February 13, 2012

February 13, 2012
3:15 p.m., 601 Rudder Tower
Present: Louise Abbott, Derya Akleman, Jorge Alvarado, Hassan Bashir, Michael Benedik, Leonard Bierman, Doug Biggs, William Bedford Clark, Mark Clayton, Jonathan Coopersmith, Robin Dabareiner, Joe Dannenbaum, Swaroop Darbha, Walter Daugherity, Darryl De Ruiter, Janice Epstein, L. Paige Fields, Edward Funkhouser, Norma Funkhouser, Holly Gaede, Fran Gelwick, Ira Greenbaum, Janet Hammer, Mike Hanik, Ed Harris, Kim  Quaile Hill, Shelley Holliday, Richard Hutchinson, Wendy Jepson, Andrew Klein, Karen Kubena, Paulo Lima-Filho, Carol Loopstra, Blanca Lupiani, Igor Lyuksyutov, Clint Magill, Christopher Mathewson, Kathryn McKenzie, Stephen Miller, Jeffrey Morris, Brian Perkins, Harland Prechel, Leslie Reynolds, Dale Rice, Kathleen Speed, John Stallone, Bob Strawser, Elizabeth Tebeaux, Mike Thornton, Manuelita Ureta, Wyoma vanDuinkerken,  Gary Varner, Wei Wan, Richard Woodman, Jim Woosley
Absent: Ergun Akleman, Jaime Alvarado-Bremer, Carisa Armstrong, Perla Balbuena, Judith Ball, Maria Barrufet, Charles Bollfrass, Edward Brothers, Patrick Burkart, John Carhart, Gwendolyn Carroll, Joe Cerami, Gwan Seong Choi, Richard Curry, Ron Douglas, John Edens, Gioia Falcone, Jose Fernandez-Solis, Clare Gill, Stephen Guetersloh, Karl Haupt, James Heilman, Kevin Heinz, Guido Kanschat, Thomas Linton, Vanita Mahajan, R.N. Mahapatra, Sam Mannan, A. Gene Nelson, Michelle Pine, Sudarsan Rangan, J. Maurice Rojas, Luis San Andres, Jason Sawyer, Karen-Beth Scholthof, Brian Shaw, Richard Stadelmann, Douglas Starr, Winfried Teizer, Grace Townsend, Jijayanagaram Venkatraj, William West, Tryon Wichersham, B. Dan Wood, Keyan Zhu-Salzman
Call to Order:
Speaker Benedik called the meeting to order at 3:17 P.M. There was one senator from Galveston and one senator from Qatar present via videoconferencing.
Speaker  Comments:
Nine members of the Texas A&M faculty have been honored with University Professorships for Undergraduate Teaching Excellence Senators winning Teaching award“ who have exhibited uncommon excellence and devotion to the education of undergraduate students.”
I would like to congratulate all of the winners and especially to note two Faculty Senators on the list, Dr. Kim Hill and Dr. Louse Abbot. So I am pleased to be able to congratulate all of them for doing an outstanding job as educators.
Continuing with the theme of outstanding service, there are often individuals who have served the Faculty Senate or the university with exceptional talent, dedication and perseverance. The Executive Committee is pleased to honor one such individual who has ably served. Is Bob Knight in the audience and would he please come to the podium? For those of you that don’t know, Bob has had a particularly onerous task, that of chairing the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee for past 10 years. We would like to honor this as being above and beyond the call of duty – I can’t imagine chairing anything for 10 years!
I met with President Loftin last week and also received a short report from the Jonathan Coopersmith who represents us on the Tuition and Fee Advisory Committee.
The Chancellor told President Loftin that the maximum allowable increase of tuition and fees was 3.95%. TFAC heard requests from parts of the university seeking fee increases. The committee voted that merit raises were the top priority with fee increases for IT, the library, and deferred maintenance as lesser priorities. While supporting those priorities, students voted almost unanimously against them while the other members of the committee voted for. Apparently this is the normal pattern. A 3% merit raise increase would consume the entire 3.95% (approximately $11.7 million), so demand remains significantly greater than supply.
As I hope everyone is aware, discussion on Core Curriculum has reached a fevered pitch. The preliminary committee report is out and we will more on that later today. I would like to remind everyone that there are 3 open hearings all this week– although the first one was earlier today. The next will be tomorrow at 12:30 and the next Wednesday at 3:30. Please remind any of your constituents who are concerned with the Core Curriculum to attend and let their voices be heard. Today we will hear about the preliminary report from the committee chairs. Next month I hope the finalized report which incorporates comments and concerns from the open forum, will be brought to the Senate for discussion and eventual approval.
In the news this past week has been the University of Texas regents formalizing the revised Post-tenure review policy at UT. This policy has annual review and a mandatory 6 year “more formal” review that is somewhat like the 3 year review for tenure track. I have been told that the UT faculty caucus was not supportive of this change at UT.
I’ve had a few faculty ask me how this compares to ours. I believe that our current PTR policy is somewhat better defined than their previous policy  and we rely on the annual evaluation to include the PTR component. As a result I think our annual reviews are a bit more extensive than the UT policy and those serve as our Post tenure review evaluation. President Loftin said that this issue was not raised by the A&M regents at the recent Board Meeting last week, so hopefully our current policy can stay in place.
Don't forget that the joint UT/TAMU faculty senate / faculty caucus meeting is two weeks from today. If you haven’t signed up – please let the Senate staff know that you will attend or respond to the email you should have received today.
Guest Speakers:
Student representatives from the “Big Event” community service project invited faculty to sign up at BigEvent.tamu.edu to request having students volunteer to do some house or yard maintenance type task on March 24, 2012.
John Junkins, interim director of the Texas A&M Institute for Advanced Studies (TIAS), was recognized; he summarized its history and announced its web site (tias.tamu.edu). TIAS is one outcome of the 2009 Academic Master Plan, and is designed to help implement the Vision 2020 imperative to “elevate faculty.”  In addition to the “superstar” fellows, there will be ten graduate student fellowships beginning about six months before the fellows arrive.
The January 23 Faculty Senate meeting minutes were approved.                                             Motion Passed                                                                                                                                                                    FS.29.152
                                                                                                                                                    Attachment A

Consent Agenda
  The consent agenda was approved as submitted.                                      Motion Passed
W-COURSES                                                                                                                             FS.29.153
January 24, 2012                                                                                                                       Attachment B
W certification: 
ENGL 481                               Senior Seminar - After the Catastrophe: Literature, History, and Memory in the                                                                Twentieth Century
INST 462                                Language Acquisition and Development
W recertification:
ANSC 314                               Wool and Mohair Evaluation
CHEM 234                              Organic Synthesis and Analysis IV
COMM 458                             Global Media
CVEN 424                               Civil Engineering Professional Practice
JOUR 490                              Journalism as a Profession
MART 301                            Seamanship II
POLS 328                               Globalization and Democracy
POLS 350                               Modern Political Thought
RDNG 461                              Teaching Reading through Children's Literature
SOCI 205                               Introduction to Sociology
SOCI 206                               Global Social Trends
SOCI 322                               Industrial Sociology
WFSC 304                              Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation
                                                                             End of Consent Agenda 

Committee Reports
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE                                                                                       Motion Passed
Resolution Supporting Higher Education for the Bahá’ís of Iran                               FS.29.154                                                                                                                                                                            Attachment C
Wendy Jepson (Geosciences) provided background on the conditions in Iran, including increasing crackdowns on Bahá'ís and their efforts to provide higher education for students denied access to Iranian universities. The resolution passed unanimously.
ACADEMIC AFFAIRS COMMITTEE                                                                       Motion Passed
AAC Report                                                                                                              FS.29.155                    
                                                                                                                                 Attachment D
Brian Perkins (Science), reported as chair of the academic affairs committee on the committee’s evaluation of alternatives to PICA, the current online student course evaluation system. The committee looked at IDEA Center and SIR2 versus upgrading PICA, and also how the choice would be used. The cost would be about the same for each of the three alternatives.
The committee recommended IDEA Center since there is extensive research behind its questions, it can generate comprehensive reports, and it has less emphasis on student opinion than the other two alternatives.  In contrast, upgrading PICA would take longer and would not result in validated questions.   IDEA Center should integrate well with the new “Blackboard” instructional technology system.
The committee also recommended running a pilot program first, having a fixed base set of questions used in every course on campus, and selecting questions which provide both summative and formative feedback.
Jorge Alvarado (Engineering) asked that Krishna Narayanan from the department of engineering technology and industrial distribution be recognized, who said his department uses paper evaluation forms since the PICA response rate is low. He said his research indicates that the number of questions has little effect on the result, and that some departments do not have questions with an answer scale. He asked that the pilot program also evaluate question validity compared to PICA.
Jorge Alvarado (Engineering) asked whether or not the new system would still allow paper. Brian Perkins said perhaps, but he believes that since online evaluation allows more opportunities for responses, online should have the higher response rate.
Speaker Benedik noted that this is a committee report; if the senate accepts it, it will go to provost, who will make the final decisions on details.
Karan Watson said it is important to get a better system based on research. Brian Perkins moved to accept the report. The motion was seconded and passed.
CCC Report
The next committee report was given by Dale Rice (Liberal Arts) and Janice Epstein (Science), co-chairs of the core curriculum council. They outlined the following changes, which will go into effect for students coming to A&M in the fall of 2014:
  1. There will no longer be two tiers of science courses.
  2. Every course in the core must cover all the state-mandated components for that area.
  3. 36 hours are specified by the state, and TAMU has chosen 6 hours, namely, 3 in math and 3 in science. The result is that math stays at 6 hours total, while science goes from 8 to 9 hours.
  4. There will be no upper-division courses in the core.
  5. All core courses must be recertified every four years, à la W courses. Courses recertifications will be staggered initially to reach a steady state of recertifying one-fourth of the core courses each year.
Gary Varner (Liberal Arts) asked if there could be an exception for an upper-division course which did not overlap any lower-division course. Dale Rice replied no. The schedule of upcoming meetings on the core curriculum was announced.
Workplace Bullying Policy
Holly Gaede (Science) reported as chair of the workplace climate and diversity committee on a draft standard administrative procedure (SAP) dealing with workplace bullying.  The intent is for this SAP to track the TAMUS civil rights SAP (rule?) just adopted. The workplace bullying SAP will cover all employees, i.e., faculty, staff, and student employees, and will have a trained investigating authority. The committee is also working on the parental leave policy, which has been pending at the system level since 2007.
SEBAC Report
Secretary Daugherity next gave the following report:
The System Employee Benefits Advisory Committee (SEBAC) met February 7, 2012, and I attended as a non-voting member representing the Faculty Senate. As you have already been informed via the Faculty Senate bulletin, several changes are expected for the 2012-13 academic year health insurance plans; annual enrollment will be in July.
As authorized by the last legislature, there will be a $30 per covered person surcharge for tobacco use in any form more than five times within the last three months prior to enrollment. Note that tobacco cessation programs and certain prescription drugs (e.g., bupropion) are currently available under both BCBS and Scott & White health plans; BCBS also covers prescription nicotine patches. The state Employee Retirement System already adopted  a tobacco surcharge January 1st.
Prior to the SEBAC meeting, the Executive Committee expressed some concerns about the tobacco surcharge, which I conveyed to SEBAC, where they were addressed as follows:
  1. TAMUS is aware that this may disproportionately impact lower-wage employees and minorities since they are statistically more likely to use
tobacco, so they plan more communication and education to encourage employees to take advantage of the current tobacco cessation programs promptly to avoid the surcharge.
  1. It was acknowledged that the fundamental basis of group coverage is that individuals are not singled out for higher or lower rates; however, this must be balanced with the inequity of charging non-tobacco users extra to pay for the preventable health costs attributed to tobacco use ($200 billion a year nationwide, according to the Department of Health and Human Services). Note that TAMUS' long-term disability insurance already has a tobacco rate and a non-tobacco rate.
In the news today is a report that UT-Austin is discussing making the entire campus tobacco-free, which if done by March 1st could mean they would receive another $88 million from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, which has decided that grant recipients would be required to have tobacco-free campuses.
The TAMU System has decided to leave it up to each CEO, and the Health Science Center has had a tobacco use rule since 1999.
Also in the news was an item identifying obesity as a major cause of expensive-to-treat conditions such as heart failure and diabetes, so obesity may be targeted next (though not right away, in my opinion).
John Hancock has filed for a 45 per cent increase in long-term care premiums. If a better alternative vendor cannot be found, new group long-term care insurance may no longer be offered by TAMUS, in which case employees wishing to acquire such coverage would be advised to obtain individual policies. Existing policies will be continued.
The remaining half of employees will be audited in three groups from February through June, and ineligible dependents will be dropped.
The mandates of PPACA (commonly referred to as “Obamacare”) continue to take effect through 2018; last month your W-2 was changed to list health-care premiums (which raises the possibility of their being taxed some day), in March you will receive a four-page health insurance summary, and next January your flexible spending account maximum will drop to $2500; many over the counter items have already been dropped from flexible spending accounts.
New Business

Committee of the Whole
Speaker Benedik turned the chair over to Speaker-Elect Stallone to convene the Committee of the Whole.
Kim Hill (Liberal Arts) asked for an update on the Academic Analytics tool purchased by TAMU to compare departments across universities. Karan Watson said TAMU is already in their database; what TAMU purchased was additional access to their data and reports. She said the system is better   in some fields than others, and can be tailored to some degree. Kim Hill said deans and department heads have seen the reports but not faculty, so he asked senators to discuss the results with their department heads. Karan Watson also said this is part of the larger thrust on transparency and accountability and urged more faculty participation in the process. She emphasized that the evaluation is only down to the department level, not to the individual faculty member level. Speaker Benedik asked if individual data is nonetheless available; Karan Watson said that is a proposed feature but TAMU does not plan to use it. Speaker Benedik said that if individual comparisons are made then the senate should be involved, since it could affect promotion and tenure.
Brian Perkins (Science) announced the positive deadline for first-year seminars is March 21st, and encouraged faculty to apply at firstyearseminar.tamu.edu.
There being no further business to come before the Committee of the Whole, Speaker-Elect Stallone returned the chair back to Speaker Benedik who adjourned the meeting at 5:07 P.M.