GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
SCHEDULED MEETINGS OF THE ACADEMIC FACULTY AND
A CALLED MEETING OF THE GENERAL FACULTY
Tuesday, April 26, 2011, 3:00 P.M.
Student Center Theater
1. President Peterson opened the meeting at about 3:05 P.M. He began by introducing the outgoing presidents of the undergraduate and graduate student bodies, Mr. Corey Boone and Mr. Anthony Baldridge, respectively. They in turn, introduced the just elected presidents for the year ahead, Ms. Elle Creel and Mr. James Black, respectively. Mr. Boone explained that Ms. Creel had served the Student Government Association (SGA) as director of external affairs and organized the first ever student-led gubernatorial debate aired on GPB and C-Span. She said she was a third-year business administration major. After introducing Mr. Black, Mr. Baldridge also introduced the graduate student vice-president, Mr. Mihir Pathak. Both graduate student officers were majoring in mechanical engineering. Mr. Boone and Mr. Baldridge closed by thanking the faculty for their support. Dr. Peterson conveyed his appreciation for what Georgia Tech’s student leaders contributed to the campus.
Dr. Peterson had a few items of news to share with the faculty:
· He noted that the historic café in the lower level of the Tech Tower, Junior’s, was closing for reasons determined by the owner. The President stated there had not yet been time to develop a plan for what might occupy this space in the future.
· Commenting on the Institute budget, the President said that planning for the next year involved challenges stemming from the State not providing its usual formula funding while also imposing other budget cuts. Over the past three years, state funding to Georgia Tech has dropped from $285 million to $195 million in funding. About a third of this loss has been made up through tuition increases. There have also been losses of federal stimulus dollars and lower revenues from the Georgia Tech Foundation. Dr. Peterson put this in perspective: Georgia Tech’s overall budget was $1.2 billion. Research funds provided $550 million; $200 million came from tuition; $200 million from the State; $110 million from endowment and gifts; and the remainder came from auxiliary operations. In spite of the challenges ahead, the President pointed to positive signs of better times ahead.
· Regarding tuition, the faculty were reminded that Georgia Tech had adopted a plan to bring its tuition in line with peers over four years. FY 2012 was to be the fourth year and an 18% increase was sought to complete the plan. Only a 3% increase in tuition was approved, and instead, campuses of the University System of Georgia (USG) were allowed to increase fees. This heavily impacted undergraduates on Hope Scholarships and graduate students on assistantships because tuition would have been paid for but not fees. Dr. Peterson stated that the administration had met with graduate student leaders and were exploring potential remedies to ameliorate their situation. He also reported that Georgia Tech tuition and fees would no longer be held the same as those at the University of Georgia because the market drivers were different for the two institutions and their cost structures were different. A question was raised about whether the ratio of out-of-state to in-state students was fixed or might change. Dr. Peterson said there was no fixed ratio but as a practical matter having forty percent out-of-state students seemed to be a portion that satisfied state residents. Presently the freshman class generally has forty percent out-of-state participation, but this ratio falls off in subsequent years. Thus, it might be possible he thought to admit a few more out-of-state students so the overall average in the Institute held at forty percent out of state students.
· Dr. Peterson thanked the faculty for patience with the construction in central campus that had created many obstacles to cross-campus travel. By accomplishing these projects as a combined set, Tech has saved about $1.5 million.
· The President asked the faculty to look for a report from his office which would be issued soon on highlights of accomplishments in the 2010-11 academic year. [Included here as Attachment #1.]
President Peterson called on Provost Rafael Bras for some remarks:
· Provost Bras reported on planning for the future of Georgia Tech’s Savannah campus. A task force engaged in this planning would provide recommendations to the President by June 1. This would probably include a recommendation to slowly phase out the four undergraduate degree programs hosted at this campus. There were twenty-two faculty members presently assigned. The total transition would take at least two years so as not to disrupt the work of the students now engaged in these programs. This did not mean Georgia Tech was leaving Savannah. New programs in things like professional education would be developed that were better fitted to this venue and the unfolding competitive situation.
· The Dean of Engineering search process was nearly complete. Dr. Bras asked for feedback on candidates to be submitted by May 2.
· The Provost reported that a task force was studying how to better manage endowed professorships, at the request of the Georgia Tech Foundation. Proceeds from an endowment would be allowed to accumulate only up to three years, but this limitation would be gradually phased in.
2. Dr. Peterson then asked for approval of the minutes of the February 15, 2011 meeting of the Academic Senate, General Faculty Assembly, and General Faculty. 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. Peterson asked Registrar Reta Pikowsky to present the candidates for the spring commencement. She stated that the spring list of degree candidates had been reviewed and revised as necessary and she moved to approve it. The motion was seconded and passed without dissent.
4. President Peterson called on Prof. Donna Llewellyn, Director of the Center for Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (CETL), to present information about an update in the Course and Instructor Opinion Survey (CIOS) which CETL designs and administers. Dr. Llewellyn reminded the faculty that CIOS was offered to the students every semester to provide opinions about their courses (and their instructors). CIOS was originally designed in 1986 so it was ready an update. It was first put online with the help of OIT in 1999 using ColdFusion but it had reached a state where it was patched together to keep it working. Another motivation for change was that courses offered by Georgia Tech on various campuses did not all start and end on the same dates so greater flexibility in surveying was needed than the current CIOS could provide. Requests had also been received to survey opinions about the effectiveness of Teaching Assistants as well as Professors. So, all these drivers indicated a need for the survey instrument to be redone.
A task force of faculty members, students, and CETL leaders was formed with the help of the Executive Board to look at the survey questions and investigate alternatives. Dr. Llewellyn referred to notes which were handed out that included a brief history, a list of planned new survey questions, and a list of features a new survey instrument could support (Attachment #3). Particular new survey questions were drawn from surveys at other institutions and tried out in several pilots. Experience allowed the list of questions to be refined.
To upgrade the delivery of the survey, three options were considered: 1) OIT could reprogram the survey, fixing known issues, and meeting the functionality goals; 2) Georgia Tech could program and adapt a tool called EVALSYS in T-Square; and 3) Tech could go to a third-party to provide surveying services as well as the instrument needed. It turned out that the OIT option was costly and not a good fit. The T-Square option was also found to be expensive and a high risk. So it turned out that going to a company called Digital Measures appeared to be the most cost effective and reliable solution. This company has successfully met the needs of other schools in the USG and other universities nationwide. Recommendations from references were good. A pilot was done with Digital Measures in summer of 2010 and it worked out well. The plan now was to begin using the new questions and services from Digital Measures in the summer of 2011 for CIOS. TA performance would be surveyed in parallel. Courses offered abroad would be covered in their own time period.
Dr. Llewellyn said there were a few so far unresolved loose ends. For example, departments have had the right to have a few of their own questions added to the survey. How to implement this with Digital Measures was not all worked out yet. Secondly, it had been the practice for faculty to get their results approximately a week before their administrators. In the new system, there was so far only a provision for one reporting date. Finally, there was a need to create a logon process that felt secure to the users.
Dr. Llewellyn stated that she wanted to brief this material so faculty were not surprised this was coming in the summer. She offered to come present this to any departmental faculty meetings and said she would also be working with students in SGA. She asked for questions and comments:
Q. Were the questions in the new CIOS validated as causative measures or correlated measures? Ans. The questions were drawn from the only studies that had validated course surveys from peer institutions (such as CalTech, Carnegie Mellon, Penn State, and others). Those institutions have used them and validated them as best they could. Dr. Llewellyn offered to have an in depth follow up discussion over the research backing this up if anyone was interested.
Q. How would these questions affect RPT (i.e. reappointment, promotion, and tenure)? Ans. Questions 5 and 8 have been carried over from the old CIOS to provide continuity of feedback on quality of teaching. She clarified that although the students were asked to answer from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree” the answers were scored on the same numeric scale that had always been used.
Comment: It seemed that the questions were not phrased in a consistent way. Differences were noted for example in the style of questions 1 and 2. Answer scales also varied in the way they were expressed. This raised a question about the professionalism of the product. Ans. Some questions, as mentioned above, were purposely kept the same as in the earlier CIOS in whatever style was used then. But overall, research has shown that students paid better attention when a variety of expression styles were used. Dr. Llewellyn said that these questions were taken verbatim from other surveys where they had performed well and had been written by professionals. .
Comment: Perhaps there should be a warning to the students at the top of the survey to be careful because “5” was not always matched to “Good”. Ans. The suggestion was acknowledged but experience had shown that warnings at the top of the survey were not that effective. During the pilots, students were asked about the fact that the scales were varied and feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
Comment: Perhaps it would help if the new question 8 which matched the old question 10 could be reordered so it was still question 10. Ans. Question 8 was designed to come earlier in the list of questions to leave room at the end for suggestions about what improvement was most needed as the last thought on the survey.
President Peterson commented that he and Dr. Bras were surprised that no one got to see the students’ comments except the instructor. He felt all could benefit from the insights contained in the comments.
5. Dr. Peterson called on Ms. Jeanne Balsam, Acting Chair of the Statutes Committee, to present three proposed changes in the Faculty Handbook, with the first one dealing with facilities use policies and procedures. She made her presentation on this topic based on Attachment #4a. Proposed new wording for Section 47 of the Faculty Handbook was provided as Attachment #4b and the old wording of this section as Attachment #4c. Ms. Balsam explained that a team led by the Vice President for Student Affairs, Bill Schafer, had been working for the past few years to refine Georgia Tech’s policies in this area and had teamed up with the Statutes Committee to bring it to closure. She covered the reasons for making a change as recorded on slide 2. Many experts and stakeholders had reviewed the proposed changes, including a legal review. The Executive Board of the Institute recently endorsed these changes for consideration by the General Faculty. One of the highlights of the proposed new material was a distinct section on freedom of expression. Ms. Balsam also noted important changes in the process of appeals of decisions about facilities use. In the old policies and procedures, appeals went to the President and the Executive Board and they had only two days to respond (or the appeal was by default approved). In the proposed new policy appeals went to a new Committee on Use of Institute Facilities and a response had to be given in seven business days. Further appeals would go to the President, or then to the Board of Regents.
Ms. Balsam moved that the proposed changes to Section 47 as found in Attachment #4b be approved. The motion was seconded. The President called for any questions or comments:
Q. In what domain or in what settings were freedom of expression supported by this policy? Ans. Section 47 dealt with expression in connection with the occupation of campus facilities. But it was not only speech: it also covered chalking, banners, displays, and other forms of on-campus expression. Follow up comment: University researchers in the Midwest were recently the subject of a Freedom of Information Act request concerning their work and there were concerns about intimidation towards their work. Ans. Legal advisors to Georgia Tech did their best to make the policies neutral with respect to the content of expressions that might be planned. Best practices were followed as identified in a national webinar on this subject.
The motion passed unanimously. The President said that this decision marked a significant step forward and thanked the team of people who made this possible. He said all concerned would continue to look at whether there were additional needs for improvement as time went on.
6. Ms. Balsam moved then to a proposed change in Section 14.3.3 of the Faculty Handbook dealing with formal hearings administered by the Faculty Status and Grievance Committee (FSGC), as described in Attachment #5. Ms. Balsam noted that the faculty had just made some changes in this section in their Feb. 15 meeting but it was realized afterwards that there were some unintended consequences in one aspect. It was realized there needed to be an even number of members in a hearing pool so both sides in a dispute could make the same number of eliminations. It was also recognized that the comments about a second type of hearing at the end of this section referred to hearings not in the jurisdiction of the FSGC. Full specifications for these hearings were provided in Section 5.10 of the Handbook and so it was best to eliminate mention of this in Section 14.3.3 lest there be confusion. It was moved and seconded that the proposed changes in Attachment #5 be approved and the motion passed without dissent.
7. Finally Ms. Balsam introduced proposed changes in sections of the Faculty Handbook dealing with faculty dismissals for cause and without pay. These were documented in Attachment #6. Ms. Balsam explained that these changes were requested by the Executive Board earlier this month when they realized that Georgia Tech policies had gotten out of synch with policies of the Board of Regents, as had been noted by the Chancellor. The Statutes Committee recommended that the list of reasons a faculty member could be dismissed be deleted from Section 5.10.1 because they also appeared in Section 17.3.2. It was best that they not appear in two places. It was further recommended to delete the words in Section 5.10.5 about dismissal with pay specifically to get Georgia Tech policy in line with Board of Regents policy. For the same reason, words were recommended to be added at the beginning of Section 17.3.2. The rest of the changes were just clarifications of wording.
Ms. Balsam explained that the part of the proposed changes in subsections of Section 5.10 were part of the Statutes and would not be in force until the faculty voted in the affirmative at two if its meetings. The part of the changes recommended in Section 17.3.2 could be fully adopted in the present meeting. Ms. Balsam moved to adopt all of the proposed changes in Attachment #6 with the understanding that the changes to parts of 5.10 would not be in force until they were considered and passed again at a subsequent meeting of the faculty. The motion was seconded.
Q. In Section 17.3.2, in the proposed first paragraph, it said that the President could remove a faculty member, but the next paragraph contained the proviso that due process had been followed. Did that mean that the President was not empowered to remove a faculty member? Ans. Dr. Bohlander replied that other parts of Section 5.10 gave a faculty member the right to a hearing, so the policy statements taken together give the President executive authority for removal as long as in so doing due process had been followed.
President Peterson emphasized that these recommended changes were simply designed to align Georgia Tech policy with the Board of Regents. The latter had precedence over Institute policy but there were legal perils if the Institute’s and Board’s policies were out of synch.
Q. In reference to words in Section 17.3.2, was there a definition of moral turpitude? Ans. President Peterson said the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) had a definition that said essentially moral turpitude comprised things which the university’s surrounding community would find morally offensive. Dr. Bohlander commented that in any case the list of reasons to dismiss at the beginning of Section 17.3.2 were essentially verbatim from Board of Regents policy.
The motion passed unanimously.
8. Ms. Balsam called for the approval of the minutes of the Statutes Committee on 3/1/11, 4/4/11, and 4/20/11 dealing with the above matters as recorded in Attachment #7. She moved to have these minutes approved. The motion was seconded and approved without dissent.
9. The President called on the following Standing Committees of the Academic Faculty to present minutes and action items (from Attachment #7) for the approval of the Academic Faculty:
a) Dr. George Riley, Chair of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee referred to the minutes of 2/22/11, 3/8/11, 3/22/11, 4/5/11, 4/19/11, and 4/26/11 and outlined the following Action Items: From 3/22: CEE – 2 new courses & 1 deactivated; CoA-Industrial Design – 1 new course; ISyE – modification in the BS in Industrial Engineering to change computing course requirements; Public Policy – 1 new course & deactivation of the Certificate in Leadership due to the existence of a Minor in Leadership Studies; CoC – modification to the BS in Computer Science concerning required courses when certain choices in threads are made; BME – modification in the BS in Biomedical Engineering concerning course requirements and one minimum grade requirement + 2 new courses; AE – 3 new courses; LCC – modification to the degree BS in Science, Technology, and Culture concerning another course option in ethics topics, modification in the Minor in Women, Science, and Technology to change one course requirement and improve the description of requirements, and updates to the descriptions of 2 poetry courses. From 4/19: Econ. – 2 new courses; CoA-Indus. Design – 12 new courses; ChBE – 5 new courses + modification to the BS in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering for the Standard Option and Biotechnology Option, involving changes in course requirements and more credit hours for capstone course(s); Pub.Pol. – 33 new courses & 36 deactivations; Math – modification in the BS in Discrete Mathematics, involving changes in course requirements; MSE – change in the Minor in Material Science and Engineering, reducing the required hours to 15; CoC – modification in the BS in Computer Science for the Information Internetworks Thread, involving changes in course requirements; Mgt. – 2 new courses + a change in name of the Operations Management certificate to Operations and Supply Chain Management; Biology – modification to the BS in Biology with Research Option, involving a change in a course requirement + modification to the BS in Biology (in all cases) involving changes in required courses + discontinuation of cross-listing of Math 4755 and Biology 4755. From 4/26: CoS – Modification to course requirements for BS with Business Option while still making it possible to achieve this option with 15 hours of credits, and add the BS in Biochemistry degree to the existing list of BS programs for which this option is currently approved.
It was moved, seconded and passed without dissent to approve the above minutes and action items.
b) Dr. Julie Babensee, Chair of the Graduate Curriculum Committee referred to the minutes of 3/10/11 and 4/14/11 and outlined the following Action Items: From 3/10: Mgt – grandfathering of 39-Hour GT dual degree MBA students already admitted, with no further students admitted to this program after March 15, 2011; Degree modification for all graduate programs requiring all PhD students entering on or after Fall 2011 and all research-based MS students entering on or after Fall 2012 to complete Responsible Conduct in Research training, some of which is to be online and some in person; CoA-School of Architecture – 3 new courses; CoA-Industrial Design – 1 new course and possible undergraduate equivalent; HST – 1 new course and identified undergraduate equivalent; CEE – 1 new course; MSE – 8 new courses; CoA-Building Construction – 2 new courses. From 4/14: Pub.Pol. – 1 new course & 1 deactivated; CoA-Bldg.Constr. – new PhD with major in Building Construction; MSE – modification in the PhD with major in Materials Science and Engineering to complete the integration of the curricula of the predecessor schools of MSE and PTFE, and also offering a track for hard materials and one for soft materials; CoC – modification in the MS in Computer Science adding two new specializations, Information Security and Visual Analytics with specified core course requirements for each (including 4 new courses); BME – 16 new courses & 16 deactivations; Mgt. – modification in the MBA degree with changes in course requirements + 3 new courses & 3 deactivations; Math – 1 new course.
It was moved, seconded and passed without dissent to approve the above minutes and action items.
c) Dr. Chuck Parsons, Chair of the Student Regulations Committee referred to the minutes of 3/31/11 and explained the following Action Items:
· Elimination of re-examination to remove a single deficiency necessary for graduation.
· Course catalog amendments to support the Student-Faculty Expectations document that has been approved by GT faculty and students.
· Approval of the revised Facilities Use policy covered in agenda item 5.
It was moved and seconded to approve the above minutes and action items. There was a question about a provision of the course catalog amendments that provided that “Students shall have the opportunity to review graded material in a timely fashion and with reasonable access to grading instruments and/or grading criteria for individual assignments, projects, or exams.” Did this mean there should always be formalized criteria for grading assignments, or was professorial judgment about things like the quality of writing ok? Dr. Parsons answered that there was simply a basic desire for professors to be open with students about what they would be looking for in assessing the students’ work. It was explained that the emphasis was on reasonable clarity and timeliness. The motion passed unanimously.
10. Dr. Peterson asked Dr. Bras to comment on his first academic year at Georgia Tech. Dr. Bras said it had been a very enjoyable year and he appreciated the spirit of welcome he found here. He particularly commended the student leaders for their work. He said there was also a very constructive and transparent working relationship with the college deans and other leaders. He noted that faculty quality continued to improve. Dr. Bras reiterated the importance of the Georgia Tech vision that Tech would be the prototypical technological university of the 21st century and everyone would want to know, what George Tech thought. He commended the work toward the goals of the Strategic Plan. Implementation plans were taking shape on nineteen new initiatives to meet those goals, and a steering committee would soon be announced to provide oversight and keep the efforts moving if they were bearing fruit. He noted the imminent opening of the Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons whose programming was under the leadership of the library. He stated that work was proceeding on ideas of how to promote closer working relationships between faculty and students.
The President invited the faculty to attend the upcoming commencement ceremonies, noting that Dr. Subra Suresh, Director of the National Science Foundation, and Mr. Mike Duke, President and CEO of Wal-Mart would be the commencement speakers. Dr. Peterson asked if there was any new business and hearing none, adjourned the meeting at about 4:50 PM.
Secretary of the Faculty
August 25, 2011