West Texas A&M University
Faculty Senate Minutes
February 23, 2007
I. Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 12:16.
Members present were Bill Ambrose, Syed Anwar, Sandy Babitzke, Larry Barnes (for Nagalapura Viswanath), Chuck Chase, Gerald Chen, Mo Cuevas, Jeanette Embrey, Robert Hansen, Harry Hueston, Mary Jarvis, Richard Jasoni (for Bonnie Pendleton), Frank Landram, Joshua Lewer, Amy Newman, Keith Price, Helen Reyes, Mark Riney, and Douglas Werden.
II. Dr. O’Brien’s Report
Dr. O’Brien reported on the status of budget hearings in Austin and answered questions from senators.
- The 10% reduction previously made to special items has been returned to the base budget bill, including funding for debt service on the tuition revenue bonds for the renovation of the Classroom Center and additional HEAF funding, amounting to about a $450,000 increase for WT.
- Still under consideration are special line item requests of 1) $850,000 for the biennium for the proposed advising center, 2) $5.3 million for classroom/lab enhancements, smart classrooms, upgrade of science labs, dance studios, and 3) $3 million in research funding for bio-security in the Ag area, to be accomplished in conjunction with our Ag partners and including 2 new faculty positions.
- Under quiet discussion are 1) Baccalaureate in Dairy Management, including 2 new faculty positions and 2) $10 million for renovation of the old Ag building for engineering. These are not part of the special item requests.
- Other action due includes approval of the athletic fee.
- Dr. O’Brien expressed hopes to increase the salary pool by 3%, which would cost about $1.2 million. About 1/3 of that will come from the budget, the remainder would have to come from an increase in designated tuition. WT salaries on average are $1500 below our peer institutions. Analysis is planned down to individual salaries to address compression and inequities. A $15 increase in designated tuition will net about $2.6 million, of which $1.4 million would go to faculty/staff salaries and $1.2 million would fund strategic plan initiatives, such as research, faculty travel, etc.)
Private Giving, etc.
III. Dr. Chapman’s report
- Close to $9 million in private donations have been raised since the start of the FY (September 1) with more in the pipeline. He projects over $10 million for the FY.
- The restructuring of the development office is under way. The position of Director of Annual Giving is in process, a 2nd senior development position is nearly finalized, applications are being accepted for the web communications manager, after which two web designers will be added. Also, a special events coordinator will be added to help with major events.
- Progress is being made to create a WT presence in Amarillo: watch for it along I-40 near Georgia.
Dr. Chapman continued discussion of the A&M system’s tenure process and the core curriculum.
- There continue to be misconceptions and criticism of the tenure system from some members of the Board of Regents. The system provosts met and designated the provost of A&M to address those questions with the Regents. Among the issues is the level of scrutiny to which candidates are subjected. The provosts contend that the process does not begin with the tenure application but rather begins with the search leading to the initial hire and culminates with the recommendation for tenure to the Regents. Hence, the process is actually both lengthy and rigorous, and one who reaches the final recommendation is presumed to be deserving of tenure.
Background of Core Curriculum revisions
- Language in a house bill mandates more standardized core course content at a lower cost of course delivery. That translates to larger classes and instruction by PTIs rather than full faculty. Various proposed solutions included selecting 5 large universities, each of which would design core courses in a specific area, for use by all state schools. That plan is being rethought in favor of individual campus involvement. Core course will need to emphasize practical application of the subject material, use interactive technologies with online components to assure student involvement, and will favor learning strategies over content mastery.
- University of Utah and Carnegie-Mellon are actively involved in design of online core classes for national use.
- With our Core Fellows and 1st year experience initiatives, WT is ahead of the curve.
- WT’s failure rate in core classes ranges from 38% to 59%. Curriculum revisions are motivated by need to improve on this statistic.
- Purpose of standard syllabus is to 1) establish same learning outcomes for all sections of the same course, 2) make the number of tests the same, 3) assure that types of assignments are similar, again with focus on learning rather than content.
- WT’s core offerings are too narrow; more options should be offered to satisfy the core requirements.
- Accountability measures (to the state) will be graduation rates and retention rates. Discussion followed on measures to raise the graduation rates at WT by reworking admissions standards, requiring an IDS course for all freshmen and 1st year transfers, a bridge program to rework delivery of developmental courses, and a program to assure that all students have a computer.
IV. Other business
- The minutes of the February 9 meeting were approved on motion by Hueston, seconded by Anwar.
- Marketing program presentation from McCormick advertising due on March 1. Two other agencies invited to present have withdrawn.
- Shape Up WT: Anwar will present formal proposal at next Senate meeting.
- Draft of music department standards of excellence were distributed FYI to the senators.
- Harry Hueston commented on the core curriculum situation, sharing the results of his discussions with the provost, and emphasizing the value of smooth and open lines of communication between the administration and the faculty.
- Doug Werden announced the Women’s Day activities planned for March 8.
- Mary Jarvis reminded senators of the poster research session March 22 in Cornette Library. Proposals are still being accepted.
The meeting adjourned at 2:10 PM.
Robert Hansen (for secretary Mallard)