November 17, 2010

Faculty Senate Meeting - November 17, 2010

Founder’s Room, Lovett Hall


I. Call to order; Announcements

II. Speaker’s Report

A. Randy Stevenson to replace Speaker on General Announcements committee

B. Stipend approved for summer update to Faculty Handbook

C. Status of Senators as Department Liaisons

D. Nominations and Elections Committee to be elected in December 2010

E. Status of University Committee on Research including Data Retention Policy

F. General discussion on faculty input to Rice Initiatives 2010 task forces

III. Working Group Updates

A. Brief updates regarding Communication in the Curriculum and Teaching

B. Governance Working Group proposal to remove limit on number of Senators
from one department and schedule for future Governance proposals

IV. New Business

A. Call for proposals from the floor

B. Motion to move the Spring semester drop deadline for freshmen

C. General discussion regarding guidelines for undergraduate majors and minors

Senators present: Gregory Barnett, Ed Billups, David Caprette, John Casbarian, Danijela Damjanovic, Ramon Gonzalez, Jane Grande-Allen, Deborah Harter, Matthias Henze, Deputy Speaker Tom Killian, Mark Kulstad, President David Leebron, Scott McGill, Speaker Susan McIntosh, Provost George McLendon, Matteo Pasquali, Brian Rountree, Dale Sawyer, Stan Sazykin, Robin Sickles, Meredith Skura, Randy Stevenson, Devika Subramanian, Jane Tao, Moshe Vardi, Parliamentarian Duane Windsor, and Jim Young.

Senators absent: Randy Batsell, Sarah Ellenzweig


(Note: to listen to an audio tape of this meeting, divided by topics, please email

I. Call to order; Announcements

Speaker Susan McIntosh called the meeting to order at 12:10 p.m. She announced that the Executive Committee (EC) had recently been notified as to the creation of the Rice Mobile Application Committee, with Scott Cutler as the chair person. Although a Senate liaison will not be designated for this committee, annual updates are requested from Cutler. Moshe Vardi suggested that Cutler’s committee work under the Information Technology Advisory Committee that already exists at Rice. McIntosh requested that Vardi and Cutler discuss the matter and let her know the outcome. There were no announcements from the floor.

II. Speaker’s Report

A. McIntosh announced that Randy Stevenson will replace her as the Senate representative on the ad hoc committee for the online General Announcements (GA). In addition, Stevenson will revise the GA oversight draft policy as needed.

B. McIntosh has received approval from Provost McLendon and from Kathy Collins, VP-Finance, for a summer stipend to be paid to a faculty member for updating the Rice Faculty Handbook. McIntosh will meet with Carl Caldwell to assess the scope of the update to the Handbook.

C. Letters were sent to the department chairs in mid-October identifying each department’s Senate liaison. Most of the Senators present indicated that they had already attended a department meeting (outside their own) and had spoken about the Senate, or had made arrangements to do so.

D. Elections for the Nominations and Elections Committee (NEC) will be held in December so that this group may begin its work in January 2011. Senators interested in serving should contact Deputy Speaker Tom Killian, Chair of the NEC.

E. Doug Natelson, Chair of the University Committee on Research, was asked to give the Senate an update of his committee’s work. Natelson said that the University Committee on Research was formed this semester, and he showed a series of slides which included the membership of the committee, its mission, and tasks.

Natelson’s presentation focused on the need for a data retention policy/data management plan. Rice does not currently have such a plan, but beginning in January 2011, all National Science Foundation (NSF) research proposals must include a Data Management Plan (DMP) not to exceed two pages. All federal agencies have similar requirements, although they are not always enforced. Natelson stated that Rice needs: 1) a boilerplate guidance document by mid-December 2010 for faculty regarding NSF proposals, and 2) a formal research data retention policy.

Natelson noted that ownership of research data is an interesting issue; many faculty members think that they own their data and may take it with them if they leave Rice University. However, for federally funded projects, Rice must provide access to the data for several years.

Natelson discussed the data management plans used by other universities, saying that some have short, three-paragraph policies. He suggested that Rice adopt a brief policy which uses a “broad brush” in its wording, along with a longer appendix which will include detailed guidelines for faculty.

The current status of the committee’s work was outlined by Natelson: a draft of the boilerplate guidance document is almost finished, faculty surveys to determine data retention needs will be circulated soon, a draft of a formal data retention policy is expected by the end of the semester, and work continues on the longer appendix to the document. After a few questions, McIntosh requested that Rob Raphael, the Senate’s liaison on the Research Committee; Vardi, who is working with a closely-related committee; and Natelson work together to design a proposal as to the procedure for moving forward. She requested that this proposal, as well a draft of the boilerplate guidelines document, be presented to the EC at its December 1 meeting.

F. A general discussion on faculty input to the Rice Initiatives 2010 task forces was introduced by McIntosh. (Note: a summary is shown here. The audio tape of the entire discussion is no longer available. (previously available at

McIntosh gave a brief update of recent events: a request was made by the EC to the administration for more information regarding the work of the task forces; she and Killian had a meeting with Provost McLendon and President Leebron in which faculty concerns regarding the process were conveyed; and informative emails were later supplied by Carol Quillen, VP-International and Interdisciplinary Initiatives, to the faculty. McIntosh thanked Quillen and the task force chairs for supplying this important information to the faculty.

McLendon was asked to speak for about five minutes, followed by an open discussion period. He stated that identifying a few areas where Rice can be great is a path to making the university great. McLendon said that one faculty concern that has been brought to his attention is the perceived hurried process. He said his desire is to reach far enough into the process in order to have meaningful discussions. As an example, he discussed the work of the Energy and Environment task force; the original broad topic of “energy” has now been vetted by the task force, resulting in its current focus on hydrocarbons. McLendon said that although it is important to produce something to react to, it is not important take action quickly.

A round table discussion ensued beginning with McIntosh stating that she was glad to hear that there is no rush to start the project selection process. The academic calendar was discussed, and it was decided that once the white papers from the task forces are distributed in December, discussions will continue after the holiday break.

Robin Sickles suggested that experts from outside Rice be consulted during the project selection process, and McLendon agreed to the suggestion. McLendon said that there is not a high degree of project specificity in the white papers. In the upcoming “Phase II” of the process, when specific proposals will be considered, outside experts could help to identify or choose among competing proposals. Sickles stated that a transparent, objective process is important to the faculty.

Randy Stevenson asked for clarification regarding the identification process, to which McLendon replied that some period of general discussion among the faculty would be helpful before the more specific selection of projects begins.

Vardi made two statements: 1) the need for a stronger emphasis on Humanities and Social Sciences in the Rice Initiatives 2010 program, and 2) while faculty input is critical in academic initiatives, it is not an effective way of allocating tens of millions of dollars, as it may result in a “food fight.” McLendon's reply to the first statement was that social sciences may indeed play a pre-eminent role in the Energy and Environmental task force projects, and that there had been some very energized humanists going away from discussions with the task force on the subject of "transitions."Regarding the second statement, McLendon acknowledged that some departments will be happy with the outcome of this process, while others will be unhappy. He stressed the need for faculty leadership; not necessarily votes for which projects are to be selected, but the need for energetic faculty to commit themselves to these projects.

Meredith Skura noted that there are a series of restraints in the directives to the task forces; a list of already-identified objectives is limiting. McLendon’s reply stressed the need to focus on specific areas within broad possibilities.

Stevenson asked if McLendon anticipates faculty from various areas will be identified by the administration and be asked to work together, or does he prefer that faculty find each other and then approach the administration? McLendon stated that he prefers the latter, but he said that the administration could also play matchmaker.

Deborah Harter noted that one way that a university can become great is to excel in certain areas, while serving the greatest public good is another way. McLendon said her point was well taken.

McIntosh summarized the steps discussed for Phase II:

A. Broad consultation with the faculty will occur to identify those who may not have presented proposals yet or who can provide important aspects to existing proposals. Groups could form and present competitive ideas.

B. New ideas that are generated or existing ideas will need to be developed; the “drill down” phase.

C. Finally, the winnowing or actual selection of projects will occur.

McIntosh asked how many projects Rice can support. McLendon replied that he does not wish to award relatively small $10,000-size grants similar to the NSF; he hopes to fund big picture items in areas where Rice already does well.

McIntosh requested that the EC be the group to “develop the proposal for developing the proposal for moving forward,” and McLendon agreed. The EC will meet on December 1 to prepare the proposal. The Senate will have the opportunity to approve the EC proposal at its December 8 meeting. The Rice Board of Trustees is scheduled to meet December 15 and 16, 2010. Vardi added that the Senate will be much better informed at its next meeting.

III. Working Group Updates

A. Communication in the Curriculum; Teaching Working Groups

McIntosh stated that the final report from the Communication in the Curriculum Working Group is expected at the December 1 EC meeting. The charge for the Teaching Working Group has been revised. The Teaching Working Group is still in need of one member from the Humanities and one from Social Sciences.

B. Governance Working Group

Killian, Chair of the Governance Working Group, presented the schedule for presentations of proposals at future Senate meetings:

· December 8, a vote will be taken on the proposal to remove limits on the number of Senators allowed from a single department (Proposal 6.1) ,

· January 19, a vote will be taken on Proposals 6.2 and 6.3 which are both in regard to the assistant professor seats on the Senate,

· February 23, a vote will be taken on Proposals 7.1 and 7.2, regarding the timing and manner of Executive Committee elections.

Killian also distributed a two-sided document which explained the above proposals in detail. (Please view the documents.) Killian requested that Senators review Proposal 6.1 and post any comments on the wiki since a vote is expected on this proposal at the next Senate meeting.

IV. New Business

A. Call for proposals from the floor

McIntosh announced a pro-forma call for proposals from the floor, reminding the group that if anyone had brought a proposal to EC and it was denied, or if the EC had not acted on it for 40 days, it could now be brought to the Senate provided that it is in writing, and provided that the proposal receives a second. At that point, it will be voted for consideration by the full Senate. If a majority of the voting Senators agree to bring the proposal forward, it will be discussed. There were no proposals presented following this announcement.

B. Motion to move the Spring semester drop deadline for freshmen

Following an introduction by McIntosh, Jane Grande-Allen presented a motion to move the Spring semester drop deadline for second-semester freshmen from week 7 to week 10. Grande-Allen stated that the change would affect only the Spring semester; the drop deadline for freshmen during the Fall semester would remain as the last day of class. Discussion followed as to which students would be affected, and there was confusion over how the policy is applied to transfer students who matriculate for the spring semester. Other questions were whether the transfer student had to be a freshman and whether the current $75 fee to drop a class after the seventh week would apply. With discussion revealing a need for clarity regarding the definition of the students to whom this motion would apply (just second semester freshman or any and all second-semester matriculants, including transfer students) and whether the drop fee override should be included in the motion, McIntosh proposed tabling the motion until these matters are clarified. The motion to table carried. Stevenson requested that the revised motion be written in the exact language that will appear in the GA. The revised motion will be presented at the December 1 EC meeting, followed by presentation at the December 8 Senate meeting.

C. Guidelines for Undergraduate Majors and Minors

McIntosh gave a brief history of a document originally developed by the University Committee on the Undergraduate Curriculum (CUC) entitled “Guidelines on Creating, Administering, and Eliminating Majors and Minors.” She stated that the CUC found the Senate’s guidelines for the creation of minors to be useful and found it disadvantageous to have no guidelines for the creation and oversight of majors. Randy Stevenson, Senate representative on the CUC, and David Alexander drafted a document, integrating guidelines for majors and minors, which the CUC sent to Senate in January 2009. The document was presented in Senate in Spring 2010, and subsequently circulated to Deans and Chairs over the summer. Based on comments received, Stevenson, Alexander, and Dean of Undergraduates Hutchinson further revised the document, which has been posted to the wiki space for discussion, and sent again to Deans and Chairs.

Stevenson stated that four types of programs are allowed under the guidelines: interdisciplinary majors and minors, and departmental majors and minors. He explained some of the recent changes to the document, and he stated that it provides appropriate guidelines but also allows for flexibility.

Vardi, Chair of the Graduate Council, expressed concern over the use of the words “concentration” and “track.” He said that he wished for the terms used to be consistent in both the undergraduate and graduate policies, and he proposed that he, Stevenson, and Registrar David Tenney meet in order to standardize the language used.

McIntosh reminded the Senate that the revised document has been posted to the wiki for their review, and she encouraged comments be placed on the wiki.

The meeting was adjourned at 2:00 p.m.