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Faculty Senate Meeting 

 October 16, 2013 

Founder’s Room, Lovett Hall 

  

Agenda (and actions taken):  

I.        Call to order

II.      Announcements

          A.      Report on the Program in Writing and Communication

          B.      Report on the Office of Faculty Development

          C.      Report from the Council on Diversity and Inclusion

III.     Speaker’s Report

IV.     New Business

          A.      Proposal for a Minor in Naval Sciences (Approved) 

          B.      Proposal for a Non-Thesis MA in Art History (Approved)   

Senators present:  David Alexander, Robert Atherholt, Graham Bader, Kate Beckingham, Carl Caldwell, David Caprette, Keith Cooper, Scott Cutler, Claire Fanger, Julie Fette, Dawn Finley, Jane Grande-Allen, Christopher Hight, Betty Joseph, Rachel Kimbro, Jonathan Ludwig, Susan McIntosh, George McLendon, Helena Michie, Fred Oswald, Brian Rountree, Stan Sazykin, David Scott, Laura Segatori, Ruth Lopez Turley, James Weston, and Michael Wolf.

Senators absent:  Jerry Dickens, Jeffrey Fleisher, Michael Kohn, Anatoly Kolomeisky, David Leebron, and Luay Nakhleh.

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

  I.      Call to order  

             Speaker Carl Caldwell called the meeting to order at 12:00 p.m.

II.       Announcements 

A.      Report on the Program in Writing and Communication 

Caldwell introduced Tracy Volz, Director of the Program in Writing and Communication (PWC). Volz gave an update on the PWC and the Center for Written, Oral, and Visual Communication. To view the slides presented by Volz, please click here: PWC.  

Volz presented to the Senate the results of the composition exam recently administered to the Fall 2013 matriculants. Of the 1040 students who completed the exam, 94% (978 students) passed, while 6% (62 students) earned unsatisfactory scores. These 62 students, along with the four students who did not take the exam, were placed in FWIS 100: Fundamentals of Academic Communication. Volz reminded the senators that FWIS stands for First-Year Writing-Intensive Seminars, and that the FWIS are content-focused, communication-intensive classes of no more than 15 students each. She stated that half of the first-year students will take a FWIS class in Fall 2013, and the other half will take it in Spring 2014. Volz also reviewed distribution credits, participating academic departments, and FWIS instructors.

The Center for Written, Oral, and Visual Communication was discussed next by Volz. She stated that the Center has had more than double the number of visits by students in Fall 2013 than it had in Fall 2012, the inaugural year, in both the undergraduate and graduate student categories. Volz went on to explain the resources available for graduate students, including international students, and for faculty members.

Volz said that the next steps for the PWC are to recruit faculty instructors for the FWIS 2014-2015 year, pilot communication-in-the-discipline projects, and create sequenced curriculum for ESL students, as well as expand assessment plans and analyze data. Volz recognized the individuals who have helped to make the PWC a success:  Matt Taylor, Terry Doody, Helena Michie, David Tenney, Paula Sanders, and Jennifer Wilson.

Provost McLendon stated that developing a writing/communication program was one of his highest priorities since arriving at Rice. He said that the faculty members who designed and run the program have made it better than he would have imagined. He also stated that he is one of the FWIS instructors, and he recommended the experience.

B.      Report on the Office of Faculty Development 

Louma Ghandour, Director of the Office of Faculty Development (OFD), and Don Morrison, Chair of the Faculty Advisory Committee of the OFD, were introduced by Speaker Caldwell. Morrison explained that for the last two years, and for the current year, he has been the Faculty Advisor to President Leebron. He said that in this position, he provides an informal means of communication between the faculty and members of the administration, especially the president. In addition, he said that he provides an independent faculty voice when decisions are made. He asked that faculty come to him with any concerns. Regarding the Faculty Advisory Committee to the OFD, Morrison and Caldwell explained that this committee is a University Committee and can address tasks or questions from the Faculty Senate. 

Ghandour presented to the Senate a report on the Office of Faculty Development. She explained that the OFD is comprised of two individuals at this time, Ghandour and Julia Amborski.  Ghandour stated the mission of the OFD: to identify and respond effectively to the needs of the faculty. Ghandour went on to list the goals of the OFD, the members of the Faculty Advisory Committee, and the current and planned activities of the OFD, as shown below. To view the full presentation, please click here: OFD.  

Current Activities 

•       Search committee training

•       Access to databases of under-represented minority PhDs in STEM fields

•       Informational sessions on Promotion & Tenure

•       Informal lunches for women faculty (~2 per semester)

•       Monthly discussions for department Chairs

•       New faculty orientation

•       Triad mentoring program

•       Faculty exit survey
 

Planned Activities 

•       Targeted programs for mid-career faculty (e.g., orientation session, information on promotion, mentoring initiatives, leadership opportunities, and innovative teaching sessions with CTE)

•       Evaluation of unsuccessful faculty searches

•       Pilot programs in Engineering, Humanities, Natural Sciences, & Social Sciences

•       Climate study (Fall 2014)

•       With VPAA – review of faculty policies

C.       Council on Diversity and Inclusion Report 

Associate Provost Roland Smith presented a report regarding the activities of the Council on Diversity and Inclusion. Smith stated that mission of the Council can be stated as “inclusive excellence.” He said that to be successful, we must commit ourselves to: 1) Diversity --acknowledging our differences, 2) Under representation—seeking critical mass, and 3) Inclusion—enriching our learning environment. Smith went on to elaborate on each of these points. To view the full presentation, please click HERE.  

Following the presentation, there were a few questions and comments, especially regarding the positive job placement data for Rice’s minority graduate students. Betty Joseph noted that many students have landed good jobs in their fields. Paula Sanders, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, agreed. She stated that they had also enjoyed advancement in their careers. Smith said that there is a proposal to add administrative experience for students while at Rice, which would add another skill set. Caldwell acknowledged the importance of Smith’s efforts and thanked him for the report.

Caldwell asked the senators, as representatives of the faculty, to let their constituents know about each of the reports that were presented in the Senate meeting.

III.     Speaker’s Report 

A.      Reappointment of Working Group on Research and Scholarship until October 30, 2013 

B.      Reappointment of Working Group on Grade Inflation until the end of 2013 

C.      Formation of Working Group on the Honor Council and Graduate Students 

Chair:  Graham Bader (Humanities)
Members: Alex Butler (Jones School), Gene Levy (Natural Sciences)
Charge:   To investigate how our current Honor Code applies to graduate students and to propose reforms if necessary.

The working group is expected to complete its work by March 15, 2014. 

D.      Formation of the Working Group on the Coalition of Intercollegiate Athletics 

Chair: Leo Costello
Members: Helena Michie, Rob Griffin

Charge:  To consider the invitation to join the COIA, and to provide a recommendation to the Senate. As part of its investigation, the working group should:
  -investigate further what the COIA is: which of Rice's peer institutions are represented in the group, how they are represented, what work the group has done to date, and how effective that work has been;
  -consult with Faculty Senate constituencies as well as other potentially affected parties (including, but not limited to, President, Athletics Director, and Faculty Athletics Representative) regarding any relevant issues
-evaluate the amount of ongoing work and commitment required of the Faculty Senate to engage in COIA, if Rice were to participate;
  -provide a list of advantages and disadvantages related to joining the COIA, along with its own recommendation.
The working group is expected to submit its report by February 1, 2014.
 

E.       Formation of the Working Group on Decanal Reviews 

Chair:  to be determined

Charge:  To examine the policy for the REVIEW OF DEANS in light of current practice, and to make suggestions for reforms, if necessary, with particular reference to:
  -the formation and organization of the dean review committee
  -the charge presented to the dean review committee
  -the schedule for dean reviews.
The working group is expected to complete its work by March 15, 2014.
 

F.       Task Force on Non-Tenure-Track (NTT) Faculty 

Co-chairs:  Paula Sanders, Stan Sazykin

Faculty members: Dave Caprette, NTT-Teaching Senator
                Simon Fischer-Baum (TT-Psychology)

                Bill Parsons (TT-Religious Studies)
                Alternate:  Jonathan Ludwig, NTT-Teaching Senator

IV.      New Business 

A.      Proposal for a Minor in Naval Sciences (Approved) 

Caldwell introduced three officers from the Naval Sciences program: William Fitzgerald, Eric Gillard, and Jason Fite. Fitzgerald thanked the senators for reviewing the proposal and for the opportunity to meet with them. Regarding the proposed minor, Fitzgerald stated that establishing the minor would be recognition for courses that hard-working Rice students are already taking for credit. Fitzgerald added that the new minor would not cost any money, and it would bring Rice into alignment with the other universities in its consortium:  University of Houston, Prairie View, and Texas Southern University. 

Several senators had questions for the Naval Science representatives. One senator asked Fitzgerald to speak to the intellectual content of the proposal. Fitzgerald replied that the program, which had been reviewed by the University Committee on the Undergraduate Curriculum, focuses on leadership development, including the study of history, ethics, and moral theories. He listed the many philosophers whose work the students study. Fitzgerald said that the program meets the standards for minors at Rice, and he noted that Rice has approved credit for the courses. Lieutenant Fite described the NAV 103 naval history course that he teaches, which begins prior to the American Revolution and encompasses each war in which the United States has participated. Another senator noted that the proposal fills all criteria for minors under the Senate-approved guidelines document for creating majors and minors.

The Senate voted to approve the minor. Please click HERE to view the proposal.

B.       Proposal for a Non-Thesis Master of Arts in Art History 

Ken Whitmire, Chair of the Graduate Council, stated that the Graduate Council had reviewed the proposal for a non-thesis master’s degree in Art History and recommended that the Senate approve it. He said that the non-thesis master’s will allow students who are not going to pursue the full Ph.D. to have something to show for their hard work. Whitmire stated that the proposal is not a terminal master’s; students are accepted to the Art History graduate program with the intent of earning a Ph.D.

Further discussion included the question of tuition reimbursement for students who do not complete the Ph.D. program, but Paula Sanders stated that situation is not applicable in this case. She also said that the proposed non-thesis master’s in Art History is consistent with other approved Humanities programs. The proposal was compared to programs where students are “automatically” awarded a master’s degree when they reach (Ph.D.) candidacy, internally called a “candidacy master’s.” Provost McLendon summarized the conversation, and then a suggestion was made by a senator to have a generic university-wide policy. Although McLendon stated that this was not a bad idea, others present stated that the departments have different needs and processes. For example, Chemistry does not require a thesis, while Physics allows either a thesis or defense of a piece of research for a Ph.D. to be awarded.

The Senate voted to approve the proposal, with two senators opposed. Please click HERE to view the approved proposal.

The meeting was adjourned at 1:30 p.m.