 36 hour portion that is somewhat specified and 6 additional hours marked simply as "additional".
With respect to the fields of study, it was indicated that the first such fields to be considered will be early childhood development and criminal justice.
Also, discussed were the effects of SB 961 (i.e. the "99 hour rule"), the act that discontinues state support for students with more than 99 doctoral hours. He said that petitions to allow exceptions for programs in psychological counseling, pharmacy, and optometry will be taken to the Board.
6. Discussion with Dr Joe Stafford of the UT System regarding The University of Phoenix and the role of the FAC in evaluating threats of such operations.
Dr. Stafford began by questioning the traditional assumptions regarding academic programs (e.g. semesters, grades, class schedules). He indicated that one third of current students are atypical in that they are either full-time workers or transfers. He posed the question "What is sacred? Faculty control of curriculum is sacred but what else?".
A period of general discussion followed. One question raised was what about community colleges turning into four-year institutions as Dallas County Community College has done? Why did the Coordinating Board not stop this? Is the UT System going to try to stop community colleges from turning into four-year schools?
Relative to competition from such schools as The University of Phoenix it was noted that these schools do not have to provide all of services (e.g. research) as traditional schools and that this could affect "competitiveness". Letting consumers make decisions about academics can be dangerous. Page added that employers who talk about "core competitiveness" may want material that is only of temporary utility.
B. Peterson commented that the old paradigm of elementary-secondary-higher education should be given up.
7. Committee Reports
The SysFAC requests that the UT Board of Regents use its influence to encourage renewed debate on potentially damaging changes occasioned by the passage of SB 148 in the last legislative session with respect to credit transfer and fields of study.
To wit, "if a student successfully completes a field of study curriculum developed by the coordinating board, that block of courses may be transferred to a general academic teaching institution and must be substituted for that institution's lower division requirements for the degree program for the field of study into which the student transfers, and the student shall receive full academic credit toward the degree program for the block of courses transferred." Thus a carefully crafted program of special courses for a given major at a UT System component can be replaced by a lower division program in that major offered by any state supported institution. We are particularly concerned about the reactions of accreditation boards for the majors.
With respect to the General Education core, we have a parallel set of concerns about the removal of control of the curriculum from the faculty of the institutions to a super body that represents no institutional perspective in particular.
The effects of these actions might be to degrade the quality of education at UT System components and to render them as simply several more campuses of a "State of Texas Community College System."
Passed and to be forwarded to the Regents, Chancellor, and Presidents.
Universities have an interest in, and must exercise oversight over, the quality of all educational materials developed by their faculties or presented to their students. This principle applies equally to traditional, distance-education, and all other formats of instruction.
1. All courses, course-sequences, and programs of study developed by faculty of a particular academic unit, or presented to students of that unit, must gain the approval of, and be monitored by, the appropriate faculty curriculum committee(s) following the procedures which are standard at the university.
2. Further, all courses, course-sequences, and programs of study developed by faculty from two or more universities must be approved and monitored by the appropriate curriculum committee(s) on each contributing campus.
3. Similarly, externally developed courses, course-sequences, and programs of study adopted by a University of Texas System component must be approved and monitored by the appropriate faculty curriculum committee(s).
4. Finally, only courses, course sequences, and programs of study that have undergone the approval and monitoring processes described above can be offered by the University of Texas Telecampus.
The UTFAC recommends that the UT HC Tyler Faculty Assemblies and the UT HC Tyler administration cooperatively develop a policy of faculty tenure.
The UTFAC recommends that the Faculty Senate of UT M.D Anderson CC and the administration of UT M.D Anderson CC cooperatively develop a policy of lifetime tenure, subject to PPE.
The UTFAC requests that all academic policies initiated by the UT System be sent to the Chairperson of the Faculty Governance Organization of each UT institution as early as possible in their development stage and that all policies that are sent to the Chief Academic Officer be copied to the Chairperson of the Faculty Governance Organization.
The UTFAC requests that the Faculty Governance Organizations at institution and system levels work with their Presidents or CAOs to facilitate direct communication with OGC in seeking opinions or nonbinding advice with regard to campus development.
UTFAC requests that a copy of every system initiated academic policy be forwarded to each UT Faculty Governance Organization and that each FGO be given 90 days from receipt of the policy to respond back to the UT System before implementation of the policy.
The UTFAC has evaluated the April 1998 template grievance policy recommended by OGC and believes it would not adequately serve the stated purpose 'to encourage fair, efficient, equitable solutions arising out of the employment relationship and to meet the requirements of state and federal law'. Therefore, the UTFAC recommends:
1) that the UT Faculty Governance Organizations not endorse the template grievance policy recommended by OGC; and
2) the .Faculty Governance Organizations and OGC should cooperate in the appropriate modifications of this policy.
That the following letter be sent to Don Brown of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board:
"On October 9, 1998 Dr Bill Sanford spoke to members of the University of Texas System Faculty Advisory Council. As a group we found some of his comments offensive and inappropriate, including the use of the word 'wetback.' We adhere to professional standards of ethical conduct and find his demeanor unprofessional and counterproductive to his presentation."
8. Meeting was adjourned at 3:00 PM, Oct 9.
October 9, 1998
The next meeting of the Executive Committee is to be Friday, Nov. 6, 1998. The next FAC meeting is Thursday and Friday, Dec. 3-4, 1998.
The question of what to do about grievance policies was discussed. It was suggested that Dr. Zucker be asked for a model policy. J. Peterson added that the grievance policy at UT SMC Dallas was approved by the OGC during 1997 despite significant differences from the model policy.
Ms. Lynn Grigsby (or a substitute from the governmental affairs office) should be invied to the next meeting. Dunnington suggested that faculty governance organizations invite the local campus lobbyists to their meetings.