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University of Texas Faculty Advisory Council
APPROVED MINUTES: March 1-2, 2007 

Dennis Reinhartz-Chair

UT Arlington

Daniel Formanowicz

UT Arlington

Ted Pate

UTHSC Houston

Patrick Brockett (sub.)

UT Austin

Larry Ellzey

UT El Paso

Sandy Norman

UT San Antonio

Linda Golden

UT Austin

John Walton

UT El Paso

Karen Fuss-Sommer

UT Brownsville

Randy Legerski

UT MD Anderson

Lynna Littleton

UTHSC Houston

Marilyn Kaplan

UT Dallas

Murray Leaf

UT Dallas

Vijay Boggaram

UTHSC Tyler

Cynthia Brown

UT Pan American

Doug Hale

UT Permian Basin

Mansour O. El-Kikhia

UT San Antonio

Cristina Gonzalez

UT Southwestern

James Bartlett-Secretary

UT Dallas

Christine Baker

UTMB Galveston

Thomas Albrecht

UTMB Galveston

Deborah Baruch-Bienen

UTHSC San Antonio

Joel Dunnington

UT MD Anderson

Jonathon MacClements

UTHSC Tyler

Barry Norling-Past Chair

UTHSC San Antonio

Dora Saavedra

U. T. Pan American

John Priest

U. T. Arlington

Douglas Burger

U. T. Austin (second day)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, March 1, 2007

 

10:00 AM Approval of minutes and report of FAC Chair Dr. Dennis Reinhartz

 

 

Chair Reinhartz reported that the UT System Administration will not be promoting use of research project base (the “dating service”) by faculty. It is therefore up to the FAC to promote its use. Ed Baldwin reports that the system does work, and we need to find out if this is in fact the case at all campuses. We could get a report on the system developed in Engineering at UT Arlington, but that seems premature until the system developed there has been presented to the UT Arlington faculty. The Chair reported that Francie Frederick will visit us at the next FAC Executive Committee meeting. Finally, he reported that, to increase awareness of the QEP (Quality Enhancement Program) at UT Arlington, faculty had been given luggage tags with QEP information on them. FAC members can get these tags through Dan Formanowicz..

 

The Chair then reported on the February Board of Regents (BOR) meeting. The Regents honored our first student Regent for his services this last year. Graduation rates are still a major issue for the Regents and they will focus on graduation rates at the May BOR meeting. Regent Caven brought up the idea that we could improve graduation rates by raising admission standards, but many campus presidents objected to this.

 

The FAC Chair talked to several Regents including Regent Krier about the graduation rate issue. It appears that the Regents will appreciate our help on this matter. They also are interested in raising admission standards and enforcing them, though President Garcia stated that doing this would leave him with only 800 students.

 

At the FAC meeting, there followed wide-ranging discussion of graduation rates. Chair Reinhartz noted that the FAC will report on graduation rates at the August BOR meeting. Joel Dunnington remarked he had attended a meeting of representatives from many small colleges where faculty were told to lower grading standards as a means of improving graduation rates.

 

Returning to his presentation on the February BOR meeting, the FAC Chair reported on the presentation by UTEMPCO. They are investing about 22 billion dollars for the System, and they stated that the stock market was priced for perfection, and that, due to streamlining and other changes, they have captured savings larger than the entire legislative appropriations to UT System. As at prior BOR meetings, there was discussion of whether the UT System components are truly public institutions.

 

At the BOR Campus Life committee meeting, Associate Vice Chancellor De La Garza made a fine presentation on the new plan for faculty and staff to document their voluntary service. The BOR and Chancellor Yudof are very much behind this idea and are proud that the UT System is currently the only System that is launching such a program. All campuses will be engaged by May, 2007. Some are already engaged. The argument behind this plan is that if we are engaged in community service, why not get credit for it? The question, however, is that if we do not engage in such “volunteer” activity, will we be punished? At the FAC meeting, there was discussion of the possibility of reporting volunteer services anonymously.

 

Aassociate Vice Chancellor Baldwin reported to the BOR on the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) which measures student attitudes about their university experience. The data indicate that our larger and more research-oriented campuses are not doing as well as newer, smaller campuses that are having problems in other areas. There are indications that where NSSE scores are higher, education is suffering.

 

At the FAC, there was discussion of whether student engagement might actually be bad for graduation rates. There also was discussion of the point that graduation rates suffer due to the fact that, at some campuses, many Hispanic students do not want to go in debt and hence attend part time. Some of the campus Presidents speak with elegance on this issue but apparently to little effect. It was remarked that there are statistics showing that students who live on or near campus are more likely to graduate. However, many students cannot afford the rents that universities would need to charge for on-campus housing in order break even. Finally, there was discussion of the possibility of some sort of government-provided subsidies for on-campus housing of students.

 

In concluding his remarks on the BOR meeting, the Chair Reinhartz noted that he learns more and gets more done in informal conversations with Regents and Presidents than in attending the formal proceedings themselves.

 

There followed discussion at the FAC meeting on a range of topics including growth and space shortages at UTSA, the 120 hour graduation rule and the granting of exceptions to it, and the voting rights for clinical and non-tenure-track (NTT) faculty. It was noted that at UT Dallas, NTT faculty constitute 10% of the Academic Senate, that full time NTT are distinguished from part-timers, and that a process of peer review is being introduced for full time NTT faculty.

 

The minutes from the December, 2006, FAC meeting were approved with minor changes.

 

 

11:00 AM

Barry McBee, Governmental Relations

 

Mr. McBee organized his remarks around three topics: Funding, substantive legislative developments, and the Governor’s proposals

 

A base bill working its way through the House is treating higher education well, proposing 50 million additional in formula funding. Though this is a positive development, the 50 million is not enough to cover growth within the System. There is also a bill authorizing tuition revenue bonds (TRBs) which is a positive development. Finally, the limit on spending within the UT System is being reset.

 

Mr. McBee then described a cost-based matrix produced by the Coordinating Board that is producing bad consequences. Some fields are getting more funding while others are losing out in an inappropriate manner. Fortunately, there is wide recognition that the matrix should be examined in interim, and some “hold harmless” money is being recommended.

 

On the health side, some adjustments are being made to weights of various programs and there may be 19 million of additional funding. Nursing programs may receive 16 million in additional funding. Mr. McBee noted that some of the relevant bills may gain approval shortly.

 

Turning to activities in the State Senate, Mr. McBee noted that the pace is slower but preliminary decisions have been made. An addition of 100 million for formula funding dollars is being considered, along with an addition of 15 million “hold harmless” dollars. More funding on the health side is also being considered. We may see 380 million more for financial aid.

 

An overarching issue is the need for additional money for group health insurance. There exists a parity gap between university employees and other state employees that needs to be addressed.

 

Mr. McBee then noted that the UT System has proposed that 40-50 million be invested in more faculty engagement in nursing (this would be for more Nursing faculty, not higher salaries).

 

There followed a series of comments and questions from members of the FAC. These comments and questions, and McBee’s responses, are paraphrased below.

 

C: We will need to pay higher salaries to get more Nursing faculty. And if this is done, it will produce more salary inequities. We need catch up money. A: noted.

 

C: We don’t even save money by pushing top people out of their positions as big start up packages are required for new hires. A: The legislature grasps some of this, but they feel there are limits to how much money we can spend. While there are positive comments being made about putting more money into formula funding, it often appears that higher education is being funded last. The System is working on this. In the Senate, there is much discussion along the following lines: If we give you x dollars more in funding, what will happen with tuition increases? Legislators want to guarantee their constituents that they won’t have to pay more in various areas including college tuition.

 

Q: Is graduate medical education getting an additional 4 million in funding? A: Yes, but we are actually working on three proposals. The first is to increase existing formula to $16,000 per resident. The second is to get more residencies at UT System health components. The third is to restore Medicaid graduate education funding. The legislature seems to want to go with whichever of these is least costly.

 

Q: Do legislators understand how we spend millions to train medical students who then do there residencies and launch there careers elsewhere? A: Yes, they understand that argument.

Q: Is the Govenor’s plan dead? A: Mostly. However, there is an incentive funding proposal to reward campuses by numbers of graduates and exam performance that might go somewhere. There is much concern over testing. Shapiro is talking about eliminating the TACT test, and making more use of professional licensure exams. There also is talk of expanding the Chancellor’s testing plan. There will probably be some sort of pilot project and renewed discussion of these plans in two years.

 

The Governor’s plan for student support, a “be-on-time” loan program, does not look like it will fly. He wanted to pay for this by eliminating all special items, but appears to be backing off from this position, saying that some special items could be kept.

 

Q: why is the Govenor starting these initiatives? A: He always had been interested in higher education, and the plan he put out reflects his views. He is intrigued by the California model with a higher and lower system, but could not push this when he was running for relection.

 

Q: What about the Govenor’s proposal for vaccination of female children?

A: Perry is very conservative but has a streak of moderation. He is trying to save lives through this program and also is in need of something new to talk about.

 

C: We cannot copy California, but we could alter formulas for research campuses versus teaching campuses. A: Lois Corcous is working on something like this.

 

C: There was a plan to start doing nursing training in hospitals. A: This idea has died.

 

Mr McBee then discussed some non-funding-related substantive bills, noting first that tuition flexibility will likely stay, though of course things could change when the issue reaches the Floor. He noted that something will be done to change the top-10%-rule for admissions, but it probably will affect only UT Austin. House bill 237 calls for a study of future faculty shortages. This is a good idea and study bills often pass. Another House bill (894) proposes a study of faculty compensation based on comparisons to pay in other states. Finally, Mr. McBee described a resolution encouraging policies to safeguard academic freedom (mostly in the classroom).

 

C: This comes from David Horwitz’s office and the motivation is to allow creationism to be taught. He and others have gone after campuses for this.

 

A: Horwitz has talked to people, but, surprisingly, his cause has not gotten legs in Texas. . .

 

C: He tried to push this at Baylor and the faculty revolted and the Trustees fired the President (there followed a discussion of events occurring elsewhere).

 

Q: What about the issue of standardizing textbooks across the State? A: I have not heard about this but will look into it and get back.

 

C: There is a bill prohibiting the State to give across-the-board raises to faculty at universities. A: I will get back to us on this.

 

Q: There is a bill (1607) that would make dissemination of false information by educators a crime. A: This is probably a product of the last session .

 

Q: A House bill states that high schools can give courses that get college credit but the Coordinating Board argues that it is up to the university to accept it or not. A: Noted.

 

12 PM

Lunch with Barry Burgdorf, General Council, UT System

Mr. Burgdorf noted he was asked to talk about three topics: The revised intellectual property (IP) rules, issues concerning faculty acceptance of gifts, and the legal baseline for salaries.

 

He passed out revisions to the Regents Rules pertaining to IP. There have been continuing complaints for last two years to the effect that we are not as nimble and quick as we should be. It has been said that the Regents Rules prohibit flexibility, but it appears the Rules were the excuse rather than the real problem. There are many misconceptions concerning the issue.

 

Mr. Burgdorf reported that in May, 2006, Chairman Huffines of the BOR asked him to put together a commission to figure out what needs to be done regarding IP. Over the summer, a blue ribbon panel with UT System and private sector participants worked on the problem and two issues rose to the top: Clarification of when IP is owned by System, and flexibility in dealing with IP issues. He also had meetings with campus technology transfer officers or their equivalents, and spoke with campus presidents. He presented his findings to the BOR in February, 2007.

 

Mr. Burgdorf then walked the FAC through the changes in Regents Rules pertaining to IP.

 

There followed a series of comments and questions from members of the FAC. These comments and questions, and Mr. Burgdorf’s responses, are paraphrased below.

 

 

Q: Is there any limit on how long administrators have to make a decision? A: No. Tech transfer offices are opposed to such limits. C: They could sit on a proposal for years A: Yes, and this has always been the case. The problem is that tech transfer offices are under-staffed.

 

Q: Could differing policies and procedures on different campuses put universities in competition? A: Yes (but he did not expect differences to be great).

 

Q: How do we compare to other institutions? A: Our inventor split is the most generous in the nation (the standard is 33%). However, the California System has 80 tech transfer people, and we have three.

 

C: Campus IP offices in the UT System aren’t nearly as good as in California. A: We are working on a shared services model at San Antonio, putting three or four campuses together in one IP unit.

 

Q: What is the division of labor between the central UT System office and the individual campus offices? A: The role of central office is limited due to its small size but we are trying to facilitate the activities in individual campus offices. Our model is mostly to support and facilitate.

 

Q: Have you done a satisfaction survey on IP offices? A: No, but some individual campuses are doing this.

 

Q: Can you identify inefficiencies and save money? A: System is working with individual campuses to increase efficiency. The time taken to get responses back is a major issue. There are a couple of offices that faculty are happy with, but there is wide recognition of problems. Improving things is primarily a issue of resources and money (even though IP positions are supposed to pay for themselves). The System is interviewing for permanent Vice Chancellor for research and tech transfer.

 

Q: Will that office do a (satisfaction) survey? A: Cannot say if it will do a survey, but it will be responsible for promoting tech transfer.

 

C: The research faculties at institutions should do such surveys.

 

Q: At one UT System component, the HOP states that the faculty share is 40%. The Regents apparently concurred with this figure. A: It might be worthwhile to look at this Q: Dissemination of such information might force some campuses to change. A: Yes

 

Q: Is this done? A: Yes, at the February Board of Regents meeting.

.

Q: At the University of Texas Health Science Center ad San Antonio, the IT officer steered business to a venture capital firm he later moved to. A: I have not heard about this before, but conflict of interest is an issue. However, whether there is conflict of interest would depend on what was determined at the time of transaction. One would need to do a conflict of interest analysis. There needs to be formal notification and there is a hot line for this purpose.

 

Q: What happens to the money that goes to the System? A: The 50% that goes back to System goes to the institution.

 

Mr. Burgdorf then distributed a “Can I take it” pamphlet and walked the FAC through it. He noted that there may be things one can do under the law but that would not pass an “appearance test” (would you care if your activities appeared on the front page the morning after). He also noted that health institutions have two additional issues. One concerns the practice plan that defines the monies received and what happens to them. The second pertains to medical ethics rules relating to pharmaceuticals. Individual institutions can have local rules that are more stringent than UT System rules. For example, UTMB goes further than what is required. Finally, the inquiries into ethics violations are very fact specific (considering, for example, what the donor is thinking). Faculty can call the Office of General Council (especially Karen) with their questions. There always is going to be some risk because a donor may misrepresent their intent.

 

 

Mr. Burgdorf continued that faculty cannot accept an honorarium for speech that they were invited to give simply because of their title. There followed discussion of how hard it is for professors to identify such cases, and Mr. Burgdorf stated that the point is that you can accept an offer based on your expertise, but not based on your title

 

Q: Is it a problem that a group knows about you only because of your position? A: No.

 

Mr. Burgdorf continued that there is no dollar limit on entertainment (though the people paying must be with you), and you must also consider appearances. Additionally, if you receive over $250, this will come to light when you fill out conflict of interest form.

 

Q: Someone at MD Anderson arm persuaded to go abroad to see a patient, and the patient gave big gifts. There was some thinking that the money would need to be given to institution (the PRF). A: one must distinguish the practice plan from the ethics rules. If you cannot accept gifts under the ethics guidelines, you cannot take them as part of practice plan. An institution can write a rule that is more restrictive than UT System rules. An ethics commission does not do enforcement. A district attorney must be involved. Another issue is whether the faculty member has discretion on the delivery of services to a person.

 

 

1:30-3:30 PM

 

Campus Reports (see attached)

3:30-5:00 PM

 

Committee Meetings

Friday, March 2, 2007

 

9:00 AM Geri Malandra, Interim Executive Vice Chancellor

 

Vice Chancellor Malandra noted that she is working at the national level on accreditation, with much travel involved, as well as at the local level on the UT System strategic plan and policy issues. Three specific topics involved in her current work are: (1) what is happening on the national level with regard to accountability, (2) where we are on key initiatives within the UT System strategic plan, and (3) policy changes in process.

 

There followed a series of comments and questions from members of the FAC. These comments and questions, and Malandra’s responses, are paraphrased below.

 

 

Q: Did the last election have any impact on Ms Spelling and others in the Department of Education? A: The fact that the administration has just two more years has given them a sense of urgency to pursue things in bipartisan even multi partisan way

 

Q: What about TACTS? A: There has been a recent focus on higher education with genuine participation by many higher-education groups.

 

Q: Where does the concern with graduation rates come from? A: Internally, there is a concern that the way data are collected make it difficult to track student progress, and this is true in all states. Once a full-time first year student is in the pipeline, we can track them. However, we lose those who are part time (and often first-in-family). So there is a concern with getting better data without threatening privacy. At the national level, the motivation is that we are investing billions in a system and cannot measure the impact. The Texas Coordinating Board has a student record data base, and so we are doing better than other states. We can look at a composite data base and get data on students moving around the state, though this still does not deal with the problem of part-time students.

 

Q: What is the relationship between the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and federal policy makers? A: There is an advisory committee that oversees all accrediting agencies (including SACS), and I am on this. They review accreditors in a regular way, checking to see if policies are translated across the accreditation community, and also to see if standards are consistent with national policy. SACS was reviewed last June (Malandra recused herself). They made recommendations to the Secretary of Education and they would not have passed the review if the Secretary did not agree the thrust of the report. A gap exists between all the detailed work and what we and federal government want. There is an interest in improving accreditation, making it more streamlined, with fewer barriers for innovation and more focus on outcomes rather than process. The Secretary of Education has formed four rule making groups. People are working with the concept of negotiated rule making: Given statutary limits, what can we agree on? No one is talking about high stakes testing though there is an interest in rewarding good performance by institutions. The question is how can educators define qualitative and quantitative outcomes and then measure them. There is interest in the National survey of student assessment, a voluntary system of accountability.

 

Q: Does not such a system amount to high stakes testing for an institution? A: The idea is that poor performance would result in an institution’s losing some of its “margin.” It would not really be a matter of taking money away.

 

Q: Is SACS worth the very high costs? A: The big stick is loss of access to moneys for student aid if SACS accreditation is lost.

 

Turning to emerging initiatives from system strategic plan, Vice Chancellor Malandra described one effort that focuses on global activities of the UT System’s and individual components. A key question is what we could do in the area by 2016. Specifically, what are two or three things we could do? The role of faculty is critical. We need to think about ways in which the curriculum could be transformed, and find out how much of this sort of thing is already happening?

 

C: Texas used to give foreign students in-state tuition, but we have stopped.

 

A: We need to ask how can we improve how we dealing with students from abroad? And in terms of institutions how are we developing a footprint abroad?

 

Q: Are the Regents behind this? A: yes, it is part of the strategic plan they passed.

 

C: Faculty would help A: Yes, and we will be doing surveys on individual campuses to see what is going on now.

C: This should not just go centralized offices on campuses A: I have ways to be sure this will not be the case.

 

The Vice Chancellor then commented on several new policy issues. One is a lack of clarity on timelines regarding post tenure review. For example, it is not clear what to do if someone takes a leave of absence: Would they still be reviewed in six years? She stated that she will be at work on this. There followed discussion of other potential policy changes affecting Regents Rules including the role of the Board of Regents in faculty appeals of administration decisions, and policies regarding smoking and filtration. The session ended with a spirited discussion of the issue of smoking in the arts (e.g., in theater productions), with no clear resolution.

 

 

 

 

10:00 AM

Committee Meetings

11:00 AM

 

Campus Reports

12:00 PM Lunch and meeting with Regent Scott Caven

Regent Caven noted he had served on the Board of Regents for four years, and that he was happy to visit with us on a variety of subjects. He is a graduate of the UT Austin School of Law, served in the air force and then went into investment banking at Goldman Sachs until 2001. He is now a regional manager for an investment company, and has served on the University of Texas Business Advisory Council. He has two years left on the Board of Regents and is Chairman of another Board. Finally, he noted that he cannot answer questions on Audit Committee because wife’s sister is married to Mr. Chapin.

 

There followed a series of comments and questions from members of the FAC. These comments and questions, and Regent Caven’s responses, are paraphrased below.

 

Q: What are the most important themes on Board A: Accountability measures. We want to improve graduation rates in part by raising admission requirements. It should not be our mission to make up for shortcomings of the public school system. Minimum admission requirements are not fair to better students. In addition, better professor want to come where better students are

 

Q: What about poor part-time students? It is possible for them to get financial support but it is difficult to get the relevant information, especially for Hispanic families who do not read financial pages (Regent Caven acknowledged the problem).

 

Q: Would you hold UT Brownsville to this standard? A: Yes, but a rise in admission standards would not necessarily apply to the community college there.

 

There followed an exchange regarding the use of the earnings on accounts at UT Austin as some such accounts are yielding only 1 ½ % to the faculty in charge of them and the administration wants to take it to 0%. Regent Caven indicated he was surprised by this figure, noting that this issue had not been discussed at the Board of Regents meeting, and that it seemed reasonable to let such accounts be managed by UTEMPCO. He noted that the UTEMPCO is the third largest is U.S. behind Harvard and Yale. Want to retain a fair amount to buid the corpus this will benefit faculty in future.

Q: How are your ideas about improving graduation rates related to the closing- the-gaps issue that Regent Krier is interested in A: This is a great idea but we need to convince the Legislature to support changes in public education to better prepare students. This is a conundrum not easily solved.

 

Q: What is your take on the Governor’s initiative? A: I am a strong supporter of the Governor or I would not be on this Board. His initiative regarding higher education accountability are not creating as much controversy as his inoculation proposal or other matters.

 

C: We are not opposed to accountability but there is a wide concern with the use of exams that are untried. I do like the Governor’s proposal on financial aid.

 

C: An important theme is diversity. The number of degrees we can offer will never match things to do in the world. We need a strong diverse system of education. The concern with graduation rate goes in other direction. A: Institutions are coming up with clever ways to increase graduation rates. The UT Austin plan of flat tuition is an example. We must have different institutions for different purposes, but will continue to focus on graduation and retention rates, especially over the six year period. Hi noted he liked proposals on some campuses forgive tuition for students with 90 semester credit hours (SCH) to get them to complete degrees.

 

C: We also need to consider married working student. A: Agreed

 

Q: What about the 120 SCH rule A: Regent Caven stated that his personal position is that faculty and administrators at institutions are in a better position to decide such issues than are legislators.

 

Q: We find we need to have remedial training at Schools of Nursing despite high admission standards A: I am not opposed to remediation but believe it should not be our focus.

 

In response to a question about power dynamics on the Board of Regents, Mr. Caven noted that four persons are rolling off the Board, and that, though things move slowly, if we keep pushing we can get things done.

 

In response to a question about the Regents’ influence on the legislature, Regent Caven noted that one cannot just walk over to legislator and say that the state should support higher education. They support people who supported their campaigns, and their no 1 priority is to get reelected. Some members of the Board of Regents spend much time at legislature.

 

C: Some of our best support with the legislature could be from business A: Business supporters can be useful but they need to be well informed on the issues.

 

In response to more questions about raising admission requirements, Regent Caven noted that we have 250,000 new high school graduates each year and the figure is rising 5% per year. There is a place for all of these students, but necessarily in the UT System. He also noted that we could develop a more efficient system through reorganization.

 

C: UT Dallas has had high admission standards and eventually it worked out and Community Colleges think they are better for it A: Yes, and I would like to see that type of thing extended.

 

Q: Have you talked to legislature about how little the State can support the System still call the System public? A: Yes, I have tried to communicate to legislators that formula funding has dropped from 50% to 20% . One legislator has said that a good model is San Marcus where they teach undergraduates and have only one graduate program. We have to find ways to fund the System beyond legislature.

 

Finally, Regent Caven noted that he likes the California model and that we might be able to work incrementally toward this. Funding higher education is a nation wide problem. The University of Colorado gets only 5% of its funding from the state and yet they have an elected Board of Regents.

 

 

1 PM

 

 

Committee Reports (attached)

2PM

Meeting adjourned

 

 
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