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Faculty Senate Meeting 

August 31, 2011 

Duncan Hall, Room 3092 

Agenda: 

I.      Call to order, welcome, introductions

II.     Speaker’s Report

III.    Approval of Academic  Calendar 2013-2014

IV.    Election of Executive Committee 2011-2012

V.     New Business

         A.  General discussion of Appeals and Grievances rules

         B.   General discussion of Senate priorities 2011-2012

VI.    Deputy Speaker’s Report

 

Senators present: David Alexander, Randy Batsell, Kate Beckingham, Carl Caldwell, David Caprette, John Casbarian, Marcia Citron, Ramon Gonzalez, Jane Grande-Allen, Shirine Hamadeh, Illya Hicks, Anatoly Kolomeisky, David Leebron, Susan McIntosh, George McLendon, Helena Michie, Fred Oswald, William Parsons, Matteo Pasquali, Brian Rountree, Stan Sazykin, David Scott, Robin Sickles, Jane Tao, James Weston, and Moshe Vardi.

Senators absent:  Danijela Damjanovic, Michael Kohn, and Scott McGill.

 

PROCEEDINGS 

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

  

I.     Call to order, welcome, introductions 

Speaker Susan McIntosh called the meeting to order at 12:00 p.m.  She welcomed all senators and guests to the first Faculty Senate meeting of the academic year. She introduced Jane Grande-Allen, deputy speaker, John Casbarian, convenor, and Carl Caldwell, parliamentarian. Each senator then stated his/her name.

II.     Speaker’s Report 

         A.  Actions of the Executive Committee

              1.  Working Group on Communication in the Curriculum

McIntosh announced that the Executive Committee (EC) recently approved a reconstitution of the Working Group on Communication in the Curriculum, with Helena Michie (English) as its chair. The original working group was formed in 2010, and its report may be viewed by current faculty on the Senate's wiki space  HERE.  Pursuant to the recommendations in this report, a Faculty Advisory Committee (FAC) was formed in February 2011, comprising faculty from all schools, and including most of the non-tenure-track faculty members who teach communication and writing courses in Natural Sciences and Engineering and the Jones School.  As recommended by the working group, external reviewers from MIT, Rutgers, and Northwestern University came to Rice to review the current program. Each reviewer met with the FAC, some university administrators, and several undergraduate and graduate students.  Reports from the reviewers have been received and were sent to the faculty today. (The reports from reviewers may be viewed on the wiki space available to current faculty HERE.)  McIntosh thanked Provost McLendon for funding the reviewers, as well as Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson’s office for facilitating their travel arrangements.  McIntosh also thanked Senate Assistant Sharon Mathews who was responsible for the reviewers' meeting schedules.

The charge of the reconstituted working group is posted on the Senate website.  In addition to Michie, members include Terry Doody (English), David Ferris (Shepherd School), Kate Beckingham (BCB), Tony Mikos (BioE), and Ric Stoll (Political Science). Working in conjunction with the FAC, the recommendation from the working group is requested in time for the November 2011 Senate meeting.

             2.  Working Group on Salaries

The formation of a Working Group on Salaries was recommended by the Senate last year. Robin Sickles (Economics) has agreed to be co-chair, along with Kathy Ensor (Statistics).  Members include Rebecca Goetz (History), Randy Batsell (Jones School), and Randi Martin (Psychology).  A draft charge for the working group was presented to the Senate by Sickles:

Examine and report on: 

·         Trends in Rice salaries by rank within Rice 

·         Trends in Rice salaries by rank across peer institutions 

·         Trends in fringe benefits (including tuition for faculty children) 

·         How different schools at Rice determine raises 

·         Trends in administrative and faculty resource allocations 

·         Trends in Rice salaries and peer universities by field 

Discussion of the charge ensued. Sickles was asked if the group would address gender equality, as was done in previous years. He replied that a gender study done five years ago showed no evidence of problems at that point, and any issues that have arisen since then were addressed by deans.  Sickles was also asked if compensation for department chairs will be addressed by the working group. He replied that he has been told that there is no policy at Rice regarding the amount that department chairs are compensated, but this issue could be included under the investigation of how Rice determines raises.

Provost McLendon stated that one of his goals is to make raises more uniform across schools; to at least establish a uniform base. He said that this is a university-wide problem at Rice; it is not a school/department-specific problem.

The working group has been asked to conclude its study in one year’s time.

        B.  McIntosh announced that there were no appeals or grievances filed by faculty this summer.

        C.  The Rice University Faculty Handbook was revised this summer for the first time in several years. McIntosh thanked Senator Carl Caldwell and Senate Assistant Sharon Mathews for their work in updating the handbook.  McIntosh stated that the Faculty Handbook is an important information source, especially for new faculty.

Caldwell thanked the many people who provided information for the update and he stressed the importance of the handbook.  He listed some of the sections which had been in serious need of updating: History, Mission Statement, Amorous Relations, Sabbatical Policies, Benefits, Library, Intellectual Property, and Information Technology.  A new section was added: Third Year Review of Untenured Professors.  Caldwell stated that updating the handbook will be an ongoing process. New Appeals and Grievances procedures, the new Research Misconduct policy, and changes in the Promotion and Tenure guidelines will all need to be incorporated into the handbook.  McIntosh stated the intention to ensure future updating of the handbook by Senate annually.

        D.  Vice Provost for Research Vicki Colvin was introduced by McIntosh, who then gave a brief update to the Senate on various issues.

·         Rice Initiatives: the Bioscience/Bioengineering group made some amazing faculty hires; the Energy group, which will require industry support, met with four different companies, three of which yielded positive results. In addition, the Cultures of Energy program designed by the Humanities faculty has begun. Regarding the International group, there are developing research programs with both China and Brazil, as well as student exchange programs.

·         Colvin stated three challenges her office currently faces:  1) federal funding for research is probably not going to increase, and this represents 80% of Rice’s research dollars; 2) Rice’s grant writing needs to move to an electronic system, and a survey of the faculty will be done soon asking their needs when writing a grant; and 3) the increasing regulatory environment that universities face in three areas will need to be addressed: conflict of interest, principal investigator status, and technology transfer.

        E.  The General Announcements (GA) is now presented in a web-based format only.  Assistant Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Celeste Boudreaux was in charge of this project, and she gave an update to the Senate. She showed the Senate the new landing page which replaces the old table of contents. She explained that if an item applies to more than one group, it is repeated under that group’s portal. Boudreaux said that the new GA includes an “old to new GA” site map so that those people who knew where to locate an item in the old GA can be directed to its location within the new GA. In addition, old versions of the GA are still available in pdf format. McIntosh stated that the Senate will keep a GA-impact file as the year progresses of Senate actions that will affect GA content; these items will then be reviewed each summer prior to the GA update deadline  to make sure they are properly included in the  revisions for the coming year.  Each year, the final version of the GA will be archived as the applicable text for matriculants in that year. The 2011-2012 GA can be viewed here: http://ga.rice.edu/.
 

        F.  Jan Rinehart, Executive Director of the ADVANCE program, explained that this program to advance women in the scientific and engineering fields has completed its last year of a non-renewable grant. However, the Rice administration has seen positive results from the program and has thus created the Office of Faculty Development. This office will extend its work beyond the science-focused ADVANCE to all schools, to both men and women, and will center on faculty development, faculty mentoring, and faculty equity. Rinehart said this office will report to Vice Provost of Academic Affairs Paula Sanders.

Rinehart was asked if the Office of Faculty Development will offer support to non-tenure-track faculty, and the reply was no, not at the start. However, NTT faculty will be invited to teaching workshops.  It was noted that NTT faculty numbers are significant at Rice.

 

III.                Approval of Academic Calendar 2013-2014 

The Faculty Senate has the right and duty to set the Rice academic year calendars. The proposed 2013-2014 calendar conforms to the general formula for academic calendars passed by the Senate on January 23, 2008, and the motions passed January 14, 2009, and December 8, 2010, regarding course add and drop dates, and on March 30, 2011, regarding the date to resolve fall semester incompletes. It has been available on the Registrar's website for faculty to view.

The Senate approved the following motion, previously approved by the Executive Committee: The Senate adopts the proposed calendar for the 2013-2014 academic year.

 

IV.                Election of Executive Committee 2011-2012 

McIntosh announced that the Executive Committee slate, which was announced at the April 2011 Senate meeting, conforms to the rules as stated in the Senate Bylaws. She asked if there were any alternate slates; there were none. Grande-Allen moved to approve the slate, and Caldwell seconded the motion. The following vote was in favor of approval, with one abstention.  The Executive Committee for 2011-2012 consists of the following members:

Speaker Susan McIntosh, Social Sciences
Deputy Speaker Jane Grande-Allen, Engineering
Carl Caldwell, Humanities
David Caprette, Natural Sciences, NTT-Teaching Faculty
John Casbarian, Architecture
Rebecca Goetz, Humanities
Anatoly Kolomeisky, Natural Sciences
Brian Rountree, Jones Graduate School of Business
Robin Sickles, Social Sciences
Moshe Vardi, Engineering

V.     New Business 

        A.  General discussion of Appeals and Grievances rules 

McIntosh stated that the motion presented to the EC by Moshe Vardi, Chair of the Working Group on Appeals, Grievances and Hearings, to adopt the revised rules and procedures document has been temporarily withdrawn for revision of the document to incorporate the useful comments posted on the Senate’s wiki space. McIntosh showed the comments to the assembled body.  Grande-Allen asked the senators, especially those with a liaison position to a second department, to please remind their constituents that the document may be viewed on the wiki; please read it and post comments. McIntosh stated that the Working Group will revise the document and present it  to Rice’s General Counsel Richard Zansitis again, after which it will be presented to the Senate for approval.

     B.  General discussion of Senate priorities 

McIntosh stated several items from last year that the Senate will continue to address:

·         The Senate has a continuing goal to increase its effectiveness in communicating with constituents, both through representatives and liaisons to committees and through departmental liaisons. McIntosh distributed a list of the current liaisons to departments and asked the senators to volunteer for departments needing a Senate liaison..

·         Consideration of how  non-tenure-track (NTT) voting eligibility is  determined is required  because the definition of eligibility in sections 2 and 4 of the Senate Constitution conflict. David Caprette is working to gather the necessary data  on NTT faculty across the campus.  He plans to present on a motion to increase NTT representation on the Senate once the eligibility issue is resolved.

·         From the Working Group on Senate Governance, motions regarding  the timing of elections and procedures for Senate leadership, as well as recommendations on other governance issues, are still pending.

·         The Working Group on Appeals, Grievances, and Hearings will continue its work, especially on hearings, and it will consider a recommendation for an Ombuds Office.

 

McIntosh invited suggestions for new areas for consideration by the Senate. Moshe Vardi stated that although elections among the faculty occur for service on the Promotion and Tenure Committee (P&T), it is not clear who controls the governance of P&T.  He said that it is not clear if the guidelines for this group are simply recommendations, or if they are binding. Vardi also stated that the Working Group on Appeals, Grievances, and Hearings has made some recommendations on the P&T process in order to minimize appeals.

Provost McLendon said that last year was his first year to work on this issue, and he has received feedback from P&T members as to how the process could be improved, for example, providing better information to department chairs. He offered to summarize the comments and present them to the Senate’s Executive Committee. McIntosh asked when the summary might be available; McLendon said he would check with Colleen Morimoto who acted as secretary to the P&T Committee and have her pass on the suggestions to the Speaker. 

 

Another topic suggested by Vardi was to form a working group which would consider how Rice University advances its research profile, in accordance with the first priority in the V2C. He referenced the three Rice Initiatives, stating that their focus was on what is done well at Rice. Although useful, he said that missing from these discussions and reports was a review of the overall structure, processes, and culture at Rice.  After he was asked how this group would compare to current committees, Vardi stated that current groups such as the University Committee on Research and the Graduate Council are fully occupied with policies and procedures; they are not able to step away from their work on detailed policies to look at the overall program.
 

David Scott, co-chair of the University Committee on Faculty and Staff Benefits, said that he would like the Senate’s help with the Human Resources (HR) office. He said that often when faculty members seek help from this office, especially those who are contemplating retirement, they are told by HR staff that they cannot give advice or recommendations. Sickles said that the Working Group on Salaries will discuss retirement issues.  Grande-Allen said that the new Office of Faculty Development, under Jan Rinehart, will investigate this issue, among many others. 

McIntosh stated that a few issues that the Senate addressed previously are still receiving attention. First, the report from the Working Group on Honors and Grade Inflation was passed to the University Committee on the Undergraduate Curriculum (CUC) for its action recommendations, along with a request from the provost and the dean of undergraduates for recommendations on the creation of formal recognition of research honors/research distinction.

 

Second, McIntosh announced that Provost McLendon will present at the October 2011 Senate meeting the administration’s response to the report from the Enrollment Growth Impact Task Force.  The February 2011 report of the Task Force is available on the wiki space (HERE), accessible by current faculty.
 

Provost McLendon confirmed the October date of his presentation, and then he began discussing the report from the Working Group on Honors and Grade Inflation. He said the report was very thorough, and he said he wanted the faculty to think about the disadvantage of awarding A+; students’ grades have to be better than perfect to be awarded honors. Rebecca Goetz agreed that there are serious distortions when A+ is awarded. For example, a student must have better than a 4.0 grade point average in order to be inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. Randy Batsell suggested that A be the highest grade given instead of A+. Regarding research distinction, David Alexander discussed how creative works are defined by some departments, as well as encouraging students by awarding grades. After more discussion, McIntosh noted that Alexander is the Senate’s representative on the CUC, and she asked him to pass the comments of the Senate to this group.
 

Caprette asked the status of the Working Group on Teaching’s study of student course evaluations. President Leebron said that he wants to encourage attention to quality of teaching. He said that although Rice enjoyed many good rankings, the areas of writing and advising need to be improved. He said that one area in which Rice is not strong is the level of engagement of students in the classroom. The relative passivity of students in the classroom, technology in the classroom, and distance-education technology are all important issues to address, he said.
 

McIntosh stated that she met with Geoff Winningham, Paula Sanders, Jan Rinehart, and John Hutchinson regarding teaching, including teaching workshops and the University Committee on Teaching.  She said that some recommendations for this committee are that its charge includes a review of the course evaluation process and consider incentives for improving teaching.

 

McIntosh relayed the idea from several faculty for a university-wide discussion in the upcoming centennial year of the V2C as a long-term vision.  While much has already been accomplished, she noted that the rapidly changing university ecosystem, with regard to research funding, technology and teaching, and internationalization, posed challenges to the continuing development of the V2C. President Leebron responded that during Rice's Centennial the faculty need to pause and think about not just the next five years, but 10 to 20 years from now. Leebron said that the world is changing and it is a challenging time for higher education. Vardi agreed, saying that the issues of research honors, Latin honors, grade inflation, and how technology is changing education all need to be part of one big conversation about research, scholarship, and teaching at Rice.
 

McIntosh then asked the Senate to prioritize the issues suggested with a show of hands. The P&T and teaching issues were felt to be the highest priority issues, with retirement and the “overall conversation” issues in a second tier.
 

VI.     Deputy Speaker’s Report
 

Deputy Speaker Jane Grande-Allen, Chair of the Senate’s Nominations and Elections Committee (NEC), announced that the NEC will be elected at the November Senate meeting. The NEC‘s tasks will include the formation of a subcommittee entitled the Committee on Committees. The focus of this committee will be on staffing the University Committees in the spring semester with faculty members for service during the next academic year. Grande-Allen stated that a database is being formed using faculty information such as seniority and service for use in staffing the committees. Second, the NEC will run the Faculty Senate elections, including identifying and encouraging individuals to run. The NEC will also develop an EC slate and hopes to hold the EC elections in the spring semester.
 

Grande-Allen stated that a database of NTT faculty members is also being planned. This database will be helpful in determining the number of NTT faculty at various levels, as well as their proper representation on the Senate.

 

McIntosh stated that a strong Faculty Senate is essential to shared governance. She encouraged senators to contact their constituents not only in their home departments, but in their liaison positions to other departments. She thanked them for their willingness to serve and noted that Senate service and outreach to constituents plays a vital role in building a sense of community. The meeting was adjourned at 2:00 p.m.