Faculty Senate Meeting
January 29, 2020
Kyle Morrow Room, Fondren Library
Senators present:Gwen Bradford, Gregory Chambers, Sergio Chavez, Nate Citino, Dennis Cox, Erik Dane, Michael Diehl, Daniel Domingues, Mahmoud El-Gamal, Sarah Ellenzweig, Christopher Fagundes, Dawn Finley, Charlie Geyer, Pat Hartigan, Chris Johns-Krull, Marek Kimmel, Eden King, David Leebron, Jun Lou, Angel Marti-Arbona, Seiichi Matsuda, David Messmer, Ed Nikonowicz, Jamie Padgett, Doug Schuler, Ray Simar, Scott Solomon, Jesús Vassallo, Nicole Waligora-Davis, Colin Zelt
Senators absent: Esther Fernandez, Emilia Morosan, Rob Raphael, Pablo Yepes
(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 12:05 p.m.
Johns-Krull reminded senators that nominations for the Faculty Service and Leadership Awards and the Marj Corcoran Award were due on March 2, and that any faculty or staff member could nominate a faculty member.
Registrar David Tenney gave an update on the December degree conferral. He reminded senators that the conferral at the December 9, 2019 plenary meeting was a conditional conferral. His slides showed the conditional numbers and the final official numbers of degrees conferred. There were 66 undergraduate degrees, 196 masters degrees, and 48 PhD’s officially conferred. Senators did not have any questions about his update. Johns-Krull then made a request to reorder the agenda to accommodate the schedule of a presenter. There were no objections so the meeting moved on to the report from the CUC on the 60-hour rule.
Kathy Matthews, chair of the FAC-OFD, reviewed the membership of the committee and said the Office of Faculty Development was created by the Faculty Senate as a result of NSF advance requirements years ago. She said the committee pursues different types of faculty salary studies and that this year the committee compared Rice’s salaries with other AAU schools and used the Runzheimer cost of living calculation. The Runzheimer calculations are updated every three years. She added that the School of Architecture and School of Music do not particulate in the study because their comparable schools are not necessarily AAU schools. She noted that the charts show an average of salaries, not a median.
Deputy Speaker Ed Nikonowicz asked if the report was salaries only. Matthews answered that the report only includes salary and that looking at fringe benefits is extraordinarily difficult. As Matthews reviewed the slides, she noted that slope is very important to consider and that market forces often keep the slope level at the assistant professor rank. She said compared to the survey from four years ago, there was not much change. She said the School of Social Sciences assistant professor average had the most dramatic change.
Senator Scott Solomon asked if the AAU collects data on non-tenure-track salaries. Louma Ghandour, director of the Office of Faculty Development, said that they do and that the school deans receive that information, although it is not included in the report. Matthews said the full report would be finalized and posted after considering feedback from the meeting. Senator Mahmoud El-Gamal asked if the range of salary in each institution was larger than the range of the means shown. Matthews responded that while that may be the case, all they have to work with is averages. The slides from the report can be viewed HERE and the full report is available on the faculty wiki.
Jeff Fleisher, chair of the Committee on Undergraduate Curriculum (CUC), said the 60-hour rule report was officially endorsed by the CUC after two discussions regarding the draft. He said the CUC would welcome feedback on the recommendations in the report.
Dave Caprette, chair of the CUC subcommittee, then gave a history of the rule, which was established in 1978 when the university adopted the credit hour system. He said despite the common assumption, the rule does not require work outside a student’s major department. He said only the university’s distribution requirements ensure that students complete course work outside of their major. Caprette went on to say that the rule only impacts Natural Science students and a few in Engineering. He said it drives up the degree requirements for those students, well beyond the university requirement of 120 hours. He said the rule does not impact students in the Humanities or Social Sciences. He said the rule has a negative impact on students without pre-matriculation credit.
Caprette then outlined the three recommendations of the group. He said the subcommittee considered many options but ultimately agreed to drop the rule. The recommendations were:
Johns-Krull clarified that there would not be any voting items from the report during that meeting, but instead he was asking senators to take the report and recommendations back to their departments to gather feedback.
Senator Dave Messmer said he thought the recommendations were backwards, and that broad education should be defined before dropping the 60-hour rule. He said it worried him that the rule could be removed without knowing how it would be replaced. Caprette responded that the rule does not do what it was intended for, and it does measurable harm so the subcommittee decided it was best to drop the rule before another generation of students went through it.
Senator Dennis Cox commented that the charges for the working group were vague and attempts to change the distribution requirements are contentious among faculty so the working group might not accomplish much. Caprette responded that many members of the subcommittee believed the second recommendation regarding the creation of working group was essential. Johns-Krull said he was not sure the Faculty Senate should be afraid of contentious discussions. He said he was part of the Senate when the distribution requirements were most recently discussed, and the 60-hour rule was not part of that conversation. Fleisher said he believed the wording of the charge would need to be made more specific. He said that removing the rule “provides space” to have “real discussion” about distribution requirements. He said the schools that were previously reluctant to discuss distribution requirements because of the 60-hour rule would now be able to have an honest conversation. Fleisher also said that Rice’s distribution system is not well benchmarked against their peers.
Senator Pat Hartigan said it was important to consider the main driver of the discussion. He said students that come in with twenty hours of Advanced Placement (AP) credit automatically satisfy the 60-hour rule. He said the rule separates students into two classes: those with AP credit and those with no AP credit. He said students with no AP credit are not able to pursue Natural Science degrees, and so the rule was currently doing damage. There was further discussion about the kinds of courses students choose to take outside their major requirements, well-rounded students, and the impact of the rule on interdisciplinary majors.
Fleisher added that even though the report recommends the CUC review any requested increases in major requirements, there would also be logistical barriers for departments to do so, such as the need for more classes and faculty. Johns-Krull said he hoped to have a vote on the recommendations at the Faculty Senate meeting in February. The full report is accessible to faculty with a Net ID on the wiki.
April DeConick, chair of the Graduate Council (GC), said the GC recommended granting the ability for the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies to admit full time students into their Master of Liberal Studies (MLS) and Diploma in Liberal Studies (DLS) programs. She said the driving force of this request was financial aid. Glasscock Dean Robert Bruce said the request was about diversity and access. He said the minimum time to complete the programs is four years but it usually takes five-and-a-half. He explained that the programs have typically enrolled retired students but now they are beginning to see mid-career students and also teachers looking for interdisciplinary majors. He said allowing full time students would not change the admissions standards, curriculum, or faculty-student ratio. He said the Glasscock School did hope it would increase the number of students but would add faculty as necessary if that was the case.
Nikonowicz seconded the motion to approve the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies to admit full time students to their MLS/DLS programs. The motion passed unanimously. The voting record is availble on the faculty wiki, which requires login with a Net ID.
Senator Doug Schuler seconded the motion to approve the Department of BioSciences proposal to create a new undergraduate Major in Biosciences with Major Concentrations in Biochemistry, Cell Biology & Genetics, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, and Integrative Biology. Fleisher said that in some ways the proposal was program housekeeping but it was also a major change. He said it is a shift from three majors to one major with four major concentrations. He added that CUC support for the proposal was strong. Solomon added more context for the proposal and explained the differences in the current major and proposed changes. He said the new major would create a program that is internally consistent, with the same set of core courses and a common capstone course. Senator Chris Fagundes asked for a definition of integrative biology and Solomon answered that it emphasizes breadth over depth.
The motion passed 26-0 with 1 abstention. The voting record can be viwed on the faculty wiki.
Nikonowicz explained that as Deputy Speaker he would chair the Senate’s Nominations and Elections (NEC) Committee. He said the committee would meet three times during thew semester and he reviewed their charge as listed in the Senate by-laws. Senator Gwen Bradford seconded the motion to approve the slate of NEC members. The motion was approved 24-0 with 2 abstentions. The voting record can be viewed on the faculty wiki.
Johns-Krull adjourned the meeting at 1:14 p.m.