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Faculty Senate Meeting 

 April 23, 2014 

Founder’s Room, Lovett Hall 

 

Agenda (and Actions Taken): 

I.      Call to Order

II.    Announcements

III.   Working Group and Committee Reports

     A.      University Committee on Research (Approved Laboratory Safety Policy) 

     B.      University Committee on Teaching

     C.      Working Group on the Honor Council and Graduate Students (Approved Six Recommendations) 

     D.      Task Force on Non-Tenure Track Faculty

IV.     Main Motions

     A.      Certificate in Civic Leadership (Approved) 

     B.      BSMSNE Degree Name Change (Approved) 

     C.      MMSNE Degree Name Change (Approved) 

     D.      MSBHP Degree Name Change (Approved)  

V.      New Business—agenda items for next year

Senators present:  Robert Atherholt, Graham Bader, Kate Beckingham, Carl Caldwell, Keith Cooper, Scott Cutler, Jerry Dickens, Claire Fanger, Julie Fette, Dawn Finley, Jeffrey Fleisher, Christopher Hight, Betty Joseph, Rachel Kimbro, Michael Kohn, Anatoly Kolomeisky, David Leebron, Jonathan Ludwig, Susan McIntosh, George McLendon, Luay Nakhleh, Fred Oswald, Stan Sazykin, David Scott, Laura Segatori, Ruth Lopez Turley, James Weston, and Michael Wolf.

Senators absent:  David Alexander, David Caprette, Michael Diehl, Helena Michie, and Brian Rountree.

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.      Upcoming Events 

            1.   Senate End of Year Party:  April 30, 4:00- 6:00 p.m., Brochstein Pavilion

            2.   End of Year Plenary Session:  May 15, 10 a.m., Baker Institute

B.      Introduction of Incoming Senators 

Caldwell said that most of the current senators would continue to serve on the Senate next year, including several senators who were reelected. He also welcomed the following individuals who will begin their first term on the Senate in fall 2014:

Daniel Cohen                    (History)
Erik Dane                           (Jones School, 1 year)
Michael Diehl                    (Engineering, 1 year)
Luis Duno-Gottberg         (Humanities, fall 2014)
Marek Kimmel                   (Statistics)
Timothy Morton                 (English)

He thanked the following senators whose terms have ended: 

Carl Caldwell
Dawn Finley
Jane Grande-Allen
Helena Michie
David Scott
Ruth Lopez Turley

C.       Introduction of Student Association Officers
Caldwell introduced incoming SA President Ravi Sheath and External Vice President Amritha Kanakamedala to the Faculty Senate.

D.       Nominations and Election of Speaker
Caldwell nominated James Weston for Speaker, 2014-2015. Caldwell said that Weston has served on the Senate for many years, and in fact, he helped to build the Senate. Caldwell said that Weston was very trustworthy and had proven his leadership capabilities by serving on the Executive Committee, on working groups, and by chairing the Senate’s Nominations and Elections Committee (NEC).

Caldwell asked if there were any other nominations, there were none. The Senate then voted unanimously to elect Weston as Speaker. Caldwell presented Weston with a plaque in gratitude for serving as Deputy Speaker 2013-2014. Weston thanked Caldwell and presented him with a plaque for serving as Speaker for two years, 2012-2014.

E.        Nomination and Election of Deputy Speaker 

James Weston nominated Rachel Kimbro for Deputy Speaker, noting that she has been an outstanding member of the Faculty Senate, as well as a thoughtful, careful member of the NEC. He asked if there were any other nominations, there were none.  Kimbro was unanimously elected by the Senate to serve as Deputy Speaker 2014-2015.

F.       Proposed Executive Committee Slate 2014-2015 

A proposed Executive Committee (EC) slate was presented to the Senate:

James Weston                  (Jones School of Business)

Rachel Kimbro                 (Social Sciences)

Christopher Hight            (Architecture)

Betty Joseph                     (Humanities)

Anatoly Kolomeisky        (Natural Sciences)

Fred Oswald                     (Social Sciences)

Stan Sazykin                     (Non-Tenure Track Faculty)

Laura Segatori                  (Engineering)

Notice was also given that alternate slates are acceptable until the first Senate meeting of the fall semester 2014, when the Executive Committee vote will occur.

G.     Teaching Awards Assembly, April 28, 3:00 p.m.
Josh Eyler, Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence, announced that several changes to the presentation of the teaching awards have occurred due to a variety of factors. He said that for the first time, all teaching and mentoring awards will be presented at the same time. In addition, Eyler said that the winners of the awards have not yet been announced. He encouraged faculty members to attend the Teaching Awards Assembly in order to discover the names of the winners and to support their colleagues. Eyler said that there would also be a faculty reception after the ceremony.

H.      Update on Information Technology (IT) Task Force
Kevin Kirby, Vice President for Administration, discussed the purpose of the IT Task Force, its methodology, and its organization. He said that the task force recognizes that IT should support the core mission of the university: education and research. The task force has produced two documents (“IT Task Force Report on Principles, Governance, and Organization,” and “IT Task Force Report on Education and Research”), which are posted on the Faculty Senate wiki space. Included among the recommendations from the task force are creating a Chief Information Officer (CIO) position, combining the administrative computing units at Rice under the CIO, and forming an Information Technology Council (ITC). Kirby stated that faculty input and participation are important for the ITC to succeed.

I.         Update regarding implementation of the new A+ value of 4.0
Caldwell announced that he, the registrar, and others have found at least three possible ways to implement the new A+ value of 4.0 (effective Fall 2018), but a final decision has not yet been made on the method to be used.
 

III.    Working Group and Committee Reports 

A.      Report from the University Committee on Research and Recommendation to Approve Laboratory Safety Policy 

Doug Natelson, chair of the University Committee on Research, said that in response to a report one year ago from the Senate’s Working Group on Laboratory Safety, a rapid reassessment of Rice’s safety policy and procedures took place. Natelson said that the revised Laboratory Safety Policy 313, provided to the senators prior to the meeting, defines “laboratory,” clarifies shared space responsibilities, defines the responsibilities of all parties, and increases resources for the Environmental Health and Safety Office. In addition, he said that the policy reconstitutes the Laboratory Safety Committee, and he said he hoped that the Senate would consider elevating it to a University Committee. Caldwell thanked Natelson for his committee’s work in producing the new policy.

Kate Beckingham noted that the policy includes extensive responsibilities for individual faculty members. She recommended that a checklist of safety procedures be produced so that effective faculty adherence to the rules can be achieved. She asked Natelson to propose the idea of a checklist to the committee, and he agreed.

Caldwell stated that the policy comes moved and seconded from the Executive Committee. The Senate then voted unanimously for approval of the Laboratory Safety Policy 313. The policy can be viewed here: Laboratory Safety Policy.  

B.       Report from University Committee on Teaching 

Mike Gustin, chair of the University Committee on Teaching, informed the Senate that the committee has been coordinating with Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Initiatives Caroline Levander regarding digital education. He said that a subcommittee of the Teaching Committee is being formed to increase faculty input, including a review of how Rice’s MOOC’s (Massively Open Online Courses) benefit the undergraduates at Rice.

Gustin reported that the University Committee on Teaching felt that the Brown Grants and the presentation of the Teaching Awards would benefit from oversight by the Center for Teaching Excellence. Two improvements that Gustin cited were much earlier notice for external awards and better record keeping for internal awards.

Gustin said that due to a request from the Working Group on Grade Inflation, the committee has begun to look into additional options for the evaluation of teaching at Rice. He said that instead of relying solely on student evaluations of courses and instructors, the committee is considering adding faculty peer evaluation to the process. Gustin said that the committee is also reviewing the student evaluation system in general. He said that often the responses by students are not helpful; perhaps the survey is asking the wrong questions.

A senator asked Gustin how many MOOC’s Rice is currently offering and how successful the courses have been. Provost McLendon replied that he would supply this information to the Senate for posting on the wiki space. McLendon was asked if the information would include the number of students who enrolled initially, as well as the number who completed the courses. McLendon said yes. Finally, McLendon was asked about Rice’s intent regarding digital education. McLendon said that he would ask VPII Levander to give a presentation on MOOC’s to the Senate during the fall 2014 semester.

Caldwell thanked Gustin for his work chairing the committee.

C.    Report and Recommendations from the Working Group on the Honor Council and Graduate Students 

          Working Group Chair Graham Bader listed the members of the working group:

Adriana Bracho, Honor Council Chair

Alex Butler, Jones School

Arnauld Chevalier, Associate Vice Provost, Academic Affairs

Parker Dalton, Jones School Student Association

Bridget Gorman, Social Sciences

John Hutchinson, Dean of Undergraduates

Suraya Khan, Graduate Student Association

Gene Levy, Natural Sciences

Don Ostdiek, Associate Dean of Undergraduates

He also cited the working group’s charge: To investigate how our current Honor Code applies to graduate students and to propose reforms if necessary.  

Bader explained that the first step for the working group was to gather input from all interested parties:  undergraduates, graduate students, faculty members, and alumni. Bader said that using this information, the working group met several times before agreeing on the following recommendations:

1.       That the current Honor Council be bifurcated to form separate undergraduate and graduate honor councils.  The Working Group is suggesting no changes to the Honor Council as presently formulated outside the shifting of graduate members and cases to the newly formed body.  It is the understanding of the Working Group that the Provost has the authority to effect this change.

2.       That the newly formed Graduate Honor Council be comprised of both faculty and graduate-student members.

3.       That an initial group of six Graduate Honor Council members be selected immediately after the formation of the new body, consisting of three graduate students (two chosen by the GSA; one by the Jones Student Association) and three faculty members (chosen by the Faculty Senate).  This group would be responsible for designing the architecture and drafting the constitution and by-laws of the Graduate Honor Council (based on guiding documents for the current all-university Honor Council) with the goal of its full operation by fall 2015.  [NB: Jones School students do not have voting representation in the GSA, hence the split student selection.]

4.       That the formative group proposed in point #3 promptly establish processes to recruit, train, and ensure continuity of Graduate Honor Council members in advance of the Fall 2015 start date.

5.       That a triage committee, consisting of the Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and a representative from the Research Integrity Office, be formed to vet all cases of possible graduate-student honor code infringement before further action is taken upon them.  This group would determine, on a case-by-case basis, if a suspected infringement constitutes a classroom violation (to be investigated by the Graduate Honor Council) or research violation (to be investigated by RIO).

6.       That more rigorous introduction to the honor code be integrated into graduate student orientation, possibly including a required test on infractions and consequences.

Bader said that currently, skepticism exists regarding the way that the current Honor Council handles graduate student cases, and the working group is hoping that the recommended actions will restore integrity to the system.

A few senators had questions for Bader. One senator stated that in the fall, the undergraduate members on the working group seemed worried about bifurcation of the Honor Council, and he wondered if they were now in favor of the proposal. Bader replied that the undergraduates recognize that differences exist between the undergraduate and graduate systems and that bifurcation is necessary. He added that the individuals who expressed concern that bifurcation might dilute the current Honor Council were from students and faculty who did not have experience with graduate students. The replies from individuals who did have this experience said that the current Honor Council system has problems when addressing infractions by graduate students.

Another senator asked about faculty members serving on the proposed Graduate Honor Council, noting that faculty do not serve on the current Honor Council. Bader replied that in addition to the closer peer relationship between faculty and graduate students, a depth of experience is needed when evaluating possible infractions by graduate students, as well as a large body of members in order to draw enough individual panels for each case.  Caldwell added that in the past, occasionally a graduate student accused of an infraction has brought his/her lawyer to the Honor Council hearing. He said that having faculty members on the Graduate Honor Council would add backbone to it.

Following this discussion, the Senate voted unanimously to approve all six of the recommendations. Caldwell thanked Bader for chairing the working group.

D.       Report from the Task Force on Non-Tenure Track (NTT) Faculty 

Task Force co-chairs Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Paula Sanders and Stan Sazykin (NTT-Research Senator) explained that the task force is comprised of administrators and faculty. Sanders said that the task force was going to meet soon to finalize their recommendations and would submit a draft to the Senate for discussion next year. Sanders and Sazykin then made the following presentation: NTT Task Force, Preliminary Report.  A question and answer session followed the presentation, summarized below.

Question:  Some NTT faculty are doing both teaching and research at Rice, how will the proposed new titles affect them?
Answer:  The NTT-Research job functions include graduate student teaching. For teaching at the undergraduate level, secondary appointments could be made. For example, there are administrators who also teach. We will continue to look into this issue.

Question:  If we begin using these titles, what will be the difference between non-tenure track and tenure track faculty?
Answer:  The assistant professors, associate professors, and professors of teaching will only teach. They will not have the full range of responsibilities of tenure-track faculty:  teaching, research, and service, though appropriate levels of service at the department level might be expected.

Question:  What if someone who was hired to teach does some great research?
Answer:  While research is not required, it could be taken into account regarding promotions and renewals.

Question:  Is this a path to convert NTT faculty to tenure-track faculty?
Answer:  No, that is not included in this policy. However, a department that felt strongly about a person could take one of their tenure-track lines and let him/her fill it.

Question:  Are NTT faculty generally paid less than tenure-track faculty?
Answer:  One of the guiding principles stated in the proposal is reasonable pay and merit increases, but it does not include details regarding pay grades. We will encourage the administration to look at this issue once titles are determined. Note that different levels of pay exist within the tenure track faculty ranks, too.

Question:  One of the principal frustrations for NTT faculty must be the uncertainty of when his/her contract ends.
Answer:  The current system uses both rolling and fixed contracts. A fixed appointment is often for a period of three years maximum, which can be renewed. We are proposing that once an NTT faculty member reaches a certain level of seniority, the contract becomes different, with the goal of providing job security. For example, the renewal could be for five years, instead of three, or a rolling contract could automatically renew.

Question:  Is there a limited duration (at Rice) for contingent faculty?
Answer:  More clarity is needed between career track and contingent faculty.
Provost McLendon:  Every university has non-tenure track faculty. At Rice, one example is the teaching post-doc who is appointed for a fixed non-renewable term. When the contract is finished, he/she goes on to another institution. Other individuals stay a long time at Rice. It should not take 10 years to determine that someone is valuable. The continuing of one-year appointments for 10 or 12 years does not make sense. Going from a one-year to a three-year continuing term makes an enormous difference to a person’s sense of value to the institution and their ability to plan.

Question:  What is the difference between research and teaching faculty?
Answer:  Research faculty are generally funded by external sources and are generally expected to support their salary through external funding. NTT-Teaching faculty are not expected to write/research, but to have special expertise within their field.

Question: Where does the title “professor in the practice” fit?
Answer:  We propose to keep the title, but to use it with the definition provided.

Question:  Does Rice have a clearly defined position as to when a faculty member is non-tenure track or tenure-track? I do not see this topic listed in your “guiding principles,” but it is important.
Answer:  Agreed.

Caldwell thanked Sazykin and Sanders for their report.

IV.      Main Motions 

A.       Proposal for a Certificate in Civic Leadership
The Senate voted unanimously to approve the proposal. Please see: Certificate in Civic Leadership.  

B.      Proposal to Change Name of Undergraduate Degree from “Bachelor of Science in Materials Science (BSMS)” to “Bachelor of Science in Materials Science and NanoEngineering (BSMSNE),” with no additional curricular changes.
After clarifying that the correct initials for the program were being used, the Senate voted unanimously to approve the proposal.

C.      Proposal to Change Name of Master’s Degree Program (Professional Master’s Degree Program in Engineering) from “Master of Materials Science (MMS)” to “Master of Materials Science and NanoEngineering (MMSNE),” with no additional curricular changes.
The Senate voted unanimously to approve the proposal. (Note the corresponding Master of Mechanical Engineering (MME) is unchanged in name or curriculum.)

D.      Proposal to Change Name of Master’s Degree Program (Professional Natural Science Master’s Program) from “Master of Science in Bioscience Research and Health Policy (MSBRHP)” to “Master of Science in Bioscience and Health Policy (MSBHP),” with no additional curricular changes.
The Senate voted unanimously to approve the proposal.

V.      New Business 

Caldwell asked the senators to list agenda items for the Senate to address during the next academic year. The following items were suggested:

  • The development of Graduate Program Certificate Guidelines by the Graduate Council
  •  Faculty Salaries (the Senate has asked the Office of Faculty Development is to produce an annual report on compensation)
  • Academic advising of undergraduate students by faculty members
  • Pass/Fail for distribution credit (the Senate has asked the University Committee on the Undergraduate Curriculum to address this issue, among others)
  • Academic Calendar (there are currently two fewer days of classes in the fall semester)
  • “CRUP” (Committee for the Rice Undergraduate Program) principles need to be revised per SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) requirements
  • Possible formation of a Senate working group regarding patents

The meeting was adjourned at 1:50 p.m.