Faculty Senate Meeting
November 15, 2017
Kyle Morrow Room, Fondren Library


Senate Meeting Agenda (and actions taken).

I. Call to Order

II. Unfinished Business

A. Motion to approve Bachelor of Arts Degree Program with a Major in Neuroscience (approved)

B. Motion to approve edits to University Policy 214 (approved)

III. New Business: Motion to approve the proposed online MBA program from the Jones Graduate School of Business (approved)

IV. Announcements

V. Adjourn

Senators present: Graham Bader, Lisa Balabanlilar, Gwen Bradford, Nathan Citino, Keith Cooper, Scott Cutler, Erik Dane, Michael Diehl, Julie Fette, Jeffrey Fleisher, Patrick Hartigan, Christopher Hight, Christopher Johns-Krull, Marek Kimmel, Stephen Klineberg, Balaji Koka, David Leebron, Angel Marti-Arbona, Susan McIntosh, David Messmer, Marie Lynn Miranda, Emilia Morosan, Nancy Niedzielski, Ed Nikonowicz, Rob Raphael, Doug Schuler, Scott Solomon, Kerry Ward, Michael Wolf, and Colin Zelt.

Senators absent: Martin Blumenthal-Barby, Charles Geyer, Laura Segatori, and Pablo Yepes.

(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. Deputy Speaker Julie Fette made the following motion: “I move that we suspend the rule that prohibits us from taking up Unfinished and New Business first.” The motion was seconded, followed by a vote for approval by the Faculty Senate

II. Unfinished Business

A. Motion to approve the proposed Bachelor of Arts Program with a Degree in Neuroscience

Fleisher explained that the proposed Bachelor of Arts Program with a Degree in Neuroscience was presented for approval to the Faculty Senate in its October 2017 meeting. He said that the Senate voted to postpone the vote and return the proposal to the University Committee for the Undergraduate Curriculum with instructions to revise it so that the program is made available to all Rice students.

Rice faculty members Benham Azhang (Engineering) and Janet Braam (Biosciences) explained that changes had been made to the proposal to simplify it, to revise the sequence of lab courses, and to reduce the total number of credits required. They said that a Rice student who does not have any Advanced Placement credits could now complete the program in four years, including a semester of study abroad. Mike Wolf wished to confirm that now every opportunity provided in the proposal was available to all students, which Azhang confirmed.

There was a motion to approve the proposal, which was seconded. The resulting vote by the senators was for approval. Please see the approved proposal HERE. The Senate voting record can be viewed on the Senate’s wiki space (net ID required).

B. Motion to approve the edits to University Policy 214, “Faculty Performance Reviews”

Fleisher reviewed the proposed revisions to University Policy 214, an item that was postponed from the Faculty Senate’s October 2017 meeting. He said that the updates to University Policy 214 follow the recent changes made to University Policy 201 (Faculty Appointments, Promotion, and Tenure), and that the policy now includes all non-tenure-track faculty ranks. In addition, Fleisher said that the policy specifies how and when faculty performance reviews should proceed. He said that a new section in the policy entitled “Context” describes the advisory nature of the reviews.

Fleisher presented additional edits to the proposed policy since the previous meeting, as shown below.

In all cases, evaluations of teaching by students and peers, and other means as relevant, must be considered. ,as available, will be considered.


All full or part-time faculty in the non-tenure-track faculty ranks should receive an annual performance review. Faculty in promotable non-tenure track ranks should receive a more in-depth review at least once in every 6 fall/spring semesters of employment teaching (whether teaching in contiguous semesters or not) or prior to a year in which promotion is being considered. Reviewers may consider student evaluations for annual reviews, but other methods must be used to evaluate teaching performance. For reappointments, three-year reviews or pre-promotion reviews, a minimum of two letters from those familiar with the teaching, research, and service (each as appropriate to the appointment) of the individual should be included.

There was a motion to approve all edits to Policy 214, which was seconded.

One senator asked about the words “university service” in the policy. He moved that the proposed revisions be further amended to remove the word “university.” The motion was seconded.

In the discussion that followed, one senator asked if the policy should specify the relative importance of each criteria. Fleisher explained that the original policy said that evaluations by students must be used, and while the evaluations will still be used, they cannot be the only criteria used in review of faculty performance.

Another senator expressed concern for faculty members in small departments who might need to seek external letters when reviewed. He asked if the policy should specify whether the letters could be internal or external. Fleisher said that he wished to leave the policy as open as possible to avoid restricting the ways that different units review their faculty members. He noted that the performance reviews are meant to provide feedback to faculty members and are not to be used for promotion.

First, the Senate voted by a show of hands to approve the secondary motion to remove the word “university” from the phrase “university service” in Policy 214.

Next, the Senate voted to approve the main motion, approval of all edits to Policy 214. Please see the voting record on the Senate’s wiki site, net ID required.

The Senate-approved revised Policy 214 may be seen HERE. Please note that University Policies require final approval from the university administration.

III. New Business

Motion to approve the proposed online MBA program from the Jones Graduate School of Business

Fleisher introduced Dean Peter Rodriguez and Dr. Barbara Ostdiek of the Jones Graduate School of Business who presented the proposed online Master of Business Administration (MBA) program to the Senate. (See the slides that were presented to the Senate.) Fleisher stated that the proposal was reviewed and approved by the Graduate Council, followed by approval from the Executive Committee for presentation to the full Senate.

Rodriguez and Ostdiek explained that the Jones School has designed an online version of the “MBA for Professionals” program that is currently offered on campus. They said that they were confident in the product that will be offered to students and in the revenue stream that the program will provide to Rice. In addition, they stressed that although the Jones School is partnering with 2U, Rice will maintain control of all admissions.

Several senators had questions regarding the proposal. One senator noted that although language in the proposal states that the tuition for the online program would be the same as the on-campus program, the online program costs $544 more. Vice President Kathy Collins said that she would work with the proposers to make the tuition the same for the two programs.

A discussion concerning the revenue split with 2U followed.

Another senator asked if Rice students would look the same to a potential employer whether they completed the MBA program online or on campus. Registrar David Tenney said that the transcripts would be the same for the two programs. Rodriguez further explained that the Jones School has several MBA programs; one is for the full-time student who takes two years off from work to earn his/her MBA, while another is the MBA for Professionals program for students who do not leave their jobs. He said that while employers distinguish between full-time MBA students and the MBA for Professionals, they would not distinguish between the two forms of the MBA for Professionals (online versus on-campus). He said that the program allows students to work and earn their MBA.

Susan McIntosh, chair of the University Committee for the Undergraduate Curriculum, asked Registrar Tenney to ensure that the language in the General Announcements includes the requirement that students maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average (GPA) with grades of C and above.

Another senator asked how the online program would give students the real-world experience of working in teams. Rodriguez said that students would be provided many opportunities to work in teams, and he noted that many work on virtual teams in industry.

Rodriguez was asked about the length of commitment to 2U. He was also asked if Rice would be able to remove a course from the program if needed. Rodriguez’s reply was yes; while 2U produces the courses, Rice professors would deliver them. Ostdiek added that there would be a regular cycle of course review and refresh. In addition, it was noted that the Graduate Council would review the program in three years.

Members of the Senate discussed the effectiveness of online education in general, as well as which Jones School faculty members would participate in the program. Rodriguez said that tenured Jones School faculty members would design the courses, but he anticipated that some lecturers would teach them. He described the online MBA course as a hybrid, utilizing both online and on-campus teaching.

Following this discussion, the Faculty Senate voted to approve the proposal.. View the Senate voting record.


A. Campus Safety

Vice President Kevin Kirby announced several improvements to campus safety.

  • Thanks to efforts that began with a Faculty Senate working group, great strides have been made in recent years towards increased safety in laboratories on the Rice campus.
  • Improved lighting has been installed around the north and south residential colleges.
  • Several thousand people have been trained regarding active shooter response.
  • Efforts are being made to reduce automobile traffic on campus by non-Rice personnel, beginning with signs that prohibit driving through the campus, followed by tickets issued to drivers.
  • Classroom door locks are currently being installed, with close to 60% completed.
  • A new committee (chaired by Richard Johnson) will address campus mobility and the safe use of cars, buses, bicycles, motorized skateboards, and other vehicles.
  • A pillar at Entrance 3 was removed because it caused a blind spot, and hedges have been trimmed at several entrances to improve sight lines.
  • There are plans to relight the entire campus within the next few years. The outer track does not belong to Rice, and although Rice maintains it, there are no plans to light the entire track.

Senators made several comments, including an increase of dogs being off-leash while on campus and pedestrians who do not watch for cars when crossing a street. One senator noted that the entrance to the campus at Cambridge is problematic, and Kirby agreed, saying it was one of Rice’s worst intersections. A short discussion was held as to which party should have the right of way, pedestrians or cars.

B. Doerr Institute for New Leaders

Tom Kolditz, Director of the Doerr Institute, said that the annual report from the Doerr Institute was provide to the Faculty Senate in March 2017. (The report can be located on the Senate’s wiki site, net ID required.) Kolditz then provided both a general description of the Doerr Institute’s mission, as well as specifics regarding its activities, summarized below.

  • Mission: increase the capacity of Rice University students to lead across the university.
  • Provide true outcome measurement by professionals.
  • “Pathfinder” provides students with leadership opportunities on campus.
  • “Innovation Awards” provide funding to faculty members based on their efforts to develop leaders.
  • The “Graduate to Leader” initiative serves graduate students.

Kolditz explained that 1,218 Rice students have completed the Doerr Institute’s program, which he said has a 90% success rate in advancing their ability as leaders. He said that the Institute uses a one-on-one methodology to develop students’ self-awareness, self-confidence, and communication ability. Kolditz invited the senators to visit the Doerr Institute at 204 McNair Hall.

C. STRIVE: Students Transforming Rice into a Violence-Free Environment

Graduate students Katherine Shoemaker and Alexa Solazzo discussed the efforts of STRIVE, an organization that focuses on the well-being of Rice graduate students. Shoemaker and Solazzo said that Title IX protects all students from gender-based discrimination, with the goal that a person’s gender does not limit her ability to success. They noted that while undergraduate students have residential college representatives and other resources, graduate students do not. STRIVE seeks to connect students with the appropriate resources at Rice. The Title IX coordinator at Rice is Russell Barnes, who can be contacted via email: rcb@rice.edu or by telephone: 713-348-4350.

D. Announcements from the floor

President Leebron thanked the senators for their thoughtful consideration and comments regarding the proposed MBA and neuroscience programs. He then went on to discuss how the United States government is currently viewing educational institutions. He expressed concern over the proposed income tax bill that would impose an excise tax on the endowments of institutions such as Rice, as well as the proposed taxation of graduate student benefits such as tuition assistance or fellowships.

V. Adjourn

The meeting was adjourned at 1:55 p.m.