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February 99 Minutes
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February 25, 1999
The Board of Trustees of the Houston Community College System held a Regular
Meeting on February 25, 1999 at the HCCS Administrative Center, Board Room, 22
Waugh Drive, Houston, Texas.
Christopher W. Oliver, Chairman
Abel Davila, Vice Chairman
James R. Murphy, Secretary
Bruce A. Austin
John Fonteno, Jr.
Herlinda Garcia
M James Henderson (arrived at 4:40p)
Carol Smith
Ruth Burgos-Sasscer, Chancellor
Sue Cox, President, HCC-Southwest
Jack E. Daniels, III, President, HCC-Central
Patricia Fairchild Vice Chancellor, Workforce Development
Joe Fenninger, Chief Financial Officer
Margaret Forde, President, HCC-Northeast
Zachary Hodges, President, HCC-Northwest
Sylvia Ramos, President, HCC-Southeast
R. Mark Tiller, Interim Vice Chancellor, Educational Development
Patricia Williamson, Vice Chancellor, Institutional Development
Arturo Michel, Bracewell and Patterson
Yuri Calderon, Bracewell and Patterson
Rick Morris, Feldman and Rogers
Ms.Veronica Devonish, Shell Chem. Co.
Ms. Willa Evans, Shell. Chem. Co.
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Other administrators, staff, representatives of the news media and interested citizens
Mr. Oliver called the meeting to order at 4:15 p.m. and declared the Board convened to
consider matters pertaining to the Houston Community College System as listed on the
duly-posted meeting notice.
Mr. Oliver called upon Mr. Davila to offer the prayer and lead the audience in the Pledge
of Allegiance.
Mr. Oliver asked of the Board members if there were any announcements. Mrs. Garcia
observed that a resolution honoring State Representative Diana Davila was not on the
agenda, despite her request at the last Board meeting that such a resolution to be
presented at this meeting. Also, Mr. Fonteno thanked the Board, faculty, and staff for
their expressions of concern during his recent illness.
Motion No. 895 - Mr. Murphy moved to approve the minutes, as corrected, from the
Regular Board Meeting of January 21, 1999, and the Special Board Meeting of January
27, 1999. Mr. Davila seconded the motion. Motion passed 7-0. Mr. Henderson had not
yet arrived.
During the discussion, Mrs. Garcia inquired if the tape of the January Board meeting had
been released. Mr. Oliver replied that after consulting with Board members, he decided
not to release the tape. He assured Board members, however, that a copy of the tape
would be made available to them.
a. Faculty Recognition Award - The Chancellors Medal for Outstanding Service was
presented to Mr. David West Anthony, faculty member of our Computer Information
System Program, hubbed at Southwest College.
Dr. Burgos pointed out that Mr. Anthony has been instrumental in encouraging students
to enter the computer information field. A sign of how widely recognized his
accomplishments are is that when Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson visited Southeast
College several months ago, he asked to meet with Mr. Anthony, who had come to his
attention because of Mr. Anthonys service as project director for a National Science
Foundation grant that provided support for under-represented students to enter the field
of computer Science.
The Chancellor also observed that Mr. Anthonys 26-year career with Shell Oil prior to
coming to HCCS represented an example of the strong links many of our faculty have to
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(No appearances)
Motion No. 896 - Mr. Murphy moved approval of the consent agenda. Mr. Fonteno
seconded the motion. Motion carried 6-0. Mr. Austin was out of the room; Mr.
Henderson had not yet arrived.
I. Instructional Programs
I. Purchasing of Materials and Services
I. Fiscal Matters
IV. Other
None to report
Recognition of Staff - Dr. Burgos expressed appreciation to her staff and to the
Board temporary secretary for attending to Board Services functions during the
current transition period.
Financial Activity Report - Mr. Fenninger,
CFO, reported an unrestricted fund balance of 51.8 million dollars, of which 34.4 million
comes from an available fund balance carried over from last year, as of August 31,
1998, and 17.4 million dollars, which represents the amount of revenue we have
generated this year in excess of expenditures. Mr. Fenninger cautioned that this amount
is potentially misleading because we typically generate more revenue than usual in
January, February, and March. To identify what revenue is actually available for offbudget items, Mr. Fenninger noted that out of the 51.8 million unrestricted fund balance,
the Board has earmarked 28.5 million for projects, and of the remaining 23.3 million,
only 5.9 million is available at this time because the remaining 17.4 million is earmarked
already for future salaries and expenses.
Next, Mr. Fenninger called the Board's attention to a section of the report that provides
a snap shot of all of the major construction projects now underway. He observed that we
are on target for projected completion dates and that the cost estimates, as represented
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in the budget, are proving reliable thus far. In response to the Board's request at the
January Board meeting, Mr. Fenninger also provided a breakdown on how the bonds
were being allocated to the college and system projects. At this point, Mr. Austin
commended the CFO for providing the Board with a good report. Mrs. Garcia, too,
complimented the clarity of the report.
Mr. Austin next raised a concern about the role of PageSoutherlandPage (PSP) in the
affairs of HCCS. He stated he saw possible legal and ethical problems in having a
company serve as a reviewing agent in assessing our facility needs while also bidding on
certain HCCS projects. In response to his questions, Mr. Michel said that such an
arrangement was legal in the state of Texas but acknowledged that the institution would
be well-served to have clear policy guidelines established by the Board and to undertake
procedures, as necessary, to ensure equity in the letting of contracts. Mrs. Garcia and
Mr. Davila said they shared Mr. Austin's concerns. Mrs. Garcia pointed to PSP's role in
the West Loop project in particular, while Mr. Davila observed that the Capital
Improvement Projects committee would address these issues and he looked forward to
working with Mr. Austin, Mrs. Garcia, our attorneys, and the Chancellor in coming up
with a good policy. Dr. Burgos affirmed that the Administration would see to it that the
ethical concerns the Board members have raised will be addressed. Mrs. Garcia stated
that with the assistance of the attorneys, we should give a report to the Board at the
next meeting to make sure that if what has occurred is not legal, we move forward to
have it corrected. Mr. Austin suggested that as a matter of good policy, it is always good
to check out possible legal or ethical problems with your attorneys.
Mrs. Garcia pointed out that continuing education classes were still being held at Lee
and Bellaire campuses, despite HCCS' investment of millions in the West Loop Center
and an understanding that we would be moving out of these HISD facilities upon the
opening of the center. She inquired as to our intentions in regards to these campuses.
Dr. Sue Cox , president of Southwest College, stated that these campuses are still being
used for continuing education and Adult Basic Education classes but only at the
invitation of the high schools and that we are paying no rent for these facilities. We do,
however, pay for security at these sites. Mrs. Garcia noted that unless we are creating
partnerships, even this expense should not be incurred, and if we are entering into
partnerships, she and Mr. Davila could create partnerships with Milby or Austin high
schools. This situation, she said, once again brought up the fundamental issue of equity.
Mrs. Garcia suggested that perhaps we could build a continuing education facility and
thus be able to leave these sites. Dr. Cox agreed with this goal, observing that with the
completion of the West Loop Center, Phase 2 project, these programs could be moved to
the West Loop.
Excellence Recognized
Dr. Burgos announced that the Office of Business Affairs has received an
Excellence in Financial Reporting Award from the Government Finance Officers
Association. Ms. Celia Gee, Executive Director of Business Affairs, commented that
Wilbur Johnson, Linda Sheffield, and Tony Gerstacker in Business Affairs deserve
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particular commendation for this accomplishment.
Chemical Laboratory Technology Program PresentationDr. Burgos presented Dr. Margaret Forde, president of Northeast College, who
introduced representatives from the Westhollow Technology Center (a subsidiary of Shell
Oil Company), and described a new program at HCCS, the Associate in Applied Science
Degree in Chemical Laboratory Technology, that was developed with strong input from
Westhollow. This partnership has resulted in the Westhollow Technology Center-HCCS
Chemical Laboratory Technology Scholars Program. With a grant from the Shell Oil
Company of $20,000 annually, there will be the opportunity for 25 students to enroll in
this program. The scholarship program will feature a strong mentoring element, based
on the model of the School-to-Careers Program. Dr. Forde thanked HCCS staff for their
hard work in bringing this program to fruition, and she emphasized the enthusiasm and
spirit of cooperation displayed by Westhollow. Ms. Devonish, Technical Skills Resource
Advisor for the Shell Chemical Company, said that Westhollow looks forward to being
able to recruit chemical technicians from the Houston area and signaled Westhollw's
willingness to staff with two employees an advisory committee for the program. An
important element of the program, said Ms. Devonish and Dr. Forde, will be an endowed
chair position . At this point, Ms. Devonish presented to the Chancellor a check for
$20,000 for the scholarship program.
HCC-Northeast College Library Donation Recognition
Dr. Forde thanked Dr. Elaine Adams for her donation of $500.00 to HCCS
Northeast to help build the library collection at the Northline Mall campus. Dr.
Adams thanked Trustee John Fonteno, who is a member of the Board of the
Houston Public Library, for encouraging her to pursue this sort of effort.
Katy Proposal and Other Announcements
Dr. Burgos indicated that there would be a meeting for Board members prior to
the next regular Board meeting to discuss out-of-district issues that are pending ,
such as the Katy proposal. She also noted that there would be two upcoming
facilities committee meetings. One would be on March 8th, a briefing on the final
phase of the facilities plan, and the next on March 27, a one-day retreat to finalize
the plan and to settle on project priorities.
Plaque Honoring Mr. M. James Henderson, Board of Trustees Chair, 1997 and 1998
Mr. Oliver presented this plaque in honor of Mr. Henderson's dedicated service to
the institution in his role as chair for the last two terms.
Board Ad Hoc Committees
Mr. Oliver requested reports from the Ad Hoc committee chairs. Mr. Henderson,
who has been asked to be the chair of the Bond Initiative Committee, expressed
reservations about the role of committees in a nine-member, single-district Board
organization. He said that if the work of the committee was going to be revisited
from the outset again as a Board agenda item, he thought that such committee
work would be a waste of time and energy. On the other hand, if there was a task
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identified for the committee that was not be repeated again when it comes to the
Board table as a Board meeting item, then the committee function might have
some merit. He emphasized that the Board needed to have some discussion on
this issue and that near-unanimity would have to be reached to create positive
conditions for committee work. Until such a discussion took place, Mr. Henderson
said he is reluctant to start in on the requested committee assignment.
Mr. Davila observed that the bond initiative issue was a substantial concern to
many Board members. He pointed out that if we intend to process this initiative,
we must go forward in as expeditious a manner as possible. Mr. Austin said that
there had been a problem and we had contacted our bond counsel because the
Board has an unresolved issue concerning whether we want to have the authority
to issue general revenue bonds, and if we want that authority, how do we want to
inform the public and request it.
Mr. Davila reported that the Capital Improvements Committee had met and is
collecting information on the bidding process and is addressing the sort of issues
earlier mentioned during the discussion about PageSoutherlandPage. Mr. Oliver
emphasized that these committees are commitees-of-the-whole and encouraged
all Board members to attend.
Mr. Murphy reported that Board attention to the Facilities Committee findings was
going to be especially important in the next thirty days, with two key meetings in
the offing, the first on March 8th where the prioritization-of-facilities-projects
model would be distributed and Administration recommendations presented. Then,
before a meeting in late March, Board members would be asked to fill out their
individual priority recommendations and at the meeting examine each other's
recommendations and hopefully come to agreement on these. Then the Board
would be ready to determine how many of these projects HCCS can afford to build.
Mr. Murphy also noted that the Facilities Committee will provide information
concerning potentially surplus properties owned by HCCS and will address "hot
priority items," matters that will not wait until a facilities plan is developed, as well
as significant problems that must be attended to regardless of what we do with
new facilities.
Mr. Austin said he was puzzled that the Chancellor had remained silent during Mr.
Murphy's presentation; usually, he said, the Chancellor accuses Board members of
micromanaging when they go into such detail. In response, Dr. Burgos said the
Facilities Committee represented an example of wonderful collaboration between
the Board and the Administration and that Mr. Murphy, as co-chair of this
committee, had been facilitating the meetings, that the staff had done most of the
work. Mr. Austin said he thought that Mr. Murphy had done a great job but that
what he was concerned with is that the Chancellor needs to be consistent in her
treatment of Board members' involvement but the Administration has done most
of the work. He said that, although he may be wrong, her reaction to certain
Board members seems to be different when she is dealing with Board members
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with certain cultural attributes. In response, Dr. Burgos said she really felt
offended by Mr. Austin's remark.
Mr. Austin said that in the past, he, like Mr. Murphy now, had attempted to bring
new ideas to the institution, working with Administration, but when he brought
these issues to the Board, Dr. Burgos had "a fit." The Chancellor denied this. At
this point, Mr. Oliver said that he believed Mr. Austin was expressing a desire for
equity and consistency in the approach towards committees and that further
comment on this issue was not necessary at this time.
Mrs. Garcia said she, like Mr. Henderson, was concerned about the role of Board
committees and the need for parameters to be set in regards to them. A
committee that is allowed to go on and on, she said, can create the perception
that a Board member is pursuing a special interest. She urged Mr. Oliver as Board
chair to make clear committee timelines, projects, and expectations concerning
the committee members. She said that she wanted to see in writing from Mr.
Oliver a statement of his policy on this issue. In response, Mr. Oliver stated that
he had outlined such parameters, via e-mail, to the Board members, laying out
the purview of the committee and the timeline for its work. Mrs. Garcia said that
committee findings should be presented to the Board for informative purposes but
that it is not appropriate for such work to come to the Board in the form of action
items. Mrs. Garcia said that she would not serve as a chair or vice chair of any
committee but would certainly assist the chairs and would attend any committee
meeting that she chose.
Mr. Austin stated that in regards to the Legal Committee, he recommended that
the Board allow the Administration to continue the process that was executed in
1998, where it went out with RFP's to the legal community. He asked Mr. Michel if
it would be advisable to use the existing documents or to ask those who had
already responded to update their responses. Mr. Michel observed that either
course was legal. At this point Mr. Austin recommended that the Administration
have the purchasing agent continue the process of reviewing legal firms and then
bring to the Board the top three or four candidates for presentation. Mr. Murphy
said that there should be an opportunity provided to those firms that had not
responded earlier. Mr. Oliver requested that Mr. Austin spearhead this effort with
Administration. Mr. Austin indicated that he would, that what he wanted was for
the Board to have an opportunity to see the candidates and make a decision.
Mr. Oliver adjourned the meeting to Executive Session at 5:51 p.m., notice having been
previously given, and reiterated by him, in accordance with the Open Meetings Law. He
stated any final action, vote, or decision on any item discussed in Executive Session,
would be taken up in Open Session or at a future public meeting. Mr. Oliver reconvened
the meeting in Open Session at 7:53 p.m.
Motion No. 897 - Mr. Bruce Austin moved that the Personnel Agenda be accepted with
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the following corrections made by the Chancellor:
1. Remove the "Director of Southwest" from the "Non-faculty Permanent" list; and
2. Correct the typographical error on Page 6 under "Leave of Absence/Resignations/
Retirements/Terminations" for Shah, Meena to read as follows: "It is
recommended that the Board of Trustees accept the recommendation to terminate
the employment of Meena Shah"; and
3. the following amendment: that the two (2) acting Lieutenant/System positions be
removed from the Agenda.
Mr. Murphy seconded the motion. Motion passed 7-0. Mr. Henderson had left the
The next Regular Board Meeting will be held on Thursday, March 25, 1999. It will take
place at the Administrative Center, in the Board Room, at 22 Waugh Drive, Houston,
There being no further business to come before the meeting, Mr. Oliver adjourned the
meeting at 7:55 p.m.
Minutes Prepared By:
Tom Curley, Assistant to the Chancellor
Reviewed, Finalized and Submitted By:
James R. Murphy, Secretary
Minutes Approved as Submitted:
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