January 28, 2008

Plenary Meeting of the Faculty

McMurtry Auditorium, Duncan Hall

January 28, 2008

Deborah Harter, Speaker of the Faculty Senate, welcomed the faculty and noted that the primary purpose of the meeting was to certify the mid-year candidates recommended for undergraduate and graduate degrees.

To present the list of undergraduate degree candidates, Harter introduced Professor Carl Caldwell, Chair of the Committee on Examinations and Standings (EX&S), and David Tenney, Registrar.

Caldwell and Tenney noted that 104 undergraduate degrees, in the following areas, were to be conferred:

Bachelor of Arts 81

Bachelor of Science 9

Bachelor of Science in Bioengineering 4

Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering 2

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science 1

Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering 4

Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering 3

Among the persons to receive their undergraduate degree was a Dr. Mary H. Vickers, a student who matriculated in 1965 as a chemistry major. She married her classmate and fellow chemistry major, James Keirns, in early 1967. When he graduated in three years and she didn’t, they moved to Yale where he started his Ph.D. and where she took the remaining classes she would have needed to graduate. Thinking Rice had a residency requirement (assuming she had to be in residence at Rice during her final semester), she did not pursue receiving her Rice B.A. in Chemistry. Because she had the equivalent of a Bachelors degree, Yale allowed her to enroll for her M.S. and Ph.D. in Chemistry, which she obtained in 1972 and 1974, one of the first women at Yale to be awarded the doctorate in chemistry.

Tenney indicated his office had confirmed that there was no Rice residency requirement at that time. Both his office and EX&S wished therefore to recommend to the Faculty that Dr. Vickers’s request and application for a Rice undergraduate degree be accepted, along with certification that she had completed the necessary university and department major requirements.

Caldwell presented the circumstances of one other student whose case had been appealed to the President’s Office, and who was requesting an exception due to an error with regard to a distribution course. His committee recommended approval.

Harter asked the faculty to indicate in a vote their approval with regard to awarding these two undergraduate degrees. In both cases the faculty voted in the affirmative.

To present the list of advanced degree candidates, Harter introduced Keith Hamm, representing Moshe Vardi, chair of the Graduate Council.

Hamm announced that the following 196 advanced degrees were to be awarded:

Doctor of Philosophy 70

Doctor of Musical Arts 4

Master of Arts 73

Master of Science 27

Master of Architecture 1

Master of Arts in Teaching 3

Master of Science in Subsurface Geoscience 3

Master of Science Teaching 1

Master of Music 6

Master of Electrical Engineering 2

Master of Mechanical Engineering 2

Master of Statistics 1

Master of Business Administration 1

Master of Liberal Studies 2

Hamm also explained there were no exceptions to be considered.

Harter asked for a vote to approve the advanced degrees as presented, and the vote was again affirmative.

Following the votes, President David Leebron asked about the seemingly high number of undergraduate degrees being awarded this January (104), and Tenney compared it to 2005 (84), 2006 (83), and 2007 (90). Eugene Levy asked if most of these students were graduating in 3.5 years or in 4.5 years, and the reply from Tenney was that it appeared that more were graduating in 4.5 than 3.5 years. Leebron indicated he’d like to discuss this further. He added that perhaps it is a positive sign that Rice allows this flexibility.

Harter said she’d be interested in having the registrar’s office keep track of the students’ majors relative to when they graduate, including the numbers of those with multiple majors and minors. Tenney said that he had, in fact, already been asked to present information on this topic to the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee. Tenney also said that while the perception is that many students have more than one major, many shed the extra majors prior to graduating.

Harter thanked Caldwell and Tenney as well as Mark Davis for their work on the Mary Vickers issue, and thanked everyone for their attendance. The meeting was adjourned at 4:20 p.m.