Campus and Committee Reports
UT Arlington Campus Report
The need for a quorum for elections has prevented the election of a chair elect so this has allowed Dan Formanowicz to remain on FAC and UTA Faculty Senate
Evolving tenure requirements were a problem on 3 P&T reviews. This will continue to be a problem. What is the “fairness issue” when trying to improve the University’s ranking.
Class evaluations on hold, waiting on governor/legislature guidelines
Given poor graduation rates even compared to our peers, this has resulted in a “First year success initiative” to create general studies program for GPA zombies from 2.0 to 2.25, and new University College for all freshman counseling including more than just academic issues (financial, resources, etc.).
To date, UTA has received $2.0 million from natural gas wells.
UT Dallas Campus Report
1. Physical expansion. We have $80 to $100 million in new construction underway. The campus is a mess, but some of the buildings will be very interesting. One will provide a facility for our fast-growing art and technology program, which is cross-disciplinary between our schools of engineering and arts and humanities. Another is a student services building built at the urging of, and with the financial support of, UTD Student Government.
2. Replacement of Robert Nelsen. Many of you know Robert Nelsen, who served as UTD’s Speaker of the Faculty for a total of about six years and also was chair of the FAC. About three years ago, he was made Vice Provost at UTD and therefore resigned his faculty Senate offices. While Robert was Vice Provost, relations between Governance and the Provosts office improved remarkably. Things stopped getting lost. Agreements were acted on. Policies developed by the Senate went forward promptly to System, and when they came back they were posted and implemented.
Robert’s wife, Jody, had always been in administration at UTD and is also a very capable person. Last year, they both left UTD for Texas A & M, Corpus Christi. The consequence is that the Provost has sought to maintain the efficiency by other means. He has replaced Robert with six other faculty in a most interesting way. Each has a clear assignment, which amounts to liaison with a distinctive set of faculty concerns, and each is appointed for 49% time while still retaining their faculty title and duties, although at a reduced level. This a very interesting experiment in shared governance, and the Senate has several times gone on record as commending it.
3. Continuity. We continue to be concerned with continuity and institutional memory in the governance system. Over the past academic year, we have formulated a number of alternative election schemes, definitions of officers, and terms of office for Senate consideration. None has struck the body as better than what we have, or as solving any very clear problem. My main conclusion now is that the central problem is lack of staff. We have been getting by on one half-time person. This is barely enough to keep up with the records of the Senate proper; it does not allow us to support committees. We need support for committees.
4. Faculty orientation. Faculty governance is now integral to the design of the orientation program for new faculty. We used to be. Then we were forgotten. Now we are back. This is another illustration of the need for institutional memory.
5. Technology. We have been having a problem with our graduate admissions website. The website is dominated by the undergraduate program. Looking at it, you would not think that nearly half of our enrollment is graduate and that we primarily define ourselves as a graduate institution—with a very good undergraduate program. The problem has existed for at least ten years, but has been becoming more important as we have moved away from paper catalogs and relied more and more on the website for all communications. In October of 2007, in a rather lively Senate discussion, we got the President to see what we were talking about. (Initially, what we were describing seemed so unlikely that he did not think we meant what we were saying.) Since then he has been personally involved in several meetings calling key people together. One step was to get a Vice President for Enrollment Management, who was made aware of the problem as part of the hiring process itself. He joined us around October 2008. In March 2009, seeing no changes and having had a serious breakdown in the admissions system in that semester and the one previous, we asked him to report on plans or progress to the Senate. It was most interesting, with many surprises. The upshot was that he presented a plan to make the changes we recommended, while we realized that we had to establish a faculty committee to work with him more actively. This we have now done. It is an ad hoc committee of the Senate; depending on how things develop it may become permanent. This is addition to standing IR advisory and security committee and a committee on distance learning that is also focused on web-based outreach. We are still working on it. The problem is complicated by shifting to PeopleSoft software, and also by the fact that we are making this transition in cooperation with UT Arlington (which has an older version of PeopleSoft) and UTSW.
6. Policy on policies. As all of you should know, the amendments to Regent’s Rules recommended by the FAC concerning governance involvement in the Handbooks of Operating Procedures have now been implemented by System in form of a directive to establish committees on the HOPs on every campus, in accordance with a template developed by OGC. The template is titled “Policy on Policies.”
In the process, however, there have been two changes. First, the principle of review has been generalized to all “stakeholders.” Second, the wording of the template for the charge of these committees allows them to think that they should not only review all policies and assure that they have been properly reviewed by the stakeholders, but also that they (the HOP committees) should actually originate all such policies. That is, for example, the Senate could not originate a policy without firsts getting approval from the HOP committee for doing so. I indicated that this was untenable for faculty governance when we first discussed the template at UTD, and we agreed on some modified wording that was supposed to address the problem. But it continues to reappear. The principle should always be clear. It is the faculty that decides academic policy, and it should be clear that no one else can either prevent the faculty from considering a matter they consider important or require them to consider a matter that they consider irrelevant. Regents Rules is consistent with this; we have to be sure that the implementations of the Rules are as well. If there are similar problems on other campuses, it might be a good idea for the FAC to review the Policy on Policies document itself in the FAC.
UT El Paso Campus Report
The Senate passed a firearms resolution and forwarded it to the FAC, the President, the Provost, the Police Chief, and University Communications.
The Executive Council of the Senate worked closely with the President and Provost regarding recent concerns over the H1N1 virus. The University established a task force to deal with the issue including faculty from Health Sciences. When it became clear that campus might need to be closed for public health reasons, the President and Provost met with the Executive Council to discuss contingency planning for the end of the semester and final exams. We decided on a plan that was then distributed by the Senate President via e-mail. Fortunately, no closure of campus was necessary. However, lessons learned included the need for some faculty to reconsider loading their course grade heavily with end-of-semester activities, and the ultimate authority of faculty to change the structure of their courses as necessary to accommodate changing circumstances.
The Senate’s Information Technology Committee has undertaken a comprehensive review of IT services on campus, including surveys and focus groups. They generated a report that has been presented to the President, the Provost, the Vice President for Information Services, and the Director of IT. Primary recommendations include improving training of students in IT issues, updating hardware/software more regularly, and monitoring and improving customer service and advocacy. The administration will respond to the report at a fall Senate meeting, but in the meantime, satisfaction surveys have been initiated among IT service consumers, and there is now a survey of 2400 students underway to provide IT with their own data on the issues.
The long-dormant Faculty Welfare Committee has been acting on its recent survey of faculty quality-of-life issues. They have requested the Provost to undertake a salary compression survey, and he has agreed to do so. They have also been working with the Provost’s Office to publicize existing faculty mentoring programs. Finally, they have been working with Human Resources to address issues such as providing more family-friendly opportunities for interaction and socialization, accommodation of family and medical leaves for faculty, a worklife benefits program, and ways of providing non-monetary benefits for domestic partners to show good faith in recruitment and retention efforts.
The look of the University is changing as we are making dramatic progress on multiple building projects. Our new daycare center is operational and the old one has been leveled as construction starts on the new Chemistry/Computer Science Building nearby. The new Bookstore will be ready for occupancy by June 1 st at the entrance of campus. The new Health Sciences and Nursing Building is well underway, and will bring health faculty to the main campus, while defining the UTEP skyline. The Regents have just approved the renovation of two nearby apartment complexes for student housing purposes.
UT Pan American Campus Report
The Faculty Senate conducted elections for the 09-10 senators. There were multiple nominations for almost every vacancy and all vacancies were filled. We are currently in the process of assignment faculty representatives to vacancies on standing University Academic Committees.
Dr. Rajiv Nambiar will be the Chair of the 09-10 Senate. He will be attending FAC meetings; Danika Brown continues as a FAC representative as former chair. Dr. Linda Matthews is our new Chair-Elect.
We are currently in the process of a Presidential search. The Presidential Search Advisory Committee has met twice. We organized extensive meetings with constituency groups. There were two well-attended meetings with the faculty. The Search Advisory Committee expects to have a job description written and distributed by the end of May. Nominations for candidates are now being accepted and should be emailed to the search consultant firm’s email: email@example.com .
The Senate conducted a university-wide faculty vote on a revision to the core curriculum. Faculty were asked to faculty to vote on the recommendation of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee to ratify or reject the current core curriculum with a change that was implemented last summer to bring the core into alignment with THECB requirements. The recommendation was ratified by a majority vote of the faculty.
This spring, there was a pilot of online student evaluations. The pilot was to test the functionality of the technology (which was successful). In the coming year, we will be making the numeric results of student evaluations available online and further implementing online student evaluations. There is a task force that will continue to work on this migration. Our major concern is a relatively low response rate and we will need to find ways to address that issue.
All faculty are now required to post a general course overview, general assignment guidelines, and required texts (with the caveat of “subject to change”) online as a tentative syllabus by registration for the following semester. A task force with student, faculty, and administrative representation worked on determining the method of posting (which will be through our Banner System) and the general guidelines for what should be posted. Most faculty are in compliance with this requirement, but we will continue to work on 100% compliance.
Next year, the Senate will likely be looking at revisions to its constitution, review of tenure and promotion policies, and working relationships with the new administration.
UT Tyler Campus Report
It was pointed out that this is the same “source” that caused the Seven Higher Education Reforms to be thrust upon us.
Tyler Morning Telegraph Editorial from May 11, 2009
Here’s an important lesson, call it the “duct tape principle:” small fixes sometimes only delay the disasters that will require much larger repairs.
The Texas Senate passed a bill limiting tuition hikes and fee increases at state universities to no more than 5 percent per year.
“This will provide financial relief to college students and their families while recognizing the responsibility of the Legislature to keep a college education affordable without sacrificing excellence,” said the bill’s author, Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo.
UT Health Science Center at Houston Campus Report
1. Financial situation at UTHSC-H is seen as serious but stable. Our margins have decreased but remain (barely) above break-even. In comparison to some other institutions, this is seen as positive.
UT Health Science Center at San Antonio Campus Report
Presidential Search Advisory Committee
Dean search for the Graduate School.
In April, the following resolution was passed by the Faculty Senate at UT Health Science Center San Antonio:
1. "The Faculty Senate of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio believes carrying firearms on the University campus by anyone other than law enforcement officers is detrimental to the safety of the students, faculty, and staff."
Plans are to open the first several floors of the Medical Arts and Research Building in August 2009.
The new fitness center will on June 1. They plan to have a grand opening in July
We have been working on finalizing budgets and there are no planned cuts for next year.
Senate was given a seat on the Executive Council of Space Management. This committee provides input and drafts policies regarding space utilization.
Conflict of Commitment Policy
A new conflict of commitment policy was drafted and placed in the HOP. The policy is attached. The Senate is currently working with administration on this policy.
UT Health Science Center at Tyler Campus Report
UT Medical Branch Campus Report
University of Texas Medical Branch Business:
UTMB is now in the process of rehiring up to 100 nurses to meet needs for reexpansion of the clinical enterprise. Nurses were riffed after the Hurricane and all found positions at other hospitals. Some nurses are returning and others may not. These 100 nurses need to have at least 12 months prior experience. As Hurricane season begins on June 1 st, UTMB department managers are assessing readiness for a weather emergency. Formal assessments are due by June 1. UT System Chancellor Dr. Cigarroa will be the keynote speaker for this year’s School of Medicine Commencement on May 30. Dr. CJ Peters and Dr. James DeDuc’s work with the Galveston National Laboratory and Ebola Fever, Argentine Hemorrhagic fever and Rift Valley Fever are featured in a video shot on UTMB campus and posted on the Military Health Network. The AAUP has informed President, Dr. Callender and Chancellor, Dr. Ciggaroa that they will make a site visit sometime in the future to UTMB campus to investigate faculty layoffs. UTMB is anxiously awaiting the final outcome of Texas Legislative action regarding amount of funding for Hurricane Ike damage.
Senate Faculty Business:
The Resolution on Guns in the classroom was sent to Sys Fac after being approved by UTMB Faculty Senate. The compensation committee members are in the process of being selected and names sent to Dean Watson, Vice President of Education. The Grievance Committee members are also in the process of being named. The Faculty Senate voted in May to allow former UTMB tenured faculty to apply for the new Ombudsman Position. So the Ombudsman Committee can now put the position up again for applicants.
UT MD Anderson Campus Report
1) The economic situation at M. D. Anderson was summarized by Dr. Mendelsohn in a Presidential address on March 30. Growth in expenses had outpaced growth in revenues for the first six months of the fiscal year, and projections indicated that, without intervention, the operating margin would be severely reduced and cash flow threatened by the end of this fiscal year.
Several causes for this situation were identified: increases in indigent care and bad debt, reductions in cash philanthropy, and plummeting of non-operating/investment income. Not specifically identified, although partly embedded in the indigent care and bad debt components, were the revenue losses due to Hurricane Ike, hopefully not an annual event.
Dr. Mendelsohn declared “We must reduce the institution’s expenses by 10%.” This amounts to $280M per year. Nevertheless, the CFO has data that says the extent that expenses vs. revenue are out of balance so far this fiscal year is substantially less than 10%. In fact, the cash-on-hand has grown, even with only initial cost-cutting measures, such as a hiring freeze, in place. A 10% reduction will be a lot more painful target to achieve than 5-6%, for example. Of note, a financial exigency has NOT been declared.
In response to this directive, a hiring freeze and freeze on temporary/contract positions is in place. Internal transfers of employees to jobs that are considered more critical to the Mission are underway. Promotions for classified or administrative staff will be exceptional. Faculty promotions will go forward with delays in associated salary increases, and salary increases will not be retroactive. There will be no FY2010 base merit adjustments for faculty or administrative staff. Classified staff have been fired. They fired 80 contract IT staff and another 40 regular IT staff. A number of other departments have fired classified staff. There have been discussions about firing faculty. We do not know of any faculty who have been fired at this moment. There have been faculty who have retired, or were about to retire, who were to come back and work part-time. These faculty are not going to be hired back part-time.
The effects on clinical operations include elimination of restrictive physician templates, which blocked appointments of some patients in clinics, and medical acceptance criteria have been eliminated. In many areas, we are issuing an appointment to new patients the same or next day after being contacted. A review of pathology and imaging studies prior to setting an initial new patient appointment is no longer required. Faculty and staff are to ensure appropriate charge capture for all clinical services, including internal consultations, something that has never been achieved before. Faculty who commit to extra clinical work will be given additional time to achieve next academic rank.
Regarding examples of effects on research activities, the number of clinical trials is to be reduced by 20%, and with it, a reduction in institutional support for clinical research infrastructure. The required salary commitment for Research Faculty from extramural sources will increase, and the amount of research funding directed to individual departments will decrease, despite this being what indirect costs on grants is intended to cover.
Domestic travel using institutional funds is limited to important academic and business purposes, and must be reviewed and approved at the departmental level. Any travel fully supported by grant funds, or fully host-paid, is permitted. No foreign travel on institutional funds is allowed unless approved by the Executive Committee.
The current capital projects are being reviewed to determine whether delaying completion and occupancy of portions of some buildings would be cost-effective and strategic; planned future capital projects that are not critical to our mission or maintaining our operations will be delayed.
These projects total between $1.5-2.0B.
So Clinical and Research Faculty are being handed specific mandates and targets. Yet, the same standards were not specifically articulated for Administration in the email from the President and the three Executive Vice Presidents (including the Provost and Physician-in-Chief). The Faculty Senate has expressed that if the measures that are being taken to respond to the financial conditions are to be embraced and not resented, there must be both a perception and reality that all sectors of our Institution are participating.
2) In response to earlier concerns about the post-Ike experiences at UTMB, and now our experiences with our financial situation, the Faculty Senate Finance Committee, with endorsement by the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, is sending forth a motion to the UTFAC for consideration by either Governance and/or Health Affairs. Dr. Dunnington will present it.
3) Concurrent with this UTFAC meeting, on May 15 th, MD Anderson will be hosting Chancellor Cigarroa, Dr. Ken Shine and Regent McHugh, and they have requested a meeting with the Faculty Senate Executive Committee. We intend to make them aware of the realities experienced by the Faculty and Staff as we move toward a 10% expense reduction.
UT Southwestern Campus Report
Dr. Jerry Brown, our president elect for School Year 2009 had to leave her position at the faculty senate due to increased obligations in her regular position. We held an election to fill the position and Dr. Brett Arnoldo was elected. We welcomed Brett and thanked him for volunteering to step in.
In addition, we held our election of the president elect for School Year 2010. Dr. Amir Shakil was elected by unanimous vote.
We are now in the process of electing a new UT Southwestern representative to the American Medical Association. Several candidates have been found so far, with several departments still needing to respond to the request for nominations. Once the candidate is chosen by the faculty senate, the person will be recommended to the Dean for the final decision.
Our new president has a lecture series introducing his vision for the future of our institution. In addition, he had set up a series of town hall meetings across campus to get input from staff, students and faculty on what can be done to raise the level of our institution.
Official travel for faculty and administrators has now been formally restricted. The specifics of the restrictions were left up to the individual departments.
The senate discussed the possibility of creating a UT Southwestern policy on financial exigency and it was agreed that the issue needed to be looked into further.
The senate discussed the hand gun bill that was in the senate and the prevailing notion was that any change made would not affect our campus, since handguns are still restricted around hospitals and we have several hospitals on our campus.
The senate discussed the changes in higher education proposed by Governor Perry and it was determined that, since the majority of our institution is a graduate institution, these proposals did not directly effect us. The suggestion to write a statement against the Governor’s proposal was voted down.
Our Faculty Assembly will be held on June 10. President Podolsky has approved for major topics for the presentation. Daniel Podolsky, Charles Ginsburg, Willis Maddrey, Bruce Meyer & Mr. John Roan will speak on:
Budget Issues: How has the recession impacted UT Southwestern? How will the new biennial budget be allocated across the medical center? Lastly, how are we reducing costs and finding ways to increase revenue?
PeopleSoft: What software systems will the PeopleSoft management software replace? How will the launching of PeopleSoft help us to meet compliance?
Marketing: What are the current and future plans to market UT Southwestern?
Transforming UT Southwestern : What are the priorities for transforming UT Southwestern into a world-renowned academic medical center? In your estimation, which will be the most challenging to develop?
Dean Alfred Gillman is stepping down as Dean and Provost to become Emeritis Professor of Pharmacology at UT Southwestern and the Chief Scientific Officer of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. Dr. Charles Ginsberg, Assistant Dean of Faculty, will act as interim Dean.
The new edition of the UTSW Handbook of Operating Procedures is still being written. I have been asked to consult with those portions of the Handbook that directly affect the faculty senate.