February 14, 2023

TAMU Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes

Printable Minutes

February 13, 2023
Via Zoom
The full video recording of the meeting can be accessed on the Faculty Senate website:
Speaker Rice called the ninth 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.
Senator Andrew Klein will be monitoring the raised hand function and will monitor the chat.  Registration function is being used to track attendance.

There were no guest speakers scheduled to speak during this meeting.
Senators, first I know many of you are justifiably concerned about the attacks on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, particularly those that could negatively impact the search and hiring processes that we have worked hard to expand in the recent years.   In the past year, the Faculty Senate has affirmed and then reaffirmed our support for DEI and I do not believe that position has changed.  Consequently, we will need to continue to speak up in support of initiatives that will help make all parts of our university better reflective of the population of Texas.
Over the past few months, I’ve received increasing concerns about the treatment of some academic faculty on campus.  Their colleagues have made remarks that have made the APT faculty feeling disrespected and demoralized.  This is unacceptable, APT faculty are a critical part of this university and this elected body, and they should not have to prove their worth to the institution.  Therefore, in an effort to bring this topic into the open for frank discussion and hopefully some recommendations for improvement, I’m going to appoint a senate task force on collegiality.  I will be looking for equal number of tenured and APT faculty to serve on this committee and will ask them for suggestions that we can take forward.
If you haven’t looked at the latest MGT Report, this one on Galveston, I suggest you do take a look at it.  Not only does it impact Galveston significantly, but it also impacts College Station in recommendations such as moving Oceanography from the main campus to Galveston.  Please take a look at it and submit comments through the portal by the deadline.  You have another 10 days or so to do that.
I and the Executive Committee have heard from a number of Engineering faculty who were concerned about the percentage of faculty on the search committee for a new Dean and Vice Chancellor of Engineering.   After the appointment of system representatives and alumni, faculty made up well under half of the committee.  And some faculty feared that would diminish the academic voice in the process.  Although system regulations do not require a majority faculty membership on the committee, at the behest of the Executive Committee, I asked Chancellor Sharp on Friday to consider expanding the committee to include more faculty members.  His response over the weekend and further discussion with our administration, has left me hopeful that this will occur.
In speaking of searches, I’ve been asked repeatedly over the past couple of weeks if the search for a permanent provost is going to be a transparent and honest one.  I want to say unequivocally, that I would not have accepted the role of co-chair of the search committee if I had any reason to doubt the integrity of the search.  I believe the Co-Chair, Vice-President Anan, and the entire committee are equally committee to the integrity of this search. If you know of someone within the A&M system who you think should be considered, I encourage you to nominate them by sending their name to provostsearch@tamu.edu
Minutes- Faculty Senate Meeting January 23, 2023 – Issue with link therefore carried over to March meeting for approval.
The motion passed to approve the February 13, 2023; Consent Agenda – Approved
Core Curriculum Council Course Report – Attachment
C - Approved
Bylaw Committee Revisions – Sent back to committee for further review and editing.  To be brought back before the senate in March once corrections are made.
D1 – Library 
D2 – Rules & Regulations
D3 – Undergraduate Admissions Advisory Committee
Senator Trevor Hale, Mays Business School – submitted a motion to be considered for a future meeting. 

  1. Be it resolved the Faculty Senate request a raise pool of no less than 6% during the upcoming evaluation and raise cycle.
  2. Be it resolved the Faculty Senate request that Texas A&M Technology Services pull syllabi automatically for house bill 2504 purposes as opposed to the current method of faculty pushing those manually.
  3. Be it resolved that the Faculty Senate request a 4-course release for the speaker and a 2-course release per academic year for speaker-elect, and a 2- course release for the secretary.
  4. Be it resolved that the Faculty Senate request that Texas A&M Technology Services pull attendance/meaningful interaction data for those courses that use Canvas for attendance notification purposes as opposed to current method faculty pushing attendance/meaningful interaction data.

Speaker Elect- Tracy Hammond asked if there were any positive issues or items of concern appearing on campus relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion and accessibility.
Senator Jorge Alvarado – Stated that the governor has directed state organizations to not consider diversity when hiring. Was wondering, what is the position of the university was on this will the university advocate. 
Senator Asha Rao – Said that she read in the news that Texas A&M has agreed to follow all of the state’s rules and regulations.
Interim Provost, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer – Dr. Alan Sams – Stated that all new hires would follow the governor’s rules and regulations.  He said this will lead to challenges with accessing applicants, and the practice of keeping with collegiality and welcoming inclusiveness that is what diversity is about. 
Vice President and Associate Provost for Diversity - Dr. Annie McGowan – Stated that the point of the Diversity statement has been misconstrued.  In the diversity statement, they are not looking for the individuals ethnicity, rather evidence of the work that the individual has done.
Senator Adam Kolasinski – Asked if Dr. Alan Sams or Dr. Annie McGowan had read the critique of diversity statements by organizations such as The Alliance for Academic Freedom and The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression.  They have argued that diversity statements are the equivalent of political litmus tests.   TAMU STRIDE training uses the Berkely rubric to evaluate diversity statements and the Berkely rubric has also been criticized.  Will we no longer have our diversity statement evaluated by the Berkely rubric?
Vice President for Faculty Affairs N.K. Anand – Stated that him and Speaker Rice went through training for faculty hiring, and he didn’t recall their being any mention of the Berkely rubric.
Senator Catharina Laporte – Stated that she is on the STRIDE Workshop Committee, and she doesn’t recall any mention of the Berkely Rubric nor does she remember teaching anyone about it.
Question in chat raise about: House Bill 1006 which would effectively outlaw the use of state funds for most DEI initiatives ranging from educational programs to hiring.  Vice President N.K. Anand – Said they have not received directions from the President’s Office, so this is on hold.
Senator Jorge Alvarado – Asked what the status of the ACES Program was.  Vice President N.K. Anand said that it is still active.  Vice President Annie McGowan said that applications are open for ACES Program at this time.
Senator Blanca Lupiani – Asked Vice President N.K. Anand who the plan on the ACES Program was distributed to because she hadn’t seen it.  Vice President N.K. Anand stated that it had been sent to deans to share.  He will remind them on Wednesday, February 15th.
Senator Jorge Alvarado – Mentioned that the search committee for a new Dean for Engineering already has 29 members.  Speaker Rice is asking to add more members which he doesn’t feel makes sense.  His question is why do we have more non-faculty members than faculty members on that committee to begin with, was this done on purpose to minimize the voice of the faculty. 
Speaker Rice – Responded that he doesn’t feel it was done to minimize the voice of the faculty.  President Banks sent forward the names who were elected by the College of Engineering and people were appointed to the committee but at the same time there were members of the Chancellors Cabinet, Members of the Board of Regents and Alumni were added, that really reduced the number of faculty down to roughly a 1/3 of membership.  He and the Executive Committee were asked to add more faculty.
Senator Katherine Falvo – Mentioned MGT Report for Galveston and how it will affect the faculty in Galveston.  Asked the senate to read the report and submit your feedback during the feedback period.
Senator Adam Haney – Mentioned the MGT Report not only has implications for Galveston but for College Station as well with the proposed move of the Department of Oceanography to Galveston.  Him and Speaker-Elect Tracy Hammond have been asked to serve on the operations assessment committee which is looking at all of the operations (not academic) departments of the university to see where they can improve issues in regards to the MGT and fix any problems that still exist.
Speaker-Elect Hammond – Described what the Operations Assessment Committee charges were.  Every other week they would be looking at one or two items from the VPR Report to see what data needs to be gathered and what issues have arised.  To see what good things have happened.  Next meeting will be held next Thursday with Information Technology and Facilities which the committee will be collecting questions and feedback to bring before the committee.
Senator Rajesh Miranda – Regarding centralization and facilities.  At the School of Medicine, almost all of the people that used to do routine maintenance have been centralized and it is difficult to get new equipment installed.  New faculty member has had a piece of equipment needing water and electricity to be installed and they have been waiting for months.
Senator Adam Kolasinski – The effects of centralization in a big institution were predicted and things work less efficiently. 
Senator Debjyoti Banerjee – Has felt the effects of centralization when it comes to Information Technology.  He is having issues with email not working since he has met his quota.  He didn’t realize he had a quota.
Senator Andrew Klein – Reported about ongoing issue with elevators in several buildings not working. The elevator in the OEM Building has been done for over a month and some of the signs to alert people who to call for issues with the elevator do not show that we are a top notch R1 university.
Senator Andrew Tag – Wants to know about resources for Disability Services for both faculty and students.  Students have scheduled exams and have been told there are no seats for them. 
Senator Trevor Hale – Teaches larges classes with students that require Disability Services and feels that Disability Services is under resourced and funded.  He has submitted a proposal to the new dean of Mays Business School, Dean Sharp to open up a testing school at Mays. 
Interim Provost, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Alan Sams – Stated that there is a working group that is looking at disability services and how it is best structured, housed, and resourced. 
Senator Daniel Collins – Said that he is hearing from some students that taking the test at Disability Services makes them more anxious than if they just took it in class.  However, the instructors don’t have the resources or time.
Senator Adam Haney – Study Abroad has not responded to any email correspondence about improving accessibility to study abroad programs. 
Senator Catharina Laporte – Asked what the protocol is when students report Covid are the instructors supposed to do something with that information? 
Vice Provost for Student Success – Dr. Tim Scott – Said that the instructors are not required to do anything with that information.  When a student reports that they are too ill to come to class let them isolate.  The student is required to provide excuses due to Covid.
Senator Asha Rao – Asked about the deadline for HR that Speaker – Elect briefly mentioned.  In regard to the committee that her and Senator Haney both serve on they are asking for questions/comments regarding HR to bring before the committee.
Interim Provost, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Alan Sams – Said that if you have an issue as with an elevator not working and you are having issues getting it fixed, report it to your Department Head and they can report it to their Vice President which has 48hrs to respond. 
Senator Adam Haney – Reported that they have had furniture for surplus sitting in their hallways for 6 months.  Their Department Head called with no success.  Their Chief Academic Officer, Debbie Thomas had to call to get a response.   Dr. Alan Sams stated that more people have been brought in to help minimize the response time. 
Secretary Janice Epstein – Regarding HR, being able to hire only twice a month.  Dr. Alan Sams said that schools have the ability to hire outside of those two dates.
Senator Jorge Alvarado – Regarding hiring it takes 5 weeks or so to bring someone on board even a student worker. Feels responsibility should be given back to the department instead of being centralized.
Senator Adam Kolasinski – Centralization plan Mays Business School was commissioned on writing a report on matrix organization. What was recommended was that the Departments/Colleges would maintain most of the day-to-day authority on things.  Only the policies and procedures should be centralized.
Senator Katherine Falvo – Mentioned that Galveston MGT report is experiencing centralization regarding their departments.
Chief Information Officer, Ed Pierson – Signed onto the meeting to answer Information Technology questions and concerns.  Senator Debjyoti Banerjee reported that when he started at TAMU in 2005, he had an unlimited email.  Now, his email has stopped working and asked if we could go back to using Gmail for mail with an unlimited inbox.  Ed Pierson stated that Google who controls Gmail decided approximately 3 years ago that giving out unlimited free storage was hard to manage. So, they announced that they were switching to a limited storage for fee additional storage model so he will have the IT team look at Senator Banerjee’s account to see why archiving of emails is not working correctly.  A&M pays for a lot of storage with Google, but they have begun to implement a pay for use model. 
Senator Catharina Laporte, asked about students uploading video files to Canvas and if the system could handle it.  Senator Asha Rao responded that she tells her students to limit their videos to 5 minutes and she hasn’t run into any issues.
Senator Matthew Hoffman asked about an email from University Libraries that came out last November regarding the Elsevier agreement. Asked about the Oak Trust Fund and if there was opportunity to compete for funding to support open access publication and will those funds be able to be reinstituted?
Senator Derek Halling – Stated that the library is checking with vendors that will allow for discounted fees when publishing or free. 
Senator Andrew Klein – Stated that he understands the DOJ Audit has been completed and that some things will have to come down from the University externally facing websites due to accessibility. Such as, the program reviews. He is wondering if there are more thing that will disappear and if the university needs to consider creating an intranet where these items can be stored so they are readily available to faculty.
Dr. Alicia Dorsey – Wrote in the chat that OIE has figured out how to secure the files and how to score them and will ask Catharina to reach out.
Question raised in chat: What is the Outlook storage capacity and what is the Google storage capacity.  Ed Pierson stated that Google is in the 2-3 petabyte range for the university.  Microsoft Outlook email space, the individual account doesn’t have a limit.  The university has a limit.
Speaker Rice reminded everyone about the Faculty Senate coffee hour on Friday, February 17 at 8:00am. 
Speaker Rice motioned to Adjourn the meeting at 4:40pm
Graduate Council
New Courses – FS.40.328 Approved
CVEN 722: Advanced Biological Treatment and Technology in Environmental Engineering

New Courses  - Galveston – FS.40.329 Approved
MARB 659: Caribbean Marine Biology

Change in Courses – FS.40.330 Approved
AGEC 672: Fundamentals in Applied Market Analysis
AGEC 676: Frontiers in Applied Market Analysis
VMID 686: Scientific Ethics
W & C Courses
Courses Submitted for C- Certification – FS.40.331 Approved
ANSC 404-C: Behavior and Management of Domestic Animals
VIST 110-C: Design Innovation
Courses Submitted for W- Recertification – FS.40.332 Approved
COMM 458-W: Global Media
Core Curriculum Course Report – Attachment C – FS.40.333 Approved
HIST 102-GE: Western Civilization Since 1660
HIST 213-GE: History of England
End of Consent A