Faculty Senate Meeting
February 21, 2018
Kyle Morrow Room, Fondren Library

Senate Meeting Agenda (and actions taken)

  1. Call to Order
  2. Announcements
    1. Marjorie Corcoran Award
    2. Enrollment Update: Vice President for Enrollment Yvonne Romero da Silva
    3. Update regarding proposed revisions to Promotion and Tenure Procedures Document
    4. Announcements from the floor
  3. Reports from Officers
    1. Deputy Speaker’s Report: Nominations and Elections Committee (Members Approved)
    2. Addition to the General Announcements regarding the “drop-back provision”
    3. Revision to the GA regarding teaching for credit, Non-Traditional Coursework
  4. New Business
    1. Motion to approve non-thesis Master’s Degree in Industrial Engineering (Approved)
    2. Motion to approve name change to Environmental Analysis (Approved)
    3. Motion to approve edits to Policy 202, Honorary Faculty Titles (Approved)
  5. Adjourn

Senators present: Martin Blumenthal-Barby, Gwen Bradford, Nathan Citino, Keith Cooper, Scott Cutler, Erik Dane, Julie Fette, Jeffrey Fleisher, Charles Geyer, Patrick Hartigan, Christopher Hight, Michael Schweinberger (for Marek Kimmel), David Leebron, Angel Marti-Arbona, Susan McIntosh, David Messmer, Marie Lynn Miranda, Emilia Morosan, Nancy Niedzielski, Ed Nikonowicz, Doug Schuler, Laura Segatori, Scott Solomon, Michael Wolf, and Pablo Yepes.

Senators absent: Graham Bader, Lisa Balabanlilar, Michael Diehl, Christopher Johns-Krull, Stephen Klineberg, Balaji Koka, Rob Raphael, Kerry Ward, and Colin Zelt.

(To listen to an audio tape of this meeting, email senate@rice.edu .)

I. Call to Order
Speaker Jeffrey Fleisher called the meeting to order at 12:00 p.m.

II. Announcements

A. Marjorie Corcoran Award
Provost Miranda announced the inaugural Marjorie Corcoran Award, named in honor of the first Speaker of the Rice University Faculty Senate. Miranda welcomed nominations for the faculty award, due March 16, with presentation of the award to occur April 24, 2018. For more information, please see the article.

B. Enrollment Update
Vice President for Enrollment Yvonne Romero da Silva discussed undergraduate applications, admissions, and enrollments. She reviewed statistics on the current freshman class compared with previous years using a variety of factors. Please see the PowerPoint presentation.

Da Silva stated that applications to Rice have increased from 18,047 last year to 20,898 this year. She said that the fall 2017 yield was higher than expected at 1,048, resulting in the largest enrolling class in Rice’s history. As for 2018, da Silva said that regular decision selections would occur soon, but she noted that approximately 39% of admissions to Rice has already been determined due to the early decision process and due to the use of Questbridge. Da Silva explained that Questbridge is a program that aims to identify high-achieving, low-income students. She said that in the Questbridge system, students rank the schools in which they are interested, with schools separately going through a similar process, resulting in mutual matches.

Da Silva was asked about the students who are eligible for Pell Grants and the enrollment office’s efforts to yield them. She said that the number of Pell-eligible students in the Rice undergraduate population decreased each year from a high of 675 in FY 2014, but it saw an increase in the most recently enrolled class. President Leebron added that one of Rice’s goals is to increase enrollment of students from lower-income families. He also said that Rice has explicitly directed fund-raising efforts to raise scholarships for students from middle-income families. Leebron added that other improvements have been made in Rice’s admissions efforts.

Da Silva expressed optimism about the new committee-based evaluation system used by the admissions office. One senator recommended that the admissions office keep a historical record of the numerical reader scores, as they have proven to be reliable in predicting student success.

C. Update regarding proposed revisions to Promotion and Tenure procedures document
Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Fred Higgs said that after the Faculty Senate approved revisions to University Policy 201, “Faculty Appointments, Promotion and Tenure,” it was appropriate to make revisions to the accompanying procedures document (entitled “Guidelines for Faculty Appointments, Promotion, Tenure, and Renewal of Contracts”). Higgs showed a chart which outlined the process used by the administration when policies and procedures are updated. He said that the Senate-approved proposed revisions to the current procedures document would be reviewed by the provost and then returned to the Faculty Senate.

D. Announcements from the floor
Registrar David Tenney announced that the Rice MBA Online proposal recently approved by the Faculty Senate would require a four-term calendar instead of Rice’s existing three-term calendar. Tenney said that the Jones School of Business administration needs four entries and exits for students, but financial aid rules require that the terms be of equal length. He said that Rice would thus operate under two calendars, with approval from the Faculty Senate required. Tenney said that more details would be provided to the Senate at the next meeting.

III. Reports from Officers and Standing Committees

A. Deputy Speaker’s Report: Nominations and Elections Committee (NEC)
Deputy Speaker Julie Fette presented the proposed NEC members to the Senate, as shown below.

Lisa Balabanlilar (Humanities)
Keith Cooper (Engineering)
Erik Dane (Business)
Patrick Hartigan (Natural Sciences)
Stephen Klineberg (Social Sciences)
Emilia Morosan (Natural Sciences)
Nancy Niedzielski (Social Sciences)
Rob Raphael (Engineering)
NEC Chair Julie Fette (Humanities)

There was a motion to approve the list, which was seconded. The Senate then voted to approve the proposed NEC members for the 2018 election year. See the voting results.

Fette then reviewed the NEC actions and duties:

  • Promotion and Tenure Committee election is complete: Ashley Leeds (Social Sciences) elected to a three-year term beginning Fall 2018.
  • Faculty Senate nomination forms were emailed to faculty today and are due March 20 by noon.
    The terms of 15 senators are expiring. Please note that even current senators must turn in a completed nomination form by the deadline.
  • Recommendations for faculty to serve on University Committees to begin early March.

B. Addition to the General Announcements (GA) regarding the “drop-back provision”
Susan McIntosh, chair of the University Committee for the Undergraduate Curriculum (CUC), presented information on the “drop-back provision,” which was recently reviewed by the CUC. McIntosh explained that the Executive Committee approved a motion from the CUC to add the following language to the 2018-2019 GA (under Drop/Add) for the purpose of formalizing the current practice and specifying applicable course pairs.

“There are a small number of courses for which an approved drop-back provision exists. Under certain conditions, for the course pairings on that approved list, a student can drop from the advanced course into the identified lower course until the end of the seventh week of class. More information on this, including the list of courses, may be found on the Office of the Registrar web site, at drop-back registration.”

C. Revision to the GA regarding teaching for credit, Non-Traditional Coursework
McIntosh presented another current practice recently reviewed by the CUC: undergraduate students working as teaching assistants (TA’s) for course credit instead of pay. She said that the CUC decided that the least regulatory way to ensure that the TA’s are receiving learning experiences was to revise the GA under the “Non-Traditional Coursework” section of “Academic Opportunities” for Undergraduate Students, as shown in red below, which was approved by the Executive Committee.

“Courses tailored for individual students provide a valuable opportunity for them to pursue an academic or professional interest under the supervision of a Rice faculty member. Such courses are typically titled as independent study or research, directed reading, or internships, or are described as a teaching experience. Although the organization of these courses is quite variable, they are subject to the same basic requirements as other course offerings.”

Speaker Fleisher said that the revision to the GA brings structure to the courses, but he asked the senators if they wished to discuss whether the practice of awarding credit instead of pay should occur, as was discussed by the Executive Committee. Comments by senators are shown below.

  • I like the idea of students teaching, as there is value in knowing the level of understanding needed to teach a subject, but it make me uncomfortable that the practice occurs due to low departmental budgets. Departments are creating “crypto currency” in credits.
  • I am concerned about students who must work to finance their education; they need pay, not credit.
  • A faculty member who supervises the work of a student TA might be willing to write a letter of recommendation for him/her. The student who must work for pay does not have this opportunity.

McIntosh said that a report presented to the CUC described how the BioSciences faculty train their student TA’s. She said that some very good teachers were committed to transmitting their skills to the teaching assistants, in contrast to paying individuals to grade papers.

Lora Wildenthal (History) said that the School of Humanities explored a similar issue at the graduate level; are the TA’s laborers or are they teaching for their own academic development? She said that Humanities faculty decided that the purpose of teaching a course the first or second time was for the TA’s to learn, but they should be paid for any additional times teaching the course.

Fleisher said that the Senate could look more deeply into the matter in the future.

IV. New Business

A. Motion to approve non-thesis Master’s Degree in Industrial Engineering
Fleisher introduced Andrew Schaefer (Computational and Applied Mathematics) who explained that the proposed interdisciplinary, non-thesis Master’s Degree in Industrial Engineering would be based in the School of Engineering. He said that industrial engineering is a large field not currently represented at Rice. Keith Cooper stated that the dean of the School of Engineering strongly supports the proposal. There was a motion to approve the proposal, it was seconded, followed by a unanimous vote for approval, as shown HERE. Please view the approved proposal on the Senate wiki site: Non-Thesis Master’s Degree in Industrial Engineering.

Following the vote, Susan McIntosh noted that as departmental faculty members move to teach in professional master’s programs, Rice hires instructors or patch faculty to teach other courses, thus changing the overall composition of the faculty. Provost Miranda’s reply is summarized below:

  • One duty of the school deans is to consider their entire curriculum.
  • Industrial engineering/mechanical engineering is an interdisciplinary approach; at other institutions, faculty from other divisions might also teach in this program.
  • Industrial engineering typically resides in the mechanical engineering department if an industrial engineering department does not exist.
  • The tensions created by offering a professional master’s degree program can be reduced when the department makes a sufficient investment in the program.
  • In speaking with the Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, we agreed that next year would be the right time to review the professional master’s programs across campus, including which faculty are teaching the courses and any trade-offs that occur.

B. Motion to approve name change to Environmental Analysis
Fleisher announced that the Professional Science Master’s program has proposed a name change in the non-thesis Master of Science degree from “Environmental Analysis and Decision Making” to “Environmental Analysis.” There was a motion to approve the proposal, which was seconded. The Senate then voted unanimously to approve the motion.

C. Motion to approve edits to University Policy 202, Honorary Faculty Titles

Fleisher said the proposed revision to University Policy 202, Honorary Faculty Titles, was provided to faculty via the Senate’s wiki site. He noted that faculty members did not post any comments regarding the proposed edits.

Fleisher introduced Arnaud Chevallier, Associate Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, who explained that Policy 202 was last updated in 2003. Chevallier said that the proposed revisions include bringing Policy 202 in line with Policy 201, expanding Policy 202 to include additional faculty titles (beyond endowed chairs), and managing the process for awarding faculty titles.

During the discussion of the proposed revisions, one senator said that the words “may vary” under the “Award Process” section on page 1 was vague. Fleisher said that when a chair has become vacant, a new faculty hire will sometimes be awarded the chair as part of the recruitment process. The senator asked if new faculty hires would be held to the same rules and regulations as current faculty who receive an honorary faculty title. Following this discussion, a motion was made to add the words shown in red:

(The process for awarding an endowed chair to a new faculty member—that is, as part of recruitment process—may vary but is still subject to approval by the Board of Trustees and the Provost.) The motion was seconded, followed by approval by the Senate (by a show of hands), with two abstentions.

The main motion to approve the edits to Policy 202 “as amended during the meeting” was seconded, followed by Senate approval, and can be viewed on the wiki site. View the Senate voting record.

V. Adjourn
The meeting was adjourned at 1:40 p.m.