September 12, 2012

Faculty Senate Meeting - September 12, 2012

Founder’s Room, Lovett Hall

Agenda (and actions taken):

I. Call to order and welcome; introductions

II. Opening remarks from President Leebron

III. Announcements; Speaker’s Report

A. Executive Committee actions: Recognition of Conflict of Interest Policy 216 and related Procedures document; requires approval by Senate (Approved)

B. Appointed senators: Rob Raphael, Mahmoud El-Gamal, Christian Emden, Michael Stern; requires approval by Senate (Approved)

C. New Tobacco Policy (Kevin Kirby)

D. Update on Writing Center and First Year Writing Program (Helena Michie)

E. Office of Faculty Development (Paula Sanders)

F. Syllabus Posting and Archiving (Paula Sanders)

G. Center for Teaching Excellence (John Hutchinson)

IV. Election of Senate Executive Committee (Approved)

V. Report on Working Groups for 2012-2013

A. Working Group on Online Education (including Coursera)

B. Working Group on Conflict of Commitment

C. Working Group on Promotion and Tenure

D. Working Group on Grade Inflation

E. Working Group on Research and Scholarship

F. Working Group on Non-tenure-track Faculty

VI. New Business

A. Proposals from the floor

B. Approval of Academic Calendar 2014-2015 (Approved)

C. Proposal for a new graduate program: Systems, Synthetic, and Physical Biology (Approved)

D. Creating Graduate Dual-Degree and Joint-Degree Programs (Approved)


Senators present: David Alexander, Robert Atherholt, Gregory Barnett, Carl Caldwell, David Caprette, Keith Cooper, Scott Cutler, Christian Emden, Rebecca Goetz, Jane Grande-Allen, Shirine Hamadeh, Illya Hicks, Christopher Hight, Betty Joseph, Rachel Kimbro, David Leebron, Jonathan Ludwig, George McLendon, Helena Michie, Fred Oswald, Rob Raphael, Brian Rountree, Stan Sazykin, David Scott, Michael Stern, Ruth Lopez Turley, Moshe Vardi, and James Weston.

Senators absent: Kate Beckingham, Danijela Damjanovic, Mahmoud El-Gamal, Michael Kohn, Anatoly Kolomeisky, and Lanny Martin.

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


ICall to order and welcome; introductions

    Speaker Carl Caldwell welcomed all senators and guests to the first Faculty Senate meeting of the 2012-2013 academic year. He then asked each senator to introduce himself/herself, and he announced that James Weston will serve as parliamentarian this year, while Moshe Vardi will serve as the convener of appeals and grievance panels.


    II. Opening remarks from President Leebron

      President Leebron stated that he wished to give the Faculty Senate a preview of his annual State of the University Address. He began by stating that the past year was relatively quiet although very busy. He said that at the end of the last fiscal year, Rice closed with a small surplus and is on stable financial footing. The challenge, he said, is funding new projects.

      Leebron stated that last year’s undergraduate student enrollment total was 998, while this year’s is 935. He added that this year’s group is extraordinarily diverse, including 15% who are first-generation college students. Among the graduate students, Leebron stated that there has been an increase in students seeking professional master’s degrees this year.

      Leebron also said that 25 new tenure-track faculty members have been added.

      Looking ahead, Leebron mentioned that Rice has joined the Coursera online education group, which is limited to very high quality universities. He added that there are a large number of details to work out. Leebron predicted that the landscape of higher education will change dramatically over the next 20 years, and he said that some universities will add large amounts of revenue through online education.

      Leebron briefly discussed Rice’s centennial year, and he asked faculty to participate in the events. He also said it is a time to pause and articulate Rice’s priorities for the future.

      After a few questions from senators, Caldwell thanked President Leebron for his remarks. He also reminded the Senate that the State of the University Address will be held Friday, October 5, at 2:00 p.m., in McMurtry Auditorium of Duncan Hall.


      III. Announcements; Speaker’s Report

        A. Executive Committee actions

        Caldwell explained that Vicky Colvin, Vice Provost for Research, began the process of revising Rice’s Conflict of Interest Policy (216) in the spring, but the final draft did not reach the Senate before the summer recess. Since the federal government had an August 2012 deadline for adoption of the policy, the Executive Committee (EC) voted during the summer to recognize the policy, with a clause to re-examine it during 2013. There was a motion and a second to approve the actions of the EC: recognition of Policy 216 and the accompanying procedures document. The resulting vote was unanimously in favor of approval. Please use these links to view the two documents: Policy 216 and Procedures for Policy216.

        B. Appointments

        Caldwell stated that he and the previous speaker had each made several appointments to the Senate which require approval: Rob Raphael (replacing Ramon Gonzalez), Mahmoud El-Gamal (replacing Susan McIntosh for one year), Christian Emden, and Michael Stern, who were each appointed to a one-year term. Caldwell said that this item came moved and seconded from the EC; the Senate then voted unanimously to approve the appointments.

        C. New Tobacco Policy

        Kevin Kirby, Vice President for Administration, stated that Rice has adopted a new tobacco use policy on campus for several reasons: 1) the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) recently imposed a tobacco-free requirement for all buildings in which $25,000 or more of CPRIT-funded research is conducted, 2) Rice’s new tobacco policy is consistent with ongoing wellness activities at Rice, and 3) more than 700 college campuses across the country are now pursuing tobacco-free policies. However, Kirby stated that instead of going completely tobacco-free, Rice has made two changes to the previous policy: the new policy includes the use of all tobacco products, and Designated Tobacco Areas have been placed strategically about the campus. For more information, please see:

        D. Writing Center and First Year Writing Program

        Helena Michie, chair of the Faculty Advisory Board (FAB) for the Program in Writing and Communication (PWC), announced Terry Doody, Interim Faculty Director of the PWC, and Matt Taylor, Associate Vice-Provost for Academic Affairs and Interim Director of the PWC. Michie briefly reviewed the three components of the PWC: the First Year Writing-Intensive Seminars (FWIS); the Center for Written, Oral, and Visual Communication, housed in Fondren Library; and advanced communication in the curriculum. Regarding the advanced communication component, please see the motion approved by the Senate in November 2011, shown below.

        Motion E: Motion to recommend that a curricular requirement for upper-level communication in the disciplines will be specified and voted on by the Faculty Senate in Fall 2014 after appropriate discussion and development by faculty and provision for adequate funding, for implementation beginning Fall 2015.

        Michie made the following presentation: Faculty Advisory Board Report to the Faculty Senate.

        Several senators had questions or comments for Michie, including clarification that FWIS courses above the 100 level carry distribution credit. There was a discussion as to how to allow more students to take their first choice of FWIS courses, such as through the use of Schedule Planner. Michie was also asked about the level of enrollment in science- and engineering-related FWIS courses. Michie replied that there are only two such courses; one is full with 15 students, and the other has 8 students enrolled.

        Jennifer Wilson, Director of the Center for Written, Oral and Visual Communication, was asked to speak regarding English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction. Wilson stated that currently, 40 first-year international graduate students are being served by the PWC and by the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies. Courses are focused on English speaking and writing skills used in academic settings. Wilson was asked if the program is limited to first-year graduate students. She replied that yes, this year it is limited, but the goal is to expand the program over the next three years to include any international student who needs this instruction and to consolidate the courses at the Center for Written, Oral, and Visual Communication.

        E. Office of Faculty Development

        Paula Sanders, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, explained that the Office of Faculty Development (OFD) represents the institutionalization of the National Science Foundation ADVANCE grant that Rice received, broadening its scope to the entire faculty. (The purpose of ADVANCE is to increase the participation and advancement of women in academic science and engineering careers.) Sanders announced that Louma Ghandour has been appointed director of the OFD, and she will take charge in January 2013. Sanders also expressed gratitude to Kathy Matthews for serving as interim director, and to Julia Amborski for her hard work in the OFD.

        F. Syllabus Posting and Archiving Standards

        Sanders explained that the Student Association requested that the Faculty Senate pass a requirement that faculty members provide to students a syllabus for each course, and that the syllabus contain certain specified information.

        Sanders said that the second part of the students’ request was that the syllabi be archived since some graduate schools and/or employers need to know a course’s content. Sanders said that the archiving will be done through Esther, and she thanked Registrar David Tenney and Katie Steel from the Registrar’s Office for their work in setting up and testing the archive site.

        Sanders then presented to the Senate the steps that faculty members will take to archive their syllabi. She pointed out that faculty will have to select “Public” if they wish for the syllabi to be available publicly; the default option is more private, visible only to students who have completed the course, the instructor, and the department administrator. Please use this link to view screen shots of the process: Syllabus Archiving.

        Sanders was asked if a compliance mechanism exists, to which she replied that the administration will do the best it can to get faculty members to comply, including sending reminders. Tenney added that the system will generate a report as to which syllabi are missing, and this report will be sent to deans. In addition, Tenney predicted that students would request from their professors any missing syllabi. There were a few more questions regarding system details. Sanders stated that the goal is to get the system up and running; some details are still to be determined.

        Grande-Allen reminded the group that the approved syllabus motion stated that a syllabus be provided to students on the first day of class containing specified information. She said that if the Senate were to pass a motion regarding archiving of the syllabi, information which faculty members feel is their private information might not need to be included on the archived syllabi. A senator stated that he thought the motion included archiving of syllabi, but Grande-Allen explained that archiving is not a part of the motion the Senate approved in January 2012; a new motion regarding archiving will be required. Please use this link to view the motion approved by the Senate in January 2012: Syllabus Standards Policy.

        G. Center for Teaching Excellence

        John Hutchison, Dean of Undergraduates, announced that the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE), proposed in the spring of 2012, now exists. The nominating team for the 16 CTE faculty fellows included 11 recipients of Piper professorships; Carl Caldwell, on behalf of the Faculty Senate; and nominations from deans of schools and department chairs. Hutchison said that there are more qualified faculty members than there are seats on the CTE, but the seats are rotating. He announced the following individuals as the initial set of faculty fellows who will serve 2- or 3-year terms:


        Steve Cox – Computational and Applied Mathematics

        Marcia O’Malley – Mechanical Engineering and Materials Sciences

        Ann Saterbak – Bioengineering

        Jane Grande-Allen – Bioengineering


        Kate de Luna – History

        Lisa Balabanlilar – History

        Matthias Henze – Religious Studies

        Natural Sciences

        Mike Gustin – Biochemistry

        Kathy Matthews – Biochemistry

        Jason Hafner – Physics

        Social Sciences

        Ric Stoll – Political Science

        Bridget Gorman – Sociology

        Rachel Kimbro – Sociology


        Reto Geiser

        Jones School

        Al Napier

        Robert Westbrook

        Shepherd School


        The CTE mission statement is shown below:

        The Center for Teaching Excellence at Rice University seeks to transform teaching through mentoring, innovative practices, collaboration, scholarship, and advocacy. The CTE actively engages faculty, staff, students, and community partners, and brings them into conversation to achieve excellence in teaching and learning. We seek to enhance and promote the strong teaching culture at Rice, which is a core value of our institution.

        CTE is led by a faculty director and a board of extraordinary fellows with demonstrated excellence in teaching. This group builds the foundation for programming about teaching and learning at Rice. CTE fellows include faculty such as the George R. Brown Award and Salgo Award winners and other faculty nominated by their chairs and deans.

        Initial programming efforts will focus on:

          • Identifying and creating opportunities for effective exchange of information relevant to the teaching enterprise.
          • Bringing scholars at the forefront of teaching and learning research to the Rice campus.
          • Advocating for best practices, resources, and structural support to enhance the teaching environment at Rice.

        IV. Election of Executive Committee

        Caldwell stated that the Executive Committee (EC) slate, presented in spring 2012 and shown below, follows the rules as described in the Faculty Senate Constitution. Grande-Allen also confirmed the slate, and she asked the senators if there were any alternate slates to propose; there were none. Grande-Allen added that any two senators are welcome to attend EC meetings as guests; they simply need to let the Senate Assistant know that they wish to attend. There was a motion and a second to approve the slate, and the resulting vote was unanimous for approval.

        Speaker: Carl Caldwell, Humanities

        Deputy Speaker: Jane Grande-Allen, Engineering

        NTT: Dave Caprette

        Professional Schools: James Weston, Gregory Barnett

        Engineering: Moshe Vardi

        Humanities/Assistant Professor: Rebecca Goetz

        Social Sciences: Fred Oswald

        Natural Sciences: Michael Kohn

        V. Report on Working Groups for 2012-2013

        Caldwell presented to the Senate the charges for six of the working groups that the Senate expects to form this year. Caldwell noted that the first working group, Working Group on Online Education (including Coursera), has already been approved. The basic charges for five of the working groups are shown below:

        • Working Group on Online Education (Including Coursera)

        Charge: To evaluate the costs and benefits related to developing a strong online instructional presence at Rice; to issue recommendations on its implementation; and to address general policy issues related to online communication.

        Chair: David Alexander

        • Working Group on Research and Scholarship

        Charge: With regard to the V2C goal of “visibly and substantially” increasing commitment to Rice’s research mission and raising our research and scholarship profile, the working group will consult broadly with the Rice academic community and will coordinate its activities with Graduate Council, the University Committee on Research, and the Research Administration Advisory Group to:

        • Assess current processes and structures designed to support and improve research and scholarship efforts

        • Identify best practices here and at peer institutions

        • Translate the V2C general goals to more concrete, measurable ones, identifying obstacles and risks to achieving these goal and suggestions for overcoming them

        Chair: Moshe Vardi

        • Working Group on Conflict of Commitment

        Charge: To develop recommendations on Rice's policy on Conflict of Commitment (currently in Policy 216) and to develop a procedure to address Conflicts of Commitment.

        Chair: James Weston

        • Working Group on Non-tenure-track (NTT) Faculty

        Charge: Develop a prioritized list of the most important issues concerning the future of NTT faculty at Rice, the rationale behind the ranking of items, and recommendations. Relevant issues may include NTT job titles, opportunities for promotion, range of responsibilities, employment security, and/or equitable compensation. Since these issues may require extensive work and research, and may therefore require a different kind of committee (e.g. with Human Resources representatives), the list is preliminary to formation of an expanded working group or committee.

        Chair: Dave Caprette

        • Working Group on Grade Inflation

        Charge: to enumerate possible changes in policies and procedures that would work against grade inflation, and to evaluate the potential costs and benefits of such changes. The committee will look in particular at efforts by other institutions to work against grade inflation, and the effects of such efforts.

        Chair: Jane Grande-Allen

        Helena Michie expressed concern with the second point in the beginning of the charge for the Working Group on Promotion and Tenure, and at least one additional senator agreed. The charge was thus revised to read:

        • Working Group on Promotion and Tenure

        Charge: (1) To investigate the general efficacy and organization of the promotion and tenure process at Rice and (2) to thoroughly examine both Policy 201 and the guidelines for promotion and tenure and to prioritize suggestions for reform.

        Chair: Mahmoud El-Gamal

        Caldwell stated that the Executive Committee will consider the approval of each working group at next week’s EC meeting.

        VI. New Business

        A. Proposals from the floor

        Caldwell said that ideally, items are funneled through the EC to the Senate, but there is an alternative method, and he explained the process. (See Section 4 of the Faculty Senate Meeting Rules.) He asked if there were any proposals from the floor; there were none.

        B. Approval of Academic Calendar 2014-2015

        Caldwell stated that the proposal comes moved and seconded from the EC. The Senate voted unanimously to approve the motion to accept the academic calendar for 2014-2015.

        C. Proposal for a new graduate program: Systems, Synthetic, and Physical Biology (SSPB)

        Michael Deem (Bioengineering) stated that the overriding goals of the new program are to attract students that are interested in this particular interdisciplinary program, and to enhance this area of research at Rice. He said that there are eight participating departments in the program, four from Natural Sciences and four from Engineering. Deem added that the goal is to enroll eight students per year, beginning next year. He explained that the proposal has gone through many layers of review including the Office of Institutional Effectiveness.

        Deem was asked a few questions by senators. He said that this is a stand-alone, independent program; students will come to Rice for a Ph.D. in this program, with defined requirements. He was also asked about the social structure for the incoming graduate students since they do not belong to a single department. Deem said that there is a dedicated space for the students in the BioScience Research Collaborative (BRC) for the first six months, they will have bi-monthly meetings, and they will each have an advisor.

        Caldwell said that the proposal comes moved and seconded by the EC, for approval by the Senate. The Senate voted unanimously for approval. View the full proposal.

        D. Creating Graduate Dual-Degree and Joint-Degree Programs

        Caldwell explained that a previous version of the guidelines document “Creating Graduate Dual-Degree and Joint-Degree Programs” was presented to the EC in the spring of 2012. The EC members expressed some concerns, so the Graduate Council, chaired by John Olson, revised the document over the summer. The EC approved the revised document in its meeting two weeks ago for presentation to the full Senate.

        John Olson read the first paragraph of the document aloud: “The purpose of this policy is to identify the key issues that need to be addressed for the creation and operation of dual and joint graduate degrees with foreign partner institutions and, in some cases, institutions from within the United States. The process for establishing these dual and joint degrees is similar to that for creating or changing traditional graduate degree programs at Rice University. The guidelines, issues, and definitions in this policy are intended to facilitate the preparation and careful evaluation of proposals and, at the same time, ensure that each program is judged on its own merits with respect to quality and the appropriateness of granting one (joint) or two (dual) degrees.”

        Olson said that the process involves two steps: first, a pre-proposal is required to ensure support from the provost’s office and the various deans and other entities which will participate. If the pre-proposal is approved, a full proposal must be submitted, including rationale. Olson said that a key point is making sure that each proposed program follows the minimum Rice University standards. Olson added that the guidelines document includes an appendix which contains questions specific to international institutions.

        Vardi stated that many problems which occur when collaborating with foreign institutions are not academic, but “super academic.” For example, would Rice collaborate with an institution which has an anti-homosexual policy? He asked how Rice goes about choosing academic partners. Olson replied that although the Graduate Council could not anticipate every issue when writing the guidelines policy, each proposal will come before the Senate for approval. Grande-Allen directed the group to Section 3 of the appendix where sample questions exist regarding the quality of the other institution.

        President Leebron said that he sees these questions as part of a larger issue. He predicted a substantial increase in student mobility in the coming decades, with a broad set of consequences. He advocated that Rice increase its level of international engagement, but he predicted that Rice will not set about to achieve this engagement by building foreign branches, as some universities have done. Leebron said that while the questions on the guidelines document are meant to help people prepare proposals, the bigger question is what is the best way for Rice to participate?

        Since there were no more questions, the Senate held a vote on the proposed document. The Senate voted unanimously for approval. View the approved document.

        The meeting was adjourned at 1:50 p.m.