Faculty Senate Meeting
April 20, 2016
Founder’s Room of Lovett Hall
Senate Meeting Agenda (and actions taken):
I. Call to Order
III. Report from Officers and Standing Committees
A. Honor System Task Force (Endorsed)
B. University Committee on Teaching: IDEA Implementation
C. Nominations and Elections Committee
IV. New Business
A. Proposed B.A. and B.S. in Environmental Science (Approved)
B. Proposed minor in Physics (Approved)
C. Proposed minor in Medical Humanities (Approved)
D. Proposed Credit Hour Limits (Approved)
Senators present: David Alexander, Robert Atherholt, Graham Bader, Kate Beckingham, Gwen Bradford, David Caprette, Keith Cooper, Scott Cutler, Jerry Dickens, Claire Fanger, Julie Fette, Jeffrey Fleisher, Charles Geyer, Christopher Hight, Illya Hicks, Rachel Kimbro, Marek Kimmel, Michael Kohn, Anatoly Kolomeisky, David Leebron, Jonathan Ludwig, Susan McIntosh, Marie Lynn Miranda, Stephan Motowidlo, Luay Nakhleh, Stan Sazykin, Laura Segatori, Kerry Ward, James Weston, and Michael Wolf.
Senators absent: Daniel Cohen, Michael Diehl, Michael Kohn, Timothy Morton, and Brian Rountree.
(To listen to an audio tape of this meeting, email firstname.lastname@example.org .)
I. Call to Order
Speaker James Weston called the meeting to order at 12:00 p.m. He welcomed the assembled senators and guests to the meeting.
III. Reports from Officers and Standing Committees
A. Honor System Task Force
Alex Byrd, co-chair of the Honor System Task Force, stated that there were no changes to the task force report presented to the Senate at its February 2016 meeting. (See the Honor System Report on the Faculty Senate wiki space HERE ). Byrd said that of the eight recommendations in the report, numbers 1 and 3 pertain to the Faculty Senate. Recommendation 1: appoint a faculty advisor to the Honor Council, and appoint three Honor System ombuds for the benefit of the faculty. Recommendation 3: Initiate and maintain faculty involvement in the creation of the consensus penalty structure by which the honor council determines the consequences of academic dishonesty. Byrd described the annual meeting where faculty members receive information about the Honor System. He recommended that the Senate nominate a group of faculty to attend the meeting.
Weston thanked co-chairs John Hutchinson and Alex Byrd. The Senate voted to endorse the report from the Task Force on the Honor System.
B. University Committee on Teaching: IDEA Pilot Implementation
Mike Gustin, chair of the committee, said that implementation of the IDEA pilot instrument for course assessment, approved by the Faculty Senate in 2015, would begin in fall 2016. Gustin explained that all fall courses would use the existing Rice assessment instrument, with a fraction of the courses using both the Rice and IDEA instruments. He noted that faculty members using the IDEA instrument would include the learning objectives for their courses, which IDEA will use when evaluating student replies. Gustin said that following implementation of the pilot, the committee would seek feedback and make a recommendation either to switch to IDEA, keep the Rice instrument, or create a new instrument. Scott Cutler asked that a member of the committee meet with him regarding Schedule Planner, the course planning system that Rice students currently use. Please see the full presentation from the committee here: IDEA Pilot.
C. Nominations and Elections Committee (NEC)
NEC Chair Rachel Kimbro asked for nominations from the floor for Speaker. Current Speaker Weston nominated Jeffrey Fleisher for Speaker, noting that Fleisher was currently serving as Convener of Appeals and Grievances. Weston said that he has been impressed with Fleisher’s decision-making in that role. The nomination was seconded, and there were no other nominations. The Senate voted to elect Fleisher.
Kimbro asked for nominations from the floor; there were none. Kimbro nominated Julie Fette for Deputy Speaker, saying that she was wise, capable, and had taken on a number of important tasks for the Senate. The nomination was seconded, and the Senate voted to elect Fette.
Kimbro presented the Executive Committee slate for 2016-2017:
Dave Caprette, Non-Tenure-Track Faculty
Christopher Hight, Architecture
Anatoly Kolomeisky, Natural Sciences
Fred Oswald, Social Sciences
Laura Segatori, Engineering
Kerry Ward, Humanities
Kimbro stated that alternate slates may be presented at the next Faculty Senate meeting, to be held September 7, 2016, and election of the Executive Committee would occur at that meeting.
Kimbro said that the NEC was currently staffing University Committees with faculty volunteers for the 2016-2017 year, a task that will be completed by June 1. She thanked outgoing University Committee chairs Keith Cooper (Marshals), Mike Gustin (Teaching), and Don Morrison (Faculty Advisory Committee for the Office of Faculty Development). Kimbro said that she especially wished to thank Keith Cooper, who has served as Chief Marshal for many years. The Senate gave Cooper a hearty round of applause.
Kimbro announced the continuing and new University Committee chairs:
Ric Stoll (Admissions)
Jill Foote (Athletics)
Elias Bongmba (EX&S)
Richard Grandy (Faculty & Staff Benefits)
Matthew Baring (Fellowships & Awards)
Kathy Ensor (Graduate Council)
Duane Windsor (Graduate Honor Council)
David Tobin (Library)
Will Cannady (Parking & Transportation)
Kathy Matthews (Faculty Advisory to OFD)
Helena Michie (Co-chair, Faculty Advisory for PWC)
Kate Beckingham (Co-Chair, Faculty Advisory for PWC)
Christy Landes (Research)
Lisa Balabanlilar (Teaching)
Susan McIntosh (Undergraduate Curriculum)
Weston then thanked Kimbro for her service as NEC Chair and as Deputy Speaker for two years, and he presented her with a plaque. Kimbro thanked Weston for his service as Speaker, also for two years, and she presented him with a plaque. The outgoing leaders agreed that they had enjoyed working together. President Leebron praised the Faculty Senate and its leadership, and he said it had been an extraordinary year.
IV. New Business
A. Proposed B.A. and B.S. in Environmental Science
Weston asked Susan McIntosh, chair of the University Committee on the Undergraduate Curriculum (CUC), to discuss the proposal. McIntosh explained that the CUC vetted the proposal using its normal procedure. She said that a subcommittee chaired by Stan Dodds reviewed the proposal and requested revisions as needed. The CUC then voted to approve the proposal. McIntosh said that the proposal would replace the current Environmental Science major that is offered only as a second major. The Senate voted unanimously to approve the proposal. Please see: Environmental Science.
B. Proposed Minor in Physics
CUC Chair McIntosh described the proposed minor from the Department of Physics. She said that departmental minors follow the same review process, and that the CUC had voted to approve it. The Senate voted to approve the minor. Please see: Physics Minor.
C. Proposed Minor in Medical Humanities
CUC Chair McIntosh said that a CUC subcommittee chaired by Matthias Henze reviewed the proposal. She noted that Registrar David Tenney and Vice President John Cornwell, members of the CUC, offer key advice and support to the subcommittees. McIntosh said that following review, the CUC voted unanimously to approve the proposal.
One senator said that a lack of science courses in the proposal concerned him. Kirsten Ostherr explained that many of the students seeking the minor would be pre-med students. She said that the purpose of the minor was to enhance or complement their science courses with Humanities courses. She also noted that the proposal is for a minor and not a major.
Another senator said that many of the courses for the proposed minor were being taught by graduate students or by faculty members who were retiring soon. Ostherr said that there were many tenured faculty members involved with the minor.
A faculty member in attendance stated that Rice has many pre-med students who will take many science courses. She said that the minor could address the implications of the decisions they will make in their work. Kimbro agreed that the program was needed, and she stated that the Social Science students are eager for this class. McIntosh added that medical schools are impressed with students who have a broad background.
Senator David Alexander (Physics and Astronomy) said that he served on the CUC when the Guidelines for Creating New Majors and Minors was written. He said that this minor has a focus on Humanities, and he supported it. He added that the Humanities has a lot to offer to the Science and Engineering side.
The Senate voted to approve the program, with five senators abstaining. Please see: Minor in Medical Humanities.
D. Proposed Credit Hour Limits
Weston stated that in its March 2016 meeting, the Faculty Senate discussed a proposal to reduce the number of credit hours that a student may take per semester. He said that prior to today’s meeting, a revised proposal was posted to the Faculty Senate’s wiki space, available to all faculty. Please see: Proposed Credit Hour Limits. Weston reviewed each of the major points in the proposal for the senators and guests.
Student Association (SA) President Griffin Thomas addressed the Senate. He thanked the Faculty Senate for caring about student health and well-being. He said that he would have preferred for the SA to have been involved in the credit hour limits discussions from the beginning. He gave some examples of situations that he thought were not considered, such as the Engineering student who might register for only 12 hours one semester and thus need more than the proposed maximum of 18 hours per semester (21 with permission) in order to complete his/her studies timely. He said that the proposal was presented to the SA at a time when a change of leadership occurred and just prior to Spring Break. Griffin said that he humbly asked that the proposal be sent back to the CUC for reconsideration and to seek more student input.
A lengthy discussion followed; a summary of the comments made is shown below:
Following this discussion, Weston asked the senators to vote. The Faculty Senate voted to approve the proposal, with 14 in favor, 9 against, and 2 abstaining.
President Leebron then discussed the proposal, saying that it was painful for the Faculty Senate to go against the wishes of the students. He praised the students and the SA leadership for attending the meeting and for being respectful. Leebron said that the proposal had changed a lot due to student input, and he hoped that the students had heard some of the problems with the current system. He said that there was now time to address the topics that had been raised.
Weston also thanked the students for their polite, respectful attendance.
The meeting was adjourned at 2:00 p.m.