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March 21, 2012                                                                                             Spring 2012 No. 4

Dear Colleagues:

 

This month marks one year since the final decision was made to end the Partnership between the UT System and the TSC Board of Trustees that operated UTB/TSC since 1991.  As progress is made in the transition process toward full separation of UT Brownsville and Texas Southmost College, it is our intent to continually provide timely and candid communication as it becomes available through both the leadership at UT System and UT Brownsville.  Each milestone in the process serves to design a thriving campus that benefits the educational priorities of our students.

 

As you recall, the work of imagining UTB as a separate entity began first with a new mission statement developed by our campus community, as well as business and civic leaders, which would guide our work.  The UT System Board of Regents adopted the new mission statement for UT Brownsville in August of 2011:

 

“The University of Texas at Brownsville draws upon the intersection of cultures and languages at the southern border and Gulf Coast of the United States to develop knowledgeable citizens and emerging leaders who are engaged in the civic life of their community. It embraces teaching excellence, active inquiry, lifelong learning, rigorous scholarship, and research in service to the common good. The University promotes the interdisciplinary search for new knowledge that advances social and physical well-being and economic development through commercialization, while honoring the creative and environmental heritage of its region.”

 

The next order of business was to develop enrollment models that would identify community college programs that will be discontinued or transferred to TSC. The models would also address academic programs that anticipate reduced need for faculty due to projected enrollment decreases as a result of new admissions standards or programmatic changes. The modeling predicts a new student body of 7,400 UTB students, or 60 percent of the current student body. It also identifies the reduced number of faculty positions needed in the resized UTB.

 

This spring begins the process of resizing UTB’s core faculty, which will follow the guidelines as outlined in the UT System Regents Rules. Therefore, a reduction in force process set forth in Regents Rule 31003, Sec. 2 began on March 19th to effectuate these decisions. 

 

Review Committees:

 

Review Committees were formed to review academic programs and faculty positions for elimination. Tenured and tenure-track faculty associated with community college programs will be reviewed by a university-wide committee (the University Review Committee).  Tenured and tenure-track faculty in academic departments that will lose positions due to decreased enrollment or for other programmatic reasons will be reviewed by committees at the departmental level (Departmental Review Committees). Also, Program Review Committees will be formed to review certain non-community college programs being considered for abandonment or reduction in scope.

 

·         The University Review Committee is composed of five faculty members from across the university.  Departmental Review Committees will have either three or five members, depending on the size of the department.  These committee members were recommended by their respective Deans and the Provost and appointed by the President. Program Review Committees will be composed of five members, including representatives of the University Undergraduate Curriculum Committee and the Graduate Committee, appointed by the President.

 

·         The Provost provided each Review Committee with a specific charge to guide the Committee’s work (the Provost’s Charge).  The purpose of the Provost’s Charge is to clearly delineate the specific task of each Review Committee and to provide guidance for the process to be used in their deliberations and in formulating their recommendations.   

 

·         Each Review Committee will make recommendations for the elimination of faculty positions to the Provost, based on the Provost’s Charge and the committee’s evaluation of the faculty members being reviewed.   Departmental Review Committees will have the opportunity to request permission from the Provost to deviate from his instructions in the Provost’s Charge for exceptional cases.

 

·         If the Review Committee informs the Provost that it intends to recommend a tenured faculty member for termination, the Provost will notify the tenured faculty member and allow him/her to submit written statements and documents advocating for his/her continued employment to the Review Committee.

 

·         An attorney from the Office of General Counsel of The University of Texas System will provide legal advice and counsel to each Review Committee as needed.

 

Recommendations:

 

By May 7, 2012, each Review Committee will have completed its work and will have submitted its final recommendations and rationale to the Provost.  The Provost will then submit his recommendation to the President, who will in turn submit her request for approval to the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.

 

Notification of Results of Decisions:

 

On or about May 14, 2012, tenured and tenure-track faculty members whose positions have been recommended for termination will be notified and provided information about an incentive program that would allow these faculty to voluntarily resign their positions effective May 31, 2013, in exchange for compensation.

 

By August 1, 2012, UTB will notify tenured and tenure track faculty members who will be terminated as a result of the reduction in force, and who have elected not to participate in the incentive program, that their employment will end as of May 31, 2013. 

 

Appeal Process:

 

Tenured and tenure-track faculty who elected not to participate in the incentive program may appeal the termination decision.

 

·         Appeal Hearing Committees will be constituted to hear appeals. These hearings will be conducted in accordance with Sec. 2 of Regents’ Rule 31003 and the procedures provided by the President or the Provost.

 

·         Tenured faculty in abandoned programs may also request reassignment to positions in other academic programs at the University for which they may be qualified, in accordance with Regents’ Rule 31003, Sec. 2.6.

 

·         Appeal hearings will be conducted in the Fall of 2012.

 

Employment in a New Capacity:

 

Dependent on need, tenured and tenure-track faculty whose positions are eliminated in the reduction in force will have priority in the filling of lecturer positions at UTB beginning in September of 2013.  

 

We anticipate the review process for staff positions to begin in January of 2013. The preliminary timeline would include notification of the staff positions that will be eliminated in the reduction in force to take place during the spring semester with employment to end August 31, 2013.

 

 

There is no doubt that the changes ahead will be difficult. We are committed to conducting each process in a manner that is transparent and respectful of the many valuable contributions of the faculty and staff who over the years have in good faith dedicated themselves to their students and to the work of the community university. 

 

Ultimately, as Chancellor Cigarroa reminded us in his recent letter to the campus community, this is not merely a transactional separation of two entities, but most important an extraordinary new beginning for generations of students who will earn a high quality University of Texas degree.

 

 

Dr. Pedro Reyes                                                                                              Dr. Juliet V. García

Executive Vice Chancellor                                                                               President

for Academic Affairs ad interim                                                                    The University of Texas at Brownsville

The University of Texas System

 

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