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Plenary Meeting of the Faculty  

and 

 Faculty Senate Meeting 

January 19, 2011 

Founder's Room, Lovett Hall 

Plenary Meeting Agenda:
 

I.      Presentation of Undergraduate Degrees

II.     Presentation of Graduate Degrees

III.    Adjourn to Senate Meeting

 

Senate Meeting Agenda:  

I.      Call to order, Announcements

II.     Speaker's Report

III.    Working Group Reports

A.  Faculty Appeals and Grievances (Vardi)

B.  Phase II of Rice Initiatives (Killian)

IV.    Unfinished business

V.     New business

A.  Proposals from the floor

B.  Discussion of Rice Initiatives

C.  Proposed Constitutional Amendments


Senators present: Gregory Barnett, Randy Batsell, Ed Billups, David Caprette, John Casbarian, Danijela Damjanovic, Rebecca Goetz, Jane Grande-Allen, Matthias Henze, Illya Hicks, Tom Killian, Mark Kulstad, David Leebron, Scott McGill, Susan McIntosh, George McLendon, Matteo Pasquali, Brian Rountree, Dale Sawyer, Stan Sazykin, Robin Sickles, Meredith Skura, Randy Stevenson, Moshe Vardi, Duane Windsor, and Jim Young.

Senators absent: Ramon Gonzalez, Deborah Harter, Devika Subramanian, and Yizhi Jane Tao.

 

To listen to an audio recording of this entire meeting, please contact the Senate office by emailing senate@rice.edu.

 

Plenary Meeting Proceedings 

 I.  Presentation of Undergraduate Degrees 

Carl Caldwell, Chair of the University Committee for Examinations and Standing (EX&S), presented the list of 60 recommended undergraduate degrees, of which there were no exceptions.  He said that the list comes moved and seconded by EX&S, and the committee recommends the list for approval. David Tenney, Registrar, stated that the benefit of offering minors is now being realized; the list of 60 degrees represents 58 students; 49 of which were single-major students, while the remaining nine were double-major students. Provost George McLendon asked how many of these mid-year degree candidates were graduating early, in 3.5 years or less. Tenney replied that among the 45 first-time students (which excludes transfer students), 21 were graduating early, while 24 were graduating after more than four years. The faculty present voted unanimously to approve the degree candidates.

II.   Presentation of Graduate Degrees 

Moshe Vardi, Chair of the Graduate Council, presented the list of 192 recommended advanced degrees, of which there were no exceptions. He stated that the list comes moved and seconded from the Graduate Council.  Paula Sanders, Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, stated that the list does not represent 192 individuals; some students are receiving their master's and Ph.D. degrees at the same time. The faculty present voted unanimously to approve the degree candidates.

Before adjourning to the Senate meeting, Speaker Susan McIntosh asked the assembled faculty members if they approved of the combined plenary and Senate meeting format for the presentation of the mid-year degrees. There were no objections. McIntosh invited faculty to remain for the Senate meeting.

Please click here for a breakdown of the undergraduate and graduate degrees approved.

III.   Adjourn to Senate Meeting  

 

Senate Meeting Proceedings 

I.  Call to order, Announcements 

Speaker McIntosh called the meeting to order at 12:17 p.m. She asked if there were any announcements from the floor. John Hutchinson, Dean of Undergraduates, wished to announce the upcoming Scientia STEM Education Conference, which will take place February 11 and 12, 2011, in McMurtry Auditorium of Duncan Hall. More information can be found on the Scientia website:  http://scientia.rice.edu/Conference_I/index.html

McIntosh welcomed Rebecca Goetz, History, to the Senate. Goetz will be serving for the Spring 2011 semester in place of Senator Sarah Ellenzweig, who is on leave. McIntosh also announced that Deborah Harter suffered a bad fall in December, but she is recovering nicely.

McIntosh thanked Deputy Speaker Tom Killian who took over the duties of the Speaker while she was in Africa. McIntosh reminded Senators that the beginning of the semester is a good time to contact their constituents.

II.  Speaker's Report 

A.  Update on Communication in the Curriculum proposal 

McIntosh gave an update on events following approval of the proposal from the Working Group on Communication in the Curriculum. The report was sent to Provost McLendon, and the consultation selection process is under way. The names of potential consultants highly recommended by the working group have been submitted to the provost. A broad-based faculty advisory committee will be formed by McIntosh; including at least one member from each school, as well as some members of the original working group.

B.  Update on proposal from Dean of Undergraduates for Freshman Seminar to fulfill Communications 103 requirement 

McIntosh stated that Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson has proposed expanding freshman seminars that have a writing-intensive component as an alternative way to fulfill the COMM 103 requirement.  The purpose of the seminars would be to relieve the current over-subscription of COMM 103 and to provide an enticement for freshmen who receive "low pass" grades on the writing competency exam to improve their skills. In conversations with Senate leadership, a number of considerations have been identified, including:  faculty oversight on issues of the determination of equivalency to COMM 103; and ensuring adequate support for teaching writing/communication in seminars (will trained graduate student assistants be needed, or a writing lab?). There is also a need to balance this proposal with the larger issue of planning a comprehensive writing and communication program for the longer term.

McIntosh said that she and Killian have asked Hutchinson to work with the Committee for the Undergraduate Curriculum (CUC) to develop a proposal that would come to the Senate with the CUC's recommendation for a pilot program that could potentially be implemented this fall.

Dean Hutchinson stated that his proposal is in not an effort to pre-empt or compromise the Faculty Senate's larger vision; his goal is to allow more of the Rice freshmen to have a small class experience and to make close connections with faculty members during their freshmen year. He said that COMM 103 is seen as a punishment for those students who fail the writing competency test. He would like to re-label the course so that it can become more popular.

Meredith Skura, Chair of the Working Group on Communication in the Curriculum, asked if the freshman seminars would be open to all levels of writing competence--would students who failed the writing comp exam enroll with those who passed handily? Hutchinson said that all students could benefit from taking this course. Skura said that the English department faculty has discovered that many levels of need exist among the students, including those who have not spoken English before coming to Rice, and it can be difficult to meet all those different needs in a single classroom. 

Mark Kulstad expressed concern with the difference between a free elective versus a required course. In addition, he said that freshmen seminars have been viewed as something special in the past; courses that top faculty chose to teach, and he did not wish for the seminars to be diluted. In addition, he suggested that if the plan is to have assistants do some of the teaching, they could be used to address the different needs mentioned by Skura. Hutchinson said he would explore these concerns with the CUC.

Other comments by Senators included support for a comprehensive writing center by Rebecca Goetz. David Caprette said he was not convinced that a single writing exam is sufficient; he wondered if all freshmen should be required to take COMM 103. Provost McLendon discussed the possibility of  requiring that all students take a course at some point during their college careers in communication, so that every student will improve his/her skills.

C.  Request to administration to bring fee deadlines in agreement with academic calendar 

McIntosh explained that the Senate received a motion from Jim Young to eliminate the fee for students who drop a course by the official drop deadline. The Executive Committee (EC) decided that the appropriate action was to express support for the proposal and to pass it on to the administration. McIntosh asked the Senate for a brief discussion, followed by a straw vote.  Killian said that the EC members agreed that students should not be charged for meeting deadlines. President Leebron said that individual consequences versus collective consequences must be weighed. He expressed support for allowing a student to escape a mistake, but he said he did not wish to eliminate all consequences for dropping a course. If students are allowed to over-enroll, it can affect room assignments and even prevent other students from enrolling in a course. Randy Stevenson pointed out that if discouraging over-enrollment was desired, imposing a cap on the number of courses a student may enroll in would be a more effective way to reduce the problem. Skura stated another cost of over-enrolling, saying it can encourage a lackadaisical attitude in those students who plan to drop the course later in the semester.

After a few more comments, Duane Windsor moved to amend the request, asking the administration to study the fees. The amendment was seconded by Randy Batsell and then Moshe Vardi. McIntosh asked the Senators if they agreed with this request to the administration, and all agreed.

D.  Proposal to enable students to march with their class at commencement 

President Leebron said that the proposal is to enable students in good standing to walk with their class at the May commencement ceremonies even though they have not fulfilled all of the graduation requirements. He cited an example of a female student who studied abroad and was not able to take a required course through no fault of her own. She has petitioned to walk with her class in May, even though her diploma will not be issued until the following December. Leebron said that although the details have not been worked out, he would like to propose that this change take effect this semester. He asked if the Senate wished to have a voice in the matter.

Stevenson said that this issue was not under the purview of the Senate. Windsor stated that although the faculty might not have a vote on the issue, they should be informed. Leebron stated that he will indeed keep the Senate leaders informed. It was requested that the proposal (when received) be posted on the wiki space for comments by Senators.

III.  Working Group Reports 

A.  Faculty Appeals and Grievances 

Moshe Vardi, Chair of the Appeals and Grievances Working Group, presented an update from the group, beginning with a summary of several items from the Bylaws. Vardi then presented recommendations made by the group. In an effort to clarify the terminology used, the group recommends for "appeals" to mean an appeal of a promotion and tenure decision, while everything else is a "grievance." Vardi said that the language for procedural issues will also be clarified to encompass unreasonable implementation of university procedures. In addition, all university units should be obliged to cooperate with requests for information, and confidentiality is required by all parties, including administrators. 

Regarding the staffing of appeals panels, the working group recommends that the majority of the panel does not have to be Senators, and the convenor need not be the chair. In addition, although the panel chair will write a full report, the convenor will produce two separate reports; one for the university president and one for the appellant.

Finally, the working group recommends that interested and informed parties be allowed to communicate directly with the appeals panel, and that mid-process interventions be allowed. Please click here to view the working group's update.

McIntosh thanked Vardi for the update and requested that the revised language come to the Senate for approval beginning with the February 2011 meeting.

 
B.  Phase II of Rice Initiatives 

Chair Tom Killian read the working group's charge to the Senate: to develop, in consultation with the provost's office, recommendations for effective mechanisms to foster faculty inputs on and further development of Rice Initiatives Task Force proposals. Killian said that the group had identified some issues that they hope to discuss with Provost McLendon in the next few days. Killian also announced that the second Faculty Forum has been postponed until at least the first week of February.

IV.  Unfinished Business--none

V.   New business 

A.  Proposals from the floor--none 

B.  Discussion of the Rice Initiatives 

Provost McLendon said that although the Rice Initiatives continues to be a faculty-driven process, he reported to the Senate his discussions with other constituent groups. He met with the Student Association who provided him with the names of students who wished to have input regarding curricular issues, as well as communicate these opportunities to potential Rice students. McLendon also reported on his meeting with the Rice Board of Trustees. He said it was similar to the Faculty Forum; the information presented was what had been mailed to the faculty. In general, the Board thought it was desirable to proceed. McLendon said that these two groups needed information, and there may be other constituent groups to contact. McLendon also discussed the notion among faculty that there is a "treasure chest" somewhere, but he said he is mostly looking for ways to help faculty with what they are already doing.

McLendon was asked what would be the second step if faculty were agreeable to the process. McLendon said that faculty leaders will need to be identified and that perhaps the Senate's working group will choose to be a convenor. Batsell expressed concern about a small group which might not be representative making comments and thus affecting a decision that concerns all faculty.

C.  Proposed Constitutional Amendments 

Killian presented four proposed amendments to the Senate Constitution. The first was to clarify the voting threshold required to amend the Constitution, which previously read that a "2/3 majority" was required. This proposal comes from Killian, Stevenson, and Windsor (thus moved and seconded). Since there are two ex-officio, non-voting members on the Senate, the Parliamentarian wished to clarify the language to read "2/3 majority of the voting membership." The Senate unanimously approved the motion, shown below.

Motion to clarify the voting threshold for Constitutional amendments: 

In section 6 of the Constitution, change: “Any proposed amendment approved by a two-thirds majority of the full Senate membership shall be adopted.”

To:  “Any proposed amendment approved by two-thirds of the voting membership of the Senate shall be adopted.”

The second proposal was to transform the three Assistant Professor seats into three general seats open to tenured and tenure-track faculty of any rank. Killian explained that one reason for this proposal is that Assistant Professors must dedicate their time to research in order to become promoted. In addition, it is rare among Rice's peer universities to have reserved Assistant Professor seats on the Faculty Senate. Killian said although it is important to balance the Senate with new faculty as well as faculty who have been here for a long time, this balancing is the job of the Nominations and Elections Committee (NEC), and it could be satisfied by electing young Associate Professors. Killian stated that the proposal comes moved and seconded from the working group. He explained that this proposal is a necessary step to the next proposal.

During discussion of this proposal, Goetz expressed concern that there would no longer be any Assistant Professors on the Senate. Other Senators argued that interested Assistant Professors need only to run for the Senate, and they would be elected. Brian Rountree stated that in his three years in an Assistant Professor seat, issues specific to this group have not occurred. Following discussion, a vote was held in which 23 Senators present approved of the proposal and one did not; the proposal was approved.

Motion to transform the three Senate seats currently reserved for assistant professors
into three normal seats open to tenured and tenure-track faculty at any rank
 

In section 2 of the Constitution, change:   “One member is to be an assistant professor in the School of Humanities or Social Sciences, elected by faculty holding tenured or tenure-track appointments in those Schools. If the elected member is promoted, he or she shall still serve the full elected term.

One member is to be an assistant professor in the School of Natural Sciences or Engineering, elected by faculty holding tenured or tenure-track appointments in those Schools.  If the elected member is promoted...

One member is to be an assistant professor in the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management, the Shepherd School of Music, or the School of Architecture, elected by faculty holding tenured or tenure-track appointments in those Schools. If the elected member is promoted...”

To:   One member is to be, and elected by, faculty holding tenured or tenure-track appointments in the School of Humanities or Social Sciences.

One member is to be, and elected by, faculty holding tenured or tenure-track appointments in the School of Natural Sciences or Engineering.

One member is to be, and elected by, faculty holding tenured or tenure-track appointments in the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business, the Shepherd School of Music, or the School of Architecture.”

The third proposal from the working group was to increase the number of Senate seats open to tenured and tenure-track faculty in the schools of Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, and Engineering from 19 to 21. Killian explained that one reason for this proposal was his recent effort to form the NEC.  The NEC will be without a Social Sciences representative because two of the three Social Science Senators are EC members and thus not allowed to serve on the NEC, and the third has served for many years on the NEC. Additional Senators would help in this situation and in the forming of working groups. Killian stated that the proposal comes moved and seconded from the working group.

Discussion of this proposal included a request by David Caprette to expand also the number of non-tenure track (NTT) Senators; and there was a question about the representation of the professional schools at Rice. Randy Stevenson pointed out that this proposal does not address the NTT Senators, or the Senators from the professional schools, only the general seats in the four major schools. McIntosh stated that the proposals from the working group have been contemplated carefully, and this proposal does not exhaust other proposals. Any new proposals should not be added as amendments; they should be brought to the working group. The Senate voted unanimously to approve the proposal, shown below. 

Motion to increase the number of Senate seats open to tenured and tenure-track faculty in the schools of Humanities, Social Science, Natural Science, or Engineering from 19 to 21 by reconfiguring seats currently shared between the two schools into
one seat in each school.

 

Change section 2 of the Constitution as follows:

Seventeen Twenty-one members are to be, and elected by, faculty holding tenured or tenure-track appointments in the Schools of Humanities, the Social Sciences, the Natural Sciences, or Engineering, voting in their respective schools. No more than two Senators elected under the provisions of this paragraph shall have primary appointments in the same department. The number of representatives elected by each School shall be based on the proportionate number of tenure-track faculty appointments in each School as determined by the Senate every three years.

Two members are to be, and elected by, faculty holding tenured or tenure-track appointments in the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business.

One member is to be, and elected by, faculty holding tenured or tenure-track appointments in the Shepherd School of Music.

One member is to be, and elected by, faculty holding tenured or tenure-track appointments in the School of Architecture.

One member is to be and elected by, faculty holding tenured or tenure-track appointments in the School of Humanities or Social Sciences.  

One member is to be and elected by, faculty holding tenured or tenure-track appointments in the School of Natural Sciences or Engineering.   

The fourth proposal, also from the working group, was to prescribe rotation of the Senate seat shared by the professional schools. Killian explained that while the original intent may have been that the seat would naturally rotate among the three schools, this has not occurred; the largest school always wins the election. Killian proposed that the term of this shared seat be two years instead of three since it will take a long time to get through the rotation. Vardi stated that mistakes in assigning rotation are likely to occur if a two-year rotation is used, and he said that a term of two years was not long enough to establish continuity.

Windsor moved to amend the proposal to a one-year rotation instead of two years, and the motion was seconded by Batsell. Windsor explained the consensus of the professional school Senators and the desirability of more rapid rotation in light of the great disparity in faculty sizes among the schools. He argued that fairness outweighed continuity in this situation. Jane Grande-Allen then called the question, and all were in favor of taking a vote on the amendment. The vote to approve the one-year rotation amendment passed with 23 Senators in favor and one opposed.

Next, a vote was held for approval of the main motion as amended (one-year rotation). The vote was again 23 Senators in favor and one opposed. The motion passed as amended, shown below. 

Motion to prescribe the rotation of the Senate seat
shared by the professional schools
 

In section 2 of the Constitution,  after: “One member is to be, and elected by, faculty holding tenured or tenure-track appointments in the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business, the Shepherd School of Music, or the School of Architecture.”

Add: “…Eligibility for the seat shall rotate sequentially through the three schools, with an initial order of the Shepherd School of Music, the School of Architecture, and Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business. Subsequently, the cycle shall repeat. The full term for this seat shall be one year.

Also :
In section 3 of the Constitution, after:
“Senate terms will normally be for three years, but may occasionally be adjusted to rebalance the staggering of terms.”

Add: “The seat that rotates between the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business, the Shepherd School of Music, or the School of Architecture shall have a term of one year.”

 

The meeting was adjourned at 2:01 p.m.