December 3, 2014

Faculty Senate Meeting - December 3, 2014
Founder’s Room, Lovett Hall

Agenda (and Actions Taken):

I. Call to order
II. Announcements
A. Speaker’s Report: Academic Calendar
B. Update on Teaching Workload from Provost McLendon
C. SACSCOC Reaffirmation of Accreditation
D. Update on Open Access Policy
III. Report of Officers and Standing Committees: Proposed Revision to
“Faculty Statement on Consensual, Amorous Relations with Students” (Approved)
IV. New Business: Proposed Professional Master in Energy Economics (Approved)

Senators present: Robert Atherholt, Gwen Bradford, Dave Caprette, Daniel Cohen, Keith Cooper, Scott Cutler, Erik Dane, Jerry Dickens, Claire Fanger, Jeffrey Fleisher, Illya Hicks, Christopher Hight, Betty Joseph, Rachel Kimbro, Marek Kimmel, Jonathan Ludwig, Susan Lurie, Susan McIntosh, George McLendon, Timothy Morton, Luay Nakhleh, Fred Oswald, Brian Rountree, Stan Sazykin, James Weston, and Michael Wolf.

Senators absent: David Alexander, Kate Beckingham, Michael Diehl, Luis Duno-Gottberg, Michael Kohn, Anatoly Kolomeisky, David Leebron, and Laura Segatori.

(To listen to an audio tape of this meeting, email

I. Call to order
Speaker James Weston called the meeting to order at 12:05 p.m.

II. Announcements

A. Speaker’s Report
Weston provided an update regarding the Working Group on the Academic Calendar. He stated that the group’s original charge was to examine aligning Rice’s week long Spring Break with HISD’s Spring Break and report to the Senate by December 3, 2014. However, in October the group was asked to consider a two-week Spring Break. Weston said that a subcommittee of the working group is now examining this option, with the addition of other individuals, and the Senate should be able to make a decision in its February or March 2015 meeting regarding Spring 2017.

Working Group Chair Mike Wolf was asked by Jerry Dickens whether there are plans to poll the broad Rice community on the issue. Wolf said that the problem with a poll is that the calendar needs to be universal and coherent, and a poll would not reference a calendar in its entirety. Wolf also said that there had been a concerted effort to obtain viewpoints from stakeholders across the broad community, particularly deans and students. Wolf and Weston asked faculty to post comments on the Senate’s wiki site.

B. Faculty Workload

Provost McLendon discussed the issue of faculty workload expectations. He proposed the following guideline: The teaching load of a full-time T/TT faculty member at Rice University is two courses per semester, or the equivalent in the professional schools. This standard teaching load and associated compensation can be calibrated (augmented or reduced) by the School Dean in light of evaluations of teaching, research, and service. Faculty are asked to post comments to the discussion page on the Senate’s wiki site.

C. SACSCOC Reaffirmation of Accreditation

John Cornwell, Associate Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness, explained Rice’s upcoming reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), a procedure that occurs every ten years. Cornwell said that during the current academic year, narratives are being written for over 90 principles, policies are being updated, and the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) team has begun gathering input. Cornwell provided a timeline of items that will occur during the 2015-2016 academic year, with the SACSCOC vote to occur the following December (2016). Rice is expected to receive its official letter in January 2017. Cornwell said that the goal is to complete all of the steps correctly the first time, and he expressed confidence in Rice’s ability to achieve this goal. View Cornwell’s slide presentation.

During the discussion that followed the presentation, QEP co-chair Susan McIntosh asked the senators to seek QEP ideas from their departments and report them to her. Provost McLendon noted that not all of the items included in the QEP have to be new; they just cannot have existed at the time of the last reaffirmation of accreditation. He suggested that the Center for Writing and Communication be included in the QEP.

D. Update on Open Access Policy
Weston thanked Siemann and the Graduate Council
Sara Lowman, University Librarian, and Lisa Spiro, Director of Digital Scholarship Services, spoke regarding the progress made in depositing articles written by faculty members in Rice’s Digital Scholarship Archive (RDSA). Spiro said that the Open Access Policy approved in 2012 calls for oversight by the Faculty Senate, including an update after three years, due in April 2015.

Spiro reviewed the rationale for the Open Access policy, as well as efforts made by Fondren Library personnel to support and promote it. She said that their goal is to make it as easy as possible for faculty to use the RDSA.

Spiro said that nearly 1,000 faculty publications have been contributed to the RDSA since adoption of Open Access, but she noted that total represents only about 30% submission. She said that faculty are not resistant to sharing their publications online, but more exposure to the system and its benefits is needed. Celeste Boudreaux, Assistant Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, said that a possible replacement for the current Faculty Information System (FIS) would include a system for easy submission of articles. Susan McIntosh suggested that a specific reference to the approved Open Access Policy be included in the FIS; faculty members may choose opt-out if they do not wish to submit their articles. View the full presentation.

III. Report of Officers and Standing Committees: Proposed Revision to “Rice University Faculty Statement on Amorous Relations with Students”

Professor Evan Siemann, a member of the Graduate Council, reviewed the current Faculty Statement, often called the “amorous relations policy.” He said that there are three types of faculty relationships covered by the policy: relationships between faculty members and undergraduates are prohibited; a current relationship between a faculty member and a graduate student over whom they have direct or indirect responsibility is considered to be unmanageable; while a prior relationship of this nature is considered to be manageable, with disclosure to the provost and dean required, along with development of a management plan. Siemann said that violations are handled through the official Rice University Policy 201.

Siemann reviewed the policy’s current definition of faculty members, along with the Graduate Council’s proposed addition of the words “post-doctoral scholars.” Siemann explained that the proposed revision is to clarify that post-doctoral scholars engaged in teaching, advising, mentoring, or coaching students are already covered by this policy as university employees.

Siemann then reviewed the proposed guidelines for students, which was an addition to the current policy. He said that there is no prohibition of students having relationships with students provided that they do not have professional responsibility over them. He said that violations are handled through the Code of Student Conduct. View the slides presented by Siemann.

In the discussion that followed the presentation, concern was expressed about the term “mentoring” in the student guidelines, especially in a situation such as O-Week when hundreds of students are involved with mentoring. Susan McIntosh asked to amend the policy, striking the word “mentoring” from the student guidelines, and there was no objection from senators.

Another concern expressed by senators was the term “indirect responsibility” in the student guidelines. Deputy Speaker Rachel Kimbro asked to amend the policy, striking the word “indirect” from the student guidelines. Again, there was no objection from senators.

The Senate then voted on the amended policy, with unanimous approval to adopt it. (view the policy.) Weston thanked Siemann and the Graduate Council.

IV. New Business: Proposed Professional Master of Energy Economics

James Weston presented the proposed Master of Energy Economics to the Senate. He said that the proposal meets all criteria for a professional master’s program; it has the support of Department Chair Antonio Merlo, the Dean of Social Sciences, the Graduate Council, and the Faculty Senate Executive Committee. Weston explained that the proposal is for a 12-month program, with 9 months of course work, and structured classes in the first part of the summer, followed by a directed, high-level internship in oil industry companies. The Senate voted unanimously to approve the proposal. To view the proposal, see Professional Master of Energy Economics.

The meeting was adjourned at 1:26 p.m.