May 10, 2018

Plenary Meeting of the Rice University Faculty
McMurtry Auditorium, Duncan Hall
May 10, 2018

I. Presentation and Approval of Undergraduate Degree Candidates

Ed Nikonowicz, Speaker of the Faculty Senate, called the meeting to order at 3:00 p.m. He welcomed faculty members and administrators to the annual plenary meeting. Nikonowicz explained that the main purpose of the meeting was to approve the undergraduate and graduate degree candidates. He welcomed Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson to the podium.

Dean Hutchinson stated that as part of the official degree conferral process, he met with Registrar Tenney, who prepared the official list of May 2018 undergraduate-level degree candidates. Hutchinson said that the candidates on the official list have met the university’s graduation requirements for their declared degree and major, and where applicable, their additionally declared minor or university certificate. Hutchinson also said that there were “no exceptions” being put forward. Finally, he said that as Dean of Undergraduates, his endorsement comes to the faculty as a motion to accept this list of undergraduate degree candidates for May 2018 conferral. The motion was seconded, and the faculty voted unanimously for approval.

Please see the undergraduate degree totals below.

Bachelor of Arts (BA) 533
Bachelor of Science (BS) 64
BS in Bioengineering (BSBE) 34
BS in Chemical Engineering (BSCHE) 62
BS in Civil Engineering (BSCE) 14
BS in Computer Science (BSCS) 38
BS in Electrical Engineering (BSEE) 29
BS in Materials Science & Nano Eng. (BSMSNE) 17
BS in Mechanical Engineering (BSME) 58
Bachelor of Music (BMUS) 22
Total (undergraduate degrees) 871
Bachelor of Architecture (UP) 20
Grand Total (undergraduate degrees) 891

II. Presentation and Approval of Undergraduate Honors

Dean Hutchinson said that in his meeting with Registrar Tenney, they discussed and reviewed the calculation of Latin Honors for the academic year 2017-2018. He said that his endorsement and presentation of this year's Latin Honors data comes as a motion to accept these grade point average (GPA) ranges for the academic year 2017-2018. The motion was seconded, and the assembled faculty voted unanimously for approval. Faculty were reminded that the information regarding Latin Honors is confidential until commencement.

View the Latin Honors data.

III. Presentation and Approval of Advanced Degrees

Speaker Nikonowicz welcomed Seiichi Matsuda, Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, to the podium. Dean Matsuda stated that as part of the official degree conferral process, he met with Registrar Tenney, who prepared the official list of May 2018 graduate-level degree candidates. Matsuda said that the candidates on the May 2018 official list have met the university’s graduation requirements for their admitted graduate degree program, and where applicable, an accompanying graduate-level university certificate. Matsuda also said that he was pleased that there are “no exceptions” being put forward. Finally, he said that as Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, his endorsement comes as a motion to accept this list of graduate degree candidates for May 2018 conferral. The motion was seconded, and the faculty voted unanimously for approval.

Please see the graduate degree totals below.

Master of Arts (MA) 43
Master of Science (MS) 53
Master of Arts in Global Affairs (MAGA) 13
Master of Bioengineering (MBE) 16
Master of Chemical Engineering (MCHE) 5
Master of Civil and Environmental Engineering (MCEE) 2
Master of Computational Science and Engineering (MCSE) 3
Master of Computer Science (MCS) 7
Master of Electrical Engineering (MEE) 6
Master of Materials Science and NanoEngineering (MMSNE) 9
Master of Mechanical Engineering (MME) 1
Master of Statistics (MSTAT) 16
Master of Science in Bioscience and Health Policy (MSBHP) 2
Master of Science in Environmental Analysis & Decision Making (MSEADM) 5
Master of Science in Nanoscale Physics (MSNP) 1
Master of Science in Space Studies (MSSpS) 3
Master of Science in Subsurface Geoscience (MSSG) 4


Master of Architecture(MARCH)


Master of Music(MMUS)


Master of Accounting(MACC)


Master of Business Administration (MBA)


Master of Arts in Teaching(MAT)


Master of Liberal Studies(MLS)


Grand Total (Advanced (Graduate) Degrees – Master’s Level)


Recommended Advanced Degrees – Artist Diploma

May 2018

Artist Diploma in Music


Recommended Advanced Degrees – Doctoral Degrees

May 2018

Doctor of Musical Arts(DMA)


Doctor of Philosophy(PHD)


Grand Total (Doctoral Degrees)


IV. Actions of the Faculty Senate, 2017-2018

Outgoing Speaker Jeff Fleisher summarized the actions of the Faculty Senate during the past academic year.

Approved Undergraduate Academic Programs

  • Bachelor of Arts Degree with a Major in Neuroscience
  • Bachelor of Arts Degree with a Major in European Studies

Approved Graduate Academic Programs

  • Online MBA Program from the Jones Graduate School of Business
  • Non-thesis Master's Degree in Industrial Engineering
  • Master of Human-Computer Interaction and Human Factors, Department of Psychology
  • Graduate Major Concentrations and CIP Codes, Department of Psychology

Approved Policies

  • Revision of “Guidelines for Creating, Administering, and Eliminating Majors and Minors”
  • Creation of “Guidelines for Undergraduate Major Concentrations”
  • Revision to the GA regarding Non-Traditional Coursework
  • Addition to the GA regarding the existing Drop-Back Provision
  • University Policy 201, “Faculty Appointments, Promotion, and Tenure” (approved by Senate, September 20, 2017, effective April 6, 2018)
  • University Policy 214, “Faculty Performance Reviews” (approved by Senate, November 15, 2017)
  • University Policy 202, "Honorary Faculty Titles" (approved by Senate, February 21, 2018)
  • Addition of 4-term Academic Calendar (approved by Senate, March 21, 2018)

Ongoing Senate Working Groups

Nikonowicz then announced the senators for 2018-2019:

Natural Sciences: Patrick Hartigan, Christopher Johns-Krull, Angel Marti-Arbona,
Edward Nikonowicz, Michael Wolf, Colin Zelt

Engineering:Dennis Cox, Michael Diehl, Marek Kimmel, Rob Raphael, Laura Segatori

Humanities: Graham Bader, Martin Blumenthal-Barby, Gwen Bradford, Nathan Citino,
Daniel Domingues, Julie Fette

Social Sciences: Sergio Chavez, Mahmoud El-Gamal, Christopher Fagundes, Jeff Fleisher

Architecture: Jesus Vassallo

Jones Graduate School of Business: Erik Dane, Doug Schuler

Shepherd School of Music: Charles Geyer, Kurt Stallmann

Non-Tenure-Track Faculty: David Messmer, Ray Simar, Scott Solomon, Pablo Yepes

Presidential Appointees: Lisa Balabanlilar, Emilia Morosan

Ex officio: President Leebron, Provost Miranda

Nikonowicz thanked the senators whose terms have expired, and he noted the length of time served by each of them:

Keith Cooper (six years)

Scott Cutler (six years)

Christopher Hight (six years)

Balaji Koka (one year)

Susan McIntosh (eight years)

Nancy Niedzielski (four years)

Stephen Klineberg (two years)

Kerry Ward (three years)

Nikonowicz then thanked the chairs of each of the University Committees:

Rudy Guerra, Admissions

Leo Costello, Athletics

Paul Engel, Examinations & Standing

Richard Grandy, Faculty & Staff Benefits

Matthew Baring, Fellowships & Awards

April DeConick, Graduate Council

Duane Windsor, Graduate Honor Council

Fred Oswald, Library

Marcia O’Malley, Marshals

Kathleen Matthews, Faculty Advisory Committee to the Office of Faculty Development

Will Cannady, Parking and Transportation

Carl Caldwell, Faculty Advisory Board for the Program in Writing and Communication

James McNew, Research

Frank Geurts, Teaching

Susan McIntosh, Undergraduate Curriculum

V. Announcements

Speaker Nikonowicz asked Head Marshall Marcia O’Malley if she had any instructions for the faculty regarding the commencement ceremonies. O’Malley noted that the commencement speaker would be Michael Bloomberg, and she said that the ceremonies would be conducted outdoors, per the latest weather report.

VI. Remarks from President Leebron

President Leebron thanked Speaker Jeff Fleisher and Deputy Speaker Julie Fette for their service. He told the assembled faculty members that he had recently praised Rice University’s Faculty Senate to the president of another university. Leebron said that he trusts the leaders of the Faculty Senate and that he was not only willing, but eager, to consult with them throughout the year. Leebron stated that the dedication of the Faculty Senate is critical to the success of Rice University. He noted that the list of faculty members who served on the Faculty Senate was populated with quality people.

Leebron then read the names of the faculty members who died during the past year, listed by the number of years of service to Rice, as shown below.

Ben Bailer Jones School of Business 11 years at retirement
David Minter English 11 years at retirement
John Freeman Physics and Astronomy 35 years at retirement
Tom Haskell History 38 years at retirement
Niels Nielsen Religion 39 years at retirement
Fred von der Mehden Political Science 39 years at retirement
Spencer Parsons Architecture 44 years at retirement
William Akers Chemical and Biomolecular 46 years at retirement
James Thompson Statistics 47 years at retirement
John Clark Electrical and Computer Engineering 49 years
George Trammell Physics & Astronomy 55 years at retirement

President Leebron then recognized the retiring members of the faculty, listed by their number of years of service, as shown below. John Olson received a hearty round of applause.

Vivek Sarkar 10 2017
Richard Bado 11 2017
Shirine Hamadeh 14 2017
Jose Narbona 17 2017
Raquel Gaytan 19 2017
C. Dean Shank 32 2017
Dagobert Brito 32 2017
H. Albert Napier 33 2017
Richard Brown 34 2018
Richard Grandy 38 2018
Nicholas Iammarino 40 2018
Bernard Aresu 41 2018
Baruch Brody 43 2018
John B Anderson 43 2018
John Olson 44 2017
Stephen Klineberg 46 2018
Terrence Doody 48 2017
Phillip Brooks 53 2018

The meeting was adjourned at 3:20 p.m.