October 8, 2008

Minutes of the Faculty Senate Meeting - October 8, 2008

Founder’s Room, Lovett Hall


I. Announcements

II. Athletic Admissions Presentation

Dale Sawyer, Chair of the Committee on Admission and Student Financial Aid

III. Adjourn

Senators present: John Casbarian, Ed Cox, Steven Cox, Michael Deem, Sarah Ellenzweig, Christian Emden, Michael Emerson, Deborah Harter, John Hempel, Matthias Henze, Ben Kamins, Tom Killian, Phil Kortum, David Leebron, Eugene Levy, Peter Mieszkowski, Matteo Pasquali, Caroline Quenemoen, Rob Raphael, Dale Sawyer, Gautami Shah, Evan Siemann, Meredith Skura, Michael Stern, Randy Stevenson, Devika Subramanian, James Weston, Duane Windsor, and JimYoung.

Senators absent: Randy Batsell

I. Announcements

· Deborah Harter (Speaker) welcomed Dr. Devika Subramanian, the new Senator appointed by President Leebron. Dr. Subramanian is a Computer Science professor in the George R. Brown School of Engineering.

· Harter announced that Deputy Speaker Duane Windsor is in contact with Provost Levy regarding a possible research repository at Rice; no Senate action is needed at this time.

· An idea was proposed to expand the charge of the recently-formed Working Group on Amorous Relations, but Harter said it has been decided this group should remain focused on revising only the wording regarding faculty and graduate student relationships in the Faculty Handbook.

· Jim Crownover, Chair of the Rice Board of Trustees, told Harter that he would like to attend a Faculty Senate meeting soon, along with some of his colleagues from the Board, and possibly have a panel discussion with the Senators.

· The Rice Thresher recently contained an editorial which requested the Senate revise the academic calendar because students want a longer add/drop period, and there is concern about late fees in connection with the shorter class “shopping” period. Harter stated a meeting has been scheduled among faculty and administration representatives to discuss this issue; then a meeting will be held with students.

· The Senate Working Group on Admissions has recently written a survey that asks key faculty members for their opinions regarding the current student body and their admissions priorities for future students. It will be sent to all Senators and all Department Chairs. Harter encouraged the Senators to complete the survey and return it to Meredith Skura by the end of the month.

· Harter announced that the president of the Student Association (SA) informed her that each residential college on Rice has a bank of old tests that students use when studying. The SA would like to centralize these tests by collecting them and putting the entire test bank online. The SA has stated that any professor who does not want his/her tests in this bank could ask that they be removed.

Much discussion followed this announcement with several Senators expressing surprise that test banks existed in each college. The students in attendance at the Faculty Senate meeting were asked if answers are shown on these old tests, and if the tests in the bank were corrected tests. The reply was that there is a variety of tests in the bank. Many Senators were uncomfortable with answers being provided on the tests, and one professor stated that he has told his students not to use any solutions they might find while studying. He also stated that he only gives in-class tests and does not distribute corrected tests for this very reason. Another Senator stated that there is nothing the Faculty Senate can do to stop this test bank, and the professors who request their tests not be posted will just cause them to go underground.

President Leebron asked the Faculty Senate to be careful when considering the test bank issue that they not amend Rice’s Honor Code. He said that students who put the tests online and students who use the tests could both be subject to Honor Code violations. Leebron stated that publishing the questions from a test is possibly allowable, but publishing the answers is a different matter. He further stated that any Rice website that contained answers would be a problem. Harter suggested a meeting be held to discuss this issue with President Leebron, some SA representatives, Speaker Harter and Deputy Speaker Windsor.

II. Athletic Admissions Update

Dale Sawyer, Chair of the Committee on Admission and Student Financial Aid

Dale Sawyer updated the Senate regarding the Fall 2008 admissions of student-athletes by stating that the new system used for faculty input is going well. Sawyer gave information regarding where the new student-athletes are from (Texas, other states, international), their average high school rankings and SAT scores, and the number of student-athletes that were enrolled at Rice despite low rankings from the faculty subcommittee for Admissions. Sawyer said he was pleased with this number since it was far lower than the year before.

A question and answer period followed, with some questions answered by Chris Del Conte, the Rice Athletics Director. Del Conte stated that the information presented by Sawyer was for the student-athletes who were awarded athletic scholarships, not for those students who were already admitted to Rice and later joined a team (“walk-ons”).

Harter thanked Sawyer and Keith Todd for their presentation.

III. Meeting was adjourned at 1:00 p.m.