Project South Texas

Q and A, page 6

Q and A, page 6

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Q and A, page 6

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Will UT RGV offer a degree in Design?

No proposal for a design program has been submitted to the U. T. System. Over the next 6-9 months, UTRGV will develop its internal process for proposing new degree programs based upon market demand and other factors consistent with UT System and Coordinating Board requirements.

 

Will there be doctoral programs in Psychology added? Not just in Clinical but in other areas as well Industrial-Organizational, Experimental, etc......

No proposal for a doctoral program in any specialization area of psychology has been submitted to the U. T. System. Over the next 6-9 months, UTRGV will develop its internal process for proposing new degree programs based upon market demand and other factors consistent with UT System and Coordinating Board requirements.

 

Will UT-RGV offer the program of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist?

No proposal for an advanced practice nurse anesthetist degree program has been submitted to the U. T. System. Over the next 6-9 months, UTRGV will develop its internal process for proposing new degree programs based upon market demand and other factors consistent with UT System and Coordinating Board requirements.

 

How will the Engineering and Computer Science departments merge in UT-RGV ?  Will a graduate student currently enrolled attending UTB (MSCS) be able take courses/classes at the former UTPA , in the new UT-RGV ? Its really confusing in this scenario how the UTB and UTPA Computer Science departments will merge.

This has not been worked out yet but we expect to have the academic structure and organization plan completed in the fall of this year. However, we do know that current graduate students in any program at either UTB or UTPA will be provided teach out plan for how they will be able to complete their degree program in a timely manner at UTRGV.

 

If I am attending one of the schools, will I still have the opportunity of joining a program (once the schools merge) that only the other school offers. For instance,  a student at utb right now can do the combined bachelors and masters accounting program at utb but not at utpa.

Yes, as long as there is sufficient student demand, it is expected that, over time, educational opportunities will be available to students regardless of their location.

 

There are countless references to "University of the 21st Century,"  meaning a technologically innovative institution that emphasizes the use of online courses, ipads, instructional packages produced by profits-making publishers, for  use with communication gadgets widely used today. It is also stated that established practices of university organization are deemed obsolete simply by the fact that they are currently in use, Planning groups have been instructed "to think outside the box." Does all this mean that Harvard, Brown, Princeton, Chicago and Berkeley are, as of now, declared obsolete and that UTRGV, by fiat, becomes a model for them?

Universities across the nation, including Harvard and other leading universities across the world, have recognized the coming major changes in higher education and are already at work charting out their strategies for the 21st Century.  UT has already joined Harvard, MIT and fourteen other US and sixteen foreign universities in EdX, a consortium exploring new ways to use technology in curricula. When the UT System established its newest component, UTRGV, it made sense that it begin at the leading edge of this movement. If the past is a predictor of the future, there will likely be a number of models of university excellence and the goal is that UTRGV is a model for one of them. 

 

I read the guiding principles, and I see how the system is touting how the new university will provide an outstanding education, the education will be of the highest quality; it will be affordable, accessible and innovative etc. etc., etc. I guess my question is . Weren't we that already? Or did you see a way of restructuring without stating the obvious?

UTRGV will be unlike any other university in the UT System. It will be built upon a vision of the 21st Century, include a medical school, and will be structured to use higher education resources to serve students, research and service in new and different ways. Although foundational aspects of the guiding principles exist at both UTB and UTPA, the goal of UTRGV is to take these principles to levels never achieved before in American higher education, in terms of student success, innovative use of technology and advanced data analytics, the creation of knowledge to solve regional needs, especially related to health, and overall community impact. 

 

Are these questions really anonymous?

They are completely anonymous.

 

If UTRGV is to be an Emerging Research University, will there be an external evaluation of UTPA and UTB tenured and tenure-track faculty to ensure that all faculty rehired meet the standards of this new, higher-level university?

With regard to the initial hiring of tenured and tenure-track faculty at UTRGV, the institution will adhere to the factors set forth in the “Hiring of Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty Members to The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley” policy adopted by the Board of Regents in May 2014.  We are currently determining the processes and procedures that will be implemented for the hiring of tenured and tenure-track faculty in subsequent hiring phases.

 

Previous responses to questions note "a great majority" of UTPA and UTB faculty and staff will be offered a position with UTRGV. We can interpret this as saying that UT System acknowledges a portion will not be retained. 

The organizational structure and staffing needs of UTRGV are currently being developed. Since this plan has not been finalized, the best answer that can be provided at this time is that it is anticipated that a great majority of UTPA and UTB staff will be offered a position at UTRGV.  UTRGV will strive to create a hiring process that will provide as much advance written notice as possible to any employee who is not selected for a UTRGV job for which the employee applies. There are ongoing discussions regarding whether a separation program will be offered to staff. 

Will there be an advanced notice to employees who are not retained that they will be terminated? When will that notice be given (specifically the length of time between the delivery of the notice and the termination date)? Will those employees be offered a severance package?

The organizational structure and staffing needs of UTRGV are currently being developed. Since this plan has not been finalized, the best answer that can be provided at this time is that it is anticipated that a great majority of UTPA and UTB staff will be offered a position at UTRGV.  UTRGV will strive to create a hiring process that will provide as much advance written notice as possible to any employee who is not selected for a UTRGV job for which the employee applies. There are ongoing discussions regarding whether a separation program will be offered to staff. 

 

What will happen to our current sick leave and vacation hours?

An employee of UTPA or UTB who separates from employment under these circumstances (the dissolution of UTB and UTPA) and is reemployed by a different state agency or public institution of higher education, including UTRGV, within 12 months after the end of the month in which the employee separates from the state employment is entitled to have the employee's sick leave balance restored.  An employee who transfers from UTPA or UTB to UTRGV without a break in service can request that his/her accrued annual vacation leave balance be transferred to the UTRGV. An employee who completed six months of continuous employment with the state is entitled to be paid for his/her total accumulated annual vacation leave balance as of the date he/she separates, resigns or is dismissed from employment with the University. Accordingly, an employee who separates from UTPA and UTB will be paid a lump sum payment based on the employee’s rate of pay at the time of separation, multiplied by the employee’s total accumulated annual vacation leave hours.

 

How will the current nursing students at UTB be affected by UTRGV?  Will the nursing students still be students of UTB or UTRGV?

All students of the nursing programs will be UTRGV students.

Please explain how it was decided for the 16 degree plans to be dismissed. Shouldn't this university be adding programs, not subtracting them?

The majority of the degree programs that will be phased out over time are duplicative; that is, two “like” programs exist at UT Brownsville and UT Pan American and there is no need to retain both. In a few other cases, programs are being phased out due to low enrollment.

 

If we want to transfer to UT-RGV who do we talk to?

If you are at UTB or UTPA, you will automatically be admitted to UTRGV. What specific steps you will follow to register for classes have not been mapped out yet but it will likely be not much different from the usual classes registration process you follow now.  If you are transferring from another university, you will follow a process similar to any other UT university.  New students may apply for UTRGV in late summer at  www.applytexas.org . Students applying for the spring or summer semesters of 2015 will continue to use the UTPA or UTB Apply Texas applications. Specific questions? Email  admissions@utrgv.edu.

 

What are the prerequisites for the medical school?

The UTRGV Medical School admissions criteria are not yet established but you can get a good idea of what they will be by looking at the established guidelines for UT Health Science Center San Antonio (UTHSCSA) by going to http://som.uthscsa.edu/Admissions/prerequisites.asp

 

With over 1,000,000 visitors a year, its unfortunate that we cannot give them something a little prettier to look at than the coastal studies laboratory. When we become the UTRGV can we invest in making it look more attractive and greater representation of our institution?

Your advice will be passed to the appropriate managers once the new organization has been appointed, which should occur in the next few months.

 

This question is in response to your response to the question "How about dual career policy?" To add context, UTPA has an ADVANCE grant to support and encourage recruiting & retention of women faculty in STEM. To that end UTPA has been developing policy for Dual Career Academic hiring. We are wondering if these types of policies will be encouraged at UTRGV.

UTRGV is committed to recruiting the greatest talent available and we concur with a recent study issued by The Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University that concludes that "Support for dual careers opens another avenue by which universities can compete for the best and brightest."

 

Question: UTPA has worked closely with South Texas College to transition students as smoothly as possible. Will UTRGV continue the relationship that UTPA has established with STC?

UTRGV will continue to build strong relationships with the Valley's Community Colleges and its State Technical College, collaborating with them to devise seamless transitions for students between the Valley's higher education institutions and creating a single, combined higher education capacity that wil help the development of the entire region.

 

When will the number of faculty and staff positions needed at UT RGV be determined?

The manning charts that identify the positions needed to operate UTRGV should be completed during the period between Labor Day and Christmas.

 

Will there be a Dietetics Technician program (DTR)?

The UT System has not received a proposal for such a program. UTRGV must follow the existing process to gain approval for a new degree program. The process includes submitting a proposal to the UT System demonstrating the job market need, identifying the resources that would be used to offer the program at a high quality, and providing information on the projected costs and revenues. Final approval rests with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

 

The newly formed UTRGV transition team does not include any UTPA or UTB Information Technology (IT) representation. What is the role of IT in the transition to UTRGV and beyond?

Given that IT is a primary platform for 21st Century higher education, IT will continue to play a growing role at UTRGV. President Bailey's initial Transition Team is part of an already well developed infrastructure that has been at work on transition planning since 2013. There are 22 Function Groups who are preparing plans for the operational launch of UTRGV. One of those groups is focused on IT and includes personnel from UTPA, UTB, UTHSCSA and UT System.

 

Will the UT System relocate the Brownsville campus to a safer part of town? The current location is not safe. Are there any plans to relocate the campus in the future?

There are no plans to relocate the Brownsville campus. UT System is completely committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for students, staff, faculty and all those who visit our campuses. By federal law, called the "Clery Act", campuses must report yearly their crime statistics. UTB has a crime incident rate per student just slightly less than UT Austin's. Our UT Police Department works diligently and cooperatively with federal and local law enforcement to continually identify crime trends that would jeopardize the safety of our campus community, always preparing to deter or respond to any threats.

 

What will be the requirements for acceptance to the medschool?

The UTRGV Medical School admissions criteria are not yet established but you can get a good idea of what they will be by looking at the established guidelines for UT Health Science Center San Antonio (UTHSCSA) by going tohttp://som.uthscsa.edu/Admissions/prerequisites.asp

 

Will this new university allow staff to work remotely? Especially IT departments?

We are not sure what you mean by "remotely" since UTRGV will be physically distributed across the region and virtually distributed world-wide. UTRGV personnel and resources will be deployed to any place where our mission requires it.

 

How can you assure the employees there will be a fair application process and salary adjustments moving to UTRGV? To avoid any kind of biases in the future, as unfortunately at the moment practiced. Sometimes, it is who you butter up and not your qualifications.

To meet its vision of a highly respected and accomplished 21st Century University, UTRGV's new administration will be seeking the highest quality talent and capacities available. Competition for positions will be resolved by applying criteria that will result in identifying and hiring that talent.

 

What are the chances that the staff salaries at UTRGV will be higher than those currently paid at UTPA & UTB? It would be really great if they could, at least, match those paid at South Texas College. We lose good staff regularly to colleges like STC whose pay scales exceed ours and - if we are really to be a research-emerging university - the only way to attract and keep good support staff is to pay them reasonably.

UTRGV will offer salaries that will attract and hold the highest quality talent and capabilities available, so market will be a key factor in salary rates.

 

Who will lead UT Brownsville after Dr. Garcia begins her new position in August? Will a Interim President be hired?

Both UTB and UTPA will have as-yet unnamed, newly appointed presidents by September 1st to serve for each institution's last year.

 

The Working Groups made recommendations about the new university's mission, structure, and programs. My understanding was that these recommendations would undergo further review and deliberation. Will the results of these conversations be released? Is it still possible to give suggestions/feedback on the future structure and programs of the new university? For example, will departments and colleges be reconfigured? How will these decisions be made? Who will be the final arbitrator and when will these decisions be made public?

UT System has engaged the international consulting firm DeLoitte to prepare an institutional design and operational efficiencies study that will be conducted in three phases; Environmental scan and market analysis, Identification of preliminary models and assumptions and Socialize and review models with critical stakeholders. The end product will serve as basis for Blueprinting and Execution planning. The UTB/UTPA Work Group recommendations have already been examined by DeLoitte and serve as a basis for the work. There will be many opportunities for UTB and UTPA personnel to participate in interviews and group sessions. The final approvals of the UTRGV mission, vision and structure will be made by the UT System Board of Regents.

 

How will this new university benefit non-medical students? As a UTB student it feels that every other major is being left out and everyone is only focused on the medical portion of this merger.

More than 130 non-medical degrees programs, ranging from English to engineering to biology to public administration and beyond, will be offered by UTRGV starting fall 2015. You can view the list of approved programs HERE .

 

When staff and faculty re-apply for their jobs who will determine who will be hired?

UTRGV is responsible for determining its staff and faculty needs, as well as the particular individuals who will fill those positions.

 

As a tenured faculty member who has been offered a Voluntary Separation Incentive, I am frustrated by the lack of information necessary to make an informed decision. With a better idea of what workload and salaries will be at UT-RGV, I could make a more informed decision. From what I gather, that information will not be available until after the July 7 decision deadline. Am I correct in those assumptions?

Yes. That is correct.

 

In a question below it states "All jobs at UTB and UTPA are being eliminated because both entities will cease to exist next year." Which means employees are being laid off temporarily? what if they do not reapply for a position at UTRGV, does that mean the employee may collect unemployment?

It is anticipated that UTRGV job postings and job offers will be made before UTB and UTPA are dissolved. Whether or not an individual is eligible for unemployment benefits is a determination that is made by the Texas Workforce Commission.

 

With regard to faculty rehiring, will the Regents be using their discretionary powers to block reappointment of faculty members who may not have had formal actions or investigations brought against them but who are nevertheless notorious in their departments for their egregious uncollegiality, gratuitous troublemaking, poor teaching, shoddy research and other such qualities that would make them more liability than asset to the new university?

In making decisions about tenure, The Board of Regents will review the information that has been submitted in the application process described in the Phase I policy: Hiring of Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty Members to The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley .

 

I want to know what is going to happend with the staff working under grants. Do we have to reapply?.

A staff hiring policy has not yet been finalized. It is anticipated that all staff, including staff on grant funding, will be required to reapply.

 

Hi. How will current retirees of UTPA and UTB be handled as these two institutions are abolished - ie will their benefits management be transferred to UT-RGV ; Will their benefits be cancelled or modified ? Where will future retirees that qualified for retirement from UTPA or UTB go to begin the retirement process if begun after the abolishment date ?

All benefits eligible retired employees are entitled to participate in the UT System self-funded group insurance plan (the Plan) pursuant to Texas Insurance Code 1661. The current practice, which is codified in Plan policy, is that premium collection, annual enrollment and assistance of retired employees with day to day issues involving their coverage is the responsibility of the last System institution at a retiree was employed. By statute, benefits to eligible retirees from UTPA and UTB continue to be eligible to participate in the Plan, as will former employees who meet the criteria (age plus years of service) to come back and access retiree benefits. UT System has determined that it has the authority to provide for the continued provision of benefits related services. At present, the plan is that UT System Administration/UTRGV’s Office of Human Resources will take over the functions required to ensure that these individuals can continue to participate in the Plan as retirees without interruption.

 

When will be the last day for remaining staff, those who don’t get a job with UTRGV? August 31, 2015 or sooner?

This date is not known at the present time.

 

Is taking medical leave during final year considered under option 6 of the agreement? “6) If Employee separates from employment with University before May 31, 2015; is not on University’s payroll continuously from the effective date of this agreement through May 31, 2015; and/or fails to perform his/her duties under the 2014-2015 appointment referenced in the paragraphs above, Employee will forfeit any right to the Voluntary Incentive Payment and University will not provide the Voluntary Incentive Payment.”

An individual who enters into the VSIP Agreement, accepts employment during the 2014-2015 academic year, but qualifies for FMLA or paid sick leave during that year, may take the time for which they are eligible and still receive the Voluntary Incentive Payment.

 

I read the email received from Liana Ryan on "Staff Senate Update: UTRGV Staff Hiring Process today. It explains how all UTPA and UTB staff members must go through an application process in order to be hired by UTRGV. Plus it also states as former state employees hired by UTRGV, we will have our state service benefits and balances transferred as per our Office of Employee Benefits (OEB) polices.Does this include longevity and vacation balances?

Yes

 

Will grant funded programs be automatically transferred to the new UT-RGV university? Do staff from grant funded programs have to re-apply for their positions?

Each grant will have to be have to be reviewed to determine eligibility and, if eligible, requirements for transfer to UTRGV. A staff hiring policy has not yet been finalized. It is anticipated that all staff, including staff on grant funding, will be required to reapply.

 

Will staff from all locations forming UTRGV, be offered the a VSIP as faculty?

It has not yet been decided whether a Voluntary Separation Incentive Program will be offered for staff.

 

We keep hearing that all full time staff would need to reapply for their positions at UTRGV. Does this mean that they will need to go through the entire hiring process, including complete interviews by their potential supervisors? Will there also be Phases for staff?

It is anticipated that more information regarding staff hiring will be available later this summer.

 

I am a staff member who was planning to retire at the end of the fiscal year 2015 (August 31, 2015) as I will be 65 then (in August 2015) and therefore eligible for all my TRS without penalty. Will my current position exist through to August 31, 2015 or will I have to reapply to UTRGV to keep my current position (or a similar position) through to that date? I have been assuming that my current position would carry through the 2014-2015 fiscal year - but I don't want to assume any more. Thanks for any info on this.

The date(s) that UTPA and UTB will be dissolved is not yet known. It is anticipated that more information regarding staff hiring will be available later this summer.

 

A short note of appreciation for this question section. With the significant increase in petroleum exploration and production, it seems to me that a minor in petroleum engineering, or even petroleum geology would be the way to go? In addition, to providing our graduates with some marketable education, the oil companies have alot of moneys to give to universities for grants and scholarships.

Thank you for your valued insights. Your note will be relayed to those working on academic programs.

 

I am currently beginning my residency application process as a 4th year medical student and am very interested in returning to the valley for my graduate medical education. Aside from the family medicine programs in McAllen and Harlingen, will any other spots be offered, or will those programs simply grow? If so, when will more spots be made available? Many thanks!

In addition to the Family Residency Program in Mc Allen-MMC and the Internal Medicine Program in Harlingen-Valley Baptist MC there are two new programs already approved under the sponsorship of UTHSCSA at DHR in McAllen-Edinburg which are: Family Medicine which will offer 6 PGY-1 positions for 2015-2016 and Internal Medicine which will offer 12 PGY-1 positions for 2015-2016. We are expecting within the next 3 weeks the ACGME approval for the General Surgery which will offer 4 PGY-1 positions for 2015-2016. During the summer we expect the site visit and approval of the OB-GYN program for 2015-2016.

 

In a previous question regarding hiring of staff, you stated "we anticipate that the great majority of UTB and UTPA employees will be offered positions at UTRGV." Will these employees be considered permanent employees or will they be placed under six months of probation as is usually the policy with new hires?

It is anticipated that UTRGV’s probationary policy will provide a waiver from the probationary period for those individuals who are employed by UTRGV from UTPA or UTB without a break in service. Further, pursuant to Regents’ Rules and Regulations, employees hired by UTRGV will be at-will employees.

 

It sounds as if the future of UTRGV will depend on the hiring of highly qualified faculty that will utilize the most innovative teaching techniques that will define a school of the 21st Century. This includes being competent in offering classes online because this opens the door to higher education for students who work. It seems that many 3rd class educational methods are presently being employed in some departments at UTPA with staff still using paper handouts and recording grades the "old fashioned" way. Local high schools use more technology than some faculty at UTPA. Will the new faculty at UTRGV be trained in using technology and then mandated in using this technology in delivering instruction?

Like the use of technology for training in the new simulation hospital as well as the use of technology to have a virtual anatomy laboratory, the same will be true for all the UTRGV SOM educational initiatives. There is also a plan to have an extended curriculum by creating a virtual campus.

 

Will the Staff hiring process be similar to faculty where there will be an initial phase were current UTB and UTPA staff will have a chance to be hired without having to compete with someone that is not currently in UTPA or UTB?

The hiring processes and guidelines for UTRGV staff members have not yet been finalized. Information will be disseminated as soon as it is available.

 

Will current UTPA/UTB employees be notified if their position will exist in the new university or will they have to just keep checking on a website wondering if and when will something will be posted?

The hiring processes and guidelines for UTRGV staff members have not yet been finalized. Information will be disseminated as soon as it is available.

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