September 11, 2013

Faculty Senate Meeting - September 11, 2013

Founder’s Room, Lovett Hall

Agenda (and actions taken):

I. Call to order and welcome; Introductions

II. Announcements

III. Speaker’s Report

A. Interim Policy: Elimination of Graduate Programs; Procedures and Best Practices (Approved)

B. Change of name for University Policy 216: Conflict of Interest and Commitment for Faculty (Including Faculty Fellows and Investigators)

C. Working Group on the Dean of Graduate and Post-Doctoral Studies

D. Division of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science into two departments

E. Updated tasks for the University Committee on Teaching

F. Request to the University Committee on the Undergraduate Curriculum to investigate a cluster of academic policies related to enrollment and transfer credits

G. Speaker to report to the Board of Trustees’ Academic Affairs Committee

IV. Election of Executive Committee (Slate Approved)

V. Working Group Reports

A. Working Group on Grade Inflation

B. Working Group on NTT Faculty

C. Working Group on Laboratory Safety

D. Working Group on Faculty Salaries

E. Formation of new Working Groups

VI. New Business

A. Proposals from the floor

B. Academic Calendar 2015-2016 (Approved)

C. Proposal for a new minor in Naval Science (Hold until October 16 meeting)

Senators present: David Alexander, Robert Atherholt, Graham Bader, Kate Beckingham, Carl Caldwell, David Caprette, Keith Cooper, Scott Cutler, Claire Fanger, Julie Fette, Dawn Finley, Jeffrey Fleisher, Jane Grande-Allen, Betty Joseph, Rachel Kimbro, Michael Kohn, Anatoly Kolomeisky, David Leebron, Jonathan Ludwig, Susan McIntosh, George McLendon, Luay Nakhleh, Fred Oswald, Brian Rountree, Stan Sazykin, David Scott, Laura Segatori, James Weston, and Michael Wolf.

Senators absent: Jerry Dickens, Christopher Hight, Helena Michie, and Ruth Lopez Turley.

PROCEEDINGS (To listen to an audio tape of this meeting, email

I. Call to order and welcome; Introductions

Speaker Carl Caldwell called the meeting to order at 12:00 p.m. He welcomed senators and guests to the meeting, especially President Leebron, Provost McLendon, and the incoming senators: Luay Nakhleh (Computer Science), Laura Segatori (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering), Graham Bader (Art History), Claire Fanger (Religious Studies), Julie Fette (French Studies), Gerald "Jerry" Dickens (Earth Science), Michael Wolf (Mathematics), Jeffrey Fleisher (Anthropology), and Dawn Finley (Architecture). Caldwell also announced that Brian Rountree (Jones School) will serve as the Convener of Appeals and Grievance Panels, and Rachel Kimbro (Sociology) will serve as the Senate’s Parliamentarian.

Caldwell asked that senators serve as representatives for not only their home department, but also as a liaison to a second department where needed. In this manner, every department at Rice will have representation on the Faculty Senate.

II. Announcements

A. Caldwell announced to the Senate that the Annual State of the University Address by President Leebron will be held on Wednesday, September 25, 2013. The plenary session will be held in McMurtry Auditorium of Duncan Hall from 2:30 – 3:30 p.m., followed by an All Faculty Reception at the Wiess President’s House, from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

B. President Leebron thanked the Faculty Senate for all it has accomplished over the years. He also spoke briefly on three topics: the fall 2013 entering class, which he said is approximately 30 students larger than anticipated; the current parking situation on campus, for which he apologized; and the discussions being held with the Baylor College of Medicine regarding an inter-institutional agreement. Leebron said that he will speak further about each of these three issues at the State of the University Address.

C. Caldwell introduced Joshua Eyler, new Director for the Center of Teaching Excellence (CTE), and welcomed him to Rice. Eyler stated that the CTE was informally launched last year by a group which has moved to an advisory capacity. He said that the mission of the CTE is to support and enhance the culture of teaching excellence at Rice University.

D. Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson announced that the May 2014 commencement ceremony will be different from past years, including a shorter Saturday morning ceremony; about 1.5 hours long, instead of the previous 2.5 hour ceremony. He said that there are plans to include an undergraduate ceremony Friday evening, and that there are many details still to be determined. Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Paula Sanders said that the administration is consulting with undergraduate and graduate students, and their feedback has been positive. Dean Hutchinson and President Leebron stressed that faculty participation adds gravitas to commencement.

E. Caldwell stated that he has received a request from the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics (COIA) for Rice faculty participation in the organization. Caldwell said that he would like to set up a Senate working group to consider the request (with approval from the Executive Committee), as well as discuss it with Rice’s new athletic director and members of the administration.

F. Caldwell said that reports from the following groups will be presented at the October Faculty Senate meeting: Program in Writing and Communication, Office of Faculty Development, Study Abroad, and the Council on Diversity and Inclusion.

III. Speaker’s Report

A. Interim Policy: “Elimination of Graduate Programs; Procedures and Best Practices”

Caldwell said that in May 2013, after the Senate had adjourned for the summer, the Executive Committee approved the formation of a working group to develop appropriate procedures for the elimination of graduate programs. The working group was chaired by Christian Emden, with members Danijela Damjanovic, Duane Windsor, and ex officio member Arnaud Chevallier.

Caldwell said that Rice did not previously have a policy for termination of a graduate program. The working group was asked to create a policy for termination that would be in symmetry with the policy used for creation of graduate programs. Caldwell added that the interim policy will now be reviewed by the Graduate Council, and he asked for retroactive Senate approval of the interim policy. (View the policy.)

One faculty member in attendance asked a few questions, especially regarding the matter of making information about the department in question public versus keeping it confidential, requesting that this issue be made clear in the policy.

Another faculty member stated that the Faculty Senate has power over all academic programs. She said that this issue has come up previously; is it the dean, the department, the Faculty Senate, or the administration which has the final say in eliminating a program? She requested that the final version of the policy include this clarification.

Provost McLendon replied that it is the dean of each school who allocates fellowships, and there is always more need than there are resources. For example, a dean might not allocate resources to a program; faculty must find another way to support it. McLendon said that in such a case, it is unlikely that the Faculty Senate would determine funding.

Caldwell stated that the interim policy explicitly states that the Provost, the Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, and the school’s Dean must submit their reasons for eliminating the program, together with the plan for the actual elimination of the program.

There was a motion to approve the interim policy, and it was seconded. The following vote by the Senate was unanimously for approval.

B. Change of name for University Policy 216

Caldwell announced that the Senate-approved changes to Policy 216 have been signed by President Leebron, and the revised policy has been posted to the official University Policies page of the Rice University website under a new name. The policy, formerly entitled “Management of the Research and Other Outside Interests,” is now “Conflict of Interest and Commitment for Faculty (Including Faculty Fellows and Investigators).”

C. Working Group on the Dean of Graduate and Post-Doctoral Studies (DGPS)

Caldwell notified the Senate that the Executive Committee approved a short-term working group with the following charge: To develop and discuss with the Rice administration the duties and functions of the DGPS as it becomes a full-time position at Rice University in Fall 2013; to make suggestions for the DGPS job description and search. Caldwell also listed the members of the working group: from the Senate, James Weston and Moshe Vardi; from the Working Group on Research and Scholarship, Mahmoud El-Gamal and Seiichi Matsuda; from Graduate Council, Jim Faubion.

D. Division of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science into two departments

Caldwell stated that the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (MEMS) has requested that it be divided into two departments. Caldwell presented to the Senate the following statement issued by the Executive Committee:

The Executive Committee, after consulting with the Graduate Council and the University Committee for the Undergraduate Curriculum, finds that the division of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science into two separate departments does not constitute either a substantive curricular change or a change to the rules and principles of promotion and tenure embodied in Policy 201. As such, the Faculty Senate does not have jurisdiction over this administrative decision.

Caldwell said that the EC also expressed to the administration the need for each of these small departments to continue to receive support.

E. Updated tasks for the University Committee on Teaching

Chair of the University Committee on Teaching, Mike Gustin, who is also a member of the Center for Teaching Excellence, presented the following updated tasks for the committee, along with a brief description of each:

1. Select nominees for external teaching awards (fall, Andrew Putnam et al)

2. Select Rice teaching awards (spring, Daniel Cohan et al)

3. Award George Brown Teaching Grants (spring, Phil Kortum et al)

4. Review issue of credit for Rice MOOCs (fall, David Alexander et al)

5. Assess Rice MOOC proposals (with VPII, Jeff Fleisher et al)

6. Review MOOC program development (with VPII, Joseph Campana et al)

7. Review teaching and course evaluations and assessments (Mark Kulstad et al)

8. Communication to and from CTE (Lisa Balabanlilar et al)

Caldwell stated that item #4 would probably become a task for the University Committee on the Undergraduate Curriculum (CUC). He added that people who worked on the Working Group for Online Education were asked to participate in this committee.

F. Request to the CUC to investigate a cluster of academic policies

Caldwell announced the Senate’s request to the CUC to investigate a cluster of academic policies related to enrollment and transfer credits. Caldwell said that the enrollment-related issues include pass/fail, add/drop, and the limits to credit hours that a student may take. He said that the transfer credit-related issues include pre-matriculation Advanced Placement credits; pre- and post-matriculation transfer credits, including study abroad and online education; and general residency requirements. CUC Chair Susan McIntosh asked that any additional concerns that the senators or faculty members might have be sent to her, and she will forward to the appropriate CUC subcommittee.

G. Speaker’s report to the Board of Trustees

Caldwell stated that he will make a presentation to the Academic Affairs Committee of the Rice University Board of Trustees (BOT) on September 18, 2013. Caldwell said he will focus on teaching-related issues, including online education, the Center for Teaching Excellence, the University Committee on Teaching, and the University Committee on the Undergraduate Curriculum.

IV. Executive Committee Slate, 2013-2014

Jane Grande-Allen, chair of the Nominations and Elections Committee, presented to the Senate the Executive Committee slate, first presented in spring 2013:

Humanities: Betty Joseph

Social Sciences: Fred Oswald

Engineering: Keith Cooper

Natural Sciences: Anatoly Kolomeisky

Professional Schools: Christopher Hight

NTT Faculty: Stan Sazykin

Speaker: Carl Caldwell (Humanities)

Deputy Speaker: James Weston (Jones School)

Grande-Allen asked if there were any alternate slates; there were none. Approval of the slate was moved and seconded, followed by a unanimous vote for approval.

V. Working Group Reports

A. Working Group on Grade Inflation

Jane Grande-Allen, co-chair of the Working Group on Grade Inflation (with co-chair Evan Siemann) stated that the group will continue its work in this academic year. She said that the working group has received input from deans on the interim recommendations issued in spring 2013. Town hall meetings are now being planned to gather feedback from faculty members, and feedback is needed from students. Grande-Allen encouraged senators and faculty to continue to post comments on the Senate’s wiki space. Grande-Allen said that she will also be making a presentation of the working group’s interim recommendations to the Academic Affairs Committee of the BOT. She added that the working group does not have any final recommendations for the Senate at this time.

B. Working Group on Non-Tenure Track Faculty

Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Paula Sanders said that the report from the Senate’s Working Group on Non-Tenure Track Faculty was reviewed at length, and the group’s recommendation for further study has been accepted. Sanders will co-chair, with co-chair Stan Sazykin, a task force composed of administration and faculty members. Sanders said that a few more task force members are needed, but the group will be limited to six-eight members. She said that the group’s focus will be the three primary recommendations from the Senate working group. The task force will gather data first, then produce its own recommendations. Sanders said that the goal is to produce a preliminary report by early March 2014, with implementable actions by fall 2014. Caldwell stated that the issue is extremely important; solutions need to be found.

C. Working Group on Laboratory Safety

Caldwell stated that the Senate’s working group finished its task with the presentation of its report in spring 2013. He said that the next stage is implementation by the administration of the recommendations presented. Caldwell introduced Kevin Kirby, Vice President for Administration, who reviewed the recommendations and explained the changes currently being implemented. Please view Kirby’s presentation. Caldwell thanked Kirby and the administration for taking action.

D. Working Group on Faculty Salaries

Caldwell announced that the Working Group on Faculty Salaries has completed its task. The Executive Committee received the report from this group on June 1, 2013. Going forward, a regular system of reporting information on faculty salaries will be performed by Rice’s Office of Faculty Development, which is overseen by a Faculty Advisory Board. Caldwell thanked the working group for their thorough report.

E. Formation of new working groups

Caldwell stated that no new working groups have been formed for the current academic year because he wished to wait until the new Executive Committee was officially elected.

VI. New Business

A. Proposals from the floor

Caldwell explained the procedure for proposals from the floor. (Please view the Faculty Senate Meeting Rules.) He stated that the usual method is for proposals to be presented first to the Executive Committee, and then to the full Senate. When this procedure is not used and a proposal comes from the floor, the proposal must be in writing, with enough copies provided for the entire Faculty Senate.

B. Academic Calendar 2015-2016

Caldwell said that a system for determining the academic calendar has been in place for several years, and it was used in designing the 2015-2016 calendar. However, Caldwell noted that classes on some days of the week meet more often than others, which may have to be addressed in the future. There was a motion to approve the calendar, and it was seconded. The Senate then voted unanimously to approve the calendar. View the fall 2015 calendar. View the spring 2016 calendar.

C. Proposal for a new minor in Naval Science

Caldwell stated that a new minor has been proposed in Naval Science, which was made available to senators via the wiki space. He asked for discussion regarding the proposal. David Alexander asked if the proposal had followed the process put in place by the CUC, including a letter of support from the school’s dean. After a few more comments, a motion was made to put the proposal on hold until representatives from Naval Science could be present to answer questions. The motion was seconded, and the Senate voted unanimously put the proposal on hold until the next meeting on October 16, 2013.

The meeting was adjourned at 1:40 p.m.