October 14, 2015

Faculty Senate Meeting
October 14, 2015
Founder’s Room of Lovett Hall

Senate Meeting Agenda:

I. Call to order and Welcome

II. Announcements

  • Discussion with RUPD Chief Whitehead
  • Professional Development Program (Dean Hutchinson)
  • Doerr Institute for New Leaders (Tom Kolditz)
  • United Way Campaign (Herb Ward)
  • Discussion of Campus Carry Legislation (VP Kevin Kirby)
  • Announcements from the floor

III. Working Group Reports
Draft report from the Working Group on New Courses and
Faculty Oversight (Dr. Susan McIntosh, working group chair)

IV. 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, Rachel Kimbro, Marek Kimmel, Michael Kohn, David Leebron, Jonathan Ludwig, Susan McIntosh, Marie Lynn Miranda, Timothy Morton, Stephan Motowidlo, Stan Sazykin, Laura Segatori, James Weston, Kerry Ward, and Michael Wolf.

Senators absent: David Alexander, Christopher Hight, Anatoly Kolomeisky, and Luay Nakhleh.


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

  • Discussion with RUPD Chief Johnny Whitehead

Chief Whitehead presented information regarding active shooter readiness on the Rice campus. Whitehead discussed the training that the Rice University Police Department (RUPD) receives annually. He said that RUPD also offers 60-90 minute training sessions for faculty, staff, and students. He noted that the training could apply not just to situations that might occur on campus, but also for off campus situations.

Whitehead explained that Rice’s Consultation and Assessment Team works to identify issues before they occur, and he said that Rice’s Crisis Management Team meets regularly. Whitehead said that Rice’s current Emergency Notification System uses email and text notifications, but RUPD is considering the addition of an outdoor notification system.

Whitehead provided websites for Active Threat Resources:

Training for campus community

RUPD active threat response training

Whitehead stressed that the RUPD training staff is available to train entire departments or individuals, and he mentioned that the Rice football team has received the active threat training. He said that brown bag sessions on the topic are offered at several locations on campus.

Following this presentation, Julie Fette stressed the need for manual locks on all classroom and office doors, as well as annual lock-down drills. She asked the Faculty Senate to consider obligatory active threat training for all faculty and staff members.

  • Professional Development Program

Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson announced that Rice’s Alumni Affairs Office has been working with Rice’s Center for Career Development to create an improved professional development program for students. He said that because of their efforts, the number of companies that have been coming to campus to interview students has more than doubled, as has the number of students participating. Hutchinson described the Owl Edge Externship, a brief experience during the spring or winter break, where a student shadows a Rice alumnus for one to seven days. He said that the goal was to offer 25 externships, but the program exceeded this goal, with 125 students participating with 125 alumni. Hutchinson said that the Owl Edge Internships are of longer duration, and usually occur during the summer. He also described the software currently being designed to connect alumni and students.

Hutchinson was asked if the program is for undergraduates only. He said that the numbers he cited earlier were for both undergraduate and graduate students. President Leebron stated that career development is a priority for both undergraduate and graduate students.

  • Doerr Institute for New Leaders

Dr. Tom Kolditz, Executive Director of the Doerr Institute for New Leaders, described the activities of the new institute to date. He said that upon his arrival at Rice, he began with a listening tour, discussing leadership with approximately 175 individuals, including members of the Board of Trustees, vice presidents, members of the Student Association, residential college presidents, and 35 faculty members. He said that he has learned that Rice students play a major role in developing each other as leaders. Kolditz said that he wanted to involve students to the maximum degree possible, as well as having strong participation from faculty members.

Kolditz explained that the gift to Rice from the Doerr family specifies the director of the institute, a faculty advisory board to be appointed by the provost, and a pool of external advisors. Kolditz also described the Leader Development Council, which he said is facilitated by the Doerr Institute.

Kolditz stated that a pilot program was run recently between students and professional coaches. The students who participated in the pilot program reported that it was a powerful experience. Kolditz said that the institute is focused on student activities and does not anticipate curricular development. He invited the assembled faculty members and guests to visit the Doerr Institute. He stressed that he wanted input from faculty, and that his goal was to provide seamless delivery of leadership training to student without interrupting their studies.

For more information on the Doerr Institute, please see: http://news.rice.edu/2015/05/14/ann-and-john-doerr-donate-50m-to-develop-new-leaders-at-rice-university/

  • United Way Campaign

Faculty Campaign Chair Herb Ward announced to the senators that Rice has reached 50% of its goal. He showed the donations by division, and he noted that the Investments Division has had 100% participation, totaling over $13,000. Ward asked the members of the Faculty Senate to be advocates for donating to United Way. He reminded the senators that Board of Trustees Chair Bobby Tudor has promised to match the amounts given by new donors and any increased donations from repeat donors. Ward said that he became even more impressed with United Way when he learned that it has an overhead of only 12%. For more information: https://unitedway.rice.edu

Mike Wolf asked how the information regarding how much is donated and by whom is shared. Vice President for Public Affairs Linda Thrane said that Greg Marshall, Rice’s Director of University Relations, is the only individual with this information.

  • Discussion of Campus Carry Legislation

Vice President for Administration Kevin Kirby explained Senate Bill 11, also called Campus Carry:

•Texas law previously permitted public and private universities to ban the carrying of concealed handguns on their campuses

•SB 11 authorizes a concealed handgun license holder to carry a concealed handgun on the campus of a public or private university in Texas, effective August 1, 2016

•Open carry of handguns (or other firearms) on a college campus continues to be prohibited

Kirby said that the law contains 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.”

Kirby said that Rice would use its regular process for this required consultation, asking for information from the Faculty Senate, the Student Association, the Graduate Student Association, and the Staff Advisory Committee. In addition, Kirby said that a website has been established for questions and comments:

Several senators asked questions and voiced their opinions. The Senate decided to set up a discussion page on the Senate’s wiki site to collect faculty comments.

Weston said that after collecting comments from constituents, the Executive Committee could draft a resolution at its next meeting (November 4) in time for the November 18 Senate meeting. Jane Grande-Allen encouraged faculty members, and especially senators, to attend the RUPD brown bag sessions.

  • Announcements from the floor

Weston asked if there were any announcements from the floor; there were none.

III. Working Group Reports: Report from the Working Group on New Courses and Faculty Oversight

Working Group chair Susan McIntosh explained that the draft report, provided prior to the meeting, was written after receiving feedback from several directors of undergraduate studies and from the Senate’s Executive Committee. She said that the purpose of today’s discussion was to receive additional comments from the full Senate.

McIntosh stated the members of the working group:

Susan McIntosh, Chair (Anthropology)
John Casbarian (Architecture)
George Phillips (Biosciences)
Melissa Marschall (Political Science)
Keith Cooper (Computer Science)
James Sidbury (History)

McIntosh cited the concerns of the working group:

  • Increasing number of extra-departmental, co-curricular courses
    • Suitability for academic credit
    • Potential impacts on departmental course enrollments
  • Inconsistency in credit hours awarded for contact time and work required
  • Courses not fully compliant with SACSCOC policies and Rice guidelines

McIntosh said that the working group proposes two solutions for these concerns: a revised New Course Request Form and a revised Review Process for New Courses.

McIntosh explained that the current New Course Request Form requires only the information needed by the Office of the Registrar (OTR) to enter a course into its system, and she provided the revised form recommended by the working group.

Regarding the review process, McIntosh said that although the current process for creating new courses is streamlined, its drawbacks are lack of faculty oversight of courses originating outside of departments, and the lack of an oversight mechanism to increase consistency of credit awarded both among departments and extra-departmentally.

McIntosh explained that the working group proposes adding a review level beyond that of the department, school, or dean. She said that this would bring Rice into alignment with its peer institutions, most of which have a committee on courses that reviews new course proposals. McIntosh provided a model of the proposed review process, shown below.


model 1 chart



McIntosh said many departments have curriculum committees that have instituted thoughtful and rigorous practices for new course creation, and that one concern of theirs is that adding a school review committee would slow down their process of curricular development. She said that the working group considered two ways to address this concern. She said that one way is to use a “Rapid Course Creation” process for first-time or one-time courses:

  • For a “Special Topics” course, the School Course Review can be bypassed
  • OTR can create the new course as a section of the Special Topics course, showing the actual course title on the transcript
  • School Course review is for courses that are intended for the permanent curriculum or that are being offered for a second time

McIntosh said that a second way to address this concern would be to use an alternate model (shown below) where the department can bypass the School Course Review Committee.


model 2 chart


McIntosh then asked for comments and suggestions from the senators. One question about the proposed New Course Request Form was the information regarding the amount of work required from students. McIntosh said that the working group and the University Committee for the Undergraduate Curriculum (CUC) had both discussed this point. She said that some current courses do not use any type of student assessment; basic information is thus requested on the form, such as if written papers or tests will be required. It was then suggested that the faculty member proposing the new course could simply provide his/her syllabus. McIntosh replied that for courses being proposed for the first time, providing a syllabus could be discouraging.

Several senators discussed the current overlap of content that sometimes occurs among courses and suggested that a question be added to the form: “Are you aware of any courses that currently exist which this course will overlap?” McIntosh said that this point was also discussed by the working group, and that one possible solution is the step in the proposed model where the CUC receives and logs the requests, catching any overlap in course content.

The senators then discussed courses that are no longer offered at Rice, but which remain in the General Announcements (GA), and how to eliminate them. Registrar David Tenney said that every year, his office performs a roll call with each department, asking to eliminate old courses. However, he said that the department’s reply is usually that there are plans to offer the course very soon.

The discussion turned to the timing and procedures of the new form and review process, if approved. McIntosh predicted that the process to review and approve new courses would work quickly.

Mike Wolf asked if the proposed process offered sufficient review. Provost Miranda said that she believed that the most important item on the revised form is that the faculty member must list the Student Learning Objectives (SLO). She said that the very act of having to list the SLO, and then having a department chair or curriculum committee review it, will help to achieve the appropriate rigor in new courses.

Wolf recommended that the CUC look at the overall nature of courses and how they contribute to the curriculum. President Leebron suggested instead that the proposed process could solve the current problem. He went on to discuss shared governance at Rice, the authority that rests at the school level, and the collective sense of responsibility that the faculty have for the curriculum. He said that he trusts the process and the people involved. Provost Miranda also discussed the Dean’s Council that meets regularly, which she said learns from each other and shares information on best practices.

McIntosh said that the working group’s concerns were not so much about overall course standards, and that many courses/opportunities for students are valuable, but awarding credit hours is currently the only way to show this value. She said that not all offerings to students have to be for credit; they could be noted on a student’s transcript, for example. She recommended that the issue become part of a broader conversation.

At the end of this discussion, McIntosh conducted a straw poll of the senators regarding which review process model they favored, and Model 1 was selected.

The meeting was adjourned at 1:45 p.m.