October 6, 2010

Faculty Senate Meeting - October 6, 2010

Founder’s Room, Lovett Hall


I. Call to order; Announcements

II. Speaker’s Report

III. Faculty Salary Report (Robin Sickles)

IV. Working Group Report: Appeals and Grievances (Moshe Vardi)

V. New Business

A. Motion to amend Bylaws on role of Parliamentarian

B. Formation of Senate Committees

C. General Discussion on Senate priorities 2010-2011

Senators present: Gregory Barnett, Randy Batsell, Ed Billups, David Caprette, John Casbarian, Danijela Damjanovic, Sarah Ellenzweig, Ramon Gonzalez, Deborah Harter, Matthias Henze, Tom Killian, David Leebron, Susan McIntosh, George McLendon, Matteo Pasquali, Brian Rountree, Dale Sawyer, Stan Sazykin, Robin Sickles, Meredith Skura, Randy Stevenson, Jane Tao, Moshe Vardi, Duane Windsor, and Jim Young.

Senators absent: Jane Grande-Allen, Mark Kulstad, Scott McGill, and Devika Subramanian.


I. Call to order; Announcements

Speaker Susan McIntosh called the meeting to order at 12:00 p.m. and introduced Ed Billups (Chemistry) who was recently appointed to the Senate seat vacated by John Hutchinson upon his promotion to Dean of Undergraduates. Billups will serve for the 2010-2011 year representing the Wiess School of Natural Sciences.

McIntosh announced that Provost McLendon has requested that the Senate organize a faculty forum to discuss the three University-wide task forces. The forum will be held Thursday, October 14, at 4:00 p.m. in McMurtry Auditorium of Duncan Hall. After a brief discussion about format, it was decided that Provost McLendon will begin the forum with some brief remarks, followed by a question and answer period. It was suggested that faculty be encouraged to send their questions for the Provost to senate@rice.edu in advance of the meeting. Faculty members from each task force will also be asked to speak briefly on their task force's activities, followed by a question and answer session.

II. Speaker’s Report

McIntosh described the procedure for Senators who are not members of the Executive Committee (EC) to attend EC meetings. One week prior to the EC meeting, the Senate assistant will email the Senators, attaching the EC agenda if known, and invite them to attend the meeting. The first two Senators who reply may attend, with priority given to those who have not yet attended an EC meeting. There is a two-meeting maximum per Senator per year.

McIntosh announced that Marj Corcoran is the Senate liaison to the Dean Council’s Task Force on Enrollment Growth. The Senate is also in need of representatives to the ADVANCE committees and the Council on Diversity and Inclusion. McIntosh distributed a departmental liaison list which showed the Senate representative for each department at Rice.

McIntosh also announced to the Senate that the Committee for the Undergraduate Curriculum (CUC) has approved a new minor in Statistics.

III. Faculty Salary Report

Senator Robin Sickles (Economics) stated that he was asked during the summer of 2010 to prepare a report on faculty salaries. The last time a faculty salary report was compiled was in 2007, which was the last year a University Committee on Salary Equity existed. In the 2010 report, Sickles compared the salaries of Rice’s faculty by rank: professor, associate professor, and assistant professor. In general, although year to year fluctuations can be seen, Sickles said that faculty salaries at Rice have risen since the last report. He said it would be more informative if one were able to track individual salaries over time.

Sickles also compared Rice faculty salaries with those at peer universities. In general, Rice is in the middle of the distribution among the approximately twenty institutions compared. Until recently, Rice had kept up with the salaries being paid to faculty at other institutions. However, Rice lost ground when faculty salaries were frozen in recent years.

Turning to the question of salary differences based on gender, Sickles referred to the salary report filed in 2007, which was based on 2006-2007 data. He explained that the results by department showed that in some cases, men were paid more than women, and in other cases, women were paid more than men. Again, Sickles stated that ideally, he would like to track individuals (instead of departments) over time as this method would be more informative.

Sickles noted that there is an increasing amount of resources devoted to administrative staff. He said that the faculty would like to identify exactly what those expenses are, especially since Rice has recently fallen behind its peer institutions in faculty salaries.

Deborah Harter noted the small margin of difference between the salaries of assistant professors and associate professors at Rice. She said there is concern among the associate professor ranks because the assistant professors’ salaries seem to go up, while the salaries of the associate professors do not increase proportionately. Harter acknowledged that while this may happen at peer universities as well, it has a negative impact on morale.

Provost McLendon said that he would like to see that the time spent as an associate professor is short. He expressed a desire to create career pathways for faculty promotion so that there are no “lifetime” associate professors.

Deputy Speaker Tom Killian stated that that the salary of a newly hired assistant professor at Rice is often equal to or greater than the salary of a current 4-5 year assistant professor.

Randy Stevenson noted that the overall salaries at Rice are further from the top of the scale, when compared to other institutions, than they were some years ago, which could hurt faculty recruitment efforts.

President Leebron stated that Rice’s faculty salaries are not set by the university administration; they are set by the schools and departments within Rice.

McIntosh asked the group for direction regarding future salary reports. One request was that the data show the faculty level by school instead of at the university level. In general, a salary report is desired each year, and it should include a comparison by gender. McIntosh suggested that a group of Senators be formed in the spring to decide on recommendations for future salary reports. Please use this link: Faculty Salary to view the 2010 report.

IV. Working Group Report: Appeals and Grievances

Senator Moshe Vardi, Chair of the Working Group on Faculty Appeals, Grievances, and Hearings, presented a document entitled “Comments on Promotion and Tenure” along with the comments written by Senators on the Senate wiki space. Vardi said there is a need to reduce the number of appeals and grievances that arise due to the promotion and tenure process. He recommended clarification of current promotion and tenure procedures and guidelines. The draft list of suggestions includes ideas for training of chairs and deans, transparency of process at various levels, annual faculty review procedures, among other ideas. Faculty can comment using the wiki feature on the Senate website.

McIntosh stated that the ADVANCE committee is also looking into this issue. She recommended that all additional comments be collated by Senate for incorporation in a final comments document that Senate will send to the Promotion and Tenure (P&T) Committee. She said one question for the P&T Committee concerns the extent to which the calendar guidelines for tenure and promotion that are attached to Policy 201 can be regarded by chairs and deans as elastic.

V. New Business

A. Motion to amend Bylaws on role of Parliamentarian

Tom Killian, Deputy Speaker, presented a motion from the Working Group on Senate Governance to clarify the rights of the parliamentarian during regular Senate meetings. Killian stated that Robert’s Rules of Order as the default to Senate procedures may leave the role of the parliamentarian not clearly defined in the Senate’s governing documents. The motion from the working group is to add the following to the end of Section 5.4 of the Bylaws: “A parliamentarian who is also a Senator retains all the rights and privileges of membership in the Senate, including voting, participating in debate, and making motions during Senate meetings.”

Vardi stated that although his original complaint was in regard to the role of the parliamentarian during plenary meetings, he also had grave reservations about this motion regarding the parliamentarian’s role during Senate meetings. He stated that the parliamentarian makes rulings and should be impartial. He suggested that an outside person such as an ex-Senator become the parliamentarian. Duane Windsor said that the parliamentarian for Senate meetings has always been a Senator and functions more as an advisor to the Speaker, appointed by the Speaker, rather than making “rulings.” The Speaker can dismiss the parliamentarian at any time. Vardi said he wished to table the motion presented by Killian, and there was a second. Following discussion, a vote was held, with four Senators in favor of tabling, and ten opposed to tabling. Returning to the main motion to amend the bylaws, a vote was held in which 21 Senators approved the motion, with two Senators voting against the proposal, and one abstaining. Please view the approved motion.

B. Formation of Senate Committees

McIntosh explained that at the recent Executive Committee meeting, it was decided that the Senate should form two standing committees, as shown below:

Policy and Faculty Handbook: Faculty policies need periodic review for consistency among related documents; regularize notification of Senate when faculty policies are revised; ensure policy changes are reflected in the Faculty Handbook.

General Announcements (GA): Provide input into current transition to online, searchable, linked GA; oversee and verify, on a continuing basis, changes to wording of curriculum descriptions (e.g., majors, minors, graduate programs) in new annual editions of the GA; provide input on procedures for annual roll-out of the GA.

McIntosh asked the Senate for the best way to form these committees. Jim Young said that he has spent a great deal of time trying to determine the purpose of the approximately 40 standing committees at Rice, and when the Senate Bylaws were written, standing committees of the Senate were rejected in favor of working groups which would have a specific goal. Killian agreed, but he stated that some issues are reoccurring and thus need a Senate body which will always be attentive.

Young and Vardi each expressed staffing concerns for these committees if they must be made up of only Senators. McIntosh explained that although the chair of each committee should be a Senator, other faculty members could serve. In addition, she said that once the committee is established, its work should not be burdensome.

Windsor stated that if the Senate wished to form ongoing groups similar to the Executive Committee, it must be written into the Bylaws. Stevenson suggested that perhaps President Leebron could form two new University Committees instead of the Senate forming internal standing committees. President Leebron replied that he might like to combine the two groups proposed and thus make one new University Committee. He also stated that the new University Committee on Research went through all the proper channels before it was formed, and he was hesitant to form a new committee without properly checking into the matter.

Killian said that another reason to form these committees is to spread the important work of the Senate to others; currently much of it is limited to the Speaker and Deputy Speaker. Leebron suggested that perhaps what is needed is simply to establish the right mode of notification to the Senate when policy changes are made. Vardi suggested that for each change, someone (perhaps a staff member) must check that it has been approved by the correct department.

McIntosh reiterated the need for a system to identify who has the authority to make changes to the GA or to the Faculty Handbook; perhaps a checklist where the appropriate party must signify approval. She said that she and Killian will meet with President Leebron and with the EC regarding the proposed formats: forming a new University Committee, changing the Bylaws to form a standing committee of the Senate, or to form a Senate working group.

C. General discussion on Senate priorities for 2010-2011

Due to time constraints, McIntosh said the discussion on Senate priorities would have to be postponed. In the meantime, a request will be posted on the Senate wiki space asking for Senators to express their opinions as to issues the Senate should address.

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