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Faculty Senate Meeting 

 February 20, 2013 

Founder’s Room, Lovett Hall

 

Senate Meeting Agenda (and actions taken):  

I.    Call to order and welcome
II.   Announcements
III.  Working Group Reports:  Conflicts of Commitment Policy
IV.   New Business

       A.  Proposals from the floor
       B.   Motion to approve revised University Policy 216 and related Procedures document (Approved) 
       C.   Motion to approve revised “Organization and Election of Promotion and Tenure Committee” 
              to make explicit rules regarding substitutions (Approved as amended) 
       D.   Motion to move “Organization and Election of Promotion and Tenure Committee” to Faculty Senate
              Bylaws, Section 9  (Approved)  
       E.   Motion to approve revised Section B.9 of “GUIDELINES FOR FACULTY APPOINTMENTS, PROMOTION,
             TENURE, AND RENEWAL OF CONTRACTS”  in regard to recording the vote (Approved) 
       F.   Resolution of the Senate regarding Chair of Board of Trustees James Crownover (Approved)  

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

Senators in attendance:  David Alexander, Robert Atherholt, Gregory Barnett, Kate Beckingham, Carl Caldwell, Dave Caprette, Keith Cooper, Danijela Damjanovic, Mahmoud El-Gamal, Christian Emden, Rebecca Goetz, Jane Grande-Allen, Illya Hicks, Christopher Hight, Betty Joseph, Anatoly Kolomeisky, Jonathan Ludwig, Lanny Martin, Helena Michie, Fred Oswald, Randy Batsell, Stan Sazykin, Michael Stern, Moshe Vardi, and James Weston.

Senators absent:  Scott Cutler, Shirine Hamadeh, Rachel Kimbro, Michael Kohn, David Leebron, George McLendon, Rob Raphael, David Scott, and Ruth Lopez Turley.

I.     Call to order and welcome
Speaker Carl Caldwell called the meeting to order at 12:00 p.m. Caroline Levander, Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Initiatives, announced that she had received inquiries from various media entities regarding Rice University’s agreement with edX. Levander said that Rice is one of only two universities to enter into agreements with both Coursera and edX; the other university being the University of Toronto. It was suggested that the Executive Summary (and not the interim report) produced by the Senate’s Working Group on Online on Online Education be released by Levander to the media. Caldwell asked the chair of the working group, David Alexander, to review the Executive Summary, perhaps consult with his committee, and let Levander know how to proceed. This action was moved, seconded, and the Senate voted unanimously in favor of this procedure.

II.    Announcements 

A.   The March 20 Faculty Senate meeting will be held in the Founder’s Room of Lovett Hall from 11:45 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

B.   Representatives of the Student Association requested that April 10 be designated “Bring a Professor to Lunch Day,” in which students would invite the professors of their choice to eat lunch with them in the residential colleges, courtesy of Housing and Dining. Caldwell noted that if a professor was not available on April 10, the invitation could be extended for an alternate day. Approval of the request was moved, seconded, and approved by the Senate.

C.   A general information session hosted by Daphne Koller of Coursera will take place on March 7 on campus, during the lunch hour, for any faculty member who is interested in teaching a course with Coursera.  An email notice will be sent by the Senate to the faculty, with replies directed to Meredith Allison of the provost’s office. The Working Group on Online Education will also meet with Koller earlier in the day.

D.   The draft charge for the Working Group on Laboratory Safety was presented: 

          To assess the state and culture of research laboratory safety across campus
          To propose a new organizational structure that fosters and maintains a culture of lab safety
          To issue recommendations to improve the process for safety training, oversight, and
          compliance
 

Caldwell stated that although the Senate’s Executive Committee (EC) has tentatively approved the draft charge, members of the EC have also requested that more precise language be used. The final charge will be presented to the Senate at a later date.   

III.    Working Group Reports:  Conflicts of Commitment Policy 

James Weston, chair of the Senate’s Working Group on Conflicts of Commitment, presented the draft policy to the Senate for discussion. Weston said that the working group began by researching the best practices of other universities. After writing the draft policy, which Weston said is primarily revisions to the current policy, the provost, the Dean’s Council, and the Senate’s Executive Committee were all asked to review it. In addition, the document was posted to the Senate’s wiki space for review by faculty members. Weston stated that most of the complaints he has received from faculty members were in regard to existing items in the current policy, not the revisions recommended by the working group.

Weston then reviewed the revisions, which included the addition of the term “full time” faculty member, a revision meant to exclude from the policy adjunct professors, professors in the practice, and other faculty members employed on a less-than-full time contract.

Weston reviewed a few terms from the current policy including “primary allegiance by faculty members to the university…,” which is standard language in conflicts of commitment policies, as is the maximum amount of time allowed for outside engagements; an average of eight hours per week, although it may be stated as “one day per week” in some cases. Weston said that the working group purposely avoided providing a list of activities which could interfere with a full time faculty member’s primary allegiance to Rice, instead preferring that the faculty member disclose these activities directly to his/her dean for approval on an individual basis. 

A second revision to the current policy was the addition of new, more restrictive language which states that a faculty member may not have a “significant engagement”  at another university or educational organization, including digital education, without the approval of his/her dean. Weston stated that “significant” would replace “teaching,” used previously, in an effort to include consulting, research, service, or any other significant engagement.

Following the presentation, one item that several senators questioned was the term “significant engagement at another university.” Gregory Barnett said that faculty who wished to get around the rule might say that their outside engagement was not significant. Moshe Vardi expressed concern that the language used might allow someone to do more than eight hours of outside work by stating that it enhanced his/her faculty development. He suggested that if the faculty member is paid for the outside work, the maximum allowed should be eight hours per week. David Alexander agreed with Barnett that the term “significant” might allow for abuse, and he agreed with Vardi that being paid for outside work defined that work as “significant.”  Weston agreed to take these matters back to the working group for consideration.

Christopher Hight described the situation in the School of Architecture, where many professors also work at architecture firms. However, it was noted that the Dean of Architecture was likely to approve such an arrangement, thus satisfying the policy. Caldwell said that the same situation exists with the faculty at the Shepherd School of Music, who often work and perform in venues outside of Rice.

Helena Michie asked how many faculty members were likely to be affected by the policy; how much of the deans’ time would be needed to discuss these outside engagements? Weston stated that the deans had indicated that these situations were rare, and they were agreeable to the process described. Hight asked if there was an appeals process available to the faculty member if he/she did not agree with the dean’s decision. Weston replied that the faculty member could appeal to the Appeals and Grievances Panel, over which the provost has final authority.

There were no additional questions. The working group will report again to the Senate at a later date. To view the draft policy, please click here: Conflicts of Commitment.  

IV.    New Business 

A.    Proposals from the floor—none

B.    Motion to approve Policy 216 (Conflicts of Interest) and related Procedures document 

Caldwell stated that University Policy 216 and Procedures for Policy 216 have been thoroughly reviewed by the University Committee on Research and by the Executive Committee. To summarize the recent revisions, Caldwell said that the previous policy gave too much power to the provost. The new document states that the president will make appointments to the Faculty Conflict Committee, which will act as an advisory board. In addition, if there is a disagreement between the Faculty Conflict Committee and the provost, the provost must meet with the committee directly.

Vardi expressed concern over the use of the term “provost or provost’s designee” in the document. Doug Natelson, chair of the University Committee on Research, said that a designee is needed if the provost has a conflict of interest or if he/she is busy or away and a short time frame for action exists. Natelson said that he would review the use of this term in the document again.

Keith Cooper asked about the relationship between the Conflict of Commitment document (presented earlier by Weston) and the Conflict of Interest document now being presented by Natelson.  Caldwell explained that, once finalized, the new Conflict of Commitment language would be placed within the Conflict of Interest Policy 216, pending Senate approval.

Caldwell stated that the revisions to Policy 216 had been moved and seconded by the Executive Committee. The Senate then voted unanimously to approve the revisions. To view the documents, please see Revisions to Policy 216 and Procedures.  

C.    Motion to approve revised “Organization and Election of the Promotion and Tenure Committee” to make explicit rules regarding substitutions 

Caldwell presented to the Senate the following revision to the “Organization and Election of the Promotion and Tenure Committee” document, Section 3:

3. The Speaker of the Senate shall also appoint one alternate member of the Committee from each school, who shall be a tenured full professor. This member should preferably be someone who has recently served on the Committee. He or she will only serve in cases where the representative of his or her school on the Committee has been recused from the case. The alternate members appointed by the Speaker shall be approved by the Executive Committee at the first meeting of the academic year.  

Caldwell explained that having a confidential list of alternates prepared in advance is preferred over selecting an alternate for a specific circumstance. He was asked what the procedure might be if it were one of the provost appointees to P&T who had the conflict of interest with the candidate; the term “representative of his or her school” seemed to imply that only the elected members of P&T would be recused. There was a motion to amend the language to read “Committee member” instead of “representative of his or her school,” as shown below:  

3. The Speaker of the Senate shall also appoint one alternate member of the Committee from each school, who shall be a tenured full professor. This member should preferably be someone who has recently served on the Committee. He or she will only serve in cases where the Committee member from his or her school has been recused from the case. The alternate members appointed by the Speaker shall be approved by the Executive Committee at the first meeting of the academic year.  

The motion to amend the language was seconded and then unanimously approved by the Senate. Next, a vote was held on the main motion to revise the section, including the amended language, which the Senate unanimously approved. To view the document, see: “Organization and Election of the Promotion and Tenure Committee.”  

D.    Motion to move “Organization and Election of the Promotion and Tenure Committee” to the Faculty Senate Bylaws, Section 9 

Caldwell stated that the original document creating the P&T Committee currently exists only as a resolution from the Faculty Council; it needs to become a part of the Faculty Senate governance rules. Vardi stated that he had argued for this action for some time, and he said that moving the document to the Senate Bylaws will define the Senate’s jurisdiction over the Committee. Caldwell added that Provost McLendon was in support of the move. The Senate voted unanimously to move the document to the Senate Bylaws, effective immediately.  To view the entire document, see Faculty Senate Bylaws. 

E.     Motion to approve revised section B9 of (Promotion and Tenure Committee) of the “Guidelines for Faculty Appointments, Promotion, Tenure, and Renewal of Contracts” 

Caldwell presented the following revision of Section B9 to the Senate:

For each case, at the conclusion of the deliberations, a member of the Committee will be assigned by the Provost the task of authoring an ‘Executive Summary’ of the committee deliberations. The final draft of the Executive Summary, including a record of each vote without the name of the specific Committee member attached to it summary statistics of the committee vote, should be approved by the Committee and added to the dossier. 

Caldwell stated that the Executive Committee discussed the voting procedures used by the P&T Committee, taking into consideration the recommendation from the Working Group on Promotion and Tenure, which had stated that the Senate should not direct the voting method of the P&T Committee (yes/no, a 1-10 ranking of the candidate, etcetera), but that a record must be kept of the votes. Caldwell explained that recording the individual votes of the P&T members would show accurately the work of the committee. The motion came moved and seconded from the EC, and the Senate voted unanimously for approval. To view the entire document, see: “Guidelines for Faculty Appointments, Promotion, Tenure, and Renewal of Contracts.” 

F.     Resolution of the Faculty Senate regarding Board of Trustees Chair James Crownover 

Caldwell stated that James Crownover, outgoing Chair of the Rice University Board of Trustees, has done an extraordinary job as chair, including encouraging the voice of the faculty to be heard on many issues. Caldwell said that the resolution was written with the help of Cyndi Wilson, and it has been reviewed by President Leebron and the Executive Committee. The signatures of faculty members will be collected and then presented to Mr. Crownover. There was a motion to approve the resolution, it was seconded, and the Senate voted unanimously in favor of the resolution, shown below:

Be it resolved that 

Whereas James Crownover has served Rice University with distinction and excellence as its twelfth Chair of the Rice Board of Trustees, and 

Whereas he has provided the leadership, both within the Board and across the University, that has helped raise Rice to a higher level of national and international renown, and 

Whereas he has worked both to ensure dynamism and to preserve the distinctive character of the institution, and 

Whereas he has focused on the quality of education as well as the quality of research, and 

Whereas he has repeatedly sought out the voice of the faculty, students, and staff in matters concerning the University, 

Now, therefore, we, the Faculty of Rice University, express our deep appreciation for his dedication, his energy, and his effort. 

The meeting was adjourned at 1:10 p.m.