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Proceedings

 

 

Wednesday, May 2, 2007  

Founder's Room, Lovett Hall  

   

AGENDA  

I.                 Announcements  

II.                Report from the Nominations and Elections Committee,  

                  and Presentation of slates for the Executive Committee - Deborah Harter  

III.             Nomination of candidates for Speaker and Deputy Speaker - Corcoran  

IV.             Report from the Working Group on Policies and Procedures  

                  Governing Non-Tenure-Track Faculty - Gautami Shah  

V.               Presentation of the final report from the Committee on the  

                  Rice Undergraduate Program (CRUP) - Chandler Davidson  

VI.             Consideration of a resolution to dedicate a portion of one  

                  meeting to an open dialogue on athletics  

VII.           New Business  

 

 

Senators present:Jose Aranda, John Casbarian, Marj Corcoran (Speaker), Michael Deem, Rebekah Drezek,Christian Emden,Deborah Harter (Deputy Speaker), John Hempel, Matthias Henze, Ben Kamins, Tom Killian, Phil Kortum, David Leebron (ex officio),Eugene Levy (ex officio), Peter Mieszkowski, Nancy Niedzielski, Anthony Pinn, Dale Sawyer, David Schneider, Gautami Shah, Evan Siemann, Michael Stern, Randy Stevenson, Joe Warren, James Weston, Duane Windsor, James Young  

   

Senators absent:Randy Batsell, Yildiz Bayazitoglu, Brian Huberman  

 

Total attendance: Approximately 55  

 

A verbatim recording of the proceedings is available by contacting the Faculty Senate at 713-348-5630.

________________________________________________________________________  

 

Faculty Senate Speaker Marjorie Corcoran called to order the Faculty Senate meeting at 12:02 pm.

 

I. Announcements  

 

Marj Corcoran opened the meeting with announcements:

 

·         Cinda Lack has resigned her position as Executive Assistant to the Faculty Senate. The process to fill her position has started with Human Resources. Cinda will continue to work with Faculty Senate through mid-May.  

 

·         Requests for input on committees for next year have gone out to the faculty, department chairs and committee chairs. The process will continue through next month or later.  

 

·         A presentation on results of a positioning/branding study by Linda Thrane, Vice President for Public Affairs, is scheduled to take place after today's meeting.  

 

·         In her last meeting as Speaker, Corcoran shared two issues she saw as possible points for consideration by the Faculty Senate next year:   

a) undergraduate admissions and methods to discern preferred types of   

     students for recruitment and  

b) teaching evaluations more broadly, identification of other ways of evaluating teaching.  

 

Although not on the agenda, Corcoran noted one year had elapsed since new rules were adopted governing non-academic events at the end of the academic year. She called on Deborah Nelson-Campbell , chair of the Examinations and Standing Committee, to give a report on results since these new rules were put into place.     

 

To provide an understanding of the responsibilities of EX&S in this regard, Nelson-Campbell read the current rules from the General Announcements, page 28, regarding events during the last week of classes.

 

She pointed out that although the word "athletics" is not mentioned in the rules, this was the area where virtually all the situations arose in regard to events scheduled during blackout periods. Nelson-Campbell explained the required process for athletes involved in these events and the method by which the Academic Advising staff determined students' academic standing. She also provided an overview of the escalating numbers of students meeting with the Academic Advising staff for this purpose.

 

Michele Daley , Assistant Dean of Undergraduates and Director of Academic Advising,

reported more detailed statistics on the number of meetings held with students and compared this number with prior semesters. She also further detailed the procedures for determination of academic standing and described the process of meeting with students.

 

Corcoran asked if there were any students not approved for travel.  Daley reported only one student was not approved to participate in an event due to academic standing this year.  Deborah Harter asked if Daley felt the new rules put in place by the Senate had been successful, or had simply created more work for the Academic Advising staff, without showing significant results.

 

Daley was uncertain, adding that the new rules created a large amount of work to be done in a short space of time. She felt some students and coaches benefited from the process through better organization, but some students and coaches found it very frustrating.

 

Corcoranasked if more help was needed during those times.  Daley thought the bigger question was efficient use of the university's time versus accomplishments from this process.   

 

President Leebron commented that this process might not be the most advantageous use of university resources given the needs of the student population broadly. He asked if the use of the Academic Advising staff's time could be better allocated with a more streamlined process that could achieve the same results.  Daley replied in the affirmative.

 

Further discussion took place with regard to the method of implementation of the new rules, the process previously in place, and the definition of "satisfactory academic standing."

 

Corcoran stated, and Duane Windsor reiterated, the view that the general intent of the Senate when approving the new rules was that authority would evolve with EX&S, and this committee, together with Academic Advising, would determine the manner in which the program was administered.  Levy felt that a Senate meeting was not the best forum for determining the management of the process and suggested the use of a small working group for this purpose.

 

 

II. Presentation of slates for the Executive Committee for 2007-2008  

   

Harter , chair of the Nominations and Elections Committee, presented the following slate for the Executive Committee for 2007-08:

 

Dale Sawyer, Wiess School of Natural Sciences (continuing)

Jim Young, George R. Brown School of Engineering (replacing Joe Warren)

Randy Stevenson, School of Social Sciences (replacing Dave Schneider)

Meredith Skura, School of Humanities (replacing José Aranda)

Duane Windsor and Benjamin Kamins, Professional Schools (continuing)

Gautami Shah, non tenure-track faculty (continuing)

Nancy Niedzielski, assistant professors (replacing Rebekah Drezek)

 

She noted next year's Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Faculty Senate would also be added to the Executive Committee.

 

Harter added that any other members of the Senate or the general faculty were welcome to offer alternate slates for the Executive Committee.

 

 

III. Nomination of Speaker and Deputy Speaker for 2007-2008  

   

Corcoranreminded Senate members that this was her last year as Speaker and called for nominations for Speaker and Deputy Speaker. Deborah Harter was nominated for Speaker and Michael Stern and David Schneider were nominated for Deputy Speaker for 2007-08.  Corcoran added there would be another opportunity for nominations in the fall.  

   

   

IV. Report from the working group on policies and procedures governing non-tenure-track faculty  

 

Gautami Shah explained that the charge of the working group on policies and procedures governing non tenure-track faculty was to gather information on the numbers and roles of non-tenure-track faculty in the various schools and to examine existing university titles, policies, and procedures for hiring, promotion, and retention of these faculty.

 

She noted that feedback was gathered from non tenure-track faculty through meetings and by use of an online survey. The group's findings showed that the university was doing well on many fronts, such as benefits, professional development, email, and travel. Their findings also showed some gaps that need to be addressed.

 

Shah relayed the following recommendations from the working group:

(1) Create a track of ranks for salaried non tenure-track faculty

(2) Establish clearly defined guidelines for the hiring, appointment, evaluation, reappointment, and promotion of non tenure-track faculty.  Shah added that creating a promotion track for NTT teaching faculty would provide an important recruitment and retention tool, and appropriately reflect the high quality of Rice faculty. She also recommended merit-based promotions within the track to facilitate quality control.

(3) Ensure that all non tenure-track faculty receive a contract that clearly specifies duties, expectations, responsibilities, duration of their current appointment, and type and amount of initial compensation

(4) Develop more flexible guidelines for contract durations. This would eliminate ambiguity, would allow administrators increased flexibility in hiring and retention, would strengthen involvement of NTT faculty, and would raise the quality of new hires.

 

Discussion ensued regarding the importance of attracting qualified non tenure-track faculty, the use of contracts, inconsistencies across schools and the need for standardization, the grievance process, the need for more clearly defined policies, and the need for a performance review and evaluation process for non tenure-track faculty.

 

Shah felt that either this working group or a new one should continue to work with the Provost's Office toward the recommendations as set forth in the working group's report.

 

In reference to recommendation (3), Michael Deem asked why Rice has letters of appointment rather than contracts.  President Leebron talked about different ways contracts are created and embodied and stated that a letter, which is sent out and accepted, either by action or response, constituted a contractual agreement. He added that policies and practices that are promulgated by the university become, in most cases, part of the understanding. A letter of agreement, either explicitly or, in many cases, implicitly, references the general policies and practices of the university.  President Leebron explained that the university uses letters of agreement for personnel business. He did not feel that the university should change this practice but did understand that this faculty group should have something in writing, for a variety of reasons, and that they should have easy access to the terms and conditions of their employment.  ProvostGene Levy added that all tenured and tenure-track faculty receive letters of appointment, not formal contracts.  Levy also felt the term "track" in recommendation (1) should be reconsidered.  Duane Windsor suggested the word "non-tenurable" as a substitute for the word "track". After further discussion in this regard, Joe Warren commented that there was clearly more discussion needed as to language and suggested this discussion take place at a later date.

 

Jill Carroll , Assoc. Director of the Boniuk Center and member of the NTT Task Force, spoke to the importance of acting on this important and very positive effort at this time. 

 

Harter seconded Carroll's recommendation, indicating that the time had come to ensure our non-tenure track faculty were getting the contracts, the salaries, and the support they deserved. 

 

Windsor agreed that there was some language difficulty in the report, but did not feel that Senate members had problems with the underlying principles it contained. He recommended the report be endorsed in principle, without specifically accepting all of the language. 

 

Corcoran agreed and noted further work and negotiation would be necessary.

 

Upon motion made and seconded, endorsement of the spirit of the report was approved with the understanding that the Senate would await more details next year.

 

 

V. Presentation of the final report from the Committee on the Rice Undergraduate Program (CRUP)  

 

Harter gave Chandler Davidson an enthusiastic welcome and lauded him for all the hard work involved in putting this committee together and the long hours spent in the creation of the report.

 

As committee chair, Chandler Davidson presented the report to the Faculty Senate. He began by reiterating that the task of the committee was to determine a set of goals for Rice undergraduates regarding knowledge and skills, obtained both in the curriculum and in extra-curricular activities, needed by the time of graduation.

 

He further explained that a second committee would be established to determine the extent to which these goals could be realized by the current curriculum and co-curricular activities, and then, to the extent further realization of those goals might be necessary, there would be a third committee to determine implementation of these goals.

 

Davidson gave an overview of the report and made a few comments regarding the committee's work and methodology. He noted the entire set of goals was built around the conception of producing students as world citizens.  Davidson viewed this document as building upon Rice's traditions, making use of what already was in place, and especially adding to and making more specific those aspects of the university thought to be internationalizing aspects of Rice's production of global, world citizens. 

 

As a member of the Davidson committee, Harter spoke further to the history and unfolding of the document Davidson was presenting, outlining for the Senate the document's principal goals and the key arguments that it had provoked within the committee, and also indicating the ways in which the document presented a very distinct philosophy and approach to undergraduate education.

 

Discussion followed on methods used to conceptualize these major goals and make them accessible and acceptable by all members of the Rice community. There was further discussion on priorities, core elements, the impact of ever-changing technology, and disciplinary knowledge, with some suggestions for revisions from the floor on a number of points.

 

Warren asked for the committee's definition of a liberal arts education.  Davidson responded that the committee felt Rice should produce students that have a liberal education, but there was a general feeling that to go as far as creating a specific definition was essentially beyond the committee's charge. This specific definition would be the charge of future committees.

 

Warren suggested changing the wording to more clearly define "liberal education" and asked Davidson to indicate the committee's intent when using the phrase, "liberal education." Again Davidson said the committee went out of its way not to state a definition. He pointed out section #4 on page 4 of the report and felt this wording was close to defining "liberal education,"

 

Further discussion ensued with suggested changes on different specific wording. There was discussion on faculty having control over the curriculum, the role of the committee versus the role of the Faculty Senate and the faculty as a whole, the committee using the ideas and comments of the Faculty Senate, and the need for the Faculty Senate to have a voice in the creation of the goals. 

 

Dale Sawyer suggested a process by which the committee provided the initial report, and the Faculty Senate would then provide a response to the report. The report and this response would become part of the work handed on to the next committee or other group for further consideration. Areas for changes or modifications could be identified and recommended and given to the next working group for incorporation.

 

Davidson agreed with Sawyer's suggestion, feeling that in this manner the integrity of the committee's work product would be maintained.

 

Evan Siemann asked about the meaning of "University" throughout the goals and to whom this referred.   Davidson replied that it was purposefully left broad for later interpretation because the committee did not feel it appropriate to assign responsibility in order to achieve these goals.  Corcoran added that each point would not necessarily be the responsibility of the same entity.

 

Corcoran commented that the next step was to send the report to the full faculty for consideration and comments, which would provide feedback for development of the next stage of documentation.

 

 

VI. Consideration of a resolution to dedicate a portion of one meeting each year to an open dialogue on athletics.  

 

Corcoran reminded the Senate that for many years Faculty Council included, in the first plenary faculty meeting of each academic year, a discussion of athletic admissions. The Senate had continued this policy with such a discussion taking place during the second regular Senate meeting, conducted by an officer of admissions. At the suggestion of a number of faculty it had been proposed that this discussion of athletics admissions be expanded to include a discussion of athletics more broadly. The proposal called for a yearly report from the Director of Athletics (rather than from someone from admissions), at a point convenient to all parties during the fall semester, report in which he/she would report on a range of issues both of the Senate's and of his/her own choosing. The Executive Committee would be called on, moreover, to invite other individuals to share their comments or expertise (students, faculty, the registrar, the President) whom they felt, for any given year, would be appropriate.

 

Randy Stevenson pointed out that the resolution takes away the Executive Committee's power to decide whether or not there should a meeting regarding athletics every year.

 

Harter reminded Senate members that the same kind of structure is in place for meeting with the Chair of the Board of Trustees in order to maintain an open line of communication. She added that in the past, discussions about athletics had been divisive and difficult because of fragmented and inadequate information and felt this new process would avoid misinformation and maintain an open line of communication regarding athletics. She felt that such a yearly report was not just wise but critical.

 

President Leebron discussed the types of information included in his annual State of the University address. He noted that this measure would, to some extent, remove athletics from that report and create a separate presentation for it at this dedicated Senate meeting. This meeting, he said, would allow the Director of Athletics the ability to communicate with the faculty in a direct way, and would provide the full picture of athletics at Rice, creating an effective way for the Senate to be informed.

 

Corcoran reaffirmed that this resolution was merely broadening the scope of the conversation on athletics and that, in a few years, if it were decided that such a meeting was no longer necessary, that a motion to rescind this resolution could be passed. 

 

Nancy Niedzielski commented on the need to shift the focus away from discussion merely of athletic admissions.  Dale Sawyer agreed, and, although admission issues would be part of the discussion as mandated by previous guidelines, he wanted to see an honest presentation of the program as it touches on faculty and as it involves faculty.

 

With no further discussion, Corcoran called for a vote. The resolution to dedicate a portion of one meeting each year to an open dialogue on athletics was approved.

 

 

VII. Corcoran asked if there was New Business  

   

Windsor presented a two-part motion, on behalf of the Jones Graduate School of Management, as follows:

 

1. The Senate approves for Fall 2007 the business minor proposal of the Jones School.

2. At the urging of the Jones School, the Senate states that no undergraduate business major shall be offered by any school or department

 

Windsor provided copies of the motion in written format to all Faculty Senate members, noting a necessary date change on the copies from fall "2008" to fall "2007."

 

As a point of order, Corcoran advised the Senate that it would be necessary first to debate and vote on whether to discuss this motion, as a new item brought to the Senate from the floor.

 

Peter Mieszkowski , speaking on behalf of the Economics Department, stated there were a number of unresolved issues and recommended against considering this motion of voting on a business minor.  James Weston stated his understanding that the main concern was that of intellectual overlap between the courses in a business minor and some of the courses offered in the Managerial Studies program, indicating that he felt some of these concerns had been resolved.

 

Mieszkowski relayed his basic concern that in two areas there were alternative pathways available when you looked at Managerial Studies and at the Business Minor. The first was in the domain of "personnel issues." Here, three alternatives were possible: either the present course in psychology, an economics-based course called Organizational Design, or a new course that the business school is offering. The second area was business strategy, which in the business school would not be taught from an economics perspective but rather from a psychological/sociological perspective.  Mieszkowski felt that alternative approaches to a particular module or area of study should be allowed in a business minor for undergraduates.

 

Randy Stevenson commented that it was important in principle that once a business minor, or any minor or major, was approved, that the faculty in that area determine the substance of the curriculum. Therefore, this decision was not just whether to approve a business minor, but to decide who should be in control of the business minor at Rice. He added one alternative would be to have this proposal come forward as an interdisciplinary minor with some role for Economics and Psychology, in which case voting on the proposal should be delayed

 

Jim Young pointed to two ways in which the proposal could be delayed: to not consider the issue at this point, or to consider the issue and table it if a delay was desired.

 

Levy added a potential precedent was rooted in this conversation as the proposal for a minor was offered by a recognized unit of Rice faculty, and therefore, in a sense, was a credential that faculty would certify on confirming the minor.  He felt, in time, there would be numerous instances where an established unit of the faculty would bring forward a proposal for a minor. Then the question would come to whether, in each one of those cases, the conversation should be open for to an array of substitutional courses. He felt there were issues in this discussion that were portable and precedential and should be considered very carefully.

 

John Hempel did not think of this business minor as an average minor and felt, as a representative in the Senate, he wanted the opportunity to talk to his constituents.

 

Nancy Niedzilski expressed her concern that she and her constituents had not had the time necessary to review this minor, and that she had some strong concerns. She said she preferred not to be rushed on a matter that required more time and consideration.

 

Christian Emden stated that he wished this vote to be delayed. He felt it would have very important effects on the sort of education we would be offering to undergraduates, constituting a possible turn away from the primarily intellectual spirit of the Rice curriculum.

 

Matthias Henze seconded Emden's comments, noting that while a Business Minor could be considered a strong program in itself, the larger context of the Rice curriculum needed to be considered. He himself had grave concerns about how the minor could potentially play out in that context.

 

Tom Killian said the business minor proposal was not a surprise and had been under discussion for most of the year. He wanted to move forward with a discussion of the facts so that a decision could be made as to approval.    Other Senate members also favored discussion of the proposal.

 

Warren called the question.  Corcoran called for a vote on the issue of whether to continue the discussion. The issue of further discussion of the business minor was approved.

 

Corcoran began the discussion with some questions. She felt one of the main issues to be the allocation of resources. Resources from the general university fund would go to the Jones School to pay for these courses. She wanted assurance from the President and Provost that approval of the business minor would not impact the university's ability to implement future curricular reforms that would be considered higher priority. Her concern was that a big investment in the business minor could shut out other improvements in the curriculum.  Levy stated the business minor was a cost effective program, and it would not shut out future initiatives.

 

Stevenson wanted a decision made in regard to responsibility for the business minor.  Shah agreed this was the first question to answer. She asked representatives from the Jones Graduate School to answer to the idea of an interdisciplinary business major.

 

Weston responded that, in his view, the business school was an interdisciplinary intellectual environment, with faculty in marketing doing psychology-based research, faculty in strategy doing sociology research, faculty in organizational behavior doing a combination of sociology and psychology research. Weston added he was an economist, working in finance and doing technical research in statistics. He stated the proposed business minor was very much an interdisciplinary program as proposed. Speaking to the issue of ownership of the program, he pointed out that the Jones Graduate School was an accredited business school, and he could not understand the circumstances under which the Jones Graduate School would not have full ownership over the intellectual content of the proposed minor. 

 

Mieszkowski asked if any of his comments related to business strategy.  Weston referred the question to Windsor, as part of the strategy group in the Jones School.   Windsor explained that there were two ways to address strategy. One tradition was associated with a very strong economics foundation. The other tradition included sociology, organizational theory, leadership, and strategic direction. He added there aren't many business schools in the country using the economics approach to teach strategy for business and management and explained this as an intellectual disagreement of long standing that could not be easily resolved.  Mieszkowski felt there should be an option for undergraduates to choose their pathway of study.

 

Corcoran asked the business people to speak to the possibility of the business minor serving as a core on which to build other interdisciplinary business-related programs in areas such as engineering.

 

Weston gave more detail about the three new courses to be offered for business minors: a marketing course, an organizational behavior course, and a strategy course, not taught according to the economics tradition but rather taught the way the strategy group within the Jones School preferred. He added that from these three new courses, there was no reason students from the Engineering School couldn't benefit from the marketing and finance class or the strategy and organizational behavior class, with these connected to an overlapping engineering course, thereby creating a certificate program or some other form of interdisciplinary minor. The existence of the three new undergraduate business courses could then serve as a wellspring for other undergraduate certificate programs.

 

Corcoranpointed out that the proposal would cap the number of students in these courses and would cap by extrapolation the number of students who can take the minor. The reason for the cap was to keep costs under control. She knew that individual courses had been capped in the past, but did not think a program had ever been capped in this way.  

 

Windsor felt this program would have a positive effect on the university as a whole and would allow the Jones Graduate School to become engaged in collaborative interaction with the rest of the university.

 

Shahfelt that the Senate had a responsibility to the Jones Graduate School to help it realize its full potential. She stated that since the Jones Gradate School had proposed the business minor, as a business school, and with the full support of their faculty and Dean, the business minor should be administered by the Jones Graduate School, unless a majority of Senators thought an interdisciplinary business minor was preferable.  Young agreed with Shah's comments in regard to the question of administration of the business minor. He added that it was not the Senate's function to design minors but rather to decide whether a proposal met the requirements for minors and had a reasonable administrative structure.  

 

Evan Siemann asked for clarification on #2 of the motion.  Windsor explained this section of the proposal was simply to make clear the position of the Jones School, and there were no plans to create an undergraduate business major in the future.

 

Bill Glickadded that this business minor proposal grew out of the desire of undergraduate students to have access to a resource on campus that previously has been inaccessible. That was the interest and purpose of positioning this minor within the business school. This proposal was the initial step to provide access for undergraduate students to the business school faculty. Going forward, the Jones Graduate School would like to collaborate with other schools on campus by combining business courses with other disciplines.  

 

Corcoran pointed out that the students conducted a poll, which showed their strong support for a business minor. The poll also showed even stronger student support for interdisciplinary minors. 

 

There was further discussion including the issue of time limitations for students in engineering and science, choices for elective hours, prerequisites for the business minor, ways a business minor would change the student body, capping and fiscal responsibility.

 

Shah suggested splitting the proposal into two motions so that the business minor proposal of the Jones School was not tied to what might be done in the future.  Windsor responded the Jones School would be happy to split the proposal and vote in sequence for #1 and #2. He hoped there was clear understanding that the Jones School desired to collaborate as broadly as possible at the undergraduate level and had no interest in promoting an undergraduate business major.

 

Corcoran wanted the two items to remain coupled.  President Leebron explained that #2 of the motion only referred to the Jones School and was simply a reassurance that the Jones School faculty was not going to offer a major.

 

While he appreciated the Jones School including #2 in the proposal to make their position very clear, Young made the motion of a friendly amendment to remove #2 from the vote.  Corcoran objected and wanted this to be stated because one of the arguments against the proposal was that it would lead to a business major. She wanted it on record that there was no intent of going to a business major.

 

Weston asked if it was satisfactory if the vote was for two separate motions, to accept the amendment, vote on #1, and then introduce #2.  Corcoran acknowledged she would be happy with that process.

 

Stevenson advised that the only amendment on the table was to strike #2.  Young changed the amendment to divide the issues into two separate motions.

 

Deem asked for clarification that the second motion would restrict the offering to the Jones School.  Corcoran replied in the affirmative that this was accepted as the intention.

A vote was taken and the amendment to divide the proposal into two parts was approved.

With no further debate, Corcoran took a vote on calling the question. It was approved.

 

Corcoran proceeded with the vote on #1 by secret ballot The Senate approved for fall 2007 the business minor proposal of the Jones School.

 

[The Parliamentarian determined that the numerical result of the vote by secret ballot could be given for the record. The business minor passed with a vote of 18 in favor and 4 against. Three members of the Senate who had been present for most of the meeting did not participate in the vote, since they had had to leave before the vote was taken: Anthony Pinn, Nancy Niedzilski, and David Schneider]

 

Corcoran proceeded to the vote on question #2, by a show of hands. The motion was approved and on the record as affirmation of the stance of the Jones School.

 

To end the meeting, Ben Kamins , on behalf of all Senate members, thanked Marjorie Corcoran and Deborah Harter for their work as Speaker and Deputy Speaker for the Senate this year. Corcoran was presented a gift as a token of appreciation for her two years of service as Speaker of Faculty Senate and given a standing ovation. Both Corcoran and Harter were awarded plaques in honor of their "Extraordinary Service to the Rice Faculty Senate, 2007-2008."

 

The meeting was adjourned at 2:50.