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Faculty Senate Meeting 

March 30, 2011 

Founder’s Room, Lovett Hall 

  

Agenda: 

I.             Board of Trustees visit; Announcements

II.            Speaker’s Report

III.           Deputy Speaker’s Report

IV.          Old Business

V.            New Business

                A.  Research Data Management Policy—General Discussion

                B.  Motion to approve proposed Bioscience and Health Policy track in
                    Professional Science Master’s Program

                C.  Motion from EX&S regarding return after suspension

                D.  Motion from EX&S regarding incompletes

                E.  Motion from CUC regarding Student-Taught Courses

                F.  Faculty salaries study—General Discussion

                G.  Fall 2010 recess during Centennial Celebration—General Discussion

  

Senators present: Gregory Barnett, Randy Batsell, Ed Billups, David Caprette, John Casbarian, Rebecca Goetz, Ramon Gonzalez, Jane Grande-Allen, Deborah Harter, 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, Randy Stevenson, Devika Subramanian, Moshe Vardi, Duane Windsor, and Jim Young.

Senators absent:  Danijela Damjanovic, Meredith Skura, and Yizhi Jane Tao.

 

 

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

                                I.            Board of Trustees members visit;  Announcements  

  

 Speaker Susan McIntosh called the meeting to order at noon.  She welcomed three members of the Rice Board of Trustees to the Faculty Senate meeting:  Bob Clarke, Jim Crownover, and Bobby Tudor.  Each trustee described his educational and professional background.  All three men were members of Hanszen College while undergraduate students at Rice.  Tudor, chair person of the capital campaign, stated that the campaign is on target, having raised $750 million of the $1 billion goal. 

An informal discussion was held.  One Senator expressed concern over the proposed budget cuts by the federal government to education and research.  The trustees replied that Rice is making efforts to reduce the effects of the cuts by establishing a Political Action Committee (PAC) to represent Rice’s interests, and by working to increase philanthropic donations to Rice. Regarding the consequences of the failed Rice/Baylor College of Medicine proposed merger, Crownover said that the ties between the two institutions are probably better than they were prior to the merger talks, and that Rice’s relationship with the Texas Medical Center is positive.  One Senator expressed a desire to strengthen the relationship between the Board of Trustees and the residential colleges.  Clarke expressed interest in having successful Rice alumni speak to the students.  One suggestion was that trustees simply drop by a residential college at lunchtime, having notified the Master in advance, since many students are available at that time.  Another Senator asked that the trustees note that faculty stress is high due to factors such as budget concerns, expansion of the student body, and the Rice Initiatives.

Following the trustees’ exit from the meeting, McIntosh made one announcement:  the Senate is seeking a faculty member to work on updating the Faculty Handbook during the summer and a stipend is available.  Interested persons should contact McIntosh.

 

                              II.            Speaker’s Report 

  

·         The Faculty Advisory Committee on Communication in the Curriculum recently held a full day of meetings with external reviewer Robert Gundlach of Northwestern University; two more full-day sessions are planned with other consultants.

·         A draft of the policy regarding student participation at commencement was circulated prior to the Senate meeting, as agreed at the January 19 Senate meeting when President Leebron proposed to allow students in good standing who fell just short of completing graduation requirements to walk with their matriculating class at commencement.  General agreement was that the policy is reasonable, although Jane Grande-Allen said that the 12-hour limit might pose a difficulty for engineering students. McIntosh asked for any further comments before the policy is sent to the Dean of Undergraduates; there were none.

·         The Guidelines for Graduate Student Petitions, Appeals, and Grievances, which went through extensive review, is now in effect.  Paula Sanders, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, said she will post the updated version to all necessary websites.

·         A report from Ramon Gonzalez, the Faculty Senate’s delegate on the Council on Diversity and Inclusion, was distributed at the Senate meeting. The report states that the Office of the Associate Provost was renamed the Office of Diversity and Inclusion as part of an effort to implement a new approach to diversity, inclusion, and equity across campus. McIntosh reported that another new office under the provost’s umbrella will be active as of the Fall: the Office of Faculty Development. 

·         McIntosh reported that the ADVANCE Committee has requested Senate input on a draft document entitled “Good Practices for Evaluation and Professional Development for Associate Professors.”  McIntosh summarized the document, in which annual workshops and yearly evaluations of associate professors are recommended, also mid-career mentoring from senior faculty and chairs, as well as training of department chairs in providing effective feedback and guidance regarding faculty performance.  In the discussion that followed, one Senator advocated support not only for associate professors, but also for those full professors whose career might need reinvigorating.  The need for quality mentors was also discussed. Sanders said that both of these issues are being addressed by the Office of Faculty Development.   McIntosh will pass on the Senate’s comments to Jan Rinehart, who is directing the ADVANCE efforts.

 

                            III.            Deputy Speaker’s Report 

  

·         Deputy Speaker Tom Killian reported that completed nomination forms for Faculty Senate elections have been received for all open seats except for two in Humanities.  In addition, four nomination forms have been received for the one Non-tenure-track Teaching position, so an electronic election will occur soon. However, a question regarding the determination of voting faculty for this position has arisen which the Senate must resolve prior to the election.  Jim Young said that the determining factor should be whether faculty members are benefits-eligible or not. Parliamentarian Duane Windsor volunteered to research the issue.

·         Faculty reviews of the Rice Initiatives white papers were collected by the Senate’s working group and distributed faculty-wide via the Senate’s wiki space.  Faculty forums specific to each Initiative are now being held; the first was held yesterday on the Energy and Environment Initiative, and approximately 50 faculty members attended.  The Bioscience and Human Health Initiative forum will be held today, followed by the International Strategy forum on March 31.

  

                            IV.            Old Business—none

  

                              V.            New Business 

  

A.       Research Data Management Policy—General Discussion 

Prior to the Senate meeting, the Research Data Management Policy, prepared by the University Committee on Research, was distributed to the Senators.  The policy defines research data; describes the rights and responsibilities of researchers and the university; and contains a section on data sharing, access, and use.  A few comments regarding the policy were received by the Senate prior to the meeting, and a general discussion was held during the meeting.

 

Moshe Vardi noted that the policy is not clear regarding disaster recovery.  Which disasters do principal investigators need to consider? It is reasonable to take steps to prevent theft or fire damage, but what about hurricanes? This area needs to be defined more precisely.

 

Tom Killian said that the policy needs to be more specific regarding situations when the administration needs to take sole possession of data “by appropriate university officials, such as… ”.  Killian said this unspecified area is a problem, and he recommended revision similar to the Electronic Data Policy in which it is stated where the authority lies; in the provost, as senior academic official.

 

More discussion on the subject included a request that students and faculty sign a document regarding research data and its use. It was noted that although Rice has an intellectual property policy, no data retention policy existed until now.  All comments regarding the document will be sent to Doug Natelson, chair of the University Committee on Research.

 

B.      Motion to approve proposed Bioscience and Health Policy track in Professional Science Master’s Program 

The proposal for a Bioscience and Health Policy track in the Professional Science Master’s Program was distributed to the Senators prior to the meeting. McIntosh announced that the proposal has been moved for approval by the Graduate Council. Dagmar Beck, Director of the Professional Masters Program, said that the proposal was revised many times under careful scrutiny, including work with Vice President for Finance Kathy Collins regarding funding.  Beck noted that the program is highly collaborative, working across several departments, and she said that the Graduate Council’s approval was unanimous.

McIntosh asked if there were any further questions or comments from the Senators; there were none.  A vote on the motion was held, and it received unanimous approval.

 

C.        Motion from EX&S regarding return after suspension 

Jane Grande-Allen, a member of the University Committee on Examinations and Standing (EX&S), presented a motion to specify that undergraduate students may only return for a fall or spring semester following suspension, not for summer school.  Grande-Allen explained that students who are suspended after the fall semester must sit out the spring semester, and they sometimes petition to return to Rice in the summer. Some of these students take courses elsewhere in the spring, but there is insufficient time for Rice to receive their spring grades prior to the start of summer school. Also, summer session classes at Rice are often not of the same rigor as regular session classes, and they are not tracked the same way by the registrar’s office.  After a request to remove the word “normal” from the motion, a vote was held. The revised motion received unanimous approval from the Senate, shown below:

For the General Announcements:

Academic  Suspension (Undergraduate Students) 

The first suspension period is normally one semester; the second suspension period is at least two semesters. Students may only return for a fall or spring semester following suspension, not for summer school. Students are not readmitted after a third suspension.  

  

D.      Motion from EX&S regarding incompletes 

Grande-Allen presented a second motion from EX&S which recommended that the time granted undergraduate students to complete “incompletes” from the fall semester be shortened. The current rules require that an incomplete grade from the fall semester be converted to an “F” at the end of the fifth week of classes in the spring semester. The student is notified in the sixth week and thus faces removal from Rice halfway through the spring semester.  An earlier deadline to finish incomplete work would allow the student to focus on the current semester’s coursework.

The deadline for students to finish incomplete work from the spring semester remains unchanged because more time exists between the spring and fall semesters for students to complete their work. Grande-Allen was asked about students who cannot complete their work due to unresolved health issues; such students may petition EX&S for an extension. 

David Tenney, Registrar, was asked how many students typically start the semester with an incomplete from the previous semester. He replied that there are about 50 students with incompletes at the start of any semester, but by the fifth week, most are resolved; only a few F’s are awarded. Tenney also noted that some faculty members have told him that they did not want to give a student an F, so they gave him/her an incomplete instead, knowing that the Registrar would award the F if the work was not completed.  Rebecca Goetz said that instructors are supposed to give an incomplete only if the student is unable to complete coursework due to circumstances beyond his/her control, such as health problems.  Randy Stevenson suggested that the incomplete option be taken off the form sent to faculty and a new process be created for awarding incomplete grades.

A vote was held on the motion, in which the majority approved it, with two abstentions. The motion is shown below:

For the General Announcements:

INC (“Incomplete”)—Instructors report this designation to the Office of the Registrar when a student fails to complete a course because of verified illness or other circumstances beyond the student’s control that occur during the semester. For an incomplete received in the fall semester, students must complete the work by the end of the first week of the spring semester or an earlier date as defined by the instructor, and instructors must submit a revised grade by the end of the second week. For an incomplete received in the spring semester, students must complete the work before the start of the fall semester or an earlier date as defined by the instructor, and instructors must submit a revised grade by the end of the first week.  

 

E.         Motion from CUC regarding Student-Taught Courses 

 

McIntosh presented a motion from the University Committee on Undergraduate Curriculum (CUC) to formalize the current practice of limiting to three the number of one-credit Student-Taught Courses that may be taken for credit.  A short discussion was held in which several Senators expressed surprise that the three-course limit was not already the rule. A vote was held, and the motion received unanimous approval. 

 

Motion: the number of one-credit Student-Taught Courses that may be taken for credit shall be limited to three.  

  

F.         Faculty salaries study—General Discussion 

 

McIntosh stated that she had discussed with the Executive Committee a memo she received from a Senator who requested that the Senate undertake a faculty salary study to investigate several issues:

·         Salary stagnation, rising health care and child care costs

·         Merit raises—not given in Humanities last year

·         Increased tuition cost is not passed on to faculty

·         Possible effects of the above on faculty retention

 

The EC decided to ask the Senate whether a working group was desired,  and if so, who was interested in serving on it, and what its objectives should be.  McIntosh reminded the group that only one Senator need serve on the working group; the remainder of the group could be other faculty members. 

 

Several Senators offered suggestions during the general discussion:

·         Service to the University by faculty members should be recognized.

·         Small group discussions often yield more information than statistics.

·         The extent that a faculty member can obtain internal and external funding for research support should be investigated, as well as salary.

·         This will be a group which looks at its own salary; it is unlikely that a constructive report will be issued.

·         A worthwhile report would include information that the correct process to establish salaries was being used in each school.

·         All level of faculty should be included in the study—tenure-track and non-tenure-track.

·         Individual salaries should be included in the report, not just averages, because a few highly paid individuals skew the average.

 

President Leebron said that salary decisions are made at the school level and not at the university level.  He said that it was not possible review salaries at a university-wide level other than looking at the process.  He also said that salary and compensation was the most protected area in recent budget efforts.  He explained that a 5% raise in tuition, which accounts for 20% of Rice’s revenue, results in only a 1% increase in funds that can be spent across campus.  He said that the statement that the increase in tuition was not passed on to faculty is false; in fact, more than the increase in tuition was passed on to faculty.

 

Robin Sickles, who prepared a previous salary study for the Senate, said that any report will not be informative unless done at the school level. Deborah Harter said that when school administrators are asked about salaries, they say it is the president’s office that makes salary decisions.

 

Leebron also referenced the visit at the start of the meeting by Board of Trustees members and the constraints they are under regarding the use of endowment funds. Faculty raises are in the plan, Leebron said, but the authority lies within the schools as to how the funds are distributed.

 

McIntosh asked Senators if they would like to serve on a working group. Randy Batsell and Rebecca Goetz volunteered; Robin Sickles suggested that additional members be decided after the Senate meeting.

 

G.     Fall 2010 recess during Centennial Celebration—General Discussion 

 

McIntosh led a general discussion regarding a proposal to shift the two-day Fall Recess 2012 from Monday-Tuesday to Thursday-Friday due to Rice’s Centennial Celebration.  She showed a draft schedule for the Centennial Celebration which indicated that most events for faculty and students (as distinct from alumni and donor events) will occur on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, October 10-12, 2012.

 

McIntosh reported that the Student Association (SA) voted to shift to Thursday-Friday with the Fall Recess renamed as “Centennial Celebration Days.”  McIntosh also reported that the Centennial Commission does not want the shift to occur because it is uncertain that faculty and students would attend the events if Rice were on a break.  McIntosh noted that any official motion will come to the next Senate meeting.

 

Pasquali wanted the Masters to speak to students within their residential colleges for feedback. Matthias Henze said the best way to ensure student attendance at the events is not to shift the recess days to Thursday-Friday.  McIntosh asked for a straw poll as to how the Senators felt about this issue; three Senators were in favor of changing the recess to Thursday-Friday, but the majority was against a change.  Sickles recommended faculty be pro-active in getting students to participate in Centennial activities.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 2:07 p.m.