December 9, 2013

Faculty Senate Minutes
December 9, 2013
The meeting was called to order by Speaker Daugherity at 3:21 p.m.
Regent Charles Swartz, chair of the Finance Committee of the Board of Regents and one of the newest members of the board, was the meeting’s guest speaker. He introduced himself as a practicing lawyer for 37 years whose parents were teachers. Although not an Aggie by pedigree, he said, he has rapidly become one in the last seven months.
Swartz said Texas A&M’s Triple A debt rating is shared with very few university systems and is “something regents would like to retain into the future.” With a $3.77 billion budget, regents have a fiduciary duty to act in best interests of the university and the State of Texas, he said. The university’s debt, he said, is entirely on the system. He noted there is always room for more cooperation among the universities in the system and said there is a mission difference in some of the universities, with some serving a regional student body.
Swartz said he is a believer in academic freedom because in his judgment it’s the best possible way to advance the interests of the university and state.
In discussing the ongoing presidential search, Swartz said there have been expressions of interest from a wide variety of candidates, some very impressive, from traditional and nontraditional sources. At the end of the day, he said, the regents will take the recommendations from the search committee and vote his or her conscience on the recommendations.
Referring to shared governance, Swartz said he firmly believes in input from constituents, but he believes it’s a mistake to think constituents act in single voice. He also said he doesn’t believe there is any lawful condition that can be imposed on the board to share its decision-making powers. “At end of day, it’s five regents who make the decisions,” he said.
President Loftin, in the final month of his presidency, said that closing out his tenure at A&M was a “tough thing to do.”
“I love this university very much,” Loftin said. “I focus on the students, but I also focus on you. This body is the elected voice of the faculty. I may not like it at some times, but you are the elected voice. Please carry out your role. Please do your job. I know how many hours there are devoted to all the things you do. Listen to your colleagues; you represent them. Take what you get from them, make the best sense of it and use your own sound judgment. A lot of your work might be called routine,  but it’s vital. It’s the curriculum of this university. Don’t forget your core purpose. I think you’re careful what you speak about besides what’s in the curriculum, so I pay attention. Service here matters. Nothing’s more vital.”
The minutes of the November Faculty Senate meeting were approved as submitted.
The consent agenda approved as presented.
Item HHH – a resolution dealing with proposed parking garages – passed unanimously.
The proposed honorary degree recipient was approved unanimously in closed session.
The meeting was then turned over to Speaker-elect Woosley for the Committee of the Whole.
Senator Wendy Jepson of Geosciences noted that proposed changes to Rules 1501 and 1504 (dealing with research administration) produced numerous discussions about the issues and the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate sent a letter reflecting the concerns of the Senate.
Senator Angie Hill Price of Engineering said that a proposal for students start school early in order to have additional time off before Thanksgiving was, in effect, asking faculty to work three more days without pay. “That is a consideration,” she said. Price said she was concerned that the EC had said this was something we’re going to talk about.
Senator Jepson said she wanted to assure everyone that no final decision had been make. This is the beginning of a process, she said.
Senator Clint Magill of Agriculture and Life Sciences said he was concerned about learning outcomes of many of the syllabi approved on the consent agenda.
Senator Michael Greenwald of Liberal Arts said he was pleased with the action taken on the proposed parking garages. Four years ago at University of Texas, he said, football coaches’ salaries were deemed unseemly and untimely by the UT faculty council. “I would like to see us make some statement taking a stand to get the priorities straight,” he said. “Let’s get student oriented, not just athletics oriented.”
The meeting was turned back to Speaker Daugherity, who presented a resolution from the Executive Committee recognizing President Loftin for his willingness to meet with and listen to the Senate.  The meeting was then adjourned at 4:45 to a reception honoring Dr. Loftin.