Faculty Senate Meeting
August 28, 2019
Kyle Morrow Room, Fondren Library
Senators present: Gwen Bradford, Gregory Chambers, Sergio Chavez, Nate Citino, Erik Dane, Michael Diehl, Daniel Domingues, Mahmoud El-Gamal, Sarah Ellenzweig, Christopher Fagundes, Esther Fernandez, Dawn Finley, Charles Geyer, Pat Hartigan, Chris Johns-Krull, Marek Kimmel, Eden King, David Leebron, Jun Lou, Angel Marti-Arbona, Seiichi Matsuda, David Messmer, Emilia Morosan, Ed Nikonowicz, Jamie Padgett, Rob Raphel, Doug Schuler, Ray Simar, Jesús Vassallo, Nicole Waligora-Davis, Pablo Yepes, Colin Zelt
Senators absent: Dennis Cox and Scott Solomon
(To listen to an audio tape of this meeting, email email@example.com.)
Senate Meeting Agenda (and actions taken):
Speaker Chris Johns-Krull called the meeting to order at 12:07 p.m.
Johns-Krull welcomed new and returning senators to the new academic year and introduced Senate leadership. He also reviewed the responsibilities of senators, noting that senators should be sure to communicate with constituents.
Johns-Krull reviewed the list of the current Senate working groups and their charges. There are currently working groups on the 60-hour credit requirement, pass/fail grade option, academic calendar, academic advising, and shared governance. For a full list of charges and members, visit senate.rice.edu/working-groups. Johns-Krull said he expects the Senate might want to take action as a result of some of the working group reports as soon as this semester.
Johns-Krull introduced Richard Baker, who is Rice’s new Executive Director for Institutional Equity and EEO. Baker said he has been doing this work for 17 years. He said anytime an employee at Rice experiences discrimination, harassment, or sexual misconduct, they should come to his office.
Johns-Krull said that last year a task force presented proposed updates to Rice’s sexual harassment policy, but state laws signed over the summer required further updates. Vice President and General Counsel Richard Zansitis said that Policy 830 had not been updated since 2001. The policy, as revised last year, looked at harassment more broadly and created a corresponding procedures document. The task force had also taken the Senate statement on consensual relations and turned it into policy 829. Now, Zansitis said, new Texas laws require that the policy cover all university employees and expand harassment to include dating violence and stalking.
Zansitis said the most notable provision of the new law is that any employee who receives information or witnesses something that leads them to believe a student or employee has been the victim of sexual assault, harassment, dating violence, or stalking must report the information. Not reporting such information requires termination of employment and is categorized as a misdemeanor.
Zansitis said the law was signed at the end of June and is effective September 1. The new policy must also be approved by the Board of Trustees, so an administrative working group worked quickly over the summer to make changes. Zansitis said the message for employees is that if someone has questions, they should let him know. He added that his office may receive more guidance on implementation from the Higher Education Coordinating Board. He said the policy will likely be revisited soon when new rules come from the Department of Education, so there will be further opportunities to tweak the policy if faculty have feedback.
Baker said that after September 12, when the new policy is approved by the board, all employees will be notified. He said training will be offered throughout the semester and the new policy will include an electronic link for reporting. He said if a department would like training, his office can offer that.
Senator Erik Dane asked if it was advisable to make a written report so that employees have proof of their compliance. Zansitis said that it is easiest to make a report online, but that people should report however they can. Baker said that if a person calls in a report, he will send an electronic receipt of the report. A guest asked if the only real change for those already designated as “responsible employees” is the consequences for not reporting. Johns-Krull responded that the policy also expands the violations covered to include dating violence and stalking and covers employees as victims as well. Zansitis clarified that under the new law, students are not considered employees. He concluded by stating that his office is here to help people report and help people who are victims.
Ken Liddle said that last spring’s mandatory training had a 97 percent on time compliance rate, and that including the grace period there was 99 percent compliance. He thanked the faculty for their cooperation and said he knows it was hard work. He reviewed what his office learned from the experience and said that online training is a minimum. He said the university does not want to “settle.” Liddle said that the mandatory training will be completed every two years, and people should share any feedback they have with him.
Liddle said Policy 808, which regards personal information, was updated. He said if you have personal information on your device, it has to be encrypted. He said employees are required to report data loss. He said this is required in order to stop harm and also because the government is becoming increasingly concerned with data loss.
Liddle said Policy 827 on renovations has a lot more details than the previous version from 1978. He said that Policy 849 allows for electronic signatures on most documents. Liddle added that two new policies had been posted that day. Policy 202, discussed at the September 2018 meeting, standardizes faculty titles and how they are conferred. Policy 425 addresses background checks, and was discussed at the March 2019 Senate meeting.
Senator Gwen Bradford asked what counts as encrypted and how one would know if their data is encrypted. The answer given was that any university equipment is encrypted by IT. Faculty can contact the information security department to receive help. A guest noted that the IT department previously stated they do not work on employees’ personal devices even if they contain work-related information. Liddle’s slides can be viewed HERE.
President Leebron said he would like to add his welcome to Richard Baker. He said he knows it is frustrating for faculty to find themselves facing increasing compliance, but there is not much to be done. He said there is enthusiasm for regulating higher education from both political parties. He said compliance is important for the university and he appreciates the faculty’s cooperation.
Leebron said the provost search committee has been formed and the goal is to identify the new provost by December. He said the co-chairs for the Task Force on Slavery, Segregation, and Racial Injustice would be named soon and it would take about a month to form the rest of the group. He said he received a lot of positive communication regarding the formation of the task force and he expects the task force to spend about two years on their work.
Leebron then took a few minutes to comment on recent events. He said events off campus impact students differentially. He said it is a very threatening time for Hispanic members of the Rice community. He said there recently were some very offensive flyers posted around campus. He said it cost less than 50 cents for a person to create the flyer and then they are able to use the Rice community as tools to create division. He said it’s not always easy to decide how to respond. He said that the university will continue to face situations where members of the community experience distress.
President Leebron noted that a few years ago he created the position of Faculty Advisor to the President. He said the position is outside of Faculty Senate and the role offers an informal but valuable faculty perspective in top administrative, confidential meetings. He said the new faculty representative will be Rachel Kimbro. Leebron said that there is a great new class at Rice. There were 27,000 applications for over 900 spots in the incoming undergraduate class. He said the Rice Investment drove up applications. He noted that an immigrant student at Harvard was turned away at the border. He said we are facing a very difficult and unacceptable environment and it should be a matter of concern for all. He added that there is a huge amount of confusion surrounding immigration and the anti-immigrant attitude is very dangerous for the best research universities.
Johns-Krull called Dean of Undergraduates Bridget Gorman forward. Dean Gorman said that the Office of the Registrar had prepared the official list of August 2019 undergraduate degree candidates and the list was reviewed by her office. She said the list was available and circulated around the room. The totals, by degree, were also listed on the screen. Gorman said there were no exceptions being put forward. Johns-Krull said Gorman’s endorsement of the degrees came as a motion to accept the list of undergraduate degree candidates for August 2019 conferral. Ed Nikonowicz seconded the motion. Johns-Krull asked if there were any questions and there were not. The motion was approved unanimously by hand. The slides from the presentation can be viewed HERE.
Johns-Krull called Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Seiichi Matsuda forward. Dean Matsuda said that the Office of the Registrar had prepared a list of August 2019 graduate level degree candidates and the list was reviewed by his office. He said the lists were circulated in the room. The totals, by degree, were also listed on the screen. He said there were no exceptions being put forward. Johns-Krull said Matsuda’s endorsement came as a motion to approve the degrees. Jesus Vassallo seconded the motion. Johns-Krull asked if there were any questions. There were not. The motion was approved unanimously by hand. The slides from the presentation can be viewed HERE.
President Leebron commented that the university permits undergraduate students to “walk” in the May graduation ceremony even if they have a minor number of hours left to complete their degree. He said there will also be a ceremony for December graduates on December 9, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. and faculty will be welcome, but not required to attend.
Johns-Krull said the academic quad calendar was available before the meeting on the faculty wiki. Senator Erik Dane seconded the motion to approve the calendar. Registrar David Tenney said the calendar is used only by the Jones School and specifically for their online degree program. He said because of the calendar the program uses, the December graduation celebration and August degree conferrals will become more important since the program will graduate students throughout the year. Due to technical difficulties with the electronic voting clickers, Johns-Krull asked if there were any objections to voting by hand. There were no objections. The motion to approve the academic quad calendar was approved unanimously by hand.
Deputy Speaker Ed Nikonowicz posted the proposed Executive Committee slate and asked if there were any alternative slates. There were no alternatives proposed. Bradford seconded the motion to approve the slate. The motion to approve the 2019-2020 Executive Committee slate was approved unanimously by hand.
Bradford seconded the motion to approve revised Policy 214: Faculty Performance Reviews. Johns-Krull said the proposed policy was posted on the faculty wiki. He said the policy covers both tenure-track and non-tenure-track positions. He noted, on the screen, a few recent changes to the draft. A typo was corrected. He said General Counsel had requested a change to the line regarding “other means as relevant” of evaluation because it was too ambiguous. There was a motion to amend the policy as requested and the motion was seconded. Nikonowicz agreed that the line was ambiguous. The amendment was approved unanimously by hand.
Senator Jesús Vassallo asked about the timeline for tenured associate professors to be reviewed and promoted to full professor. Johns-Krull said that his understanding of the policy is that a professor would specifically be evaluated for promotion in the ninth year, but it did not exclude the option for an evaluation to occur before that. Vice Provost of Academic Affairs Fred Higgs said that each year a department decides who should be evaluated for promotion and a faculty member can request consideration. He said by policy there “must” be a formal review in the ninth year and every three years after that, but prior to that the department is making a decision about whether a professor “should” be reviewed for promotion. Associate Vice Provost of Academic Affairs Cortlan Wickliff said at the nine year review an associate professor would be told specifically what they need to do in order to be promoted to full professor.
Johns-Krull adjourned the meeting at 1:12 p.m.