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Minutes of the Rice University Plenary Faculty Meeting

Friday, May 11, 2007, 10 am

McMurtry Auditorium, Duncan Hall


I.     Presentation and Approval of Undergraduate Degree Candidates

II.     Presentation and Approval of Undergraduate Honors

III.     Presentation and Approval of Candidates for Advanced Degrees

IV.     Year-End Summary of Faculty Senate Activities

V.     Faculty Awards

VI.     Recognition of Retiring Faculty Members

VII.     Announcements

VIII.  Discussion of Campus Construction Plans



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





Plenary Meeting of the Faculty

10:00 a.m., Friday, May 11, 2007

(Final Faculty Meeting of the Academic Year 2006-2007)



Attendance: Approximately 70


I.                 Presentation and approval of undergraduate degrees

                      (Deborah Nelson-Campbell)

II.               Presentation and approval of undergraduate honors

                    (Deborah Nelson-Campbell)

III.             Presentation and approval of candidates for advanced degrees

                   (James Faubion)

IV.             Year-end summary of Faculty Senate activities

                   (Marj Corcoran)

V.               Faculty awards

                   (David Leebron)

VI.             Recognition of retiring faculty members

                   (David Leebron)

VII.            Announcements

VIII.           Discussion of campus construction plans to take place following the meeting

                  (Kevin Kirby)



Speaker of the Senate Marj Corcoran called to order and chaired the Plenary Meeting of the Faculty in McMurtry Auditorium of Duncan Hall at 10:02 a.m.


I.Approval of candidates for undergraduate degrees - Corcoran called on Deborah Nelson-Campbell, chair of the Committee on Examinations and Standings (EX&S), to present the list of candidates for Baccalaureate Degrees. Nelson-Campbell reported there were no exceptions this year that would need to be approved.


Provost Gene Levy asked how many students these degrees represented. Registrar David Tenney replied the degrees represented 756 students for January and May. He did not have the breakdown for May only. He shared the interesting information that exactly half of the students were male and half were female. Levy asked how many students had multiple degrees. Tenneyresponded that there were 44 students with dual degrees.


Corcoran called a vote to approve the list of candidates for the Baccalaureate degrees listed below as circulated in advance of the meeting by the Registrar.


    Bachelor of Arts - 496

    Bachelor of Science - 69

    Bachelor of Science in Bioengineering - 27

    Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering -16

    Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering - 7

    Bachelor of Science in Computer Science - 6

    Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering - 33

    Bachelor of Science in Materials Science - 1

    Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering -33

    Bachelor of Music - 24

    Bachelor of Architecture - 16


A vote was taken, with the result that the faculty APPROVED the 728 degrees be awarded. The list of names and associated departments is attached to the file copy of these minutes.


II. Approval of undergraduate honors - Corcoran called on Nelson-Campbell to present the list of students qualifying for University Honors. Nelson-Campbell explained that in the graduating class the top 5% received summa cum laude, the next 10% received magna cum laude, and the next 15% received cum laude. The numbers are summarized below:


   summa cum laude – 48 students

   magna cum laude – 65 students

   cum laude – 114 students


By unanimous vote, the faculty APPROVED for honors all 227 candidates. The list of names is attached to the file copy of these minutes.


III. Approval of candidates for advanced degrees - Corcoran called on James Faubion, chair of the Graduate Council, to present the official list of candidates for Advanced Degrees. Faubion stated there were no exceptions to be approved. The list of those recommended for graduate degrees, as distributed to all attendees prior to the meeting, is attached to the file copy of these minutes. 


    Doctor of Philosophy - 92

    Doctor of Musical Arts - 3

    Master of Arts -39

    Master of Science - 42

    Master of Architecture - 16

    Master of Arts in Teaching - 1

    Master of Science in Environmental Analysis and Decision Making - 3

    Master of Science in Nanoscale Physics - 3

    Master of Science Teaching - 2

    Master of Music – 48

    Master of Bioengineering - 2

    Master of Chemical Engineering - 1

    Master of Civil Engineering – 1

    Master of Computer Science - 4

    Master of Electrical Engineering – 2

    Master of Environmental Science - 1

    Master of Mechanical Engineering - 3

    Master of Business Administration – 214


The faculty unanimously APPROVED the 476 advanced degree candidates. The list of names and associated degrees is attached to the file copy of these minutes.


IV. Year-end summary of the Faculty Senate - Corcoran presented a brief summary of the Faculty Senate's work and accomplishments this year:


·         A working group appointed by the Senate and headed by Ric Stoll has been working all academic year to increase the response rate and the number of written comments for student course evaluations. The online evaluation form has been streamlined and more time has been provided for students to respond. When students request to see their grades, they will be prompted to fill out the course evaluations if they have not done so. A major change is that students will be given access to the written comments after screening for inappropriate content. The Registrar is still in the process of implementing this change, which is expected to be ready in the fall.   The working group is continuing to consider other issues such as improving questions and understanding how faculty make use of student evaluations. The Registrar was able to confirm that, at the time of the meeting, the response rate for course evaluations for Spring 2007 was greater than 80%, an announcement which was greeted with applause.   

·         The Senate approved two minors this year.  The first was Financial Computation and Modeling (joint between Economics and Statistics). This was an already-existing pro-gram, renamed in order to give students proper recognition for their work. The second was a business minor, representing the first time the Jones School had developed and offered a program aimed specifically at undergraduates. In addition, Sociology instituted a departmental minor, which does not require Senate approval. All minors other than departmental minors are reviewed every 5 years.

·         Review of university committee structures continued this year, with elimination of some committees and change in the size of others. Senate review of the makeup and charges of all committees is ongoing.

·         Review of policies and procedures for non tenure-track faculty continued this year as well.   This working group presented a preliminary report and plans to work with the administration next year to formulate consistent policies governing non-tenure-track faculty members.

·         Other work in progress: 

  • Study of student athletic admission policies;
  • Policy governing email privacy in non-legal situations

·         Other Senate activities:

  • The Senate met with Chandler Davidson and the Committee on the Rice Undergraduate Program (CRUP) on four separate occasions, including a dedicated two-hour forum in January.    The CRUP final report was presented to the Senate in May and will soon be posted on the web for faculty comments. The Senate will consider the CRUP report again in the fall.
  • The Senate met twice with Chris Munoz, Vice President for Enrollment, and heard his plans for positioning Rice to compete for the best students.
  • The Senate met with Linda Thrane, Vice President for Public Affairs, and heard her plans for positioning/branding studies.
  • The Senate met with Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Jim Crownover.



V. Faculty Awards: Teaching Prizes and Outstanding Faculty Associates - President Leebron presented the following awards to outstanding faculty.


George R. Brown Certificate of Highest Merit


            John Hutchinson, Chemistry


George R. Brown Prize for Excellence in Teaching

            Michael Gustin, Biochemistry and Cell Biology


George R. Brown Awards for Superior Teaching


            James Tour, Chemistry

            Michael Emerson, Sociology

            John Boles, History

            James Brown, Economics

            Seiichi Matsuda, Chemistry

            Anthony Brandt, Shepherd School of Music


Nicolas Salgo Outstanding Teacher Award


            Bridget Gorman, Sociology


Charles Duncan Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement


            Brett Ashley Leeds, Political Science
            Shih-Hui Chen, Shepherd School of Music


Presidential Award for Mentoring


            Philip Bedient, Civil and Environmental Engineering


Sarofim Teaching Award


            Veronica Albin, Center for the Study of Languages


Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management Award for Excellence in Teaching


            James Weston, Jones Graduate School of Management


Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Prize


            Robert Englebretson, Linguistics


Piper Award


            Elizabeth Long, Sociology


Faculty Teaching/Mentoring Award


            Thomas Haskell, History

            Robert Raphael, Bioengineering


Graduate Student Association Robert Lowry Patten Award


            Jennifer Greeson, Bioengineering

            Mark Little, Earth Science

            Louise Organ, Bioengineering

            Hao Yang, Physics and Astronomy


Outstanding College Associates


            Baker College: Mary Ellen Lane, Biochemistry and Cell Biology

            Brown College: John and Joyce Ambler, Political Science

            Hanszen College: Dennis Huston, English

            Jones College: Jim Brown, Economics

            Lovett College: Dave Johnson, Computer Science

            Martel College: Jim and Cecily Young, Electrical and Computer Engineering

            Will Rice College: Daniel Cohan, Civil and Environmental Engineering

            Wiess College: Elias Bongmba, Religious Studies



VI. Recognition of Retiring Members of the Faculty - President Leebron acknowledged five retiring faculty members.


Gilbert R. Whitaker

Lucille P. Fultz

Paul Harcombe

Walter Isle

Jordon Konisky



VII. Announcements:


President Leebron acknowledged with sadness the University’s loss of one faculty member who passed away this academic year: Ken Kennedy, Professor of Computer Science


Keith Cooper made a few announcements regarding the 94th Commencement ceremony.


The meeting was adjourned at 10:50



VIII. Kevin Kirby gave a presentation about campus construction plans following the meeting.