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Faculty Senate Meeting
January 25, 2017
Kyle Morrow Room, Fondren Library

 

Senate Meeting Agenda (and actions taken):

I.     Call to Order

II.    Announcements and Presentations

III.   Reports from Officers

IV.   New Business

        A.  Discussion regarding student absences for university-sponsored events

        B.  Proposed revisions to the Senate Constitution, Sections 2 and 5 (Approved)

V.     Special Session: Senators only

VI.   Adjourn

Senators present: David Alexander, Kate Beckingham, Martin Blumenthal-Barby, Gwen Bradford, David Caprette, Daniel Cohen, Andrew Colopy, Scott Cutler, Erik Dane, Michael Diehl, Maryam Emami, Julie Fette, Jeffrey Fleisher, Christopher Johns-Krull, Kevin Kelly, Marek Kimmel, Steve Klineberg, Anatoly Kolomeisky, David Leebron, Susan McIntosh, Marie Lynn Miranda, Ed Nikonowicz, Fred Oswald, Stan Sazykin, Doug Schuler, and Kerry Ward.

Senators absent: Graham Bader, Lisa Balabanlilar, Keith Cooper, Charles Geyer, Christopher Hight, Michael Kohn, Timothy Morton, and Laura Segatori.

 

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

I.  Call to Order
Speaker Jeffrey Fleisher called the meeting to order at 12:00 p.m.
 

II.  Announcements/Presentations

      A.  Moody Center for the Arts
Alison Weaver, Director of the Moody Center for the Arts, announced that construction of the Center was nearing completion, with its opening scheduled for February 24, 2017. She explained that the Center is designed as a laboratory, containing classrooms and studios for both the process and presentation of art, including photography, digital installations, dance theatre, and studio theatre. Please view the entire presentation HERE.

Weaver was asked about the status of the Rice Art Gallery, formerly housed in Sewall Hall. She replied that the gallery would be moved to the Moody Center for the Arts where site-specific art installations will continue to be presented. President Leebron noted that the gallery’s former space in Sewall Hall would become the new Welcome Center for the university. He said that the location is handicap accessible, unlike the current Welcome Center, as well as being close to the parking center currently under construction.
 

     B.  Project SAFE and CTIS Course
Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson said that as a result of the student survey conducted in 2015 regarding unwanted sexual contact and sexual assault, two new programs have been created: Project SAFE (Sexual Assault-Free Environment) and CTIS (Critical Thinking in Sexuality).

Project SAFE: Hutchinson explained that for many years, Rice has included a discussion of this topic during orientation week as a one-hour workshop. He said that the program will now be extended to one hour per week for five weeks, and although credit is not awarded for Project SAFE, completion of the program is required of all students.

CTIS: Hutchinson said that the Student Association requested a broader program to include topics not offered under Project SAFE, including some that are considered controversial. He said that the CTIS course would be offered on a pilot basis, is not required, but would satisfy the one-credit LPAP (Lifetime Physical Activity Program) course that is required of every student.

A comparison of the two courses is shown below:

New Programming

Several senators expressed concern over who would teach the Project SAFE courses, especially since many sections will be needed, as well as how to determine demand for the CTIS courses and the subsequent need for instructors. Hutchinson replied that Rice would hire trained social workers to teach the courses, and he agreed that the logistics of scheduling could be difficult.

Hutchinson was asked if graduate students would be required to take Project SAFE, but he said that the program would be for undergraduate students only at this point. Hutchinson was also asked how his office could make sure that students take the required Project SAFE course. He said that students who do not complete the course would not be allowed to register for the next semester’s courses until all other students have registered.

Finally, Hutchinson was asked how allowing the CTIS course to satisfy the LPAP requirement might affect the current LPAP program. Hutchinson estimated that 100 students out of a class of 1000 freshmen might use the CTIS course to satisfy his/her LPAP requirement. He also said that LPAP instructors are usually individuals from the community who have a specific expertise (such as yoga); the courses are not typically taught by Rice faculty members.

     C.  December 2016 Degrees Awarded
Registrar David Tenney reminded the senators that due to Senate-approved changes to the degree conferral process, degrees were awarded in December 2016, with presentation to the Senate in January with the actual numbers of degrees awarded. Tenney then presented the total undergraduate and graduate degrees awarded. He explained that the difference in the (conditional) undergraduate degree total presented to the Senate in December versus the actual January total was due to students who either failed a course or whose transfer credit did not arrive. Tenney said that these students are on track to graduate in May 2017. Please view the undergraduate and graduate December 2016 degree totals HERE.
 

     D.  University Strategic Planning for Phase 1, V2C2
President Leebron described the opportunities for faculty to participate in the strategic planning for the V2C2 (Vision for the Second Century II), including eleven strategic vision questions and a timeline of events. Leebron said that he would like to produce an interim document by May 2017, collect comments throughout the summer and fall, with the goal of producing the final document by December 2017. Please view President Leebron’s presentation HERE.

     E.  Announcements from the floor—none
 

III.  Reports from Officers

     A.  Speaker Fleisher: Cameras in Classrooms, Senate Working Groups
Speaker Jeff Fleisher provided the senators with an update regarding the presence of cameras in classrooms, as discussed in the Senate meeting held November 16, 2016. Fleisher said that the cameras were turned off that day because of the Senate discussion, they were still off, and that he would report again to the Senate in the future.

Fleisher also provided updates regarding the Senate’s working groups. He said that the Working Group on Digital Education would present its report in the February 2017 Senate meeting and the Working Group for University Policy 201 was working hard on its important task.
 

Fleisher then presented the charge and membership for the Working Group for the Distribution System and General Education Requirements.
     Charge:

1. Identify main areas of concern regarding the current distribution requirement system

2. Review and evaluate existing criteria for distribution courses in groups I, II, and III

3. Make recommendations for changes that will:

     a. alleviate or resolve problems and concerns

     b. improve the quality of general education for students by improving the quality of the
general education requirements

Membership:

Social Sciences – Susan McIntosh (Anthropology, chair of working group),
Ric Stoll (Political Science)

Architecture - John Casbarian

Engineering - Jane Grande-Allen (BIOE), Rob Griffin (CEVE)

Humanities - Lora Wildenthal (History), Graham Bader (Art History), Christian Emden (CLAS)

Natural Sciences - Dave Caprette (Biosciences), Tom Killian (Physics and Astronomy)

Shepherd School of Music - Richard Lavenda

Student Association - Palvasha Deme (Biochem major), Rushi Bhalani (Comp Science major)

VPAA Paula Sanders
 

     B.  Deputy Speaker Fette: Shared Governance, Nominations and Elections Committee

Deputy Speaker Julie Fette stated that shared governance at any university includes joint planning and effort between the faculty, the administration, and the board of trustees. She announced some recent Senate achievements towards greater shared governance of Rice University:

  • Administration agrees with the principle of creating a written policy for shared governance
  • Administration approved Speaker or Deputy Speaker attendance at the general sessions of the Board of Trustees meetings (previously attended only the Academic Affairs subcommittee meetings)
  • Administration shared financial documents with Faculty Senate and invited questions on Instructional budgeting and spending

In addition, Fette listed the ways that the Senate is contributing to the Strategic Planning for V2C2, as discussed by President Leebron earlier in the meeting:

  • Senate Executive Committee has been involved in planning for the Strategic Plan
  • Speaker/Deputy Speaker and President/Provost are meeting twice monthly on the Strategic Planning for V2C2
  • Senators have had the opportunity to respond to V2C2 website and online survey questions
  • Speaker and Deputy Speaker to attend Senior Leadership Retreat early February

Fette said that she was pleased to be working in a collaborative way with the president and provost. She said that she and Speaker Fleisher welcomed suggestions about faculty participation in shared governance from the senators or from their constituents.

Fette then announced that she would be forming the Nominations and Elections Committee (NEC) soon. She presented the rules from the Senate Bylaws regarding the composition of the NEC and its duties. She asked that senators who would like to volunteer for the NEC contact her.

IV.  New Business

      A.  Discussion regarding student absences for university-sponsored activities

Jill Foote, chair of the Rice University Committee for Athletics (RUAC), presented the language from the current General Announcements (GA) regarding student absences due to university-sponsored activities, which includes “…faculty normally will give a reasonable opportunity to make up work missed on such occasions.” Foote said that while the absence policy applies to all students, the focus for RUAC is student athletes, which make up 10% of the overall Rice undergraduate student body. She noted that student athletes on scholarship do not have a choice about missing classes; they must satisfy their scholarship requirements.

Foote explained that two surveys were conducted during the 2015-2016 academic year, one of student athletes and one of faculty members. The surveys revealed that a small but significant percentage of faculty do not give students a “reasonable opportunity” to make up missed class work due to absences at university-sponsored extracurricular activities. Foote acknowledged that student absences can be challenging for instructors, but she asked for faculty cooperation.

Foote presented a list of ideas from RUAC to strengthen procedures:

  • Clarify and strengthen the GA language in regard to absences due to university-sponsored events
    • Change inaccurate “rare” language
    • Specify an ombudsman or process to help students and faculty with issues
    • Remind student athletes that they may also seek assistance from the Faculty Athletic Representative (FAR) to the NCAA, currently Professor Rob Griffin (CEE)
  • Require new GA language in course syllabi, akin to university requirements on documented disabilities
  • Provide annual reminders of university policy, akin to university reminders on documented disabilities
  • Provide training and outreach to deans, faculty, and students
  • Make clear that faculty practices that deny any student realistic options to reschedule assignments are not consistent with Rice University policy

Foote also described the enhanced procedures that the Athletic Department has recently instituted:

  • Student athletes are given signed letters at start of each semester listing all classes that they must miss for university-sanctioned sports events
  • Athletic Department is currently considering reviving the all-sports calendar
  • Student athletes are reminded that the NCAA FAR can help them with issues
  • Athletic Director Joe Karlgaard strongly committed to working with coaches and staff to minimize absences and smooth processes

Following Foote’s presentation, several senators made comments or asked questions, summarized below.

  • I recommend that student athletes receive advice as to which courses they should not take if they must miss many classes during that semester.
  • I receive the list of the student athletes in my classes and the dates they must miss, but I ask them to remind me when they are going to miss the next class.
  • If student athletes have advance notice for an assignment, the absence should not be used as an excuse to avoid turning in the assignment on the day it is due.
  • The student athletes have no choice about missing classes. The language in the GA about absences being rare is from the time when Rice participated in the Southwest Conference and long travel was not required to compete with other schools in the conference.

Fleisher thanked Foote for her presentation, which can be viewed HERE. He asked that senators and their constituents place any additional comments on the Senate’s wiki space, and he noted that the Senate’s Executive Committee was working on possible revisions to the GA language.

     B.  Proposed revisions to the Faculty Senate Constitution, Sections 2 and 5

Parliamentarian Fred Oswald explained that due to the new titles for non-tenure track faculty members and the Senate-approved changes to the degree conferral process, revisions are needed to the Senate Constitution in Section 2, “The Membership of the Senate and Faculty Eligibility for Voting,” and in Section 5, “Plenary Meetings of the Faculty.” To view the changes in detail, please see: Section 2, Section 5. Oswald stated that the Executive Committee approved the revisions for presentation to the full Senate. There was a motion to approve the revisions; it was seconded, followed by a unanimous vote for approval.
 

V.  Special Session

President Leebron requested a confidential session with the senators.
 

VI.  Adjourn
The meeting was adjourned at 2:00 p.m.