Room, Lovett Hall
Agenda (and actions taken):
to order; Announcements
Business: Motion to approve Distinction
in Research and Creative Works
(Approved as amended)
A. Proposals from the floor
discussion on proposed revisions to Conflict of Interest/Conflict of Commitment
to approve revised Senate “Procedure for Investigating Accusations Warranting Severe Sanctions,
Including Dismissal, Against Faculty Members”
(Approved as amended)
to change procedure for Latin Honors (Approved)
Senators present: David Alexander, Randy Batsell, Kate
Beckingham, Carl Caldwell, David Caprette, John Casbarian, Danijela Damjanovic,
Rebecca Goetz, Ramon Gonzalez, Mikki Hebl, Michael Kohn, Anatoly Kolomeisky, Susan
McIntosh, George McLendon, Fred Oswald, William Parsons, Brian Rountree, Stan
Sazykin, David Scott, Robin Sickles, Moshe Vardi, and James Weston.
Senators absent: Marcia Citron, Jane Grande-Allen, Shirine
Hamadeh, Illya Hicks, David Leebron, Scott McGill, Helena Michie, Matteo
Pasquali, Jane Tao, and Ruth Lopez Turley.
PROCEEDINGS (To listen to an audio tape of this
meeting, email email@example.com.)
to order, Announcements
A. The Rice 2032 session on Research will be held
Monday, April 23, beginning at noon,
at President Leebron’s home.
archiving, at the request of the Student Association, will be activated Fall
leadership elections will be held April 18. Carl Caldwell and Jane Grande-Allen
respectively, to run for Speaker and Deputy Speaker. Further
nominations will be accepted;
contact Grande-Allen, chair of the Nominations
and Elections Committee.
dual- and joint-degree graduate program guidelines document is being revised
the request of the Executive Committee.
Business: Motion to approve Distinction
in Research and Creative Works
Speaker McIntosh explained that
the motion to approve the graduation honor “Distinction in Research and
Creative Works” was tabled from the last Senate meeting. The proposal was drafted by an ad hoc committee chaired by Matt Taylor;
it was subsequently reviewed and recommended by the CUC. Additional revisions to the document were made
in response to comments received by the EC after circulating the proposal to
all Deans and Chairs, as follows:
• Selection process changed from new
school-wide committees to individual departments
• Expand beyond “Research” to include creative
• Increased specificity of university-wide
• Reporting and oversight procedures to avoid
• Attention to additional burdens on faculty,
• Biennial review of the program by Dean’s
Since the motion came to Senate moved and seconded by the EC, McIntosh
opened the floor for discussion. One concern was whether the distinction
honor should be restricted to 30% of the students, similar to Latin
Honors. Provost McLendon stated that he
did not want an obligatory quota, but he did want the honor to be somewhat
uncommon. Moshe Vardi said that the “above and beyond” phrase in the proposal
was ambiguous; and he wanted a cap of 20 – 30% explicitly stated. However,
other Senators preferred keeping the language ambiguous. One Senator pointed
out that the Deans’ Council will review the program every two years. Vardi made
a formal motion to amend the proposal to include a review by the Senate in two
years. The motion was seconded. There was one question to clarify whether the
amendment was for a review by the Senate every two years, or if it was for one
review two years from now. Vardi replied that the amendment is for one review
in two years’ time (2015); after that, the Senate can decide if more reviews
are warranted. The Senate voted unanimously to approve the amendment.
After further discussion regarding the now-amended proposal, including a
motion that did not receive a second, the Senate voted to approve the program,
with one Senator opposed and one abstaining. View the approved proposal here: Distinction in Research and Creative Works.
IV. New Business
from the floor –none
General discussion on proposed revisions
to Conflict of Interest/Conflict of Commitment Policy
Doug Natelson, chair of the University Committee on Research, stated that
the federal guidelines regarding Conflict of Interest (COI) have changed.
Institutions have until August 15, 2012, to submit a policy which meets the new
guidelines. Therefore, the Senate needs to complete its work on the policy by
the end of this semester. Natelson also stated that the Rice University Board of
Trustees’ internal audit committee was quite concerned about the current COI
policy. He added that one reason for the combining of the COI and Conflict of
Commitment (COC) policies is that faculty will thus have only one annual
disclosure form to complete.
Senators had some questions for Natelson, including a concern that
identifying conflicts of commitment should be an issue between the faculty
member and his/her dean; not Human Resources.
Another concern was the maximum of 14 working days per semester allowed
away from Rice; does this include travel days, for example? Vicki Colvin said
that if the days away are related to your scholarly interests, they would not
be considered a COC. She said that an example of a COC is if a faculty member
were a principal investigator on a project which is not located at Rice or does
not involve Rice. Colvin added that the deans would like to have guidelines at
the university policy level.
Vardi said that he served on a
previous committee working on this issue, and it was hard to find the right
balance. Regarding COI, there are federal rules, but COC is harder to define.
He advocated slowing down to carefully make revisions. Provost McLendon
suggested that an interim policy be produced, one that can be approved at the April
18 Senate meeting. He stated that every
other university has such a policy, and Rice needs one. For example, a faculty member currently might
state, “I don’t ever have to be on campus because I am advancing my
intellectual horizons.” All agreed that the key question for faculty might be,
“Are you living up to Rice’s expectations?” Robin Sickles proposed the phrase
“consistency of commitment.”
Colvin agreed to revise the policy following this discussion, calling it
an interim draft, and making it available to all faculty for their review prior
to the April 18 Senate meeting.
to approve revised Senate “Procedure for Investigating Accusations against
Faculty Members Warranting Severe
Sanctions, Including Dismissal”
McIntosh stated that an update is needed to the current policy, to insure
consistency with the federally-mandated guidelines regarding sexual harassment
accusations and research misconduct. Rice University Policy 201, section 8,
stipulates that the Faculty Senate will come up with the procedural rules for
Carl Caldwell, chair of the Working Group on Appeals, Grievances, and
Hearings, thanked the individuals who offered suggestions during the revision
process. He said that the working group
had consulted with Rice’s general counsel to come up with two significant
changes to the current procedure. He
presented the two changes, the wording for the first of which was amended (in
bold) during the meeting to read as
“The Hearing Panel’s findings and recommendations, with supporting
rationale, and if deemed necessary by any member of the panel,
dissenting opinions, will be presented in a full report to the President, with
copies to the Speaker of the Faculty Senate and to the accused.”
Section 3i: “The chair of the panel will write a short
report describing the procedure followed, but free of details of the case,
which will be kept by university legal counsel to aid future panels.”
The Senate unanimously approved, first, the amended wording accepted
during the meeting, and second, the main motion (moved and seconded by the
Executive Committee) to accept the two proposed changes to the procedure. McIntosh thanked the working group for its
efforts, especially Caldwell.
to change procedure for calculating Latin Honors
McIntosh explained that in December 2010, the Senate’s Working Group on
Grade Inflation and Academic Honors presented data documenting significant
grade inflation and disparities across schools in average grades and the percentage
of students receiving Latin Honors, which is currently calculated on the basis
of cumulative GPA across all graduating seniors. There was general agreement
among the Senators that the current methods of calculating Latin Honors should
be modified. The issue was sent to the University Committee for the
Undergraduate Curriculum (CUC), which has proposed the procedure shown in the
motion below. The Executive Committee has moved and seconded the motion for
approval by the Senate:
Motion to approve a change in
the procedure for calculating Latin graduation honors:
Recipients are determined by
the following procedure: At the end of
the spring semester, and after receipt of all grades, the grade point average
within the highest 5% of the year’s graduating majors within each school is
recommended for the summa cum laude honor.
The grade point average included within the next highest 10% is used to
determine those eligible to graduate with the magna cum laude honor. Finally, the grade point average included within
the next 15% is used to determine those majors eligible to graduate with the
cum laude honor. Thus, approximately 30%
of each graduating class, distributed approximately evenly across all schools,
receives Latin Honors on graduation.
In the discussion that followed, Randy Batsell, chair of the original
working group, stated that Registrar David Tenney ran an experiment using
current data to see what would happen if the proposed process is implemented.
The results of the experiment showed that relatively few students who would
receive Honors under the current system would be denied them under the new
system. This is because the worst
disparities are in the smallest schools:
Music (with 48% of majors receiving Latin honors in 2008 and 2009
graduating classes) and Architecture (4.7% receiving Latin Honors in those same
graduating classes). Vardi stated that
although the students in the Natural Sciences might be penalized in this
system, it is important that the Senate address the bigger problem. Sickles
said that physics majors competing with economics majors for honors is not
relative; honors should be awarded within a student’s own area.
Tenney was asked how students with double or triple majors will be
affected. He replied that even if a student has more than one major, the top
30% of students in each major will receive honors. A student with a double major could, for
example, be awarded summa in one of
his/her majors, and magna in the
Batsell called the question (a motion to end discussion), it was
seconded, and the resulting vote was unanimously for ending discussion.
Next, a vote was held on the motion itself, which also received unanimous
approval. McIntosh thanked John Hutchinson, previous chair of the CUC, David
Tenney, and the Working Group on Grade Inflation and Honors, chaired by Batsell.
Just prior to adjournment, it was recommended that the Faculty Senate
again address grade inflation during the next academic year.
The meeting was
adjourned at 1:45 p.m.