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Liberal Arts Council Minutes

23 April 2008, 2:00 pm, FH 313
(Approved at the 14 May 2008 meeting of Liberal Arts Council)

Presiding: Dean Ann Marie Ellis
Recording: Associate Dean Daniel Lochman
Council Members: Frank Barrios, Vicki Brittain, Susan Day, Frank de la Teja, Nancy Grayson, Michael Hennessy, Vince Luizzi, Jon McGee, Philip Suckling
Guests: Yvette Morales, Marc Turner

1. LAC minutes of meeting on 4-09-08 reviewed and approved (CAD update, merit, format for chair evaluation, policies on LA websites)

2. Congratulations. (a) To Liberal Arts applicants for tenure and/or promotion (Cyrus Cassells, ENG; Maria Czyzewska, PSY; Elizabeth Erhart, ANTH; Gary Hartman, HIST; Roger Jones, ENG; Debarun Majumdar, SOCI; Rebecca Montgomery, HIST; Lijun Yuan, PHIL). All applications have been approved. (b) To the Writing Center, Geography Teaching Labs, and the Liberal Arts Computer Lab, all of which are to receive funding from the Academic Computing Committee to upgrade equipment and/or software. (c) To MFA fiction graduate Scott Blackwood, whose second novel, scheduled for publication in 2009, has won the national Associated Writing Program award for Best Novel. (d) To Scott Blackwood and Steve Wilson (ENG), both honored on 4/19 with induction into the Texas Institute of Letters. (e) To Celisse A. Morgan Valdovinos, member of the Liberal Arts Student Advisory Council and recipient of the Liberal Arts Presidential Upper-Level Scholarship. (f) To PhD students Johanna Ostling and Suzi Wiseman, respectively named Student Director to the Board for Hazards Specialty Group and Director of the Energy and Environment Specialty Group at the Boston meeting of the Association of American Geographers.

3. Liberal Arts in the News. (a) The University Star (4/16) quoted Steve Wilson (ENG) as an expert on the teaching of creative writing to students in middle and high schools. (b) The same issue of the Star included a “Main Point” column praising the Center for Texas Music History and its “Texas Music History Unplugged” series. Yet another article featured Gary Hartman (HIST) and the Center for Texas Music History’s new KUT segment, “This Week in Texas Music History.” (c) The University Star (4/17) interviewed Jerry Melbye (ANTH) as an expert in forensic anthropology in an article about the 4/16 presentation by Larry Thomas, lead investigator in the BTK serial murder case. (d) In the same issue, Jo Ann Carson (PHIL) and POSI graduate Husni Abumelhim were quoted in an article discussing courses on religion, Islam, and the San Marcos Mosque. (e) The 4/17 issue of the Star included an op-ed column on the course Hip-Hop Literacy, designed by Octavio Pimentel (ENG), to be offered during the minisession; the column praised the Department of English and the College for supporting this innovative course. (f) The 4/23 issue of the star featured the Medieval / Renaissance Society and its related minor housed in the English department; comments included those by Susan Morrison (ENG), faculty adviser, and English student Susan Rauch, incoming president.

4. The Dean’s Thanks: (a) To Susan Day (SOCI) and Ted Hindson (POSI), who respectively chaired and served on the committee to revise PPS 4.02, Conduct and Planning of Courses. (b) To Ted Hindson, Audrey McKinney (PHIL), and Shirley Ogletree (PSY), all to complete service as Liberal Arts representatives to the Faculty Senate in May.

5. FARS updates and system backups. Marc Turner (PSY), who maintains Liberal Arts’ online Faculty Annual Reporting System (FARS), visited Council to discuss this year’s reporting cycle. Dr. Lochman summarized responses to an impromptu survey of difficulties faculty encountered this year when using the system. About a dozen of the more than two hundred Liberal Arts faculty replied. Most mentioned difficulties retaining formatting such as italics, spacing, margins, and indentation. A few reported problems saving entries in text boxes; one inquired about reviewers’ access to reports.

Council discussed ways to address formatting issues. Dr. Turner presented two alternatives: (a) eliminating all computing codes (italics, bold, tabs) now offered in the FARS text-boxes as a way to avoid problems that sometimes result when text from CVs or other documents bearing formatting codes are copied directly to text boxes or (b) recommending that faculty first save copied text in an ASCII format in a word-processing document that they may then copy to FARS and format with tools currently found at each text-box. Council decided to adopt the first alternative; therfore, faculty reports next year will uniformly lack formatting and delete all code copied from other sources.

Dr. Turner stated he would investigate cases wherein faculty reported that data could not be saved, and he confirmed that the primary server is backed up routinely by a second hard drive. Dean Ellis asked Dr. Turner to provide each year’s data on disk to her office as another means of backing up reports; Dr. Lochman requested that directions to recover backed-up data from the server be provided to the Dean’s office for future reference. Dean Ellis also inquired as to the earliest date FARS can be re-set to store data for 2008. Dr. Turner indicated that he expects to have the system updated and ready for new data by mid-summer; he will add a preliminary page explaining changes to FARS users.

Council applauded Dr. Turner for his effort, attention to detail, and success in developing a useful system of gathering and saving data for the College and faculty. Council congratulated him on his system’s adoption by other units on campus.

6. Review of new drop procedures and advising issues related to the 120-hour rule. Yvette Morales, Director of the Liberal Arts Academic Advising Center, distributed a handout listing deadlines and procedures for students who drop courses under a new system effective this spring. Ms. Morales stated that advising staff never encourage students to withdraw; instead, they inform them of options and required procedures. After April 17 of the current semester, both the chair and student must confirm the intent to withdraw from a class, with the student facing new costs for so doing. Students must confirm their intent in person at the Registrar’s office, which will then follow up. The drop date appears on the roster if chairs have approved that the course may be dropped; faculty then assign a W or another letter grade.

Dean Ellis asked Ms. Morales to provide Council each semester with a similar handout and/or College website posting that lists important dates and procedures.

Ms. Morales noted that 120-hour worksheets are awaiting final approval as the Provost’s office ensures that changes to programs resulting from the State’s new rule match exactly the language in the forthcoming undergraduate catalog. She will ensure that requirements for Liberal Arts degree audits on DARS are updated to match new program requirements. She also emphasized that returning students who consider adopting the new catalog should first speak to an adviser, since adopting a program with fewer requirements may affect eligibility for some loans and for the State’s be-on-time rebates.

Council expressed its thanks to Ms. Morales for her dedication and efforts to ensure students’ success.

On a separate matter, Dean Ellis noted that reports of merit distributions from JCK will be delayed until this summer. She asked chairs to consult with faculty before faculty depart for the summer so that departments may agree on the bases for distributing merit funds when they are announced. Dr. de la Teja expressed interest in receiving information soon about merit distributions to faculty in special categories. Dr. Hennessy stressed the need for chairs to ensure the accuracy of faculty rosters prior to distribution of funds.

7. Liberal Arts representative on University Council for 2008-2009. By acclamation, Council reelected Dr. Susan Day as the Liberal Arts representative on University Council and Dr. Vincent Luizzi as her alternate.

8. Motion to approve revised Liberal Arts Learning Outcomes for General Education courses. RTA, pending approval by all Liberal Arts departments.

9. Liberal Arts Distinguished Alumni event and 2008-2009 Speaker Series. Dean Ellis provided an update on plans for the Distinguished Alumni event to be held May 2, adding that some expenses are being underwritten by Austin businesses. The Dean also announced that this year’s successful Alumni Speaker Series will continue in Fall 2008.

10. LA graduate scholarship policy. Dr. Grayson led a discussion of proposed changes to criteria for determining eligibility of graduate students for Graduate College scholarships. Council discussed whether students at various stages of their programs should be rated according to differing criteria. Dr. Day moved that the College’s Graduate Scholarship Committee review the issue and submit a recommendation by the end of the Fall 2008 semester that, if approved, may be effective Spring 2009. Dean Ellis supported the idea of the Committee’s review and determined that the issue be reintroduced at a future meeting.

11. CAD update:

a. Classroom utilization. Dean Ellis presented a handout indicating that the University currently has 146 class sessions that will need to be reassigned to designated classrooms. Chairs are to assign all seminars, labs, and other classes to designated classrooms or have them assigned by the University in order to achieve complete classroom utilization data. They are to forward memoranda to the Registrar for Fall 2008, requesting that classrooms be arranged. Council also discussed ideas for increasing classroom utilization on Fridays. Dean Ellis indicated that the State and the Facilities office have established a required “station occupancy” rate of 65%--that is, a classroom seating 100 should have at least 65 students enrolled.

On another matter, Dean Ellis discussed changes to awards and to titles of scholarships, faculty chairs, and units as a result of changes in endowment sources.

b. Timeline for Learning Outcomes Assessments. The Dean requested and obtained commitments from programs to allow her to review their assessment results prior to their being posted by Development and Assessment on June 30. Chairs and directors are to send their assessment results to the Dean as Word documents. Dean Ellis stressed that as departments report on assessment results they must consider that SACS will be interested in assessments that yield demonstrable improvements to programs, with programs that are doing well looking to do even better.

c. Dean’s role in approving graduation requirements. The Dean distributed a handout proposing an addition to the undergraduate catalog that specifies the College Dean has final authority for approval and appeal of all graduation requirements.

Around the Table

Dr. Grayson asked chairs to remind students being honored on Liberal Arts Awards Day (4/24) to check-in outside the Centennial Teaching Theatre prior to the ceremony. Recipients of awards have received letters from the Liberal Arts office as well as departments. Dr. Day asked and the Dean agreed to discuss the criteria for awards at a future Council meeting; Dr. de la Teja added that the Registrar’s office has the ability to apply criteria to all Liberal Arts students and generate a report with names eligible through the preceding December.


• Thursday, April 24, 6 pm, Centennial Hall Teaching Theatre: Liberal Arts Awards Ceremony
• Friday, April 25: Chairs to complete and submit budget development sheets
• Wednesday, April 30: Departmental decisions for faculty in second and subsequent contract years due to the Dean
• Thursday, May 1: Deadline to submit applications for NEH Fellowships. For information see
• Thursday, May 1: Deadline for faculty on Developmental Leave in Fall 2007 to submit written report of activity to the Provost
• Friday, May 2: Departments to submit to faculty and Dean a list of faculty eligible for Tenure and Promotion in FY 2008-2009
• Friday, May 2, 6 pm: Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award Celebration
• Monday, May 5: Minisession PCRs due to Jamie
• Monday, May 5: Notify faculty in second and subsequent contract years of action taken during the contract review process
• Friday, May 9: Deadline to e-mail to two-page proposals for the two-week Technology Integration Workshop, held in August
• Friday, May 9, 10 am, Strahan: LA Commencement
• May 12-30: Minisession
• Friday, May 23: Summer I PCRs to Jamie
• Friday, May 30: QEP topic selected
• Friday, May 30: Second year Student Learning Outcomes Assessment results reviewed by chair
• May 30-June 20: Chairs and directors review Program Learning Outcomes Assessment Results
• May 30-June 30: Chairs and directors review General Education Outcomes Assessment Results at the “General Education” site on the Academic Development and Assessment website
• June 2-July 30: Summer Session I
• Monday, June 16: Deadline for proposals to Parents’ Association FY09 Funding
• Monday, June 23: Summer II PCRs to Jamie
• Monday, June 30: Second year Student Learning Outcomes Assessment reviewed by Dean
• Monday, June 30: Dean reviews and approves results of Program Learning Outcomes assessment and General Education Outcomes Assessment Results; deadline for Dean to request changes to departmental general education outcomes and assessment
• Tuesday, July 1: Deadline to submit request to use faculty-authored materials in the fall session (2008). For information on the approval process see
• Friday, August 1: Deadline for Fulbright applications for traditional lecturing / research grants and for Fulbright Distinguished Chair awards
• July 7- August 7: Summer Session II
• Wednesday, August 20: LAC Retreat
• Tuesday, August 26: Convocation and College’s Fall Faculty Meeting
• Wednesday, August 27: Fall classes begin
• In September: University Strategic Plan Update completed
• In September: SACS Leadership Team appoints QEP Task Force, with plan to be completed in December
• Thursday, October 30: Student Learning Outcomes and Outcomes Assessment Revisions completed in departments
• Friday, January 16, 2009: Departments to mount proposals to change, add, and delete courses on LA Curriculum TRACS site
• Friday, May 29: Department chairs review third year Student Learning Outcomes Assessment results
• Thursday, September 10: Compliance certification due to SACS