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Faculty Senate Meeting 

February 23, 2011 

Founder's Room, Lovett Hall 

 

Agenda:  

I.      Call to order, Announcements
II.     Speaker's Report
III.    Deputy Speaker’s Report
         A.  Update on Rice Initiatives Phase II
         B.  Nominations and Elections Committee
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 seat distribution 


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.

 

PROCEEDINGS
(To listen to the audio recording of this meeting, email
senate@rice.edu.)  

 

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 extension:  5923.

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 presentation.

 

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

      Social 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 rules 

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 and comments.

V.            Old Business—none 

VI.           New Business

A.   
 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 Senate Meetings
Change Section 2, Item #1 from:
 

“…14 or more voting members of the Senate including the Chair.” 

To:  “…half or more voting members of the Senate currently serving including the Chair.” 

The motion was seconded and approved by unanimous vote.

 

B.      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.