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Liberal Arts Council Minutes

Liberal Arts Retreat
August 15, 2007
Inn above Onion Creek
(Approved at LAC meeting, 9/5/07)

Presiding: Dean Ann Marie Ellis
Recording: Associate Dean Daniel Lochman
Participants: Frank Barrios, Vicki Brittain, Mark Busby, Susan Day, Frank de la Teja, Robert Fischer, Michael Hennessy, Vince Luizzi, Sandra Mayo, Jon McGee, Philip Suckling

I. College Updates

1. Annual Performance Report and Bibliography

Dean Ellis reviewed College accomplishments during the 2006-2007 academic year and looked ahead to plans for 2007-2008.

She noted achievements such as hiring new faculty, increasing development activity, exploring new means of advising and tutoring students, extending the College plan to 2012, improving methods of recruiting and enrolling graduate students, creating new College councils for graduate faculty and graduate students, and developing and implementing new degree programs.

She also outlined ongoing and new initiatives for the coming year, such as assessing areas in need of new faculty lines, increasing the number and amount of stipends of graduate assistants, planning for a new academic building, increasing research / grant efforts through our research facilities and centers, increasing the number of faculty nominated for national awards, working to align Liberal Arts curricula with those in area public school systems, researching the success of students in large classes, and assessing and improving program learning outcomes.

Referring to the 2006 Liberal Arts Bibliography, Dean Ellis and Council members praised the productivity and accomplishments of Liberal Arts faculty. Dr. Lochman announced that, after incorporating final edits at the end of August, the 2006 Bibliography will be posted to the College website and copies distributed to administrative officers, advisory board members, and others who support the College.

2. Graduate Programs

Council reviewed handouts with data of projected and annual enrollments in Liberal Arts graduate programs and the increased yield in Fall 2006 of admitted graduate students who enroll in classes. Dean Ellis noted that, as of 8/6/07, admissions in Liberal Arts graduate programs were 10% above those of the previous year.

3. New Academic Building

Dr. Brittain, Chair of the Liberal Arts Building Committee, provided an update on activities and plans. A team that includes some Liberal Arts chairs as well as administrators from other University offices and staff from a planning firm have met regularly throughout the summer. Tentatively, the Departments of Political Science and Political Science are scheduled to move to the new building in 2011.

4. Research Targets

a. Targets and Outcomes, Active Grants Dean Ellis presented handouts listing grants submitted and funded by Liberal Arts faculty in 2006 and 2007. Council members noted that in several instances tables include faulty data. Dean Ellis will communicate the Council’s concerns to the Office of Sponsored Programs.
b. Activities of Liberal Arts Post-award Specialist. The Dean announced that Ms. Stephanie Sonnier is available to support managers of grants in Liberal Arts. Her new office is ELA 271c.
c. GAMS Training Sessions for Liberal Arts Faculty Dean Ellis announced training sessions for Liberal Arts chairs and grant writers, who are to use the new Grant Application and Management System (GAMS). The Dean invited all chairs and directors to attend a training session; following discussion, Council determined to convene a meeting of Liberal Arts Council during the first training session, October 24, 1:30 – 4:30, Alkek 119. All who attend are to bring a sample project to test the system. A second session is being planned for faculty.
d. Releases for significant grant work Dean Ellis announced a limited, one-time opportunity for faculty undertaking important grant-writing initiatives. Chairs will alert her of appropriate projects.

5. Development Update

a. New half-time Assistant to the Dean for OutreachDean Ellis announced that she has hired Ms. Pam Lemoine as an Assistant to the Dean for Outreach. Ms. Lemoine holds a half-time appointment, and her office is in the Liberal Arts suite, FH 311.
b. Fall Board Meeting, Friday, October 19, and new Board members The Dean announced the date and distributed a schedule for the next Liberal Arts Development Advisory Board meeting. She presented a list of continuing and new Board members, the latter to be introduced at the meeting on October 19. On the same day, faculty from the Department of History will host a series of presentations for the Board to inform them of its organizations, centers, programs, and accomplishments.
c. Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award
Dean Ellis and Ms. Lemoine are working to develop a College Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award designed to honor exceptional Liberal Arts graduates. Council members examined a draft of a nomination packet and a statement describing the selection process. They are to offer suggestions to the Dean concerning procedures and the nomination packet. The proposals will be brought to the Development Advisory Board for final approval.
d. Alumni Speakers Forum
Dean Ellis described plans to bring successful Liberal Arts alumni to campus to address and inspire current students. Council reviewed a nomination form and a suggested format for speakers who will address our students during the 2007-2008 academic year.
e. 2007 Texas State Distinguished Alumni Award recipient
Dean Ellis noted that Mr. Mike Young, Geography alumnus, will receive the University’s 2007 Distinguished Alumni Award during homecoming ceremonies. The College will host a reception in his honor, place and time

6. Retention Initiatives

a. PASS Program in Applied Arts
Dean Ellis reported on a program of short courses the College of Applied Arts has initiated to help students on suspension become more successful. Applied Arts will report to the Council of Academic Deans the results of its pilot Program; if successful, Liberal Arts may wish to initiate a similar program.
b. Staff of 2007-2008 LA Career Center
During the upcoming academic year, staff at the Liberal Arts Career Center (FH 320) will include Ms. Karen Julian of Career Services and a graduate assistant. Dean Ellis reports that Mr. Curt Schafer, Director of Career Services, is a strong advocate of the College’s efforts to develop its Career Center. Dean Ellis plans to establish a site on the web for the Liberal Arts Career Center. Staff will encourage students to participate in internships, complete a “Discovery” program, undergo some testing at the Center to investigate career interests, and foster students’ thinking about vocations.

7. Communications

a. Changes to LA Website, Faculty Resources
Dr. Lochman presented a handout outlining his proposal to revise the architecture of the section of the Liberal Arts website concerning College Policies and Procedures and to develop an area for faculty that is prominent and permits expansion. He also presented revisions of Liberal Arts policies concerning College councils and Annual Review and Evaluation, as well as a page that gathers in one location descriptions of University and College honors, awards, chairs, and professorships, together with (as available) application deadlines and links to information and nomination forms. Council approved the proposed changes by consensus. Dr. Brittain asked that a link be added to help faculty find student travel application forms; Dr. McGee inquired about the possibility of offering workshops to supplement the “Resources for Teaching Writing” section of the Faculty Resources web-page. The Dean and Dr. Hennessy agreed to invite English faculty to lead workshops designed especially for new faculty and to find a venue for them.
b. Abbreviated Newsletter
Dean Ellis discussed plans to replace the feature articles of the Mosaic newsletter with a streamlined circular that highlights images of faculty and provides brief descriptions of their projects or honors, together with her own brief note. She reported that a trial earlier this year generated favorable comments from potential donors, alumni, and other recipients.
c. Departmental visits by Provost and Associate Provost
Dean Ellis announced that during the upcoming academic year the Provost and Associate Provost intend to meet with faculty in each department.

II. Departmental Reports

8. Departmental Goals for 2007-2008 Academic Year

Chairs and directors of interdisciplinary centers reported on major accomplishments during the 2006-2007 academic year and their three most important strategic goals to pursue during 2007-2008. By the end of September, detailed descriptions of strategic accomplishments in Liberal Arts will be posted online at

9. DFW Research and Grade Distributions in Core Courses

Dr. de la Teja reported on plans to implement a study comparing two sections of a required class in History. Dean Ellis and Dr. Emily Summers (Curriculum and Instruction) have collaborated with the department to design the study and will assist with the statistical analysis of data. Students in sections of first-year History will be quizzed at the beginning and end of the semester to learn factors affecting their performance.

III. Other Issues

10. SACS Reaffirmation

a. Departmental Policies for Annual Review of Part-time and Per-course
Council discussed the University’s preparations for the 2009-2010 SACS Reaffirmation, including the requirement that all departments have policies in place to specify how they evaluate all faculty members—including part-time faculty and graduate assistants. All faculty—including lecturers and continuing
part-time faculty—are to report their professional activities on the Liberal Arts Faculty Annual Review System.
b. CVs in Texas State Format
Dean Ellis confirmed that during this academic year faculty must convert CVs to the Texas State format and have them on file in preparation for the upcoming SACS review. The Texas State format is available in Word and PDF formats at Academic Affairs PPS 8.10, Forms 1A and 1B.
c. Confidentiality Statement / Form for Staff and Consultants
Council reviewed a handout with a sample Confidentiality Statement suitable for all staff and consultants who handle student and/or personnel documents. Dean Ellis asked chairs and directors to review policies to ensure that each unit has a confidentiality policy in place for staff and student workers.

11. LA Policies

a. Proposal to Change Review Procedures for Curricular Proposals
Dr. Lochman presented a handout outlining revised procedures for submitting course proposals in Liberal Arts. The revisions require that course proposals be submitted and revised as online attachments and are designed to reduce the time, paper, and cost of submitting, reviewing, and approving proposals to change, add, or delete courses. Dr. de la Teja suggested implementing the revised policy entirely on TRACS. Council agreed to test the revised procedures on TRACS during the 2007-2008 academic year.
b. Sample letter responding to students’ grade appeals
Dr. Day provided a handout that the Department of Sociology uses to explain to students the process of appealing a grade. Dean Ellis suggested that other departments may wish to develop a similar handout and that the College may develop a version for the Liberal Arts website. After discussion, Council determined to introduce the item again on a future agenda.

12. Around the Table

Dean Ellis reminded chairs to elect a representative to the Liberal Arts Faculty Advisory Council at the first departmental meeting.

Dr. McGee requested that assignment of large classrooms be added to a future agenda.

Dr. de la Teja noted that Vista and Word 2007 documents are not compatible currently with all University equipment. Students who are asked to submit attachments should do so in Word 2003 or an earlier version.

Dr. Brittain noted that, beginning this fall, custodial staff no longer will unlock classroom doors at the beginning of the day; chairs must make arrangements to ensure that classrooms have been opened.