November 11, 2013

Faculty Senate Minutes
November 11, 2013
The meeting was called to order by Speaker Walter Daugherity at 3:19 p.m.
The speaker, as the first order of business, installed the new senator from College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, replacing the retiring Ed Funkhauser.
As this day was Veterans Day, Speaker Daugherity  recognized the veterans, both senators and visitors, asking them to stand at the meeting.
The first guest speaker, Vice Provost Pam Matthews provided an update on Texas A&M’s QEP, Aggies Commit to Learning for a Lifetime, and asked for participation and support. The commitment to the QEP was a requirement in the reaffirmation of accreditation in 2012 and the university continues to take it seriously, Matthews said. Much of the work in developing the QEP was done through the colleges, Matthews said, so it can be tailored to fit in different ways based on various college strategic plans. There is currently a benchmarking effort underway, she said, and $7 million per year is going to colleges for the QEP effort.
Provost Karan Watson, the meeting’s main guest speaker, said Texas A&M is and has the potential to be an even greater university. While students are important, with their wonderful traditions, the culture holders of university are the faculty, Watson said. A concerning warning sign, she said, is the slight drop in faculty satisfaction, from high 60s to mid 60s. “One of the big factors in satisfaction is the reduction in faculty feeling they are not appreciated for teaching, research and service,” she said. “I think your faculty leadership have done a good job in turning some of those attitudes, but we’re not done.” The solution in changing the attitudes toward faculty is the faculty themselves, Watson said, thanking faculty for their contributions to the university.
Responding to question on shared governance, the provost said, “We acknowledged that sometimes “we don’t have enough of it.” Super-fast means of communication spread words – sometimes erroneous – before thoughtful full communication can occur, she said.  “We need to have deeper, richer dialog about the university, Watson said.  “We are struggling with how to improve the opportunities for faculty voices to be heard.”
On the issue of indirect returns, Watson said she had asked the vice president for research and the vice chancellors for engineering and agriculture to explore the issue more fully. “We don’t want to change for change sake,” she said, adding the question is: What can we give to researchers that will make research environment better for them? She said she hoped that proposed changes, if any, could begin being offered by the end of the semester.
On the proposed campus in Israel, Watson said current Israeli law must be changed to permit degrees in branch campus to be recognized. The Texas A&M System needs to raise the required funds from people who would not traditionally give to A&M, she said, to support the proposed operation there. First, she said, “they need to raise money so we can study what we would actually do there. I don’t know which degrees are most needed in Nazareth.”
When asked about the SACS visitation and reaccreditation process, the provost said that when A&M received permission last June for the merger of HSC and university, it was viewed as a significant change that would require a revisit. “This is a complete reaffirmation because in their mind this is a new university,” she said. “A lot of things have to do with compliance. We have to respond as one university. We have to be moving in a direction to function as one university.” In the process, the reaccreditation team will visit Qatar, Fort Worth, Dallas, Galveston and College Station.
In terms of space and classrooms, Watson said, “We are not out of space.” The problem is that faculty do not find potential times or locations convenient. “The discussion we need to have is to look at what we’re missing,” she said. “Ten years ago we needed fewer jumbo classes, not more. Now we’re hearing we need more.” Watson suggested setting up a committee to examine the issue and Speaker Daugherity said the Senate would charge Academic Affairs with that issue.
On the issue of fees, Watson said nothing had been resolved with the Board of Regents. The university must get rid of 7200 separate fees. The question is whether to convert them to tuition or general fees or some combination of both.
Moving to regular business, the October 14, 2013, minutes were approved as submitted.
The consent agenda was approved as presented.
The motion to approve fall degree candidates, including those of the Health Sciences Center, was approved.
Speaker Daugherity then turned the meeting over to Speaker-elect Jim Woosley for the Committee of the Whole.
Senator Angie Hill-Price, who serves on the Transportation Committee, noted a significant increase in parking fees had been proposed to cover the planned construction of four new parking garages. She also asked the Executive Committee to invite the interim president who will be appointed after President Loftin retires to January to be on the agenda of the first meeting of 2014 (in February).
Senator Jonathan Coopersmith said he was disturbed that the proposed increase in parking to support a new Kyle Field garage will not benefit students, faculty and staff.
Senator Bob Strawser said there ‘doesn’t seem to be a whole lot we can do” to protest for stop the proposed garages and associated fees.
Senator Richard Stadelmann said he had concerns about the length of the consent agenda and the confusing nature of some of the proposed course and degree changes that appear as part of it. He urged committees dealing with consent items to be more careful with the consent agenda.
The meeting was turned back to Speaker Daugherity and adjourned at 4:45 p.m.