GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

FALL MEETING OF THE ACADEMIC SENATE

 

Tuesday, November 17, 2011, 3:00 pm

Student Center Theater

 

MINUTES

 

 

1.      Provost Rafael Bras called the meeting to order at 3:05 P.M. and provided some comments on behalf of the President who was traveling:

a)      Dr. Bras stated that Georgia Tech was proceeding with its appeal of sanctions by the NCAA which included the forfeiture of the 2009 ACC football championship.  An answer to the appeal was expected in about 90 days.

b)      The Provost provided a summary of news concerning a sexual assault incident that occurred around the time of the football game with Virginia Tech.  The incident was under investigation.  A stepped up safety campaign had started to improve police presence and campus awareness of safety precautions.  Despite these unfortunate incidents, the Provost stated that serious crimes had come down over the past three years.

c)      The investiture of Mr. Hank Huckaby as Chancellor of the University System of Georgia (USG) was held on November 11, 2011, followed by a lunch in his honor at Georgia Tech.  Dr. Bras commended Mr. Huckaby for his fine remarks at the investiture

d)     The Provost said that new budget disciplines were coming in the USG.  He did not expect possible efforts to combine some institutions of the USG would affect Georgia Tech directly.  In another initiative, the USG would be taking a closer look at all proposals for new degree programs to make sure those they approved were justified by documented needs and that costs and staffing were well-planned in relation to needs. 

e)      Dr. Bras outlined what Georgia Tech most hoped to have supported by the Georgia legislature this year.  Top priority was to obtain $64 million to build a new Engineered Biosystems Building which would be added to the bio-quad. This item had already appeared in the Chancellor’s recommended budget. $34 million would be raised from other sources for this building. Three other facilities were planned for future development in the same area. Other priorities were a) restoration of formula funding with some compensation for the fact that formula funding was suspended last year, b) $50 million in repair and rehabilitation funds, and c) better support for B-units like GTRI.

f)       Fall commencement would feature two great speakers: Atlanta’s Mayor Kasim Reed would speak at the graduate commencement ceremonies, and Congressman John Lewis would speak at the undergraduate commencement.  These events would also commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first African American students at Georgia Tech. 

g)      Georgia Tech’s childcare facilities would soon be expanded to approximately double present capacity.  New facilities were hoped to open in fall 2012. 

h)      Dr. Bras previewed a planned reorganization of the Provost’s Office.  See Attachment #1 for details.  This effort was driven by three things: a) the need to align the organization with the rest of the administration which had already been reorganized, b) the need to respond to Georgia Tech’s new strategic plan, and c) the opportunity to accomplish a new level of efficiency.

Q.  What was the vision for the library at Georgia Tech?  Ans. The library was expected to change in the coming years to reflect evolving needs and potentials.  It could become a place where knowledge was not only archived, but even more a place where people would spend time exchanging knowledge.  The initiative to integrate the Clough Undergraduate Learning Center with the Libraries was a move in that direction.  Libraries could become a forum for learning exchange. 

Q. Was there are a role for the College of Computing in the initiative for enhanced educational technologies that was part of the Provost’s Office reorganization.  Ans. The new Center for 21st Century Universities was founded to make such things possible. 

2.      Dr. Bras asked for approval of the minutes of the meeting of October 4, 2011 [a meeting of the General Faculty, General Faculty Assembly and the Academic Senate].  He indicated that the minutes were published and posted on the faculty governance web site and that there were no known additions or corrections. (See Attachment #2 below for web site reference).   The minutes were approved without dissent.

3.   Dr. Bras called on Ms. Reta Pikowsky, Registrar, to present the degree candidates for the commencement ceremonies to be held in December.  Ms. Pikowsky said the list of degree candidates had been thoroughly reviewed and revised as necessary.  She moved that the list be approved.  This was seconded and approved without dissent.  

4.   The Provost called on Mr. Tom Horton from GTRI and Ms. Hope Wilson from the College of Management, who had been serving as Chair and Co-Chair of the Georgia Tech Charitable Campaign, to bring news of the campaign to the faculty members in attendance.  Mr. Horton spoke to the points summarized in the slide shown in Attachment #3.  He noted that Ms. Wilson would be Chair in the coming year.  Mr. Horton asked the assembled leaders to help make sure that all of Georgia Tech was encouraged to participate in this campaign which benefitted a wide array of charities in the state.  Last year the campus raised $313,000 from 1,225 employees who contributed.  The attachment provided news about the goal for pledged contributions for 2012 and the progress to date.  As far as possible the campaign was going paperless this year, with contributions mainly solicited and processed on line via TechWorks, with only a few departments who needed an exception.  Ms. Wilson spoke about her campaign to recruit and better prepare department coordinators.  She asked those assembled to let her know if anyone felt there was no coordinator for their area of the campus. 

5.   Dr. Bras next called on Mr. Dan Radakovich, Athletic Director, to bring news from Georgia Tech’s intercollegiate athletics program. Dr. Bras explained that Prof. Sue Ann Allen would ordinarily make her report as the Faculty Athletic Representative at this meeting but she had to attend another meeting and would deliver her report at February 21, 2012 meeting of the faculty.  Mr. Radakovich thanked the Provost for the opportunity to cover several points of news.  He outlined the allegations of problems in the athletic program in November 2009 that led to NCAA sanctions including the vacation of the 2009 ACC football championship won by the Georgia Tech team along with four years of probation and a $100,000 fine.  He stated that the football program was being managed to prevent the types of conditions that led to the allegations from recurring.  He deeply regretted that the affairs of the program had not been better managed around the time of the 2009 season.  There was no intention to not meet the high standards of the ACC, the NCAA, and the Institute.  Disciplines in force had since been improved with a new dual reporting of Georgia Tech’s ACC/NCAA compliance program to the President and to the Vice-President of Legal Affairs and Risk Management. 

Another initiative has been to move academic support to student athletes under the care of the Provost’s Office.  Senior Vice-Provost Andy Smith and Associate Athletic Director for Academic Services Phyllis LaBaw had been working together to devise a new program of academic support taking into account best practices from peer institutions.  Mr. Radakovich thanked the Georgia Tech faculty and administration for their support of improvements to the athletic program during this challenging time.  He especially thanked the committee on infractions that looked into the allegations, Professors Sue Ann Allen, Marie Thursby, Gary Schuster, and Bill Wepfer.  

Mr. Radakovich also talked about the Graduation Success Rate (GSR), as defined by the NCAA as well as the Federal Graduation Rate.  The Federal Graduation Rate for Georgia Tech has been 80% in recent years, and for student athletes has been 68%.  The NCAA GSR was intended to provide some compensation for the effects on the rate when an athlete would leave a school to transfer somewhere else or to take an opportunity with a professional sports team; they would not graduate from the institution they first entered but they should not count against a sports program.  If a student athlete left the program in good academic standing they would not count against the NCAA GSR.  Georgia Tech’s GSR for the whole athletic program was 77% for the last reported year, and the year before was 75%. Thus the trend was positive and expected to continue to rise.  There was concern, however, over the GSR for the men’s basketball program which had been only 27%.  The cohort that experienced the most academic difficulty began between 2001 and 2005.  New initiatives for improved Academic Performance Rates began in about 2004.  Such initiatives were now paying off, and marked academic improvement was confidently expected going forward.  Head Coach Brian Gregory and his staff firmly understood the importance of academic performance and were dedicated to it. 

Mr. Radakovich commented on three major recent building projects made possible by generous contributions from alumni and friends of the Institute:  The John and Mary Brock football practice facility was completed within just one year on the original outdoor practice field and it opened this fall.  The second project underway was the rebuilding of the basketball coliseum, to be renamed the Hank McCamish Pavilion, and it would be opened in fall 2012.  The facility would have upgraded lighting and seating, with a capacity of about 8,800 people, only slightly fewer than in the old coliseum.  The third project was the planned reconstruction of the tennis complex and its renaming as the Ken Byers Tennis Complex, with a start of construction projected for May 2012.  This project was challenging because the current and planned tennis center was sited where a lake used to be a long time ago. 

Mr. Radakovich highlighted some academic achievements of student athlete:  156 student athletes graduated in the past year, 38% with honors.  Four received a prestigious ACC post graduate award.  Forty-seven were on the ACC All-Academic Honor Roll.  Jacob Esch on the baseball team was an Academic All-American. 

Athletic highlights included:  The football team was bowl-eligible for its fifteenth consecutive year – the fourth longest streak in the country.  Both men’s and women’s basketball teams signed top-25 recruiting classes.

The eleventh annual Michael Isenhour Toy Drive was underway.  Unwrapped toys that could be donated to area charities were solicited.  Donations could be dropped off at the Ticket Office before Dec. 9.

Q. How long did it take our student athletes to graduate usually?  Ans. Many student athletes took the opportunity to red shirt their first year and so it was common for them to take five years until graduation.  Five students were competing on the football team after already graduating from their first degree. Some were taking classes toward a second degree, and one for an MBA.  Most student athletes today were staying in school during the summer term, continuing to train athletically through the summer, and making expedited progress toward graduation.  Mr. Radakovich noted the average time to graduation varied a lot by sport.

Q. It seemed that sports team travel schedules took them away from class more and more, especially with the influence of television on playing dates.  Was that indeed the case, and was this being monitored?  Ans. Mr. Radakovich said that Registrar Reta Pikowsky and a committee watched that closely.  The golf team missed the most class time typically, but they also had the highest GPA of any team.  In general, academic coordinators often traveled with a team to help students with studies during travel.  At some time in the future, expanded distance learning offerings might further help, Mr. Radakovich hoped.  Travel time away from classes was carefully monitored and kept to a minimum, he stated.

Dr. Bras commended Senior Vice-Provost Andy Smith for his hard work and contributions to improved academic support to student athletes.  Dr. Bras asked for the cooperation of faculty members in working with academic coordinators which were now directed from the Provost’s Office with a goal of academic excellence.

6.   The Provost called on representatives of Standing Committees of the Academic Faculty to present minutes of recent meetings and any action items requiring approval.  In most cases the representatives followed closely the reports in the committees’ files on the faculty governance website noted in Attachment #4 below and so this text need not be repeated here.   The following is an outline of the material presented showing the representatives that appeared to present summaries of the committee’s recommendations. 

a.   Undergraduate Curriculum (Prof. Jerry Seitzman, Chair)

Minutes: 10/4/11, 10/25/11, 11/8/11

Action items. From 10/4: CEE – modification in the BS degrees in Civil Engineering and in Environmental Engineering, changing elective options + 1 new course.  From 11/8: INTA – 1 course deactivated & new certificate in Scenarios, Models, and Military Games; ISyE – modification in the BSIE degree regarding course requirements; Modern Languages – 4 new courses & a new minor in Korean language; AE, ECE, ME, Pub.Pol., Chemistry & Biochemistry, and EAS – new minor in Energy Systems; CoC and LCC – modification in the BS in Computational Media Interdisciplinary regarding course requirements and consistency with the threading model used by CoC-CS for better compliance with ABET stds; International Plan Committee – changes in the International Plan involving modifications in grade requirements, language course requirements, transfer course requirements, and diploma designators; a new approval process and policy covering also nonacademic units offering courses for academic credit.

It was moved, seconded and passed without dissent to approve the above minutes and action items.

b.   Graduate Curriculum (Prof. Jonathan Clarke, Chair)

Minutes: 10/6/11, 11/3/11

Action Items. From 11/3: International Affairs – 8 course deactivations; ME – 1 new course & 1 cross-listed course with BME; CoC – modification in the MS in Information Security covering changes in the specializations offered, in course requirements, & in grade requirements + 2 new courses.

It was moved, seconded and passed without dissent to approve the above minutes and action items.

c.   Student Academic and Financial Affairs Committee (Prof. Craig Tovey, Chair)

Minutes: 10/11/11.  No action items.  Prof. Tovey explained that the committee had been looking at how best to set limits on class absence particularly for student athletes.  He also mentioned that the committee was considering how to respond to an unusual case in which a faculty member did not wish to honor an absence that had been excused for a student.  Also under consideration were a large number of enrollment and admissions issues, particular those associated with transfer students.  In the area of financial affairs, the committee was monitoring and considering how to ameliorate effects of increased student fees and decreased Hope Scholarship support.

Q.  Dr. Bras asked, When a student absence was excused, who had the authority to make it an excused absence?  Ans. The Student Academic and Financial Affairs Committee was charged with this.  Follow-up Q.  Was there a policy about what to do in a case where a class instructor did not agree?  Ans. Dr. Bohlander (Secretary) said the policy was that this committee should figure out the solution.

Comment.  Registrar Reta Pikowsky stated that her office was looking very carefully at managing athletics travel schedules to minimize away time.  She said the question about the professor who did not agree with the excused absence did not involve a student athlete.  There were many reasons that students might request an excused absence; for example, events relevant to future careers.

Prof. Tovey warmly thanked Dr. Paul Kohn, Vice-Provost for Enrollment Services, for his assistance to the committee.

It was moved, seconded and passed without dissent to approve the above minutes.

7.   Dr. Bras commented on a recent tragic accident in which three students were involved, two of which died.  Dr. Bras thanked Vice-President for Student Affairs Bill Schafer and Dean of Students John Stein for their support to members of the campus community who knew these students. 

Secretary of the Faculty, Dr. Ron Bohlander, took a moment to show the faculty that the Faculty Handbook at www.facultyhandbook.gatech.edu had recently been updated to an October 2011 edition incorporating all the changes approved by the faculty since the previous September 2008 edition. He recognized the hard work of the Statutes Committee under Ms. Jeanne Balsam.

Hearing no further business, Dr. Bras adjourned the meeting at about 4:05 PM.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Ronald A. Bohlander
Secretary of the Faculty

February 18, 2012

 

Attachments to be included with archival copy of the minutes:

 

  1. Plans for the reorganization of the Provost’s office.
  2. Minutes of the Meeting of the General Faculty, General Faculty Assembly and the Academic Senate October 4, 2011.
  3. Presentation on the Georgia Tech Charitable Campaign
  4. Minutes of Standing Committees