September 7, 2016

Faculty Senate Meeting
September 7, 2016
Founder’s Room of Lovett Hall

Senate Meeting Agenda (and actions taken):

I. Call to Order

II. Announcements

III. Reports from Officers and Standing Committees
A. Speaker’s Report

  • Appointed Senators (Approved)
  • 2016-2017 Working Groups
  • Executive Committee Summer Actions (Approved)

B. Deputy Speaker: Election of Executive Committee (Slate Approved)

C. Faculty Information System Update (Assistant VPAA Boudreaux)

IV. New Business

A. Approval of Academic Calendar, 2018-2019 (Approved)

B. Proposed revisions to Surveys for Dean Reviews (Approved)

C. Suggestions for Senate agenda items this year

Senators present: David Alexander, Graham Bader, Lisa Balabanlilar, Martin Blumenthal-Barby, Gwen Bradford, David Caprette, Daniel Cohen, Andrew Colopy, Keith Cooper, Scott Cutler, Erik Dane, Maryam Emami, Julie Fette, Jeffrey Fleisher, Charles Geyer, Christopher Hight, Kevin Kelly, Marek Kimmel, Stephen Klineberg, Michael Kohn, Anatoly Kolomeisky, David Leebron, Susan McIntosh, Marie Lynn Miranda, Ed Nikonowicz, Fred Oswald, Stan Sazykin, Doug Schuler, and Kerry Ward.

Senators absent: Kate Beckingham, Michael Diehl, Christopher Johns-Krull, Timothy Morton, and Laura Segatori.

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


I. Call to Order

Speaker Jeffrey Fleisher called the meeting to order at 12:00 p.m. He welcomed the assembled senators and guests to the meeting.

II. Announcements

  • Faculty Senate members 2016-2017:
    Architecture: Andrew Colopy, Christopher Hight
    Engineering: Keith Cooper, Michael Diehl, Kevin Kelly, Marek Kimmel, Laura Segatori
    Humanities: Graham Bader, Martin Blumenthal-Barby, Daniel Cohen, Julie Fette, Timothy
    Morton, Kerry Ward
    Jones School of Business: Erik Dane, Doug Schuler
    Natural Sciences: David Alexander, Kate Beckingham, Christopher Johns-Krull, Michael Kohn,
    Anatoly Kolomeisky, Ed Nikonowicz
    Non-Tenure-Track Teaching Faculty: Dave Caprette, Scott Cutler, Maryam Emami
    Non-Tenure-Track Research Faculty: Stan Sazykin
    Presidential Appointees: Gwen Bradford (Philosophy), Lisa Balabanlilar (History)
    Social Sciences: Jeffrey Fleisher, Stephen Klineberg, Susan McIntosh, Fred Oswald
    Shepherd School of Music: Charles Geyer
    Ex officio, non-voting members: President Leebron, Provost Miranda

Convener of Appeals and Grievances: Christopher Johns-Krull
Parliamentarian: Fred Oswald

  • University Committee Chairs, 2016-2017:
    Ric Stoll (Admissions)
    Jill Foote (Athletics)
    Elias Bongmba (Examinations and Standing)
    Richard Grandy (Faculty & Staff Benefits)
    Matthew Baring (Fellowships & Awards)
    Kathy Ensor (Graduate Council)
    Duane Windsor (Acting Chair, Graduate Honor Council)
    David Tobin (Library)
    Will Cannady (Parking & Transportation)
    Kathy Matthews (Faculty Advisory to OFD)
    Carl Caldwell (Co-chair, Faculty Advisory for PWC)
    Kate Beckingham (Co-Chair, Faculty Advisory for PWC)
    Christy Landes (Research)
    Lisa Balabanlilar (Teaching)
    Susan McIntosh (Undergraduate Curriculum)
  • University Policy 201 will be updated this year in format only to increase clarity and usability of the document, per Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Paula Sanders. Senator Scott Cutler asked if the previously postponed items related to non-tenure-track (NTT) faculty members would be included in the policy update. Sanders said that these items would be addressed/included in the update.
  • Rice’s legal department is currently drafting a Political Activity Policy; comments from the Senate’s Executive Committee (EC) were solicited.
  • The State of the University Address will be held at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 26, in McMurtry Auditorium of Duncan Hall, followed by a faculty reception.

III. Reports from Officers and Standing Committees

A. Speaker’s Report

1. Approval of Appointed Senators

Fleisher stated that approval is required from the Senate for three one-year Senate appointments. The Faculty Senate unanimously approved the three appointed senators: Maryam Emami, Stephen Klineberg, and Doug Schuler. Fleisher also noted that President Leebron has appointed Lisa Balabanlilar as a Presidential Appointee to the Senate for a regular three-year term.

2. Working Groups for 2016-2017
Fleisher announced that the EC recently approved the Working Group for Student Learning Outcomes, with the charge: “to identify the undergraduate learning objectives that Rice will report to SACS, with a December 2016 deadline.” Dave Caprette will chair the working group, with members Christopher Hight, Lora Wildenthal, Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson, and Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness John Cornwell.

Fleisher also stated that charge for the Working Group on Digital Education (approved by the EC in April 2016) has been revised to read as follows:

  • Investigate the place of online courses within the Rice curriculum/experience.
  • Investigate the way that online courses/digital content can potentially solve problems that Rice faces with its curriculum.
  • What are the vision and goals of Rice Online and other online initiatives at Rice?

The chair of the working group is David Alexander, with members Carl Caldwell, Rachel Kimbro, Kirsten Ostherr, Vice Provost Caroline Levander (ex officio), and Student Association President Griffin Thomas.

3. Approval of Executive Committee Actions

Fleisher explained that per the Senate Constitution, the EC may act on behalf of the Senate during the summer recess, but each EC action requires ratification by the full Senate at the first meeting of the academic year. Fleisher presented the following four items to the Senate, and the senators voted unanimously for approval.

Fleisher said that he had hoped to come to the Senate with a proposed amendment to the Senate Constitution regarding the conferral of degrees three times per year. However, he said that a plan for the future has not yet been completed.

B. Deputy Speaker: Election of Executive Committee

Deputy Speaker Julie Fette, Chair of the Nominations and Elections Committee, presented the EC slate for 2016-2017, which was first proposed to the Senate in April 2016.

Engineering: Laura Segatori
Humanities: Kerry Ward
Natural Sciences: Anatoly Kolomeisky
Social Sciences: Fred Oswald
Non-Tenure-Track Faculty: Dave Caprette
Professional Schools: Christopher Hight
Speaker Jeffrey Fleisher, elected April 2016
Deputy Speaker Julie Fette, elected April 2016

Fette asked if there were any alternate slates to be presented; there were none. The Senate unanimously approved the slate.

C. Updated Faculty Information System

Assistant Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Celeste Boudreaux explained the updates to the current Faculty Information System (FIS), which is 12 years old. She said that the new system, entitled Faculty and Researcher Information System (FARIS) would be open not only to faculty members, but also to research scientists, post-doctoral faculty members, and Ph.D. students.

Boudreaux listed the sponsors of the project and the many faculty members serving on the advisory group. She also provided several examples of input provided by faculty:

  • Advised on structure, arrangement, and nomenclature of activity categories
  • Suggested/edited text for context sensitive help
  • Provided input about what kinds of information are significant in their fields
  • Debated and made recommendations on processes such as annual reports, P&T, including students in system, counting cross-listed courses and courses with multiple instructors, etc.

Boudreaux explained the timetable for the rollout of the new system, which will be live on November 8, 2016, and she included the email schedule that her office plans to use for announcements and reminders. Boudreaux said that more details on the system could be found at this link:, and she asked that any questions be emailed to To view the full presentation, please see FARIS.

IV. New Business

A. Approval of Academic Calendar, 2018-2019
Fleisher explained that the Faculty Senate is asked annually, two years in advance, to approve the academic calendar prepared by the registrar’s office. The senators unanimously approved the Fall Semester 2018 and the Spring Semester 2019 calendars. Please see: 2018-2019 academic calendar.

B. Proposed revisions to Surveys for Dean Reviews
Fette presented the report and recommendations from the Working Group on Surveys for Dean Reviews, a group that she chaired. Prior to the meeting, the documents were posted to the Faculty Senate’s wiki space, available to all faculty, including links to the proposed surveys.

Fette thanked working group members Michael Diehl, Tom Killian, and Brent Smith, and she reviewed the group’s charge: “The working group is asked to develop a common core group of questions which will be appropriate to include in all dean reviews, regardless of school.” Fette also stated that previous Dean Review Committees have expressed a desire for a common set of survey questions; each committee has had to design its own set until now.

Fette explained the process that the working group used, which included collecting the latest surveys used, choosing the best questions and layouts from each, and creating three separate surveys applicable to the particular stakeholders (administration, faculty, and staff). She said that one item of particular interest for the working group was how to preserve the anonymity of responders to the open-ended questions on the survey. She said that the survey now includes more cautionary instructions.

Fette also reviewed a list of “Best Practices for Implementation” supplied by recent Dean Review Committees. Included on the list was the following: “that the dean’s self-report be attached to the beginning of the survey, along with the Introductory Letter.” Several senators expressed concern with the letter appearing right before the survey, stating that it might influence the responses. President Leebron asked if the letter was attached to the survey in the past. Fette said that the dean’s self-report is currently issued prior to the survey. Stephen Klineberg said that he agreed with the previous comments that although the self-report being issued in advance was fine, it should not be attached to the survey. Fette asked that the Senate vote on the revised surveys and stated that the report would be amended to indicate that a link to the dean’s self-report be included on the survey, not the report itself.

Gwen Bradford asked for clarification regarding the anonymity issue. Fette explained that a faculty group conducts the review of the dean, and it is a long process. She said that once the group receives the multiple choice survey results and the answers to the open-ended questions, a report is written. She said that since the dean is allowed to see the responses, the faculty review group might amend the responses to the open-ended questions in order to preserve anonymity.

Fleisher stated that the EC approved the report and recommendations in its meeting held August 31, thus making a motion for Senate approval. A senator seconded the motion, and the resulting Senate vote was unanimous approval. Please see: Working Group on Surveys for Dean Reviews.

C. Suggestions for Senate agenda items this year
Fleisher said that several items would be presented before the Senate this year, including a report from Vice President for Human Resources Mary Cronin regarding lawsuits at other universities over retirement funds. He then asked the senators to present items that they would like the Senate to address this year.

Susan McIntosh, chair of the University Committee for the Undergraduate Curriculum (CUC), said that the CUC recently discussed Rice’s distribution credit system. She said that distribution credit determined by deans varies greatly from school to school. McIntosh said that one idea presented by the CUC was to use an opt-out system; make all courses be distribution credit unless one opts out. The senators generally agreed that the distribution system could be improved.

Fleisher asked senators to email him with any additional suggestions. The meeting was adjourned at 1:00 p.m.