Faculty Senate Meeting
February 23, 2011
Founder's Room, Lovett
Call to order, Announcements
II. Speaker's Report
III. Deputy Speaker’s Report
A. Update on Rice
Initiatives Phase II
B. Nominations and
IV. Appeals and Grievances Working
Group draft rules
V. Old Business
VI. New Business
A. Motion regarding quorum
in Senate meetings
B. Motion regarding Senate
Senators present: Randy Batsell,
Ed Billups, David Caprette, John Casbarian, Danijela Damjanovic, Rebecca Goetz,
Ramon Gonzalez, Jane Grande-Allen, Deborah Harter, Illya Hicks, Tom Killian,
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: Gregory
Barnett, Matthias Henze, Mark Kulstad, Devika Subramanian, Moshe Vardi.
(To listen to the audio recording of this meeting, email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
I. Call to Order, Announcements
Speaker Susan McIntosh
called the meeting to order at 12:00 p.m. She asked the assembled group if
there were any announcements from the floor; there were none. McIntosh then welcomed Paula Sanders,
Vice-Provost for Academic Affairs. Sanders said that she was looking forward to
working with the Faculty Senate and with the faculty directly. She also stated her office telephone
McIntosh gave an update on
Communication in the Curriculum activity.
Four outside consultants have been selected; one each from Cornell, MIT,
Rutgers, and Northwestern University.
Alternates have also been identified from Dartmouth and Stanford
University. Two of these individuals were recommended by the Senate’s working
group, while two were recommended from elsewhere at Rice. In addition, an ad hoc faculty advisory group
is being formed, consisting of two members from each academic school at Rice
and one from each professional school. The charge for this advisory group is to
interact with the consultants to provide information on writing and
communication issues in the various parts of the university, recommend other
individuals whom the consultants should interview, and read and comment on the
consultants’ report. McIntosh expects
the work of this ad hoc committee to be completed by the end of the semester.
II. Speaker’s Report
A new math minor has been
approved by the University Committee for the Undergraduate Curriculum (CUC).
Although almost all recommendations of the CUC are advisory to the Faculty
Senate, departmental minors may be vetted and approved by the CUC. The Senate’s
customary role is acceptance of the new minor.
The Graduate Council (GC)
has sent to the Senate a draft document for a new track in the existing
Professional Master of Science program in Bioscience Research and Health
Policy. The Senate has been asked to review the draft document before it is finalized by the GC and sent to the Senate for
approval. The GC has also sent to the Senate for comment a draft document
entitled “Guidelines for (Graduate Student) Dismissals,
Petitions, Appeals, Grievances, and Problem Resolution.” Both documents will be
posted to the Senate’s wiki space.
Doug Natelson, Chair of
the University Committee on Research, attended the Senate’s recent Executive
Committee (EC) meeting to give an update on the committee’s work. Natelson told
the EC that in many Data Management Plans (required for federally funded research),
the researcher states that he/she will follow the University’s data retention
policy; Rice thus needs to create an official policy. The document is being
drafted in coordination with the general counsel’s office, and when completed,
it will be posted to the Senate’s wiki space for comments.
Marj Corcoran, the Senate’s liaison to the Task Force on Enrollment
Growth, presented a summary of the report produced by the Task Force. The
Executive Summary from the report is shown below:
The Undergraduate Enrollment Committee examined the impact of the 30
percent increase in the undergraduate population on key introductory courses
across the Rice curriculum, specifically large lecture-only introductory
classes in Economics, Linguistics, Mathematics, and Psychology and large
lecture-laboratory classes in Biochemistry, Chemistry, and Physics. In
addition, it considered the follow-along effect of these enrollment increases
on upper-level course sequences in three departments which have historically
had the largest number of majors and graduates—Biochemistry, Economics, and
Psychology. The Committee finds that all departments across the university have
done an outstanding job in attempting to mitigate the problems associated with
the growth which were never addressed as the growth was occurring. But, in part
because of the budget cuts and in part because of the strain from the growth
itself, the departments are now less able to accommodate the final round of
enrollment increases and adequately staff classes, maintain high quality
teaching, and provide top-notch classroom experiences for students. The
committee offers a series of recommendations which include adding a cadre of
non-tenure track teaching faculty or professors of the practice to help maintain
the quality of introductory education, the addition of laboratory assistants to
replace graduate assistants in running teaching laboratories, and faculty
resources for Biochemistry, Chemistry, Economics, Physics, and Psychology which
are most affected by the enrollment increases. (Please
click HERE to view the entire presentation.)
Following Corcoran’s presentation, she was asked if the committee had
considered whether Rice is making effective use of its teaching resources,
including tenure-track faculty, non-tenure-track (NTT) faculty, and graduate
students. Corcoran said this was a department-specific issue; in some
departments, teaching resources are indeed being used effectively, but
resources could be deployed more effectively in others.
Provost George McLendon recommended that before a
model to reduce the current overcrowding is finalized, Rice should take a hard
look at how labs are taught. A
discussion ensued as to whether the teaching methods from years ago are
appropriate. Corcoran and David Caprette stated that the introductory labs are
indeed valuable to the students; the labs and lectures work together.
Deborah Harter stated that the use of NTT faculty
may not prove effective in teaching the introductory courses in the School of Humanities,
and Robin Sickles added that the Schools of Humanities and Social Sciences do
not have as much access to post-doctoral research assistants as do the Schools
of Natural Science and Engineering.
Corcoran was asked about the details of the report
in addition to the summary she had presented.
Provost McLendon gave permission for the report to be posted to the Rice
faculty via the Senate’s wiki space. Faculty may read the full report and its
appendix, and leave comments on the wiki for their colleagues to read. Please
use this link: https://wiki.rice.edu/confluence/display/SENATE/Home.
McIntosh asked how to put into place the
recommendations from the report. McLendon acknowledged that some courses had
suffered huge increases, and he said that he will respond to the report. He stated that John Hutchinson, Dean of
Undergraduates, will be the administration’s liaison. McIntosh thanked Corcoran for her
III. Deputy Speaker’s Report
A. Update on Rice Initiatives Phase II
Speaker McIntosh said that comments from Rice
faculty members regarding the white papers produced by the three Rice
Initiative task forces have been collected and are being analyzed by the
Working Group on the Rice Initiatives.
She thanked Provost McLendon for initiating peer review at this point in
the process, and she thanked faculty members who took the time to review the
white papers and provide comments.
Deputy Speaker Tom Killian, Chair of the Working
Group on the Rice Initiatives, listed the other members of the working
group: Matthias Henze, Susan McIntosh (ex officio), Matteo Pasquali, Dale Sawyer, Robin Sickles,
and Moshe Vardi. Killian stated the
charge of the working group: to design a format for Phase II which would enable
discussion, evaluation, and planning based on the white papers, with an
emphasis on the faculty role in this process.
Killian explained that the period for confidential
peer review of the white papers originally had a deadline of February 15, but
it was extended to February 22. Following this period, the plan is to schedule
open faculty fora on a few weekdays in March, followed by weekend workshops,
with the purpose of identifying themes to pursue and leadership teams. Killian
said that 37 reviews were received by the February 22 deadline, and he broke
down by school the number received: Natural Sciences 12, Humanities 11, Social
Sciences 5, Engineering 4, and Anonymous 5. He said that the reviews were of
high quality and presented some good questions to address. The reviews will be
presented in their entirety on the Senate wiki space shortly after Spring
Break, as well as summaries provided by the working group.
There was a short discussion as to whether faculty
fora or workshops should occur first. Harter stated that the fora should come
first, and she recommended a single forum be scheduled for each initiative. It
was decided that the fora would begin in approximately the second week of
March, depending on schedule and meeting site availability. McIntosh thanked
the working group for their efforts.
B. Nominations and
Elections Committee Deputy Speaker Killian, Chair of the Nominations and
Elections Committee (NEC), stated that the Promotions and Tenure (P&T)
Committee elections are underway. Nominations were received for every open
seat, so one-year appointments will not be necessary. Four candidates were
unopposed and are therefore elected to P&T for three year terms beginning
in Fall 2011:
Music/Architecture: Ben Kamins
Humanities: Ussama Makdisi
Sciences: Elizabeth Long
Business: Thomas Hemmer
In Natural Sciences, two completed nominations forms
were received, so an electronic election is being conducted through the Office
of Institutional Effectiveness. The two individuals in the election are Cecilia
Clementi and Kathy Matthews.
Killian presented the current Senate roster,
highlighting the Senators whose terms are expiring. One item of note was the
large number of terms expiring among the Humanities Senators. Pasquali reminded
the group that any faculty member may submit nominations; it is not only the
NEC which nominates individuals. Harter recommended that current Senators take
the actual form to the individual they wish to nominate for the Senate,
encourage the person to run, then collect the ten required signatures on the
form so that the nominee does not have to collect them.
Killian stated that in parallel with the Senate
elections, the NEC will work on the University Committee selections.
IV. Appeals and Grievances Working Group draft
Speaker McIntosh distributed the “Appeals and
Grievances Committee Procedural Guidelines” document from 1999 which was
recently revised by the Appeals and Grievances Working Group. The revised draft
was distributed electronically to the Senate prior to the meeting.
Randy Stevenson, representing the working group,
listed the members of the group: Chair Moshe Vardi, Don Morrison, and
Stevenson. He said that the proposed document is the result of over a year’s
worth of meetings, and at this stage, the working group requests comments from
the Senate. Stevenson said that many changes in the document are small, but he
wished to highlight three major points.
First, the working group sought to clarify the
differences between appeals and grievances and the grounds for initiation of
each. “Appeals” are defined as regarding decisions about promotion and tenure
that have been formally considered by P&T. Grounds:
“university procedure was, in a non-trivial way, either not followed
or implemented in a biased or unreasonable manner.”
“Grievances” are regarding decisions other than
those about promotion and tenure that have been formally considered by P&T
(includes midterm termination and NTT terminations). Grounds: “any action…unjust or unfair that affects directly
and adversely his or her academic freedom, economic conditions, professional
status, or some other circumstance of employment.”
Second, the working group sought to rationalize
issues of confidentiality throughout the process. Stevenson explained that a
candidate often does not know how to appeal properly due to confidentiality
issues. The working group proposes that the convenor may be asked for
information and should use his/her judgment as to the appropriate information
to release to the candidate.
Third, the working group sought to create a method
for identifying and correcting potential problems before they become appeals. Panel members may go to the provost with any
concerns, and the provost could then speak to the convenor.
Harter recommended that the document include
language requiring that interviews always take place unless the appeals panel
is certain that they are not necessary. Stevenson said that the working group
had thought about this point and may add “normally interviews will be done.”
Killian expressed concern that if a candidate were
to question the P&T process, it could hurt his/her chances for promotion.
Stevenson clarified that the candidate would not be the person stepping in;
instead, a faculty member who is involved with the process would now be able to
voice any complaints.
Provost McLendon stated that although the P&T Committee is a
hard-working, thoughtful group, some of the same problems show up over and over
again. He said that many of them can be fixed before next year’s tenure
season. In addition, although the
procedures outlined by Stevenson are an effort to formalize the process, he
expects faculty to continue to use their moral compasses. He said faculty
members have not been hesitant to bring any concerns to his attention. Illya Hicks recommended that complaints to
the provost be put in writing for documentation. McIntosh reminded the Senate
that the draft document has been posted to the Senate’s wiki space for review
VI. New Business
Motion regarding quorum in Senate meetings
Speaker McIntosh explained that due to the recent
expansion of the Senate membership from 28 voting members to 30, revised
language defining a quorum is also needed.
The proposed change comes moved by the EC:
Motion regarding Quorum in
Change Section 2, Item #1
more voting members of the Senate including the Chair.”
To: “…half or more voting members of the Senate
currently serving including the Chair.”
motion was seconded and approved by unanimous vote.
Motion regarding Senate seat distribution
Killian stated that since
the Senate recently changed the seats reserved for Assistant Professors into
regular seats for distribution to the appropriate schools, the official
distribution needs to be adjusted. Killian said that the proposal comes moved and
seconded from the NEC.
Proposal: The distribution of Senate seats for the Schools of Natural Sciences,
Engineering, Humanities, and Social Sciences will be as follows:
Natural Sciences: 6 Faculty/Senator: 20.8
Engineering: 5 Faculty/Senator: 22.2
Humanities: 6 Faculty/Senator: 21.0
Social Sciences: 4 Faculty/Senator: 19.5
Killian was asked a few
questions, including the best way to establish representation on the Senate.
Currently, representation is based on the number of faculty in a school. It was
noted that the Faculty/Senator ratio in the professional schools averages 20.
Jim Young suggested that those Senators who wish to change the current system
should either make a motion that a working group be formed to study the issue
or make their own motion with a specific proposal. Following this discussion,
the motion carried by a unanimous vote for approval.
The meeting was adjourned
at 1:50 p.m.