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University of Houston - Victoria

Academic Affairs
Office of the Provost

10. Policies and Procedures


10.15 GENERAL INFORMATION ON OFF-CAMPUS RESOURCES & SERVICES

For UHV Faculty Members Assigned to the Fort Bend Centers

and Faculty Commuting to the Centers

This is an attempt to provide useful information particularly for faculty members assigned to off-campus centers as their primary worksite but also for commuting faculty members. It is being shared with all faculty, since there is a fair amount of change in who is teaching where. Other useful documents include the guide for faculty members teaching at the Sugar Land center (on its web site) and the Guide to Collaboration at the UH System’s Teaching Centers (on the UH System web site under Distance Education). Please let the Provost know if corrections need to be made or items need to be added to this document.

Bookstore:
A Barnes/Noble bookstore operated by UHD provides service at Sugar Land around the opening of each semester and summer session. The schools provide orders directly to that operation, as well as to the Victoria College Bookstore. Many students use online vendors to purchase their textbooks.

It is often a problem for students to get the right textbook in time for the start of a course, particularly if they wait till the last minute. The problem occurs on campus and off campus, though it is worse off campus. The problem is multi-dimensional, owing to the number of vendors and the uncertainty about the number of textbooks they can each expect to sell.

The problem seems largely confined to students who are trying to purchase texts right before classes start, and there is no way for the university or for any college bookstore to ensure that there are sufficient texts on the shelves for everyone who might need one at the last minute. So, we will probably continue to experience some problems.

Communications:
This list of information items has resulted mainly from meetings with Fort Bend faculty members. The provost expects to meet with these members at least once a semester. Members may, of course, contact their chair or dean in person, by phone, or by email as needs or problems arise. They may also make use of school staff located on campus. Updates and other institution-wide information are shared by e-mail both on campus and off.

For immediate needs related to center operations, faculty should contact the site director or other appropriate center staff member. The center staff serves all faculty members, from the four universities, teaching at the center. Additionally, support is provided to UHV on-site faculty by the relevant UHV staff members located in the staff auxiliary building. Each school has staff support on site.

Establishing a faculty advisory group for the centers has been in progress for some time and should be in place before long. Difficulties include considering the different roles of commuting and on-site faculty members, resolving differences of perspective among the participating institutions, and figuring out how to make such a group work without adding any more meetings and travel than might be essential.

Information Technology:
Computers, printers, etc., are provided to off-campus faculty for home use. Additionally, shared computers are available at the center in the shared faculty workrooms.

Service:IT arranges with on-site staff to provide needed computer service. Faculty also may use commercial providers and claim reimbursement.

Wireless cards:The newer laptops come with one. Specific needs should be communicated directly to IT with a copy to your dean.

For general hardware and software needs affecting several faculty members, we can get procedures and resources in place to take care of them. However, specific individual needs are best addressed on a case-by-case basis.

Keys:
The keys to the auxiliary buildings in Sugar Land also open the doors to the main building. If you want a key, see the center staff. There has been a problem with rooms not being open on time. Since rooms have to be kept locked in many cases, because thefts of equipment have occurred, they need to be opened in time for classes. If you are having a problem, let the center staff, dean, and/or provost know.

Library:
There is a small library with a librarian on duty at the Sugar Land center. Reading materials for a class can be put on reserve, and the library can assist with interlibrary loans.

Literature:
A rack to hold literature on UHV programs has been set up in the advising area of the main center building and should now be functional. If you notice that certain literature is lacking, let staff know, so that it can be provided or re-supplied.

Mail:
1. Fort Bend faculty should list the relevant center (Sugar Land or Cinco Ranch) as the address for receiving professional mail, including sample textbooks, etc. Both external and internal mail will be placed in your box at the center.

2. Packages are normally delivered to the staff auxiliary building, and the secretaries then notify the faculty member.

3. A set of mailboxes for faculty located in Fort Bend but not currently teaching a course at the center has been set up in the mailroom off the faculty lounge. The difficulty is that students will be unable to deposit papers directly into these boxes, since they are not accessible from the hallway. Currently, there are not enough of these hall-accessible boxes to accommodate the increased number of commuting and on-site faculty.

4. Outgoing packages and international mail can be left with UHV’s on-site staff for posting. Volume is not currently sufficient to warrant purchasing a postal meter.

5. Commuting faculty get external mail on campus but have boxes at the center for internal mail, submission of student work, etc.

Office Accommodations:
1. Faculty members assigned to the Fort Bend centers (or any other off-campus centers) as their primary workplace do not have offices assigned on campus. They are provided with the following support for maintaining a home office:

a. One-time furnishing stipend (currently $600) to new faculty members or members newly assigned to Fort Bend.
b. Monthly stipend (currently $120) to cover Internet connection and long-distance calls other than back to campus. (Faculty members are expected to use cable, DSL, or other broadband connection to the Internet and to use the 800 numbers when calling campus.)
c. Laptop computer, with docking station and separate monitor and keyboard. (Members may choose a desktop if they prefer—but servicing may be more difficult and may result in longer down time in case of needed repairs.)
d.
Combination printer/fax.

2. Shared office spaces are provided at the Sugar Land and Cinco Ranch centers, as well as on campus. Since these are come-and-go accommodations that are used by all faculty members teaching off-campus, it is important that those using the spaces respect the needs of colleagues who are sharing the spaces. Course materials and personal belongings cannot be protected and so should not be left in these spaces.

a. One temporary auxiliary building in Sugar Land is set up for the use of faculty primarily assigned to Fort Bend, almost all of whom are currently UHV’s. The spaces for UHV faculty are indicated by institution and academic school. Two spaces are designated for the priority use of department chairs since they will have to be available at designated times to serve faculty and student needs. Two spaces are also assigned to UHCL’s faculty. The space identifications are intended to indicate priority use but not exclusive use. Faculty can use any vacant spaces available.
b. Commuting faculty members are expected to use the faculty spaces in the main building, and on-site faculty can use them.
c. Small enclosed offices are also available for private meetings with students. The front office can provide a key if these are locked. Since use is shared, it is prudent to schedule any use in advance.
d. Institutional support staff members from UHCL, UHD, and UHV are located in an adjoining auxiliary building.
e. Shared spaces for off-campus and adjunct faculty members are also available on the second floor of the University West building on campus.

Participation:
1. Faculty meetings and often committee meetings are conducted by interactive television or on line, so that Fort Bend faculty members may participate without traveling to Victoria. Some university meetings and social activities are also scheduled in Fort Bend. Faculty who must travel to Victoria or Fort Bend to participate in institutional governance or similar activities may be reimbursed for mileage.

2. Most university documents--including the Faculty Manual, Administrative Manual, and Planning and Assessment Activities—as well other informational materials are maintained on the university web site. Documents such as the catalog and schedule booklet are also on the web site.

3. A Guide to Collaboration at the UH System’s teaching centers (noted above) is available on the web. The Guide is updated from time to time.

4. The Faculty Manual contains additional information on travel, off-campus teaching, and other matters of particular relevance to faculty members.

Security:
Security officers are on site during operating hours. All employees should nonetheless exercise care, especially when using the facilities after hours. Please inform the director if you see anything that raises security concerns.

Telephones:
1. A long-distance line for faculty use has been installed in the faculty lounge. If this does not seem sufficient, please let the provost know.

2. Relaying telephone messages to faculty members teaching at the center, whether on-site or commuting, remains a problem. Putting a notice in the mailbox does not work, since many faculty members are there only for their classes. Probably, the only solution is to ensure that students know how to contact you in case of emergency, e.g., by email or mobile phone.

3. As noted above, a monthly stipend is provided to faculty based in Fort Bend to compensate for long-distance calls and Internet provider.

Travel:
Reimbursement for instructional or other business-related travel works the same way for the off-campus centers as it does for the campus.

1. Travel for instructional or other university purposes may be reimbursed at the current state rate for trips from the primary work site to the secondary work site(s).

2. The state does not allow mileage to be paid from one’s home to the primary work site, regardless of where this is designated. However, mileage can be paid from one’s home to a secondary site, so long as the distance is not greater than it would be from the primary site.

3. In the case of carpooling, only one person can receive the mileage reimbursement.

4. A rental car is an alternative to using one’s own car and claiming mileage.

5. Faculty members must keep a log of trips and mileage, unless the number of trips has been predetermined and approved for the semester, as is the case with most courses taught.

6. If a member is teaching a course more than 30 miles from the primary work site or point of departure, a travel stipend is also paid. The stipend is for miles actually traveled and is currently set at 19 cents a mile (additional to any mileage reimbursement rate involved). This amount may be rounded off as a lump sum in the case of established distances. E.g., the standard stipend for 15-16 Fort Bend-Victoria round trips to teach a regular semester course is $600, which is the maximum stipend. The amount is lower for summer courses. The stipend applies regardless of carpooling, since it is intended as compensation for travel time.

7. The mileage rate is set by the state and is intended to cover the marginal costs of operating a vehicle for work-related activities (i.e., it assumes that the employee owns a personal vehicle that is also used for personal activities). The owner is responsible for maintenance, repairs, or damages to the vehicle, regardless of circumstances.

The following clarifications apply in the case of Fort Bend:

1. The state mileage reimbursement rate is paid if Fort Bend faculty members must travel to Victoria or other site outside of Fort Bend to teach a course or participate in other university business.

2. No mileage is paid for travel to and from or between the two centers in Fort Bend (Sugar Land and Cinco Ranch) for instructional purposes, since these are considered one primary work site for the purpose of reimbursement.

3. However, mileage can be paid if a faculty member is traveling to other sites to observe student teachers, visit interns, teach a course, or conduct other university business, just as is the case on campus. Mileage is reimbursed from the primary site (Sugar Land or Cinco Ranch) to the secondary site or from home if the distance is not greater. It is necessary to keep and provide a mileage log.

Postscript:
Differences between the operations and accommodations of a campus vs. a center may some times result in confusion for both faculty and staff members. Basically, the UH System institutions share the use and the costs of the collaborative off-campus teaching centers. UHV manages certain operations of the Sugar Land and Cinco Ranch sites but is otherwise an equal partner. Initially, it was assumed that that faculty members would all commute from campus to teach at the centers and that only a small on-site staff would be needed to serve all the participating institutions. UHV remains the only institution with a significant number of faculty and support staff assigned to Fort Bend as their primary workplace, and this creates a unique set of problems, particularly with regard to space and services. The UH System continues to seek funds to provide an additional building in Sugar Land, but this is a difficult undertaking, since funding for construction at off-campus centers does not work in the same way as for campuses. In time, however, a second building that will provide improved accommodations for institutional faculty and staff can be anticipated.

Updated: Summer 2005

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