April 10, 2023

TAMU Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes

April 10, 2023
Via Zoom
The full video recording of the meeting can be accessed on the Faculty Senate website:
Speaker Rice called the eleventh meeting of the 40th session to order at 3:00pm.   Due to ongoing social distancing practices resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting was conducted via Zoom.
Secretary Janice Epstein will be monitoring the raised hand function and will monitor the chat.  Registration function is being used to track attendance.

Julie Mosbo-Ballestro, University Librarian and Assistant Provost of University Libraries.  She provided updates on changes to the libraries and plans for the libraries moving forward.  Presentation
Questions and Comments:
Farzan Sasangohar- College of Engineering, asked the process for selecting open access venues.  Also asked about predatory journals and feels that the university should disassociate itself with any journals that appear on that list.

Matt Taylor – School of Agriculture, asked about Oak Funding publications do faculty have to apply for funds for open access?  A link was provided in chat for more information and has been included below.
Catharina LaporteCollege of Arts & Sciences, asked about the MGT Report and the changes that have came about because of it.  Were there good things that came from this?  Answer:  Pathforward is behind us, and we have to look into the future and not dwell on the past.  We saw this as a time to fix things and make things better.

Question in chat: Has the system imposed any restrictions on books or journals that can be purchased?  Answer: No restrictions on what the library purchases.

A task force on Open Education Resources has completed its work and made a number of recommendations. Vice Provost Tim Scott is here to discuss ideas for enhancing OER. Two members of the Senate Executive Committee – Angie Hill Price and Rebecca Burns – served on the panel and also can provide additional information.
Tim Scott, Vice Provost for Student Success shared slides and answered questions.  Presentation
Matt Taylor – School of Agriculture, If a faculty member wants to use a new tool in their classroom that they feel is a better an more cost-efficient tool however it’s not currently part of our Canvas intergrated suite. Does the faculty member need to get prior approval?  Answer: We do ask that you submit a request. If it meets ADA and FERPA Guidelines they will try to expedite it. 
Catharina LaporteCollege of Arts & Sciences, stated that she was the chair of the committee that test piloted Canvas and it had a lot more features during that time than what the faculty are seeing today.  Her students must log onto 14-17 different log-ins independent of Canvas which she feels is a problem that needs to be solved.  As far as 3rd party tools, the process can take up to a 6 - months lead time.  Needs to be a better way of vetting these tools and getting them online quicker.  Answer: will work with Michael Johnson on minimizing the lead time on these online tools.
Dan Collins – College of Arts & Sciences, raised concerns about funding and timeline that OER is proposing is very short. Answer: They may do an OER but a student can still have access to a homework system which is capped at a certain amount.
Hank Walker – College of Engineering, Saw an announcement about Academic Innovation being redistributed or restructured to different colleges and asked for an explaination. Michael Johnson responded: Data Analytics and Training will go to Information Technology, IT.  Those related to Distance Education will be distributed to different units. 
Trevor Hale – Mays Business School, asked where do you get millions of dollars in savings from switching from Pearson to OER?  Answer, they are looking at the books for classes and labs so that is how they are coming up with those numbers.
Trevor Hale stated that he would ask Dr. Lopez to demonstrate that for us and he will send it to the Faculty Senate..
Tim Scott, Vice Provost for Student Success, stated that in the upcoming days as they release this report within the Provost Office,  Interim Provost Alan Sams may be seeking input and suggestions on this, and question the overall savings.  He said that if that is something that your colleagues are interested in doing, to let them know what you think about the proposal and how it can be strengthened going forward.
Angie Hill Price, College of Engineering, who served on the OER Task Force stated that they didn’t only look at low cost solutions but no costs to students since that would the biggest impact for our students.  Also they looked to make sure they were properly vetted by a review board that looks at the content.  They enlisted the librarians and they did a great amount of work in looking how they can support faculty.  She stated that they are going to host an educational session for faculty in our college on OER and all of the associated aspects of service that the library can provide to help reduce costs.
Matt Taylor – School of Agriculture, asked about the $30 cap that had been mentioned earlier in the conversation.  If a faculty member is contemplating initiating a third party product can it be $130 or only up to $30?
Answer: When the Math Department proposed a course redesign using OER they asked for additional money and it was approved.  However, homework systems can’t go above the $30 cap.
Stephanie McCartneyCollege of Arts & Sciences, asked about the Barnes and Nobles deal, she provides her students with a direct link that gives them a negotiated representative discount and these are still third-party intergrated Canvas products. Another concern is that in Chemistry, a lot of big service courses are completely online for ease of grading etc., Barnes and Nobles is out of internet codes this happens every semester. |
Answer: The faculty are in the drivers seat on this. I talked to Barnes and Nobles the other day, we need to do a better job of explaining the relationship we have with them, they are a vendor.  They do provide us what is required by the state, and that is at the time of registration, what a course is going to cost including textbook materials.  We’re not saying that you have to use Barnes and Nobles or that your students have to purchase their textbooks from them.
Grace Townsend – TAMUG, Not all campuses are distributors of Barnes and Nobles, ours is not.  I’m frustrated that I can give a direct link to my students to purchase directly from the publisher for significantly cheaper.  However, by the first day of class a lot of freshman have already gone to the bookstore to by their textbook and course materials for a lot of money.
Answer: Students can opt of the program that is part of our exclusive contract with Barnes and Nobles, it doesn’t mean they have to buy from Barnes and Nobles but I understand freshman may be a little more vulnerable in terms of waiting to get their textbooks.

  I want to begin my comments today on a pessimistic note, but I intend to end on an optimistic one.
  First, for the pessimism. I know many of you are concerned about the way politics is impacting higher education in general and Texas A&M in particular. There are proposals to ban all discussion of DEI on campus, as well as a budget rider that denies state funds for DEI activities and offices. There are efforts to curtail academic freedom by limiting what may be taught or discussed in the classroom, as well as a proposal that would eliminate tenure for those who do not have it by September 1.
   This saddens me tremendously, for the potential impact on the university and ultimately on the welfare of the state.
   I must note, however, that there are still two months left in the legislative session and there’s much time for things to change – both for the better and the worse. While we cannot lobby as state employees, we are also private citizens who can communicate your concerns in that capacity. I suggest you follow the advice of AAUP and other state organizations as we move through the next two months.
  As we approach the end of the semester and the close of the 40th session of the Faculty Senate, I want to remind you of two upcoming events. We will be holding our spring reception from 5 to 7 p.m. on Monday, April 24, in the hotel and conference center on campus.
  Also, we will be hosting our final Senate coffee of the academic year on Thursday, April 20, at 3 p.m. that afternoon. We changed days and times at the suggestion of some of you in the hopes that others will be able to attend.
  Additionally, I want to thank those of you who volunteered for the Senate Task Force on Collegiality, which I have named and charged with reviewing the climate for APT faculty. Sadly, issues continue to arise that convince me we need to improve conditions for our faculty who carry a large teaching burden.
  I want to wrap up my comments today with a reflection on the workshop that we cosponsored two weeks ago with Counseling and Psychological Services on the topic of supporting students in distress. Listening to the questions and responses over two sessions – one face-to-face and the other via Zoom – left me convinced of the value of workshops like that and our leadership in that area. The dozens of faculty we reached were left with thoughtful ideas about ways to approach struggling students.
  Take me, for example.
  I have a student falling behind, so I sent an email after the session to ask how they are doing and saying that I was not only concerned about class but how they were doing overall.
  The student stayed after class last week to talk to me. They repeatedly said they were floundering and didn't know whether to stay in school. Clearly, they were having a tough time figuring out what to do with their life. I suggested the student schedule a meeting with an advisor and with CAPS to talk to a counselor. They said they had never even considered CAPS but would do that. At the end of the discussion, the student turned to me as they were putting on their coat and said:
  "I saw that email yesterday and knew that somebody cared. That meant a lot."
  The workshop changed my behavior by encouraging me to act proactively and to inquire about the student’s well-being, not just the missing assignments. And the result is it may have helped a student, too.
  That’s why I believe that the Senate, by engaging in issues surrounding the mental health of those on campus, is providing yet another valued service to the university. Although it may not seem like it some days, you’re having positive impact. Please don’t lose sight of that.
Minutes – Faculty Senate Meeting March 20, 2023 -Attachment B- Approved as submitted.  FS.40.364 Approved
The motion passed to approve the April 10, 2023; Consent Agenda – Approved
Motion presented by Senator Trevor Hale at the February 13, 2023, senate meeting.  Link to motion .  Motion was read by Secretary Epstein and a poll was taken.  All motions were defeated. FS. 40.373 Defeated
Jorge Alvarado – College of Engineering, asked why a motion was needed to deal with these issues and shouldn’t they just be managed at the right level, with the help of administrators?
Clint Magill – College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, discussed having to change his syllabus every semester and that it’s easier to do in Canvas so he didn’t see what the issue was.  He also felt the 6% pay increase should be for staff.
Angie Hill Price – College of Engineering, not sure why a resolution is needed from the senate. The second motion the IT Dept., is already thinking of ways to make it work.  Said that as far course offloads, it would depend on what the person is doing.  A request has always been made for speaker offload along with summer support.
Speaker Rice pull Bylaw Revisions from the agenda due to title inconsistencies and sent back to the Bylaws Committee for further review.

Speaker-Elect Tracy Hammond – Asked if there are any positive actions or items of concern that are occurring on campus related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility?
Tracy Hammond – College of Engineering, wanted to remind everyone that Friday is Texas Land Grants Day and I encourage everyone to go, it’s at Prairie View.  There will be a keynote speaker, Deputy Associate Director for Engineering, Don Millard.
Jorge Alvarado – College of Engineering, asked someone to summarize what was going on in Austin with the legislative session.  Speaker Rice answered: both the house and the senate have passed various versions of their budget bill that would forbid state funds to support DEI offices or official university DEI activities. So that wouldn’t prohibit having an Office of Diversity, it would simply prohibit the university from using state funds for that. Bill 18 which deals with tenure, I believe moved out of the committee Friday afternoon.  If this was adopted by the full legislature, would prohibit tenure going forward in Texas as of September 1st.
Angie Hill Price, who is the Legislative Committee Chair, stated that she was less concerned until the discussion last week and now she is quite concerned if this goes to the house and that they may pass it.
Tracy Hammond – College of Engineering, I did last time make a statement about what DEI is and what DEI is not.  What is confusing is that some people think that we aren’t hiring based on merit but rather the color of skin. Faculty should take a stance that they hire amazing faculty because they are just that amazing faculty. She also brought up if a graduate student gets pregnant or sick, there are really no official ways to support that. 
Steve Hague – College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, brought up staff appreciation week and he hasn’t seen anything from the university, so he encourages everyone to take it upon themselves to recognize staff and all of their hard work.
Adam Haney – TAMUG, wanted to get a sense from the senate views of continuing to talk about education or study abroad individual fees.  I want to make sure we are still moving in the right direction and the senate feels this is important.
Angie Hill Price – College of Engineering, brought up how Samsung lost some of their secret proprietary information because their employees where posting information in chat and other things that compile code.  So I’m thinking that when people conduct research or write a book, using chat means other people could potentially have access to your work and you could lose ownership of that information. David Bapst – College of Arts & Sciences, mentioned that he also read about this and investigated further and found that Samsung encouraged their staff to use chat but after an internal review, they found that staff were inadvertently giving away sensitive information.
Speaker Rice read from chat – how and why are the decisions to divide up Academic Innovation and move parts of the units? Interim Provost Sams – changes were being made within AI they were capitalizing on the capabilities of Canvas faculty working with the support that they really needed to have.  Which caused questions about the support and how we service faculty and do the training.
Michael Johnson -Interim Provost for Faculty Success, stated that the AI staff will continue in their current roles, with the exception of the Distance Education Group, and their goal is to wrap up the courses that they are piloting as soon as possible hopefully they will have this done in early June before they migrate into departments.
Angie Hill Price – College of Engineering, stated that there was something said about consultation with faculty, so that’s where she was confused. 
Catharina LaPorte – College of Arts & Sciences, stated that this was another decision made without faculty input.  She has called on Canvas to ask a question only to know that they can’t answer her question. Michael Johnson -Interim Provost for Faculty Success stated that the new structure will actually alleviate some of those problems.  Before everything was done by tier process now there will be a ticketing system to route your issues faster depending upon whether your problem is a Canvas or IT issue.
Speaker Dale Rice – College of Arts & Sciences, stated that Michael Johnson gave an example of great confusion.  How do I know whether the problem I’m having is an IT or Canvas problem?
Interim Provost Alan Sams stated that you shouldn’t have to be an expert on a problem if it is AI or CTE.  They should come together in one place and triage to the right place by people who are the experts.  So yes, we could do better.
Andy Tag – College of Arts & Sciences a memo went out regarding the moratorium of student surveys as caucus leader I was very confused.  Asked Interim Provost Alan Sams and Vice Provost Tim Scott to take a stand on this issue.  Interim Provost Alan Sams said that there was no ban on surveys.  We asked deans to pause surveys that were across multiple departments, college, or whole campus until we can get an assessment of the surveys.
Speaker-Elect Tracy Hammond – College of Engineering asked if the Faculty Senate wanted to survey the faculty senate, would we need to get permission before doing that?  Interim Provost Alan Sams he doesn’t see a problem with our polls as they are perfectly legitimate.
Angie Hill Price – College of Engineering stated that she is concerned too, she doesn’t like surveys that are biased that elicit a particular response.  But I think when you read the survey, that information is intended to elicit a specific response.  So, what I’m hearing, we don’t have a pause on surveys, yet we’re in a pause on surveys.
Speaker Dale Rice – College of Arts & Sciences With all due respect to the administration.  I really don’t think the administration should be telling the senate what it can and cannot do in terms of surveys. Interim Provost Alan Sams stated that he would be shocked if it moved in that direction.
Rajesh Miranda – School of Medicine reported that due to centralization of services it has become very difficult to get issues fixed at the School of Medicine.  They lost people that used to go around and find issues that needed to be fixed and report them.  Now they must put in a workorder to get items fixed.  For example, a new faculty member needed a water system installed and after 6 months with no action, the faculty member had to hire an outside contractor.  Greg Hartman, Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President will reach out to directly to Rajesh Miranda.
Speaker Rice motioned to Adjourn the meeting at 5:38pm

Graduate Council
New Courses FS.40.365 Approved
EPSY 607: Understanding Research from a Consumer’s Perspective
Change in Courses FS.40.366
ALEC 672: Analytic Techniques in Recreation, Parks and Tourism
MEPS 601: Physiology of Plants
PLPA 607: Pathogen Strategies
Undergraduate Curriculum Committee

Change in Courses FS.40.367
ANTH 435: Medical Anthropology
ATMO 324: Physical and Regional Climatology
GEOG 430: Environmental Justice
GEOL 442: Past Climates
STAT 212: Principles of Statistics II
STAT 312: Statistics for Biology
STAT 335: Principles of Data Science
VTPP 232: Theoretical Foundations of Health Disparities Research
VTPP 234: Design of Models for Physiology Research
W & C Courses
Course submitted for C – Certification FS.40.368
BESC 481-C: Seminar

Course submitted for C – Recertification FS.40.369
MATH 442-C: Mathematical Modeling
Courses submitted for W – Certification FS.40.370          
CHEM 234-W: Organic Synthesis and Analysis
ECON 425-W: The Organization of Industry
HMGT 312-W: Managing Human Capital in Hospitality, Hotel Management, and Tourism
INTS 401-W: Urbanism and Modernism
OCEN 410-W: Ocean Engineering Laboratory
PHIL 381-W: Ethical Theory
PHIL 485-W: Directed Studies
PHIL 491-W: Research
RWFM 436-W: Natural Resources Policy
RWFM 484-W: Internship

Courses submitted for W – Recertification FS.40.371 Approved
AFST 324-W: Africana Social Sciences
COSC 463-W: Introduction to Construction Law
MATH 442-C: Mathematical Modeling
MATH 489-W: Special Topics in...
MATH 491-W: Research
Core Curriculum Report – Attachment C FS.40.372 Approved
Change in Curriculum Proposal
Foundational Component Area – Life and Physical Science
GEOL 106-GE: Historical Geology
GEOL 208-GE: Life on a Dynamic Planet
BESC 201-GE: Introduction to Bioenvironmental Sciences
Foundational Component Area – Social and Behavioral Science
SPMT 336-GE: Diversity in Sport Organizations
Foundational Component Area – Creative Arts
ARCH 250-GE: Survey of World Architecture History II
INTS 215-GE: Global Cinema
End of Consent Agenda_____________________________