January 29, 2014

Combined Plenary Meeting of the Faculty

And Faculty Senate Meeting

January 29, 2014

Founder’s Room, Lovett Hall

Plenary Meeting Agenda:

I. Presentation of Undergraduate Degrees

II. Presentation of Graduate Degrees

III. Adjourn to Senate Meeting

Senate Meeting Agenda (and actions taken):

I. Call to order and welcome

II. Announcements

III. University Committee Reports: University Committee on the Library

IV. New Business

A. Proposed Guidelines for Certificate Programs (Approved)

B. Proposal regarding Undergraduate Major in Medieval and Early Modern Studies (Approved)

C. Proposal for MA in Accounting (Approved)

Senators present: Graham Bader, Carl Caldwell, David Caprette, Keith Cooper, Scott Cutler, Michael Diehl, Jerry Dickens, Claire Fanger, Julie Fette, Dawn Finley, Jeffrey Fleisher, Christopher Hight, Betty Joseph, Rachel Kimbro, Michael Kohn, Anatoly Kolomeisky, David Leebron, Jonathan Ludwig, Susan McIntosh, George McLendon, Luay Nakhleh, Fred Oswald, Brian Rountree, David Scott, Laura Segatori, Ruth Lopez Turley, James Weston, and Michael Wolf.

Senators absent: David Alexander, Robert Atherholt, Kate Beckingham, Helena Michie, and Stan Sazykin.

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

Plenary Meeting of the Faculty

I. Presentation of Undergraduate Degrees

Professor Stan Dodds, Chair of the University Committee for Examinations and Standing (EX&S), declared that there were no exceptions among the undergraduate students to be awarded mid-year degrees. Dodds said that a request for faculty approval had been moved and seconded by EX&S. Registrar David Tenney presented to the faculty the following information:



Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Bachelor of Science (BS)


BS in Bioengineering (BSBE)


BS in Chemical Engineering (BSCHE)


BS in Civil Engineering (BSCE)


BS in Computer Science (BSCS)


BS in Electrical Engineering (BSEE)


Total (undergraduate degrees)


Bachelor of Architecture (UP)


Grand Total (undergraduate degrees)


*Actual number of students: 90 (50 Men, 40 Women

Tenney said that of the 81 graduates who were not transfer students, about 1/3 were graduating in less than four years, while 40 students were graduating in 4.5 years, and the remaining 9 students were graduating after more than 6 years at Rice. The assembled faculty members unanimously approved the awarding of the degrees.

II. Presentation of Graduate Degrees

Professor Ken Whitmire, Chair of the Graduate Council, stated that there were no exceptions among the graduate students to be awarded mid-year degrees, and a request for faculty approval had been moved and seconded by the Graduate Council. Tenney presented to the faculty the following information:



Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


Master of Arts (MA)


Master of Science (MS)


Master of Architecture (MARCH)


Master of Music (MMUS)


Master of Bioengineering (MBE)


Master of Science in Subsurface Geoscience (MSSG)


Master of Civil and Environmental Engineering (MCEE)


Master of Computer Science (MCS)


Master of Computational and Applied Mathematics (MCAAM)


Master of Electrical Engineering (MEE)


Master of Mechanical Engineering (MME)


Master of Statistics (MSTAT)


Master of Business Administration (MBA)


Master of Liberal Studies (MLS)


Grand Total (Advanced Degrees)


*Actual number of students: 248 (155 Men, 93 Women)

The assembled faculty members unanimously approved the awarding of the degrees.

III. Adjourn to Faculty Senate Meeting

Faculty Senate Meeting

I. Call to Order

II. Announcements

A. Introduction of Seiichi Matsuda, Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies

Speaker Caldwell welcomed Seiichi Matsuda, new Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (DGPS). Matsuda said that he looks forward to serving in his new position and that his efforts will include improving the graduate programs where needed.

B. Update on Linguistics Graduate Program

Caldwell stated that when the administration began the process last fall of terminating the graduate program in Linguistics, the Faculty Senate wrote an interim procedures document outlining the best practices for termination of programs. He said that the administration, however, has recently made the decision to postpone the termination process due to the selection of a new DGPS. Caldwell also stated that although the graduate program in Linguistics is not funded by the university at this time, if outside funding can be found, new students may be brought into the program.

Several faculty members from the Linguistics department asked questions and made comments, including Michel Achard, Nancy Niedzielski, and Suzanne Kemmer. During the 30-minute discussion which ensued, President Leebron and Provost McLendon were asked why the administration decided to end the process as outlined in the Senate’s procedures document and instead simply end funding for the program. Provost McLendon said that a lot of the termination discussion was facilitated by the Dean of Humanities, who is responsible for the allocation of the School of Humanities’ funds, and by Paula Sanders, in her (then) combined role as the Vice Provost of Academic Affairs and DGPS. Now, he said, we have a new DGPS responsible for implementing a program of which he knows little; at a minimum, we had to have a pause in the process.

Michel Achard said that the Linguistics Department received its funding gift in two parts—one part was directly for Linguistics and the other part was to the School of Humanities. He said that he was not sure where the Humanities part went, but faculty were specifically told that the funds should not have been co-opted. In his reply, President Leebron stated that the administration ran into the funding question because a significant portion of a dedicated source is ending; the lack of funds was not initially triggered by university decisions. Leebron also said that in trying to disentangle this issue, there is a piece that rests under the provost’s office, which was dealt with under the Senate rules, and there is a piece that is related to funding, which is under the dean’s office. The question that has been raised, he said, is regarding the proper interaction between the two pieces, and what to do now that the funding has ended.

Faculty members from other departments also spoke. Moshe Vardi emphasized that it was not proper for the administration to simply end funding for a graduate program. He compared that action to termination of a graduate student or staff member, which he said would not occur without due process. Susan McIntosh said that since the new DGPS stated that he will seek to raise the level of Rice’s graduate programs, faculty across the university have a stake in how programs are evaluated and decisions reached on whether they can be improved or whether they are so weak that they need to be eliminated. Best practices must mean a clear procedure that involves faculty consultation. McIntosh said that the issues raised by the Linguistics case should be of deep interest to all faculty for the future.

Finally, Speaker Caldwell said that the Senate needed to revisit the interim procedures/best practices policy to see where it works and does not work. In addition, he said that a discussion in the Faculty Senate regarding the allocation of finances is not feasible. Caldwell said that it needs to begin perhaps with an ad-hoc group or advisory group meeting with deans. There is a lot more involved here than just one program, he said, and the Senate has some major tasks ahead of it.

C. Summer School Changes

Provost McLendon said that after receiving a lot of feedback from many sources, the administration has determined that departments were not being allowed to utilize summer school to its fullest. He said that the financial model is now being publicized up front for summer school, and departments will receive more of the summer school funds. McLendon said that the deans and department chairs have this information and Kathy Collins’s office may be contacted for more information.

D. Changes to Commencement

Keith Cooper, Head of Marshals, said that substantial growth in the number of degrees being awarded at Rice has caused the commencement ceremony to last too long. A committee comprised of faculty and students has thus decided to break commencement into a series of ceremonies, going from three ceremonies to five. This change will also allow Rice to add back to the ceremony some aspects that it used to contain. Cooper said that every undergraduate will still walk across the stage in the Academic Quad in May, but it will occur in the evening instead of during the day. The following summary was presented:

Ceremonies that will not change

• Jones Graduate School of Business Investiture

• Doctoral Hooding

New Ceremonies

• Ceremony for master’s degree recipients other than JGSB

– 9 AM Friday in Tudor Fieldhouse

• Ceremony for bachelor’s degree recipients

– 7 PM Friday in Academic Quad (Rain: Tudor Fieldhouse)

• Plenary Commencement Ceremony

– 9 AM Saturday in Academic Quad (Rain: Tudor Fieldhouse)

– Degrees conferred, commencement speaker, some awards

– Full academic procession and recession

Changes in calendar for surrounding events, particularly Friday

  • Plenary meeting to approve degree candidates must move up one day
  • Convocation, Concert, & Champagne toast on Friday night are out
  • Staffing issues, both with Marshals & administrative staff

– New opportunities

– Awards back into Saturday ceremony

– Opportunity for additional speakers & new traditions

  • Many details must still be decided

– Who attends which ceremonies?

– Faculty associates of a college are expected at Bachelor’s ceremony & the plenary session

– Master’s ceremony: undecided at this point

– Lighting, music, scripts, …

Cooper said that many details are still to be determined. Caldwell encouraged senators to contact their constituents regarding the changes to commencement. Cooper received a round of applause for his efforts.

III. University Committee Reports: University Committee for the Library

Professor Jack Zammito, Chair of the University Committee for the Library, presented to the Senate a report from the committee in which it was stated that Rice’s Fondren Library is underfunded, especially when compared to peer institutions. He said that the library is in crisis, and although the library staff will be bringing this issue to the university’s budgetary officers, he asked the faculty to take a stand in making the library’s budget a priority. (View the PowerPoint presentation)

Provost McLendon stated that, in his opinion, a major problem exists with the academic publishing company Elsevier, and he advocated that institutions resist publishing with this group. Zammito asked that the provost and president speak to their counterparts at other institutions regarding the publishing monopoly.

President Leebron stated that the numbers presented in the committee’s report do not quite match with the numbers he was provided by the Office of Finance, and he said he should meet with the committee. Leebron also said that independent of Rice’s peer institutions, the important question is where are we not meeting the needs of our faculty?

IV. New Business

A. Proposed Guidelines for Certificate Programs

Susan McIntosh, Chair of the University Committee for the Undergraduate Curriculum (CUC), provided information on the development of guidelines for certificate programs. She said that there is a great demand at Rice for awarding certificates to students, and guidelines are needed to ensure that Rice and SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) standards are met. Specifically, there is a need to ensure that certificates appear on the transcript, in order to avoid difficulties that could arise when students claim certificate credentials that are not documented on the transcript. McIntosh added that she has provided to the Graduate Council the proposed guidelines document since that group is interested in writing a guidelines document for graduate certificates.

Caldwell stated that the proposed Guidelines for Certificate Programs comes moved and seconded from the Executive Committee for approval by the Senate. The Senate voted unanimously to approve the document. (Link: Guidelines for Certificate Programs)

B. Proposal for Substantial Change in the Undergraduate Major in Medieval and Early Modern Studies

Clair Fanger (Religious Studies) stated that the term “substantial change” is misleading; the proposed change is to the description of the program to include the term Early Modern Studies. She said that in practice, Early Modern was often included in the Medieval Studies program. Fanger said that a few revisions to this interdepartmental major’s requirements were also made, but overall the name change is to reflect what is currently being practiced. The senators did not have any questions, and they voted to approve the proposal. (Link: Proposal for Medieval and Early Modern Studies)

C. Proposal for Master of Arts Degree in Accounting

Professor K. Ramesh (Jones School of Business) presented to the Senate the proposal for a Master of Arts Degree in Accounting. He stated that the Jones School of Business offered this degree in the past, its alumni have done exceedingly well, and the faculty would like to re-launch the program. He said that the program will require critical and analytical thinking of its students, and it will be a training ground for future leaders. Ramesh said that few institutions have undertaken such a program. He also said that he is confident that the program will be self-sufficient due to tuition and to a large gift from the accounting firm Ernst & Young.

Ramesh was asked why the program was shut down. The reply was that the Jones School was focused on its MBA program at the time, but it now has support from the administration. He said that the first class to matriculate will be in 2016, but approval is needed now so that undergraduates can begin to prepare for this master’s degree.

Ramesh was also asked if the Graduate Council needed to approve a re-launch of a program. Ken Whitmire, chair of Graduate Council, stated that approval from the Graduate Council was indeed required, and the Council approved the proposal. The Senate then voted to approve the proposal. (Link: MA in Accounting)

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