GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
CALLED MEETING OF THE GENERAL FACULTY
MEETING OF THE ACADEMIC SENATE
ANNUAL MEETING OF THE ACADEMIC FACULTY
Tuesday, April 20, 2004, 3:00 pm
Student Center Theater
1. The President opened the meeting at 3:05 PM and offered the following remarks on matters of interest to the Georgia Tech community:
a. The FY05 budget is yet to be finalized; the Governor will likely call a special session of the Legislature to correct a $57M imbalance in the ~$16B budget. Given the circumstances, we are pleased with the University System budget -- funds have been provided to fully-fund the formula (enrollment growth), and near-full funding (slightly less than the Governor’s recommendation) for MRR (Maintenance, Renovation, and Repair Fund) which was severely cut last year (from ~ $55M to ~$20M).
b. The budget includes a $1M special initiative for our Savannah campus (GTREP-- GT Regional Engineering program) to accommodate its rapid enrollment growth, and $2M to plan the Nanotechnology Research Center (the remaining $43M of the State’s commitment will be provided next year).
c. There will likely be a 2% salary increase, which will take effect January 1st 2005, so that the effective raise is ~ 1%. We will likely be given some flexibility in how the raises will be implemented.
d. The 2.5% budget cut was implemented; no additional cuts are expected for this year.
e. The Board of Regents will not set the tuition levels until the Legislature finalizes the budget appropriations for the University System (probably at the BoR May meeting).
f. We will likely get our fair share of the “workload” money from the Chancellor’s office. Normally, the Chancellor keeps 20% for strategic allocation; this year he will keep only 15% -- we expect most of it to be returned to us based on the performance criteria used by the Chancellor.
g. The incoming class size and quality appear to be on target; deposits are slightly ahead of last year (probably due to our latest academic rankings and Basketball team performance).
h. The latest USNWR rankings show continued outstanding performance by the College of Engineering (fifth overall -- same as last year; notably, BME advanced from sixth to second). The College of Management re-entered the top fifty (currently ranked 42).
i. Governor Perdue will be the speaker at our Spring Undergraduate Commencement; the Graduate Commencement speaker will be Dr. John Slaughter (President and CEO of NACME, The National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering; former NSF Director and Chancellor of the University of Maryland-College Park). Dr. Slaughter will be awarded an Honorary Doctorate in recognition of his contributions to higher education.
A question was asked regarding the budget for GTREP. The President indicated that with the help of Senator Eric Johnson, an additional $1M has been provided to GTREP in order to handle their rapid enrollment growth. There were no other questions for the President.
2. The President called for approval of the minutes of the February 3, 2004 meeting of the Academic Senate and General Faculty Assembly, and the February 24, 2004 meeting of the General Faculty and General Faculty Assembly. He indicated that the minutes had been posted on the faculty governance website and that a link was provided from this meeting’s agenda. The minutes were approved without dissent. (See attachment #1 below for web site reference).
3. The President called on Dr. Ron Bohlander, Chair of the Statutes Committee, to present proposed changes in the Georgia Tech Faculty Handbook for a second reading. A copy of the slides used in the presentation, including exact wording of the proposed revisions, is attached (Attachment #2 below). Bohlander indicated that this second reading is aimed at completing the approval process for Faculty Handbook revisions necessary to meet the SACS accreditation requirements. Most of the revisions required only one reading and were approved by the Faculty at the February 24, 2004 meeting; the revisions presented today pertain to the Statutes part of the Handbook, which requires two readings for approval. The five issues identified by the SACS compliance team which required changes in the Faculty Handbook were briefly reviewed. The revisions presented today for a second reading are a part of the changes made to address the third issue, namely the requirement that “The Institute must establish and implement a policy requiring each degree program to have published student learning outcomes; demonstrate that it assesses on a regular and systematic manner whether students achieve these outcomes; and provide evidence of program adjustments based on those assessment results.” In order to address this issue, modifications have been made to Section 5.10 of the Handbook to describe what is actually done with program reviews; the modifications draw heavily on the Board or Regents policy. Additionally, the mandates of the Undergraduate and Graduate Curriculum Committees have been slightly modified to clarify the committees’ role in program reviews; the program review cycle has also been revised from the currently mandated six-year cycle to a more flexible requirement consistent with the BoR policies as stated in the updated Section 5.10 of the Handbook. These revisions are incorporated in the Statutes part of the Handbook [Sections 184.108.40.206. (a)(6) and 220.127.116.11.(b)(8)]; they were presented and approved for a first reading at the February 24, 2004 meeting, and are now being presented for a second reading. Bohlander indicated that these changes were posted on the faculty governance website (Attachment #2), and that a link was provided from this meeting’s agenda. A motion was made to approve the second reading of proposed modifications to Sections 18.104.22.168. (a)(6) and 22.214.171.124.(b)(8) of the Faculty Handbook. The motion passed without dissent.
The President thanked Dr. Bohlander and the Statutes Committee for their considerable efforts in preparation for our SACS review.
4. The President called on Ms. Jo McIver (Registrar) to present the degree candidates for the Spring Commencement. She indicated that the names of the 2,567 degree candidates for the Spring 2004 commencement have been made available to the Academic Departments and Deans. It was moved that all candidates who complete their requirements by May 7th, 2004 be awarded their degrees. The motion passed without dissent.
A question was asked as to whether the number of degree candidates this Spring (2,567) represents a record. McIver responded affirmatively and indicated that the number is 9% higher than last year’s Spring term, and that it includes 1,456 Bachelors, 836 Masters, and 275 Ph.D. degrees.
5. The President called on Dr. Robert McMath (Vice Provost) to report on the activities of the Ad Hoc Committee on Quality Undergraduate Education. A copy of the committee’s interim report was distributed at the meeting (Attachment #3 below). McMath indicated that the committee was formed by the Executive Board last summer and charged with “exploring and evaluating what quality undergraduate experience is, or should be, at Georgia Tech, and ways of sustaining the highest possible quality commensurate with the abilities of our students.” He indicated that the committee’s charge evolved from discussions held last year by the Academic Senate and the Executive Board on the issue of grade inflation. The committee includes representatives from standing faculty committees which deal with undergraduate education, along with three students. He indicated that the committee will complete its final report within about a month and will report back to the Executive Board and the Academic Senate for action; the interim report (Attachment #3) is essentially an outline of the final report.
McMath indicated that the committee began by reviewing a “white paper” authored by Professor Jack Marr (Psych) entitled: “Congruent Quality in Undergraduate Education: Can we make grade inflation irrelevant?” The committee also reviewed a report entitled: “What do undergraduates think about their academic experience at Georgia Tech?” which was based on a student-opinion survey sponsored by McMath. The committee sought and received input from colleges and schools on essentially the same set of questions that had been asked of the students; valuable insight was gained from such input. Many units around campus have had ongoing student-faculty discussions on this issue for some time; such discussions have mainly addressed “local issues,” nevertheless, they have had a great deal of impact. McMath stated that the final report will include recommendations to the institute faculty as a whole, and where appropriate, to unit-level faculty and administrators. Measurable outcomes for each recommendation will be suggested. Attention will be called to “best-practices” and areas in need of improvement; these range in difficulty from “no-brainers” which can be implemented immediately, to issues involving significant cultural shifts which may take several years to implement.
Preliminary recommendations offered by the committee were enumerated; these were grouped into four categories dealing with: (1) Student-faculty interactions, teaching style/methods, and course management; (2) Curriculum; (3) Support for students outside the classroom; and (4) Physical infrastructure. For the first category, specific recommendations were listed for student-faculty responsibilities toward each other, actions which enhance the effectiveness of teaching styles and methods, as well as the relationship between faculty, Teaching Assistants, and students. He indicated that several initiatives are underway to better-prepare the TA’s and ensure better coordination between the TA’s and the instructors. McMath indicated that more attention will be placed on the curriculum itself; the committee believes that the undergraduate curriculum needs to shift more in the direction of active experiential learning, and that all parts of our degree programs (from foundational courses through capstone experiences) need to be connected in ways that make sense pedagogically and can be demonstrated as such to the students. He offered BME as an example of an undergraduate program experimenting with a teaching style focused on problem-based learning. Specific recommendations were offered with the goal of establishing an undergraduate curriculum which more fully integrates innovation and discovery into courses at all levels – a curriculum in which each element adds value to the whole and the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. McMath pointed to the importance of articulating the relationship between the foundational courses (general education) and the majors. Recommendations to enhance support for students outside the classroom were offered; they include specific recommendations in the areas advising, mentoring, academic support, and access to information about out-of-class opportunities, such as co-op, research, international study, and leadership. He pointed to the fact that while academic advising is “de-centralized,” a central advising system can enhance and augment the unit-based advising system. Recommendations regarding improvements in the physical infrastructure were offered; these include the use of teaching spaces and educational technologies that promote effective teaching and learning, efficient utilization of existing teaching spaces, continued strengthening of the library, and construction of the Undergraduate Learning Center.
McMath discussed the committee’s next steps and how the recommendations will be implemented. He indicated that many of the recommendations can be implemented at the school level; specific recommendations will be offered regarding the responsibilities of the school chairs and departmental committees with oversight for teaching and curricular matters. He pointed to the issue of whether existing institute-wide faculty committees (e.g. the UGCC) have the mandate and the capacity to plan and lead curricular and other changes of the type identified in the report; some modification in our standing faculty committees may be necessary. McMath indicated that the committee’s recommendations are not “revenue-neutral,” and that the report will address the issue of how resources can be identified and directed toward their accomplishment. McMath invited the faculty to contact the committee with any comments and/or suggestions before the final report is issued.
A comment was made that it may be beneficial to utilize GTRI in the effort of bringing “real-world problems” into the classroom. McMath concurred and indicated that during the past two years, significant effort has been devoted to integrating research into the undergraduate educational experience. A comment was made that while the report has many good ideas on what the faculty, staff, and administration can do to enhance undergraduate education, it provides limited input on what the students themselves can do to enhance their educational experience (beyond coming to class on time and practicing the Honor Code). McMath concurred and stated that this section of the report will be expanded; he indicated that significant feedback along the same lines has been received from the units, particularly those which have had ongoing dialogue between faculty and students. A comment was made that while the committee’s charter was focused on undergraduate education, many the recommendations will also be relevant to graduate education. A question was raised regarding the timeline for completion and approval of the committee’s report, especially since some units (e.g. ME) are in the midst of curriculum reviews and can benefit from such a report. McMath indicated that the final report will likely follow the same outline as the interim report distributed at this meeting (Attachment #3), and that he would be willing to speak to specific units regarding the committee’s recommendations before the final report is issued. A comment was made that once the final report is completed (in about a month), it can be distributed to the units before it is presented to the Academic Senate next Fall. A question was asked regarding the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) being developed in preparation for the SACS accreditation. McMath indicated that there is significant overlap in personnel between the two efforts; however, the main focus of the QEP will be on experiential learning both inside and outside the classroom, whereas this committee’s report has a significantly broader scope. The President indicated that it is important to keep in mind that we are trying to develop an educational system where students not only become proficient in their chosen majors, but also have opportunities for “educational enrichment” through personalized experiences such as study abroad and undergraduate research. The President thanked Dr. McMath and the Committee for their efforts on this important issue.
6. The President called for approval of the minutes of Standing Committees of the General Faculty which do not contain any action items, all of which have been posted on the web (see Attachment #4 below for web site listing of minutes of all Standing Committees)
a. Academic Services: 02/17/04; 04/05/04
b. Welfare & Security: 01/30/04
The President indicated that representatives of these committees are available to answer any questions. The minutes were approved without dissent.
7. The President called on Chairs of three standing committees of the Academic Senate to introduce minutes from their respective committee meetings and action items therein. He indicated that these minutes were published on the faculty governance web site and that a link was provided from the formal agenda for this meeting (see Attachment #4 below for web site listing of minutes of all Standing Committees)
a. Scott Wills, Chair of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, indicated that there are six sets of minutes to be approved (01/05/04; 01/14/04; 01/28/04; 02/25/04; 03/17/04; and 04/07/04). He provided a list of action items contained in those minutes which require separate approval by the faculty (see attachment #5 below); these include: new courses in BMED, ISYE, AE and CS, and new COC and ECE Certificate in Information Assurance (01/14/04); new courses in LCC and BMED (02/25/04); new courses in CEE, BIOL, MGT and CS, new INTA Certificates in Latin American Studies and European Union Studies, and change of course designation from CHE to CHBE (03/17/04); new courses in ECE, CS, and LCC, cross-listed courses in BMED/ECE/CHE/ME, new minor in Computer Science, new LCC and CoC degree in Computational Media, and posthumous degree award (04/17/04). A motion to approve the action items presented by the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee passed without dissent. A follow-up motion to approve the minutes of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee meetings dated January 5th, 2004, January 14th, 2004, January 28th, 2004, February 25th, 2004, March 17th, 2004, and April 7th, 2004 passed without dissent.
b. Bill Green, Chair of the Graduate Curriculum Committee, indicated that there are three sets of minutes to be approved (12/04/03; 01/29/04; and 02/26/04). He provided a list of action items contained in those minutes which require separate approval by the faculty (see attachment #6 below); these include: substitution of BMED 9000 for BMED 7000 in MS BMED (12/04/03); new courses in Math and Biology, cross-listed courses in BMED/CHE/ME/MSE, inactive courses in MSE and ME, and policy clarification on appointment of thesis advisory committees (01/29/04); new courses in AE, inactive courses in AE, distance-learning MS in AE, posthumous degree award, cross-listed course in ECE/ME, change of course designation from CHE to CHBE, and new PhD Program in Human Centered Computing (02/26/04). He indicated that Professor James Foley (CoC) is in attendance to answer any questions regarding the new PhD Program in Human Centered Computing. A motion to approve the minutes of the Graduate Curriculum Committee meetings dated December 4th, 2003, January 29th, 2004, and February 26th, 2004, and all the action items therein passed without dissent.
c. Paul Benkeser, Chair of the Student regulations Committee (SRC), indicated that there are two sets of minutes to be approved (02/09/04; and 03/15/04), and that there is only one action item from the March 15th, 2004 meeting which requires separate approval by the faculty (see attachment #7 below). He began by briefing the faculty on another item of business discussed by the SRC which was not acted upon, namely the “Grade Substitution Policy.” He stated that the proposed grade substitution policy has been discussed by various committees and groups around campus for the past two semesters; earlier this term, the proposed policy, including specific recommendations, was referred to the SRC by the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee. The SRC solicited input on the proposed policy from student groups and faculty in the various colleges. Faculty input reflected “lukewarm” support, while student input was highly “bimodal” with some indicating strong support and others indicating strong opposition. He indicated that the proposed policy would impact courses taken by freshmen in their first two terms in residence; it is intended to address the issue of student retention for those who have difficulty adjusting to Georgia Tech during their first year. He indicated that the information received by the SRC has caused the Committee to pause and reflect on the issue, and that additional information is needed to assess the long term impact of such a policy. He indicated that some universities, which had similar policies in the past, have eliminated them. He also stated that the student retention problem is not significant between the first and second year; instead it is more significant during the following year – this points to the possibility that the proposed policy may be directed at the wrong problem. Given these uncertainties, the SRC decided to postpone action on the grade substitution policy until all the data are collected and carefully examined (probably in the Fall).
Benkeser presented the action item from the March 15th, 2004 meeting (Attachment #7). He stated that the proposal deals with modification of the academic calendar in order to take better advantage of the mid-term grades for 1000- and 2000-level courses, and that it has been recommended for approval by the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee. Students in those classes receive a mid-term grade of either “Satisfactory” or “Unsatisfactory.” The purpose is to provide an opportunity for intervention when a student’s performance is unsatisfactory. Currently, this information becomes available to the units during the academic advising period for the following term’s registration, which makes it very difficult for Academic Advisors to deal with both midterm grade issues and academic advisement. Additionally, this occurs after the point at which students can drop courses; drop dates for the Fall and Spring terms occur at the end of the sixth week, while midterm grades are available around the eighth week. The proposal reverses the dates for withdrawal and midterm reports; withdrawal from a course would be allowed till the end of the eighth week, while midterm grades (to be called “Progress Reports”) would be submitted at the end of the sixth week. This proposal impacts Sections V.A.3 and V.A.5 of the Student Rules and Regulations; in order to make it applicable to all three terms (including the summer), the proposed policy specifies the drop date to be after 50% of the term has been completed (Section V.A.3), while the progress reports are due after 40% of the term has been completed (Section V.A.5).
A question was asked regarding the effect of change in the withdrawal date on refunding of fees to students. The Registrar indicated that a student does not receive a refund unless he/she totally withdraws from school; the proposed revision does not affect the date for total withdrawal (end of tenth week) – hence, it will have no impact on fee refund. A comment was made that at the time of semester conversion there was considerable discussion regarding the pros and cons for the early withdrawal date. A follow-up question was asked as to whether the committee re-examined that debate. Benkeser indicated that the committee did not revisit that debate; he pointed out that our current drop date is considerably earlier than other universities. Hughes (ECE) indicated that he chaired the Student Regulations Committee at the time of semester conversion, and that the main motivation for the early withdrawal date was the concern expressed by the units regarding the potential disruption caused by delayed withdrawal from laboratory and/or project-type courses, and how the remaining team members may be affected. He stated that since that time, the Registrar has implemented an option which blocks withdrawal from specific courses designated by the units (students can still drop if they have legitimate reasons), which addresses this concern. Benkeser stated that one should keep in mind that only 4% of our students drop undergraduate courses and 2% drop graduate courses, which may be reduced even further if the mid-term advising is improved. A comment was made that in some universities (e.g. Stanford) the drop date is the final exam date; a student can withdraw from a course by simply not showing up for the final exam. A motion was made to approve the proposed modifications to Sections V.A.3 and V.A.5 of the Student Rules and Regulations. The motion passed without dissent. A follow-up motion to approve the minutes of the Student Regulations Committee meetings dated February 9th, 2004 and March 15th, 2004 passed without dissent.
8. The President called for approval of the minutes of other Standing Committees of the Academic Senate which do not contain any action items, all of which have been posted on the web (see Attachment #4 below for web site listing of minutes of all Standing Committees)
c. Student Activities: 11/19/03
d. Academic Integrity: 11/11/03; 11/21/03; 02/12/04; 02/26/04
The President indicated that representatives of these committees are available to answer any questions. Brent Carter, Chair of the Student Activities Committee, stated that at the November 19th, 2003 meeting, the Committee discussed and approved changes to the Conduct Code and Disciplinary Procedures for Student Organizations. These changes were subsequently revised and “re-approved” at a later meeting; they will be posted and presented as an action item for faculty approval as a part of the minutes of that meeting (March 17th, 2004). The minutes were approved without dissent.
9. The President called for any other business; hearing none, the meeting was adjourned at 4:15 PM.
Secretary of the Faculty
April 26, 2004
Attachments to be included with archival copy of the minutes:
a. February 3, 2004 meeting of the Academic Senate & General Faculty Assembly: http://www.facultysenate.gatech.edu/ASGFA2004-020304-Minuteswbpg.htm
b. February 24, 2004 meeting of the General Faculty & General Faculty Assembly: http://www.facultysenate.gatech.edu/GFGFA2004-022404-Minuteswbpg.htm