November 18, 2015

Faculty Senate Meeting
November 18, 2015
Founder’s Room of Lovett Hall

Senate Meeting Agenda (and actions taken):

I. Call to order

II. Announcements

III. Reports from University Standing Committees
Draft University Policy on Credit Hours (Approved)

IV. Working Group Reports
Working Group on New Courses and Faculty Oversight (Approved)

V. New or Unfinished Business
A. Motion for resolution regarding Campus Carry (Approved)
B. Motion to end the practice of announcing Latin Honors recipients aloud (Approved)

VI. Adjourn

Senators present: Robert Atherholt, Graham Bader, Kate Beckingham, Gwen Bradford, David Caprette, Daniel Cohen, Keith Cooper, Scott Cutler, Erik Dane, Jerry Dickens, Michael Diehl, Claire Fanger, Julie Fette, Jeffrey Fleisher, Charles Geyer, Christopher Hight, Rachel Kimbro, David Leebron, Jonathan Ludwig, Susan McIntosh, Marie Lynn Miranda, Timothy Morton, Stephan Motowidlo, Luay Nakhleh, Laura Segatori, James Weston, Kerry Ward, and Michael Wolf.

Senators absent: David Alexander, Illya Hicks, Marek Kimmel, Michael Kohn, Anatoly Kolomeisky, and Stan Sazykin.


I. Call to Order
Speaker James Weston called the meeting to order at 12:05 p.m. He welcomed the assembled senators and guests to the meeting.

II. Announcements

A. Task Force on the Honor System

Faculty members are asked to complete the survey recently emailed to them. Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson stated that faculty members who wish to participate in a focus group could email him directly: or

B. Future Faculty Senate Meetings

  1. January 2016 meeting will include reports from Vice President for Enrollment Chris Munoz and Vice President for Strategic Development and Digital Education Caroline Levander. Senators are asked to submit questions for these individuals in advance. Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Paula Sanders will also present an update regarding NTT faculty at the January 2016 meeting.
  2. The February 2016 meeting will include a report on faculty salaries from Don Morrison, chair of the Faculty Advisory Committee for the OFD.

C. Promotion and Tenure Committee

Rebecca Richards-Kortum will step down from the P&T Committee; her temporary replacement is Ashutosh Sabharwal. An election will be held in the spring for a regular three-year term representing the School of Engineering on the committee.

D. The IDEA Pilot Program for course evaluations will be run in Fall 2016, not Spring 2016.

E. Update from Provost Miranda regarding Strategic Initiatives

Provost Miranda provided a general update regarding Rice’s three strategic research initiatives: molecular nanotechnology, data sciences, and research competitiveness, which were announced in September 2015 (see announcement). Miranda listed the faculty members who are serving on the committees for the molecular nanotechnology and data sciences initiatives. Miranda stressed that she wanted consultative input from faculty as to how Rice should make its investments, and she asked for input from faculty regarding teaching opportunities. She said that the research competitive initiative is open to every faculty member, and that more information would be forthcoming.

Provost Miranda also announced that Jana Callan is now serving as her chief of staff, and she asked that faculty members, to the extent that they are comfortable, include Callan on their correspondence to her.

Weston asked the senators if they had questions for Provost Miranda. One senator asked for the administration’s response to the recent survey of all faculty. Miranda said that the replies are currently being analyzed, with the goal of identifying trends. She said that the responses to the survey question regarding “problem areas” showed that faculty members do not want to be revealed in public ways. She said that she was trying to address the problems cited while respecting the faculty members’ requests for confidentiality.

Mike Wolf asked whether, after the provost had reviewed the topics suggested by the ad hoc committee, would the process then be bound to only consider hiring within those areas, or whether faculty who represented other aspects of, e.g. data science, could be considered after the topical areas had been finalized. In her reply, Miranda said that she did not want the decisions made so narrowly that the larger intellectual impact of the investment is lost, but she also did not want the focus to be too broad. She said that mechanisms still exist to elevate opportunities in traditional ways, such as going through one’s department chair or dean, and faculty could even contact her directly with opportunities. She said that if a valuable faculty hire were identified, she would want to know about it. Miranda also said that she would be able to answer questions better in a few weeks.

President Leebron said that the strategic research initiatives were formed due to certain resources provided to the university, but he did not want the senators to think that these three initiatives were Rice’s only initiatives.

F. United Way Campaign

Faculty campaign chair Herb Ward introduced Tina Villard, Rice’s staff campaign chair for the United Way campaign. Villard announced that Rice has exceeded its goal of $225,000 for 2015-2016, with donations currently totaling $246,000. She said that Rice was close to reaching the Chairman’s Division level of $250,000, and she encouraged everyone to participate. Villard noted that even though the deadline for pledges would occur soon, an extension until Martin Luther King’s birthday in January 2016 is available. Please see the full presentation here: UNITED WAY.

G. Update on Rice’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP)

Co-chairs Maria Oden and Bob Stein provided the senators with an update regarding the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) required for the SACSCOC (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges) Reaffirmation of Accreditation. Oden and Stein said that the goal of Rice University’s topic, Experiential Inquiry and Research, is to expand and enhance experiential inquiry and research opportunities for Rice undergraduates and to provide training opportunities for graduate students. The co-chairs said that the term “research” is broadly defined to include research, design, and other forms of creative works as appropriate within each discipline.

Oden and Stein explained the three steps in the Experiential Inquiry and Research QEP Program: Experiential Inquiry Courses, followed by Experiential Research Courses and Opportunities, and the final Work Product, such as a journal article, report, or performance. The learning outcomes for both undergraduates and graduate students were also presented. The co-chairs stressed that the QEP team is not operating in a “top-down” method; instead, the team is looking for input from faculty members. Stein said, “This isn’t our plan, it’s your plan.” Please view the entire PRESENTATION and QEP report.

Following this presentation, there were several questions and comments for Oden and Stein. Susan McIntosh stated that SACSCOC requires that the QEP addresses a measureable issue, and she wondered how progress would be assessed. Michael Diehl suggested that the QEP Program include more information about the end product. Provost Miranda stated that she wanted faculty colleagues across campus included in the program. Oden and Stein asked that faculty email them with questions and comments:

H. Announcements from the floor: none

III. Reports from University Standing Committees
Draft University Policy on Credit Hours

Susan McIntosh, chair of the University Committee for the Undergraduate Curriculum (CUC) explained that during the CUC’s review of non-traditional courses, committee members noted that the current Rice procedure for determining credit hours was quite general. She said that VPAA Paula Sanders and others worked with the CUC to write the draft policy, which the CUC is recommending to the Faculty Senate for approval. View the draft policy.

Mike Wolf said that the ratio proposed in the policy of 2 units of study to 1 unit of contact time seemed light. He said that he thought the proper ratio was 3 to 1. Sanders said that the policy was carefully crafted to comply with federal and SACSCOC regulations, but also to include the flexibility that faculty members need in order to create courses. She said that the 2 to 1 ratio sets a minimum. Associate Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness John Cornwell added that the proposed policy on credit hours was consistent with those used by other universities.

There was a motion to approve the proposed policy, it was seconded, and the senators voted unanimously for approval.

IV. Reports from Working Groups
Working Group on New Courses and Faculty Oversight

Working group chair Susan McIntosh reminded the senators of her previous meetings with the Executive Committee, the Faculty Senate, and the department chairs regarding the proposed recommendations from the working group. She then reviewed the concerns that the working group addressed: the inconsistency in how credit hours are assigned, the inconsistency of evaluation for new course requests, and the lack of opportunity for the faculty to shape the broader curriculum outside their departments.

McIntosh listed the working group’s recommendations for changes to existing procedures for adding new undergraduate and undergraduate/graduate equivalent courses (excluding FWIS, LPAP, and COLL):

  1. revise the New Course Request Form,
  2. institute a university-wide procedure for courses offered on a one-time or pilot basis, including courses offered by visiting faculty and post-doctoral students,
  3. revise the review process for new course requests to add a level of review by a School Course Review Committee (SCRC) composed of Directors of Undergraduate Studies (or curricular representatives chosen by departments) and the Dean of the School.

McIntosh explained that the SCRC would review new course requests originating in departments or schools, with notification to the CUC. She said that the SCRC would not review course content, subject matter, or methodology because review of those items is the responsibility of the department. Requests for new courses originating outside of schools (excluding FWIS, LPAP, and COLL courses, which are reviewed by the Dean of Undergraduates), would be reviewed by the CUC.

McIntosh stated the proposed deadlines for new course requests. She explained that for one-time or pilot courses, the normal review process is waived, as it is for departmental courses offered for the first time by new faculty hires during their first year of employment. For these courses, McIntosh said that the fall semester requests are due by August 1, and for the spring semester, requests are due December 1. She said that the deadline for regular new course requests is March 1 for the fall semester and October 1 for the spring semester, which would allow time for review and for the pre-registration planner used by students. Please see REPORT and RECOMMENDATIONS.

Following a short question and answer session, there was a motion to approve the recommendations, it was seconded, and the resulting vote was for approval of the recommendations, with one opposed.

V. New or Unfinished Business

A. Resolution regarding Campus Carry/Texas Senate Bill 11

Weston said, as explained in the Faculty Senate meeting held in October, that Texas Senate Bill 11 allows a person with a concealed handgun license to carry a concealed handgun on the campus of a public or private university in Texas, effective August 1, 2016. Weston said that the bill includes an opt out provision: “A private or independent institution of higher education in this state, after consulting with students, staff, and faculty of the institution, may establish rules, regulations, or other provisions prohibiting license holders from carrying handguns on the campus of the institution, any grounds or building on which an activity sponsored by the institution is being conducted, or a passenger transportation vehicle owned by the institution.”

Weston stated that the discussion page posted to the Senate wiki site after last month’s Senate meeting received many comments from faculty members regarding Texas Senate Bill 11, the vast majority of which were in favor of Rice using the opt-out provision. Weston also said that he provided a mechanism for faculty members to contact him anonymously, especially if they did not agree with the position stated in the posted comments. He said that he received a few comments from faculty members who did not agree with the majority.

Weston said that the Faculty Senate’s Executive Committee proposes the following resolution:
“The Faculty Senate of Rice University opposes the carrying of concealed weapons on campus. We recommend to the President that Rice University choose the opt out provision of Texas Senate Bill 11.”

A lively discussion ensued in which Deborah Harter, former Speaker of the Faculty Senate, expressed her desire for a stronger resolution from the Rice Faculty Senate against Senate Bill 11. Scott Cutler said that he originally asked for stronger language in the proposed resolution to use the opt out feature, but he said that he has since learned that the Texas Senate is strongly in favor of Senate Bill 11. At the end of the discussion, the general sentiment among senators was that the proposed resolution from the faculty was sufficient. President Leebron stated that the wording of the resolution was clear to him regarding the faculty’s wishes, and he said that he would consult with the staff and student organizations.

There was a motion to approve the resolution, it was seconded, and the senators voted unanimously for approval.

B. Motion regarding the practice of announcing Latin Honors recipients aloud

Weston said that in a previous meeting, a senator asked that the Faculty Senate consider discontinuing the practice of announcing Latin Honors recipients aloud at graduation ceremonies. Weston said that the Executive Committee has discussed the issue, and now asks for Senate approval of the following motion:

“The practice of announcing aloud at commencement the names of students receiving Latin Honors shall be discontinued, effective immediately.”

Jonathan Ludwig asked if the request was made in order to save time at the ceremony. Mike Wolf replied that in his work as chair of the Senate Working Group on the Academic Calendar, he found that many people were uncomfortable with the practice of announcing the recipients aloud, mainly because it is a surprise. He said that those who receive a lower honor than they were expecting are disappointed. In addition, Wolf said that he wanted to celebrate everyone who was graduating that day, and not focus on those who receive Latin Honors. President Leebron said that he agreed that the ceremony should be exciting for all, and endorsed the idea of not reading the names of the recipients aloud. He noted that the recipients’ names and honors earned would be listed in the program.

The Senate voted unanimously to approve the motion from the Executive Committee.

VI. Adjourn

The meeting was adjourned at 1:55 p.m.