November 12, 2014

Faculty Senate Meeting - November 12, 2014
Founder’s Room, Lovett Hall

Agenda (and Actions Taken):

I. Call to order
II. Announcements
III. Report of Officers and Standing Committees
A. Report on Pre-Matriculation Credits from CUC Subcommittee
B. Presentation regarding Faculty Information System (FIS)
C. Presentation from Athletics Department
IV. New Business
A. Proposed Guidelines for Graduate Certificates (Approved)
B. Proposed Graduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning (Approved)

Senators present: David Alexander, Robert Atherholt, Kate Beckingham, Gwen Bradford, Dave Caprette, Daniel Cohen, Scott Cutler, Erik Dane, Jerry Dickens, Michael Diehl, Luis Duno-Gottberg, Claire Fanger, Jeffrey Fleisher, Christopher Hight, Betty Joseph, Rachel Kimbro, Michael Kohn, Anatoly Kolomeisky, David Leebron, Jonathan Ludwig, Susan Lurie, Susan McIntosh, George McLendon, Timothy Morton, Luay Nakhleh, Fred Oswald, Brian Rountree, Stan Sazykin, Laura Segatori, James Weston, and Michael Wolf. Rudy Guerra served as proxy for Marek Kimmel.

Senators absent: Keith Cooper, Illya Hicks, and Marek Kimmel.

(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. The two senators who will each serve three-year terms as “Presidential Appointees” have been named: Gwen Bradford (Philosophy) and Illya Hicks (CAAM).

B. Every department at Rice has a representative on the Faculty Senate. Senators represent not only their home department, but often as a liaison to a second department. A list of representatives can be found HERE (no longer available), including contact information.

C. Reminder for Faculty and Exempt Staff: As noted in the memo dated July 1, 2014, from Human Resources and the Controller’s Office, beginning December 2014, Rice will pay the last payroll of the year on December 31st.

D. To assist in the departmental grade discussions approved by the Senate in March 2014 (“Every academic program that offers 100 to 300 level courses will have a faculty-wide discussion about grading practices before the end of the fall 2014 semester and thereafter at least once every 5 years.”), revised grade data has been sent to all deans and department chairs. Departments are asked to notify their senators after the grade discussions have been held this semester. In the spring, a list will be posted of all the departments that held grade discussions, as well as a list of those that did not.

E. James Weston and Susan McIntosh will co-chair the Quality Enhancement Program Task Force, as part of the reaccreditation process required by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) every 10 years. The task force will filter ideas from Rice faculty on how to improve student learning outcomes, with a goal of narrowing these ideas to two or three by May 2015. In fall 2015, the committee will write the proposal.

F. President Leebron stated that Rice’s computer purchasing policy was not communicated very well, and he apologized. He said that while many employees at Rice have computer requirements for which a standard purchasing policy could be used, a third group do not fit under such a policy: faculty for whom computers play an integral part in their research. He said that the administration would step back from the policy and review it with the new Chief Information Officer (CIO) in January 2015.

G. The Senate’s Working Group on the Academic Calendar was asked to consider aligning Rice’s spring break with the Houston Independent School District’s spring break, but additional ideas for consideration have been put forth. The working group has now been asked to consider a longer spring break to facilitate international travel, study, and research opportunities. Despite the deadline given to the working group for a recommendation by December 2014, it is possible that the Senate will not vote on the Spring 2017 academic calendar until its February 2015 meeting.

H. Weston asked for announcements from the floor, but there were none.

III. Report of Officers and Standing Committees

A. Report on Pre-Matriculation Credits from CUC Subcommittee

Susan McIntosh, chair of the University Committee on the Undergraduate Curriculum (CUC), presented data from the CUC Subcommittee on Pre-Matriculation Credits. She said that, per a Faculty Senate request, the CUC addressed the questions below.

Do students with many pre-matriculation credits graduate with fewer Rice credit hours than those with few pre-matriculation credits? The subcommittee found that they do not. The study showed that the average Rice credit hours earned by students is insensitive to the number of test credits hours with which they matriculated.

Do pre-matriculation credit hours reduce the number of semesters students need to graduate? The subcommittee found the answer to be no. Students who arrive with less than 20 pre-matriculation credit hours need more than eight semesters to graduate.

Are students who arrive with test credits fully prepared? The subcommittee found that the more pre-matriculation credits a student has earned, the higher their grade point average at Rice.

McIntosh reported that the CUC recommends no change to the current Rice policies regarding pre-matriculation credits. To view the slides presented at the Senate meeting and the CUC subcommittee’s full report (no longer available).

In the discussion that followed the presentation, Mike Wolf asked about international students and pre-matriculation credits. Registrar David Tenney said that many international students arrive at Rice with “A Level” credits, which were included in the CUC study.

Jerry Dickens asked if there should be a minimum threshold on the number of courses a student should take while at Rice. He also wondered if there are students at Rice who never have to take a distribution course because of their pre-matriculation credits. Tenney said that the CUC was asked to respond to specific questions, but further study could be done. Regarding transfer credits, he said that only one course carries D1 distribution credit.

Christopher Hight said that often, the challenge is to get students who arrive at Rice with 30-40 credit hours not to register for 21 hours per semester.

B. Presentation regarding Faculty Information System (FIS)
Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Paula Sanders said that her office is currently working on a project to replace the current FIS system with an updated one. She said that the old form contained glitches, caused frustration, and made it difficult to gather information from Banner. Sanders said that the current system also leads to duplication in requests for information, and her goal is for the university to ask faculty only once for information

Assistant Provost Celeste Boudreaux presented details on the project, including the steps taken by her office:

  • — Focus group of approximately 20 persons; 30% faculty
  • — Interviewed all Rice school dean
  • — Viewed web demos of seven products
  • — Invited three companies for on-campus presentations
  • — Narrowed down to two finalists: Converis, Faculty180
  • — Summary report/proposal being prepared
  • — Will wait till January 2015 for new CIO Klara Jelinkova’s input

Boudreaux said that faculty may view the preliminary report, as well as vendor demos at (log in with one’s Net ID may be required). She also provided this email address for questions: View the full presentation.

Weston thanked Boudreaux and Sanders for their hard work, saying that they made a brief presentation on a massive undertaking.

C. Presentation from Rice Athletics Department

Joe Karlgaard, Director of Athletics, greeted the senators and introduced Tanner Gardner, Senior Associate Athletic Director.

Gardner presented the new vision for Rice Athletics, which includes four pillars: Athletic Competiveness, Academic Success, Life Education and Achievement, and Rice Values. Gardner explained that the graduation rate of Rice student athletes is over 90% on average, and 97% of last year’s student athletes left Rice with opportunities for advancement through an internship, job offer, or graduate school. He also said that Rice is one of the few institutions that has had no major NCAA violations. The presentation can be viewed HERE.

Gardner encouraged the senators to attend athletic competitions to support Rice’s student athletes, and to let him know if they wished to honor someone at a game. He also encouraged faculty to report any issues they might have with athletes’ academic success.

Karlgaard mentioned the recent academic cheating scandal reported at the University of North Carolina. He said that the Rice Athletics Department takes its stewardship very seriously and is currently looking at risk factors in the Rice system.

Wolf asked Karlgaard about the role of Rice’s Office of Academic Advising regarding student athletes. Karlgaard replied that the office works to achieve academic success while maintaining eligibility for the student athletes, along with the compliance officer. President Leebron stated that Academic Advising has been moved out of the Athletics Department and now reports to the Dean of Undergraduates.

Claire Fanger described a situation where a Rice football player who had suffered a concussion was taking one of her courses. She said that she thought the overseeing of student athletes was well done by the Athletics Department. Karlgaard thanked her, and provided his email address to the senators:

IV. New Business

A. Proposed Guidelines for Graduate Certificates

Graduate Council Chair James Faubion said that the Graduate Council produced its proposed guidelines document for graduate certificates based on the existing guidelines for undergraduate certificates, and he said that it complies with rules from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

During the discussion of the document, McIntosh moved that the following revision be made to section 1a: “All departments are eligible to submit proposals for the granting of Certificates. Programs eligible to submit applications for Certificates are restricted to faculty-based Centers, Institutes or other consortia reporting directly to one or more of the Deans of the university or the Vice Provost of Research.” The motion was seconded, and the resulting vote was unanimously in favor.

McIntosh also moved that the words “that” and “are” be added to section 4.2: “Description of the requirements for the certificate, listing required courses, electives, other requirements, and the total minimum number of hours required; assurance that the courses proposed for the satisfaction of the certificate are offered regularly enough to allow for timely completion of the certificate requirements.” The Senate voted to approve the revision, with one abstention.

View the approved “Guidelines for Graduate Certificate Programs”.

B. Proposed Graduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning

Josh Eyler, Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE), and Professor Steve Cox (CAAM), presented the proposed Graduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning. Eyler thanked Graduate Council chair James Faubion and the former Graduate Council chair Ken Whitmire for allowing him to review drafts of the proposed Guidelines for Graduate Certificates as they were produced.

Eyler explained that the certificate program includes four courses, which include the basics of effective teaching, research, a 20-minute practicum, and production of a portfolio. He said that the first graduate student participants have been very appreciative, and he said that they are hungry for professional development.

Eyler was asked if credit could be given for the class in pedagogy that is required by the English department for its graduate students. His reply was yes, it could substitute for the first class in the certificate program. Eyler was also asked about graduate students who may have taken similar classes at a previous school. Registrar David Tenney said that the rules for transfer credits are outlined in the proposal.

When asked about the work load for the graduate students in the program, Eyler explained that the course load is focused on in-class versus external work.

A discussion ensued regarding the limited opportunities for graduate students to teach at Rice, with some exceptions. Eyler said that while every department handles its Teaching Assistant (TA) program differently, the CTE’s program is a combination of practice in front of peers and CTE faculty, with direct feedback. Eyler said that graduate students have indicated that they want more opportunities to teach, and in lieu of that, they want practice and feedback.

The Senate then voted to approve the proposed certificate, with one abstention. Please see Graduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning.

Tenney asked about the status of certificate programs already offered such as the “Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality” and the certificate programs that are not listed in the General Announcements. Faubion replied that the Graduate Council did not intend for any grandfathered certificates. He said that for certificates to be listed on the student’s academic transcript as official graduate certificates, they must go through the approval process: review by the Graduate Council and approval by the Faculty Senate. Tenney said, however, that the “Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality” certificate program, which has been appearing on student transcripts for years, exceeds the newly approved requirements. The review by the Graduate Council would be pro forma.


The meeting was adjourned at 1:35 p.m.