Pedro Reyes

Last week, a UT System executive vice chancellor announced he will step down from his position.

Pedro Reyes, UT System executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, will step down once a replacement is found, according to a statement released Thursday.

Reyes joined the UT System in 2003 after being a faculty member at UT-Austin since 1991. Aside from some special projects with the UT System, Reyes will return to the UT College of Education to teach full-time, according to the statement.

UT President William Powers Jr. said Reyes’ move is not surprising, considering he, himself, is planning to teach after he steps down from his position as president in June.

“I think it’s quite typical of administrators to come back to teaching — that’s what I’m going to do,” Powers said.

Wanda Mercer, associate vice chancellor of student affairs, said she knows Reyes well after working with him for the past five years.

“What I really appreciate is his dedication to students, his commitment to UT and his work ethic,” Mercer said. “There is no one that works harder than Pedro Reyes. I come in every day early to do morning workout, and he’s there by seven in the morning and seldom leaves
before six.”

Mercer said in his time at the UT System, Reyes has established a policy of helping the System universities without necessarily exerting complete control. She said this approach is unique to the UT System.

“He is just trying to provide support to the campuses without directing what they do,” Mercer said. “He is trying to help them achieve their goals.”

At a conference in March, UT System Chancellor William McRaven said, like Reyes, he supports the System universities in their own aspirations.

“I’m going to support the [University] presidents,” McRaven said. “What I learned over my years in the military is it’s not about the higher headquarters, it’s about how the higher headquarters support the individual institutions.”

Mercer said students remained Reyes’ primary focus throughout his career.

“What I think is most important is the commitment to students, trying to do what’s right for students, even at the System level,” Mercer said. “Whether he’s setting up [UT Rio Grande Valley] or leading us to establish student success efforts, at every endeavor, students are at the heart of his commitment.”

Mercer said she understands why Reyes would want to step down to return to teaching.

“The job as executive vice chancellor is very demanding, almost all-consuming, so I was quite understanding of the intention of going back to something he still loves to do that might help him achieve a little more balance in his life,” Mercer said.

In his time at the UT System, Reyes has continued to teach part-time in the College of Education. Mercer said Reyes has always been passionate about teaching.

“He’s always been teaching — he’s hardly given that up,” Mercer said. “I think he’s enjoyed his job at the System, but he truly loves teaching and research.”

UT System academic official to step down

Pedro Reyes, executive vice chancellor for academic affairs at the UT System, is planning to step down from his position, the UT System announced Thursday.

Reyes will return to UT Austin as a full-time professor in the fall of 2016. Reyes has taught part-time since he joined the System as executive vice chancellor in 2003.

In a statement released by the System, Reyes said it was time for him to return to teaching.

“Working with the UT System’s academic presidents to make significant improvements in student success on such a wide scale has been one of the richest and most rewarding experiences of my professional career,” Reyes said. “But now it’s time for me to return to my other passion – teaching and research.”

Reyes said he will not leave his position until his successor is named and will continue to hold his position as special assistant to the chancellor through the end of December 2015. As special assistant, he will continue to provide guidance for UT Rio Grande Valley, UT System’s engineering and computer science initiative, and Americas Institute, among other projects.

Faculty Council is continuing discussion on a mandate from a UT System task force to add five questions to course evaluation forms and may approve the changes at its next meeting in April.

The System Office of Academic Affairs established the Task Force on the Evaluation of Faculty Teaching in the spring of 2012 to assess the student and peer faculty evaluation process. The task force developed a list of five questions all institutions within the System must add to their evaluation forms.

Pedro Reyes, education professor and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, serves on the task force. Reyes said the members of the task force wanted to develop consistent questions for all institutions to use in their evaluations. 

“Teaching is really important to the whole System,” Reyes said. “When we accessed that data [from evaluation forms], there was a lot of diversity throughout the campuses … What we decided to do is ask some really great faculty members from across the System, and students as well, to come together and develop a way we could systematically approach this and gain more meaningful information about how students regard their teachers.” 

UT System spokeswoman Jenny LaCoste-Caputo said while these questions are mandated, institutions are allowed and encouraged to include other questions. 

In order to accommodate the new questions, Faculty Council’s Educational Policy Committee looked at the existing evaluation forms for questions that could be deleted. Mary Rose, associate sociology professor and chair of the committee, presented a report to Faculty Council at its meeting Monday and will present a revised report based on feedback from the assembly at its next meeting.

Rose said some of the System’s new questions were similar to existing questions in UT’s evaluation form, which the committee has proposed to remove. 

“I think one of their questions was worded exactly the same as one we had and others were different in wording, but you could argue they were similar in spirit to other questions we had,” Rose said. 

According to Rose, the content of the form is not altered frequently, despite requests from the UT community. 

“We got [requests] early [last] year, and we took it very seriously and spent a meeting discussing it and also just tried to figure it out,” Rose said. “When we priced that out, it was insanely expensive to do it, so having the System provide us with these mandating changes kind of gave us a nice opportunity to reevaluate the entire form.”

Although the mandated questions provided Rose with this opportunity, she said it was frustrating to have the System order changes to the form. 

“No one likes to be told what you have to do,” Rose said. “There is so much variability in what teaching looks like and what students want to say and reflect on and maybe the needs at UT Austin are different than at other campuses.”

 

System mandated additions to the course evaluation form:

All items will be judged based on a scale ranging from “Strongly Disagree” to “Strongly Agree”

1. The instructor clearly defined and explained the course objectives and expectations. 

2. The instructor was prepared for each instructional activity. 

3. The instructor communicated information effectively. 

4. The instructor encouraged me to take an active role in my own learning.

5. The instructor was available to students either electronically or in person.

During its upcoming meeting Thursday, the UT System Board of Regents is expected to consider approving recommended goals that the presidents of the System’s nine academic and six health institutions must meet to earn 10 percent pay-for-performance bonuses the board approved earlier this year.

In a September email obtained by The Daily Texan through an open records request, Pedro Reyes, executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, asked each UT System president to propose performance criteria for the bonuses to be based on, including three or four incentive pay plan goals and proposals for incentive payments, by Oct. 1.

Recommended performance goals, which should be closely tied to each president’s role as the institution’s leader, include increasing degree completion rates, four-year graduation rates, philanthropy and degree affordability, Reyes stated in the email.

During its August meeting, the board approved a proposal for bonuses equal to 10 percent of each president’s base salary that could reach a peak of 15 percent if all goals are met or surpassed.

UT President William Powers Jr. is one of the nation’s highest paid educational executives and is the highest paid academic president in the UT System.

Last year, Powers earned $613,612 in base salary, and his total compensation was almost $150,000 more than his base salary. From base salary and the bonus alone, Powers could earn between $674,973 and $705,653 under the new plan.

In a recent interview with The Daily Texan, UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa said the UT regents are also expected to vote during the upcoming meeting on what percentage of each president’s salary the bonus will be tied to.

Cigarroa said the incentive pay plan would provide more fair compensation for already well-compensated presidents because one-time pay outs would be based on year-to-year performance instead of permanent increases to base salaries.

“This is a two-way street in the sense that the presidents submit goals of what they’d like to accomplish over the year and likewise we can provide some direction,” Cigarroa said.

In his email, Reyes stated incentive accomplishments could be measured over a one-year or three-year period, depending on whether each goal is short-term or long-term. Presidents will receive incentive awards annually at the end of every performance cycle, according to an outline of the incentive pay plan sent to UT System presidents.

Pay-for-performance bonuses are common in the business sector, and the incentive pay plan, which received support from the Texas Association of Business and the Texas Public Policy Foundation in the past, falls in line with one of the nine pillars that make up Cigarroa’s Framework for Advancing Excellence, a UT System action plan adopted last year.

The regents will meet Thursday.

Printed on Monday, Dec. 3, 2012 as: Goals, incentive pay up for review

Incentive Plan Letter

Incentive Plan