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Faculty Senate moves closer to creating new faculty handbook

Faculty Senate President Brian Brantley conducts a meeting at Main Campus Building on Oct. 4 to discuss updates and new furniture in the Central Academic Building, and the process for creating a new faculty handbook.  Photo by Sandra Casarrubias

By Rebecca Salinas

Focused on the drafting of a new handbook, Faculty Senate made a recommendation Oct. 4 to Provost Brent Snow that the senate’s Executive Committee would select a faculty to author a new faculty handbook.

A new faculty handbook would replace the current one adopted from Texas A&M University-Kingsville which was amended and revised to fit this university’s needs.

Part of the recommendation is that the author be compensated monetarily or granted course release. The recommendation also includes that the handbook be counted as a  publication entry and be counted as university service on the author’s curriculum vitae, or resume.

In a follow-up interview, Faculty Senate President Brian Brantley said Oct. 10 that the faculty who will author the handbook won’t necessarily be on the senate. It could be any faculty member at the university.

Brantley said a faculty handbook “spells out” every policy concerning faculty so they know what to expect from the university, and vice versa.

He said in the past, two administrators looked at Kingsville’s faculty handbook and examined it to make sure it adhered to this university. “They went through line by line and made sure it said San Antonio instead of Kingsville, and got rid of any policies that Kingsville has and we don’t,” he said.

If Snow approves the recommendation, Faculty Senate’s executive committee, in cooperation with Snow, would select the author. Brantley said if the recommendation is approved, then the goal is to have the handbook be completed by the end of the academic year.

Although the meeting agenda included an administrative update from Snow, the item was removed due to his attendance at an out-of-state conference.

During the discussion on the new handbook, Faculty Senate Parliamentarian Richard Green requested to add an amendment to the motion to include the report presented from their last meeting. The amendment was passed. In the September meeting, the discussion of the issue was halted and postponed due to an interest of time.

Brantley said the original report in the Senate’s September meeting includes statements such as: the faculty handbook needs a complete rewrite and the current handbook is missing links to websites. A finalized version of the report was not available to the public by the publication deadline.

Librarian Jacob Sherman motioned an amendment for Brantley to write the recommendation in a formal letter to present to Snow. The amendment was passed.

“If the provost agrees to it, then we will choose someone and press on. If the provost disagrees, then something alternative will have to be done,” Green said. “It is not necessary we answer all of our problems in advance. It is necessary that we give our best advice.”

In other news, the Senate discussed the new furniture that will be housed in the Central Academic Building. The building is scheduled for completion by July or early August and was designed by local architecture firm Kell Muñoz Architects.

Brantley said classroom tables will not be wired with electrical outlets, but there will be student areas that would have outlets available. This differs from Main Campus which has tables wired with electrical outlets.

He said one reason is because the wiring is expensive. Lorie Webb, assistant professor of curriculum and kinesiology, said another reason is because wiring binds tables so they would not be able to be “configured in different ways.

Brantley said the furniture is “actually exciting” because tables can be configured into many ways, such as in groups or individually.

He said the office furniture would be smaller than what is used at Main Campus Building. He said there were talks of limiting book cases to two per faculty office. He said he was not sure if office spaces are going to be smaller.

In a follow up interview, Marshall Lasswell, director of facilities and physical plant, said the plan is to have both a bookcase and lateral file cabinet in each office. However, he said office layouts can change.

“I think there’s just a kind of lack of understanding on the part of the administration,” he said. “Some of us just really need space, we actually need storage space.”

Dr. Ed Westermann, associate professor of history and vice president, said professors need to have hard-copy readings since they won’t be available in the university’s “e-preferred” library. He said professors need book and storage space to keep all their hard-copy resources.

“With decisions that might be made, they are made independent of some of the factors that probably should’ve been considered,” he said.

He said in August 2012, emails were sent to faculty members to meet with architects to discuss needs. He said the problem was the email was sent 24 hours before the deadline, so people were not able to make it.

Webb said the senate should look into how faculty members can be more involved in demonstrating their needs for future constructions.

“We brainstorm what our needs are, then they can pick what’s best for the budget and all of that,” she said.

Brantley said, “If we could have that representation, then I could see this whole process of finding out from our constituents … what we need.”

The next Faculty Senate meeting is 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Nov. 1 in Room 137 at Brooks City-Base Campus.

About the Author

Rebecca Salinas
Rebecca Salinas is a Comunidad/Cultura Editor for The Mesquite. Rebecca attended San Antonio College, where she received her A.A. in Journalism. At SAC, she served as Managing Editor and Editor at The Ranger, the award winning newspaper founded in 1926. Rebecca graduated from Somerset High School in Somerset in 2010, where she took journalism courses. She has a passion for rural issues, such as Eagle Ford Shale, which she hopes to report on after graduation.

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