Faculty Senate Meeting
September 20, 2017
Kyle Morrow Room, Fondren Library


Senate Meeting Agenda (and actions taken):

I. Call to Order and Welcome
II. Announcements
III. Reports from Officers and Standing Committee
A. Deputy Speaker’s Report
B. University Committee for Faculty and Staff Benefits
C. Faculty Advisory Committee for Faculty & Staff Benefits
IV. Working Group Reports (none)
V. Unfinished Business: Motion to Approve Edits to University Policy 201 (Approved as amended)
VI. New Business
A. Ratification of Executive Committee Summer Action (Approved)
B. Approval of Academic Calendar, 2019-2020 (Approved)
C. Election of Executive Committee (Slate Approved)
D. Review of Senators’ Responsibilities
E. Senate Goals for 2017-2018
VII. Adjourn

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

Senators absent: Michael Diehl, Balaji Koka, and Emilia Morosan.

(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. He welcomed the assembled senators and guests to the meeting.

II. Announcements

    Architecture: Christopher Hight
    Engineering: Keith Cooper, Michael Diehl, Marek Kimmel, Rob Raphael, Laura Segatori
    Humanities: Graham Bader, Martin Blumenthal-Barby, Gwen Bradford, Nathan Citino,
    Julie Fette, Kerry Ward
    Jones Graduate School of Business: Erik Dane, Balaji Koka, Doug Schuler
    Natural Sciences: Patrick Hartigan, Christopher Johns-Krull (Convener of Appeals and Grievances),
    Angel Marti-Arbona, Ed Nikonowicz, Michael Wolf (Parliamentarian), Colin Zelt
    Non-Tenure-Track Teaching Faculty: Scott Cutler, David Messmer, Scott Solomon
    Non-Tenure-Track Research Faculty: Pablo Yepes
    Presidential Appointees: Lisa Balabanlilar, Emilia Morosan
    Social Sciences: Jeffrey Fleisher, Stephen Klineberg, Susan McIntosh, Nancy Niedzielski
    Shepherd School of Music: Charles Geyer
    Ex officio, non-voting members: President Leebron, Provost Miranda
    Matt Erskin, Rice Campus Store Manager, said that despite the store losing a week’s worth of business due to Hurricane Harvey, the following increases were achieved this fall:
    72% increase in the amount of used books sold this year vs last year
    59% increase in the amount of books rented this year vs last year
    13% textbook unit increase over last year.
    Erskin said that the Campus Store has price matched 200 transactions, thus helping students to save thousands of dollars this semester.
  • THE STATE OF THE UNIVERSITY ADDRESS will be held Wednesday, September 27, at 3:00 p.m., in McMurtry Auditorium of Duncan Hall, followed by a faculty reception. President Leebron said that he plans to speak a little about the hurricane and the response of Rice faculty, staff, and students. He thanked everyone for making it possible for Rice to fully open after the hurricane. Leebron said that he would also provide information on enrollment figures, which he noted includes an over-enrollment of 93 students, university financial information, and the progress in the strategic planning for the V2C2. Leebron also said that his office would send information soon regarding the recent hire of a faculty ombuds.
  • THE “PROCEDURES FOR APPOINTMENTS OF TEACHING PROFESSORS” (approved by the Faculty Senate, April 2017) was corrected and posted to the Senate’s wiki site and to the Rice website.
    The Executive Committee represented the faculty endorsement for conferral of the official list of August 2017 degree candidates, as presented by the Dean of Undergraduates, the Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, and the Registrar.
    Susan McIntosh expressed her appreciation for the daily email updates from Provost Miranda and Vice President Kevin Kirby during the hurricane, which she said were very reassuring. She thanked the provost for her vision and for her service to Rice, especially her thoughtful attention to childcare issues. The assembled senators applauded Provost Miranda and Vice President Kirby.

III. Reports from Officers and Standing Committees

A. Deputy Speaker’s Report
Deputy Speaker Julie Fette presented a list of the University Committee chairs for 2017-2018, and she thanked them for their participation in the shared governance of Rice University.

Admissions: Rudy Guerra
Athletics: Leo Costello
Examinations and Standing: Paul Engel
Faculty and Staff Benefits: Richard Grandy
Fellowships and Awards: Matthew Baring
Graduate Council: April DeConick
Graduate Honor Council: Duane Windsor
Library: Fred Oswald
Marshals: Marcia O’Malley
Parking and Transportation: Will Cannady
Faculty Advisory Committee to the Office of Faculty Development: Kathy Matthews
Faculty Advisory Board for the Program in Writing and Communication: Carl Caldwell
Research: James McNew
Teaching: Frank Geurts
Undergraduate Curriculum: Susan McIntosh

Fette said that the committee members also play important roles, and that a list was recently provided to deans and department chairs showing all of the faculty members who are serving on University Committees, the Faculty Senate, and/or the Promotion and Tenure Committee. She especially thanked the senators who also serve on University Committees.

B. Report from the University Committee for Faculty and Staff Benefits
Committee chair Richard Grandy reviewed the charge for the committee, which includes advising the university administration regarding medical insurance. Grandy noted that Rice is self-insured, and he said that the committee’s goal is to limit increases in the cost of medical insurance through specific strategies. He presented ways that individuals can save money for themselves and for the university. The full presentation may be viewed HERE.

Grandy then provided information regarding employee contributions to Rice retirement accounts. He said that prior to 2013, new employees contributed to their retirement accounts only if they actively chose to contribute. Since 2013, the default for new employees is to contribute 4% of their salary to their retirement accounts. He said that there are currently over 800 employees who were hired under that system and who continue to contribute at that level. Grandy added that fewer than 10% of new employees choose to opt out when hired and even fewer opt out later. However, he said that 60% of the Rice employees in the salary range from $35,000 to $65,000 (over 500 people) are not contributing to their Rice retirement accounts.

Grandy asked the senators if Rice should nudge more retirement contributions from employees, and he presented the following options:

  1. Increase the default for those employees contributing 1% per year in subsequent years up to X.
  2. Make the default 4% for current employees who are contributing less than 4%.
  3. Make the default for current employees contributing less than Y to increase their contributions by 1% per year up to Z.

Grandy noted that in every case, the employee may choose to opt out at any time. Vice President Mary Cronin added that employees may also enroll or change the amount of their contributions at any time. Grandy asked the senators to consider the options presented, consult with their constituents, and email him at this address: rgrandy@rice.edu.

C. Faculty Advisory Committee for the Office of Faculty Development (FAC for the OFD)
Kathleen Matthews, chair of the FAC for the OFD, presented the Faculty Salary Review report recently completed by the committee and by Louma Ghandour, the Director of the Office of Faculty Development. Matthews explained the methodology used to review faculty compensation patterns, which included AAU Data Exchange information from private and public institutions and cost-of-living information from Runzheimer. Matthews then described the analytic processes used to produce the report. Finally, she presented the salary comparisons for each of five schools at Rice (Music and Architecture chose not to participate). Please view the presentation HERE and the full report is available to all faculty (net ID required) on the Senate wiki site HERE.

Following the presentation, senators asked a few questions. First, Matthews was asked how the cost-of-living adjustment affects Rice’s comparison with the other institutions. She replied that, in general, it improves Rice’s position, which she said is reasonable when one considers the other cities in the study. In addition, Matthews said it was appropriate for Runzheimer to use the zip code where Rice is located (77005) for comparison and not all of Houston. Matthews was asked if the non-tenure-track (NTT) faculty could be added to the report. Matthews replied that the report is prepared only for tenure-track faculty, probably because the various NTT faculty titles used by institutions is much harder to compare than standard tenure-track faculty titles.

Speaker Fleisher asked the senators to share the salary review information with their constituents.

IV. Working Group Reports (none)

V. Unfinished Business: Motion to approve reformatting of and changes to University Policy 201

Deputy Speaker Fette moved that the Senate approve the reformatting of and changes to University Policy 201, and Christopher Johns-Krull seconded the motion. Speaker Fleisher began discussion of the motion by explaining that Policy 201 was a cumbersome document that a Senate working group sought to reformat a year ago. He said that the reformatting process revealed other issues that a second working group addressed last spring and presented to the Senate in April 2017. Fleisher then described several small corrections that had been made to the document since it was presented in April. He added that although additional changes could be made to Policy 201, he urged the Senate to focus on the specific issues in the proposed motion.

Susan McIntosh asked Fleisher to explain the need to approve Policy 201 at this time. Fleisher said that the edits made by the working groups focused mainly on the teaching faculty ranks, edits which are important to the individuals who are being promoted. Provost Miranda reiterated that the process has been long and that the teaching professors are waiting for approval of University Policy 201. Fleisher also stated that several other policies that are due to be revised are based on Policy 201.

During the discussion, two amendments to the document were discussed. In Section 3.b.1.b, the types of research that the teaching professor ranks might pursue was amended, as well as the language regarding the terminal degrees that they hold. In each case, the amendments to the main motion were moved and seconded, followed by Senate approval. Please view the two amendments HERE.

Mike Wolf stated that a subsidiary document to Policy 201, “Guidelines for Faculty Appointment, Promotion, Tenure, and Renewal of Contracts” (Guidelines), approved by the Faculty Senate in 2013, is not always followed due to contradictory information in a memo issued by a former provost. Wolf said that Policy 201 could include language to specify that the subsidiary Guidelines document is the entirety of the policy. Wolf explained that one concern was regarding external reviewers who have a possible conflict. He said that the former provost’s memo indicated that none of the external reviewers could be conflicted, with no exceptions. Provost Miranda said that she was not aware of the memo, and that in practice, the Guidelines are being followed. Wolf agreed to accept the provost’s assurance that the Guidelines are being followed.

Fleisher noted that Scott Cutler has expressed concerns regarding the professor in the practice title, and he said that he would continue to discuss this issue with Cutler and others.

As there was no further discussion, the Senate voted regarding the main motion “to approve the reformatting of and changes to Policy 201, as amended.” The motion was approved, with 26 of the senators voting for approval, none opposed, and two who abstained from voting. For a list of how each senator voted, Rice faculty members may view the results on the wiki site HERE.

The Senate-approved Policy 201 may be viewed HERE. Fleisher noted that Rice’s legal counsel would now review the document, with final approval by President Leebron.

VI. New Business

A. Ratification of Executive Committee Summer Action
Fleisher reviewed Section 6.1 of the Faculty Senate Constitution: “The Executive Committee may act on behalf of the Senate between May 15 and August 15 on matters of urgency by formally adopting an Action of the Executive Committee. For each Action of the Executive Committee adopted, a motion of ratification must be presented to the full Senate at the first meeting of the academic year. Such motions may not be amended and, if approved, the associated Action of the Executive Committee will become a Resolution of the Senate.”

The Executive Committee voted to make the new distribution requirements (approved by the Faculty Senate, April 2017) the default for all active students (3 classes in each of D1, D2, D3, plus FWIS). *

* Students that matriculated under the old 4+4+4 requirements, and prefer to follow those requirements, can do so simply by contacting the Office of the Registrar.

Fleisher explained that students under the old distribution system satisfy the new system because the distribution requirements were reduced with Senate approval in April 2017. There was a question regarding certain FWIS (First-year Writing Intensive Seminars) that were used to earn distribution credit in the past. Registrar Tenney said that his staff looked at each student’s record, and when they found a student who did not satisfy the new distribution requirements (3 +3+ 3 + one FWIS) without his/her FWIS as distribution credit, the student was contacted. Tenney said that some students chose to remain under the old system (4 + 4 + 4).

The Senate voted to ratify the Executive Committee action, with 22 of the senators approving, none opposed, and five abstaining. To view the senators’ votes, please see the report posted to the wiki site HERE.

B. Approval of Academic Calendar, 2019 – 2010

Fleisher asked the senators to approve the proposed academic calendar for 2019 – 2020, which he said was created using a formula designed by a Faculty Senate working group several years ago. He pointed out that there are three fewer days in the spring semester as compared to the fall semester. One senator asked why there are always fewer days of class during the spring semester. Registrar Tenney explained that there was a proposal to eliminate the two-day Spring Recess in order to equalize the semesters, but the faculty members serving in the Faculty Senate at that time did not approve the proposal.

Mike Wolf, who chaired a second Senate working group regarding the alignment of Rice’s and Houston Independent School District’s (HISD) Spring Breaks, said that a number of restraints affect the calendar, including faculty desire to begin the semester on a Monday and end on a Friday. Provost Miranda and others asked if Rice could wait to approve its academic calendar until after HISD issued its calendar, but HISD issues its calendars too late for this option. Another question was whether Rice could adjust its calendar after the Faculty Senate had approved it. Tenney and Wolf explained that Rice schedules many events far in advance based on the approved calendars.

The Senate voted to approve the proposed Fall 2019 – Spring 2020 academic calendar, with 23 senators voting for approval, one opposed, and two abstaining. To view the senators’ votes, please see the report posted to the wiki site HERE.

C. Election of Executive Committee
Fleisher presented the EC slate for 2017-2018, which was first presented to the Senate in April 2017.

Engineering: Laura Segatori
Humanities: Kerry Ward
Natural Sciences: Ed Nikonowicz
Social Sciences: Susan McIntosh
Non-Tenure-Track Faculty: Scott Cutler
Professional Schools: Christopher Hight and Doug Schuler

Speaker Jeffrey Fleisher (Social Sciences), elected April 2017
Deputy Speaker Julie Fette (Humanities), elected April 2017

Fette asked if there were any alternate slates to be presented; there were none. The Senate voted to approve the slate, with 25 of the senators voting for approval, none opposed, and two abstaining. To view the senators’ votes, please see the report posted to the wiki site HERE.

D. Review of Senators’ Responsibilities

Fleisher reviewed the responsibilities of senators, as shown below.

  • The Faculty Senate is a representative body. Please ask your constituents often for their input.
  • Share Senate information with your constituents.
  • Read the Senate governance documents. Know the Senate’s rules and meeting structure.
  • Attend Senate meetings. If a senator misses three meetings, he/she can be dismissed.
  • Be prepared for Senate meetings. Know how to access the wiki site and read the materials prior to the meeting.
  • Serve on Senate working groups.
  • Attend plenary meetings of the faculty.

E. Senate Goals for 2017 – 2018

Fleisher and Fette discussed with the senators the issues that they planned to address this year:

  • Synchronize the policies that are related to University Policy 201
  • Revise University Policy 327 regarding research professors
  • Revise the “Guidelines for Faculty Appointment, Promotion, Tenure and Renewal of Contracts”
  • Form a Senate working group regarding academic advising, along with the VPAA office
  • Create a University Policy on Shared Governance

One senator suggested that the Faculty Senate have a discussion about faculty hiring strategies and practices. He said that Rice is a small school that sometimes adopts the hiring practices of large schools, and/or practices from the 1950’s. He stressed the importance of hiring diverse faculty members.

Fleisher asked senators to consider issues that they would like the Senate to address this year and email him ( jfleisher@rice.edu) or Fette ( fette@rice.edu) with their recommendations.

VII. Adjourn
The meeting was adjourned at 1:45 p.m.