June Update

June 22, 2010

By Lynne Opperman, 2009-10 Speaker

Lynne Opperman

Dr. Lynne Opperman

Dr. Nancy W. Dickey, HSC president and vice chancellor for The Texas A&M University System, charged the faculty senate with addressing faculty recruitment and retention, holding a retreat to identify and problem-solve barriers to research within the health science center, and making recommendations on several new and existing policies.

In April, faculty members from various HSC academic units attended the first of two half-day Research Barrier Retreats along with Dr. Dickey and David S. Carlson, Ph.D., vice president for Research and Graduate Studies. Faculty Senate Speaker Dr. Lynne Opperman led the retreat, in which perceived barriers were identified. To further refine the barrier identification process, The Senate Executive Committee has solicited faculty to review the barrier list from the first retreat, and select the most significant barriers to focus on at a second half-day retreat in June.

Research Barrier retreat participants

  • Drs. Anthony Bolin, Kim Perry and Paco Rivera-Hidalgo: HSC-Baylor College of Dentistry
  • Jeff Cirillo and Ursula Winzer-Serhan: HSC-College of Medicine basic
  • Russ McAllister and Catherine McNeal from HSC-College of Medicine clinical
  • Katherine Bowman and Karen Landry from HSC-College of Nursing
  • Bob Stanberry and Kris Virga from HSC-Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy
  • Jane Bolin and Paul Dechow from the HSC-Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
  • Jiang Chang from HSC-College of Medicine in Houston
  • Ken McLeroy and Jane Sharkey from the HSC-School of Rural Public Health

While the research retreat team focused on barriers, the HSC Faculty Senate addressed faculty recruitment and retention issues. The HSC Faculty Senate submitted an extensive summary of comments, and suggestions to Roderick E. McCallum, Ph.D., vice president for Academic Affairs. In response, Dr. McCallum requested a reactivation of the Faculty Recruitment and Retention Committee on Academic Salary History (CASH).

The CASH committee was chaired by Catherine Hawes, Ph.D., of the HSC-School of Rural Public Health and focused on salary compression as well as the practice of setting salaries at the 50th percentile of the national average.

Senator Hawes proposed the need to submit an annual report about faculty salary issues to the HSC Faculty Senate and Faculty Executive Committee as well as The Texas A&M University System chancellor.

The CASH committee requested an opportunity to review the HSC and academic unit budgets over the last 5 to 8 years to determine trends that reflect revenues from research. Specific items to be requested include the indirect cost rate for research projects, education and development as well as how those funds are allocated.

The results of gathering this information could determine how the HSC may generate additional funding for faculty recruitment, retention and research incentives. The committee is also seeking to determine how each academic unit is ranked nationally, the basis of those rankings, and the impact of rankings on faculty/student recruitment, faculty retention and external funding. In addition, the committee will investigate how academic unit rankings can be improved over time.


To address one of the requirements for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) accreditation, Quality Enhancement Proposals (QEPs) were requested from all faculty. Senators Pat Campbell and Rosemarie Zartmann from the HSC-Baylor College of Dentistry and Thomas Miller from the HSC-School of Rural Public Health volunteered to review the first-round submissions. Three proposals were chosen for expansion into full-fledged proposals.

Regents Professor Nominees

Along with these activities, Deputy Speaker Jim Burdine, Dr.P.H., of the HSC-School of Rural Public Health ran this year’s Regents Professor Award selection process. The names of four nominees were submitted to Dr. Burdine, who convened the Senate Executive Committee to review the nomination packets. Two nominees were presented to the full faculty senate, which voted unanimously to approve the nominees and forward the names to Dr. Dickey. The names of the successful nominees will be announced after review by Texas A&M System Chancellor Michael D. McKinney, M.D.

Policy review

The faculty senate also played a key role in tabling a new email policy that it believes would have adversely affected the ability of faculty to store and access email. It has created an ad hoc committee to research alternate policies and draft a proposed email policy to present to the Executive Committee. Another new policy tabled was the alternate work location policy. Faculty deemed that it was more important to be judged on their performance and not on their work locations. It was stressed that any HSC policy regarding the workplace needed to be applicable to all academic units, rather than separate policies for each one.

Dr. Dickey convened an ad hoc committee comprising the vice president for academic affairs, deans and directors of each academic unit, and Senators Opperman and Burdine to create an Interactions with Industry Policy. The ad hoc committee sought input from the Texas A&M System Office of Technology Commercialization as well as HSC administrative staff with expertise in technology transfer and industry relations. The Executive Committee approved this policy and a series of accompanying guidelines.

As part of the periodic review of existing policies, the faculty senate is currently reviewing the HSC policy on academic workload. Any recommendations will be presented to the Executive Committee at its next meeting.

Distinguished lecture

Finally, this year’s Senate Sponsored Speaker Series Distinguished Lectureship event occurred on May 13 and featured Dr. James Rohack, American Medical Association president and professor of medicine and humanities at the HSC-College of Medicine, as the speaker. His well-received lecture, “The Impact of Health System Reform on Research in the 21st Century,” was broadcast to all HSC sites and was followed by a panel discussion.

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