GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

FALL MEETING OF THE ACADEMIC SENATE

Combined with a Called Meeting of the

GENERAL FACULTY

 

Tuesday, November 27, 2007, 3:00 pm

Student Center Theater

 

MINUTES

 

 

1.      The President opened the meeting at 3:05 P.M. and offered the following comments on matters of interest to the Georgia Tech community:

a.       He began by announcing that the Undergraduate Learning Center project has been recommended by the Chancellor to the Governor for construction funding.  The plan is for the building to be built on the parking lot to the west of the library.  In the hopes of expediting the project, planning has been completed by a team chaired by Dr. Anderson Smith (Senior Vice-Provost for Academic Affairs).  The building will accommodate all of Tech’s freshman and some sophomore science labs, central advising and other services for students, and an innovative new information commons (similar in some respects to the information commons found in the east and west information commons of the library today).  The Center has been planned as a very open building allowing people to walk freely through and up and down in the building.  It will be a signature structure for the center of the campus and will anchor one side of the Tech Green.  Dr. Clough reported that the selection of the project architect has been narrowed to a list of five finalists.  Preliminary contracting will draw on private funds that allow Tech to get started in advance of state funding.  If funding is granted in the next round, it may be possible to begin the full project in the summer of 2008.

b.   The overall annual state budget process is moving along positively.  The Chancellor has given the Governor his recommendations.  Key needs are the support for salaries and for the Institute work load.  The latter is based on a formula that tracks enrollment growth but lags about two years.  Meeting the formula is crucial to keep up with ongoing growth such as experienced over the past few years.  Tech is hopeful that the Governor and the legislature will support these recommendations. 

c.   On the Capital Campaign, Tech will finish 2007 on target and more than half way to its goal of raising $1 billion.  The campaign is still in its quiet phase, in which Tech is in touch with prospective donors but has made no overall public announcement.  At some point there will be a meeting with the Campaign Steering committee to determine whether the Campaign goal needs to be revised.  Dr. Clough reported that meetings are also underway with deans and other unit heads to ascertain whether unit goals need revision.  Some revision of unit goals, up or down, will help keep the various teams focused on achievable goals.  There is no doubt however that an overall goal of at least $1 billion is achievable.

d.   President Clough reported that the Financial Times of London has ranked Georgia Tech in the top 200 World Universities.  Tech’s rank this year is 97th, up from 145th last year.  There was also a special category for the world’s best in technology and innovation.  They listed 50 universities and Tech was 8th on that list.

e.   The Faculty Benefits Committee has brought the need for more childcare to the attention of the administration.  Some years back, Tech had no childcare for employee and student families but then with the help of two generous donors, it became possible to build a childcare facility in Home Park.  The donors provided land that had an add feature of proximity to a park provided by the city.  The resulting facility has been managed under a contract with a well-regarded firm, Bright Horizons Family Solutions, Inc. 

The President stated that this facility is now over-subscribed.  So a second facility is needed and Dr. Clough pointed to two issues:  a) finding the funds to build it, and b) finding funds to subsidize it.  This will need to be accomplished with private money as state funds cannot be used.  When the latest family housing units were built they also included the shell of a daycare center but the facility was not fitted out on the inside.  Dr. Clough reported estimates of about $2 million to complete construction and make it ready to use. 

He then called on Provost Gary Schuster to comment on outcomes from a study group instituted to prepare for the next phase.  Dr. Schuster affirmed Dr. Clough’s assessment that demand for daycare has outstripped the resources of Tech and in the surrounding community.  Proximity to where people work is very important to parents who may need to stop back into the daycare facility to deal with issues that arise.  He said that a lot of the demand comes from graduate students. 

Tech has requested and expects to receive soon a proposal from Bright Horizons to accomplish the needed expanded facilities.  This will take account of state regulations concerning the size of the facility relative to the population in various age groups to be served.  Dr. Schuster said he was hopeful that a plan would be adopted within the next few months.  He said that the challenge of finding a source of funding for the $2 million needed had not yet been met but that meeting this need is a high priority.

f.    Dr. Clough mentioned two groups that have been chartered for initiatives concerning water issues and the drought in Georgia.  Marcia Kinstler (from Campus Environmental Stewardship in Finance and Administration) heads up the first of these groups.  They are looking at what can be done on campus to respond to the requirement from the Governor to reduce water usage by ten percent or more.  The good news is that through hard work by the Physical Plant department and others, Tech has reduced water usage over the past five years by 25 percent per capita.  This was accomplished through the use of low-flow water outlets as well as capturing and reusing rainwater and condensate from the air conditioning systems where possible.  There are still some older buildings where there remain opportunities for improvement but all the new buildings meet expected standards for water conservation.  Dr. Clough said, however, that there are also standards of personal use of water that can be addressed.  Because the campus has such a dense population of people, it represents the second largest water user in metro Atlanta.  He said approximately 12,000 people live on campus around the clock and then another 10,000 people are here during the day.  So individual savings of water can be significant in the aggregate.  A draft report of this campus water conservation group is in review and will be issued soon to invite cooperation and feedback from the campus.  The second part of what this group will be doing is helping schools, churches, and other organizations in the local community better understand their options for conserving water.  Tech has arranged, through some of its alumni, to work with Home Depot in this outreach program.  Advice on how to reduce water usage and ready access to needed devices will be provided by the program. 

      A second group has been instituted by Provost Gary Schuster and is made up of some of Tech’s academic experts in water usage and related topics.  They will provide advice and assistance to regional governments and the federal government concerning the drought.  This might involve reservoir planning and management, assessment of water conditions, policy issues, and many other topics.  They will soon issue reports on several areas and these will be shared with the campus.  Dr. Clough said this work is timely and a valuable service to the citizens of Georgia.

g.   Lastly, he called attention to the ongoing search for a Vice-Provost for Academic Diversity.  An outstanding pool of four candidates has been announced.  This new position is needed to ensure the campus is doing all it can to diversify participation in all its activities.  Dr. Clough said this involves more than just ethnic diversity – it also includes economic diversity and global diversity among others.  He said he hoped to have this search completed soon.

2.      Hearing no questions on the above, the President asked for approval of the minutes of the meeting of October 16, 2007 [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 additions or corrections. (See Attachment #1 below for web site reference).   The minutes were approved without dissent.  

3.   The President called on the Registrar, Reta Pikowsky, to present the degree candidates for the December 2007 commencements.  She said that the list of degree candidates for the commencements had been reviewed and revised as necessary.  She moved that they be accepted.  The motion was seconded and passed without dissent.  Dr. Clough reminded everyone that this was a year of many graduations.  Renovations of the ventilation system were still not complete in the Alexander Memorial Coliseum and so commencements were being handled in a series of smaller ceremonies in the Coliseum as follows:  Masters and PhD candidates will graduate Friday evening, Dec. 14.  Undergraduate candidates from all colleges except engineering will graduate Saturday morning, Dec. 15, and engineering candidates, in the afternoon of that day.  The speakers for these events are respectively, Robert Grubbs, Nobel laureate in chemistry; Lt. Governor Casey Cagle; and Norm Augustine, a distinguished leader in the aerospace industry and in government service.

 

4.   The President introduced Mr. Andy Altizer as a relatively new member of the Georgia Tech staff and the Director of Emergency Preparedness on campus.  Dr. Clough cited examples of the kinds of things that fall in Mr. Altizer’s purview and mentioned an incident on Nov. 8 when a small explosion occurred in the Ford Building.  He said the incident itself was handled well but an individual went too far in sending out a message via the GTENS system to evacuate the whole campus.  Tech learned a lot from this mistake, including that the GTENS system works, but also what to do better next time.  Dr. Clough said that Mr. Altizer has led the preparation of a twelve-page document on lessons learned.

Mr. Altizer made his presentation on emergency preparedness using and following closely the PowerPoint slides contained in Attachment #2.  He introduced himself and explained that just prior to coming to Tech he had been with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) for five years and before that had been deployed with the military to Afghanistan.  He explained that his position in the campus police department reports to the Chief of Police but he is not a police officer.  He said work on emergency preparedness is prioritized based on threat and risk assessments or the maintenance of vital infrastructure, like the GTENS system.  Threat and risk assessments are prepared for every major event on campus, for example.  Mr. Altizer observed that his department must coordinate closely with Atlanta police because activity in the adjacent neighborhood often flows onto campus and becomes a campus problem (and conversely).  In the past year, most violent issues on campus began outside the campus.  He said the campus also had to be able to respond to situations that can not be foreseen well, such as threats from “lone wolves” who plan a violent act without telling anyone.  Subsequent copycat events are also things that the campus proactively prepares to thwart.

Mr. Altizer discussed work to address possible future incidents like the one at Virginia Tech.  He noted that there had been a major joint planning meeting between Georgia Tech and Atlanta police held at Tech about a month before the Virginia Tech incident.  This enabled some important coordination details to be worked out.  He said that tactical police doctrine had come a long way since the Columbine School incident several years ago.  Police now do not wait to confront shooters until special operations police can arrive.  People have learned that too much time elapses between initial securing of the perimeter of an incident and the arrival of special resources and so police are now trained to engage the attacker promptly to try to prevent deaths.  Additional training was provided to Georgia Tech police immediately after the Virginia Tech events to make sure all were up on the latest tactics. 

He commented that Tech is now better prepared to assist mobility impaired personnel in cases of fire because they have a database of such persons and when a fire alarm is activated for a building, the information on persons needing assistance is made available to the fire department.

In regard to hazardous weather, the campus has recognized they need for more specific information than countywide alerts, so Tech has contracted with a weather service that monitors weather reports and radar systems and contacts Tech when a specific threat is approaching the campus. 

Mr. Altizer commented on the importance of comprehensive planning and coordination in responding to emergencies.  As an example, he cited the recent explosion in the Ford Building.  Two departments from Georgia Tech and five from the city of Atlanta responded.  It was important that there was a plan in place for how these would relate to each other so that chaos did not happen.  Similarly, he stressed the importance of preparatory exercises as detailed in slides 16 and 17 of the attachment.  He commented that some of Tech’s research resources have been very helpful in providing instructive simulations as well. 

Mr. Altizer reported that Tech has reached out to several other campuses including Virginia Tech for insights on lessons learned elsewhere.  He commented that building robust plans also involves many beyond the network of emergency responders.  It includes campus housing and many other units necessary to rally logistics for a full response.  For example, if there were ever a major residence hall fire, then a sizeable number of students would have to be relocated in a hurry.  Many in the campus community would be needed to make the best possible response.

Mr. Altizer then gave the faculty a history of the GTENS System which was created to notify the campus if an emergency event was in progress.  Initiated on August 20, 2007, this system was designed to send out voice messages, emails, and text messages, and has been based on the Connect-ED product from the NTI Group, Inc. 

He said GTENS would be complemented by the installation of a new outdoor warning system comprising seven siren/loudspeaker combinations.  This system will be completed by around the end of January.  Of course there are other established communications channels as well, such as campus cable TV, the GIT web page, etc. 

Mr. Altizer outlined the campus emergency notification Standard Operating Procedure using Slide 21 of the attachment and said it is being revamped in light of the experiences of Nov. 8.  He also explained that the text messaging part of GTENS is limited to 130 characters so GTENS notices will be supplemented with more details on the Tech web page and in emails.  The President’s Office, Institute Communication and Public Affairs Office, the Dean of Students and others will have a 1-800 number they can call for management purposes.  A policy of automatic recall of critical personnel to the campus during an emergency is being worked out.

Mr. Altizer then reviewed lessons learned in the erroneous use of the GTENS system on Nov. 8, as shown in the outline in Slide 23 of the attachment.  All the feedback received from the campus has been very helpful.  Heard clearly was the message that more information about the problem and more detailed instructions were needed.

He reported that about 16,000 people have opted into the GTENS and more are signing up everyday, in spite of the problems.  He urged all to sign up [via the Georgia Tech Passport System] and to encourage others so that as many as possible on campus are participating. 

In referring to lessons learned from Virginia Tech, Mr. Altizer announced that locks are being put on fifty of Tech’s largest or most prominent classrooms so that they can be locked from the inside and provide haven in cases similar to the tragedy at Virginia Tech.  More work of this kind will follow. 

He wrapped up by saying that the main keys to successful emergency preparedness are to avoid complacency and to promote teamwork.

The floor was opened to questions and the first one was, will messages in the future be manually composed or will there be a library of canned messages.  Mr. Altizer responded that messages in the future would be written manually to fit each particular situation.  Another person asked whether there would be a planned test of the GTENS situation in the future.  Mr. Altizer answered that a test is planned for the third or fourth week of January.  In advance of the test itself, an email will be sent to everyone saying when the GTENS test will happen and asking persons to provide feedback if they do not receive the GTENS messages when they should have.

 

5.   Dr. Clough called on Mr. Tim Strike, Chair of the Statutes Committee to bring a first reading of a recommendation for a change in one of the Statutes.  He made his presentation using the material in Attachment #3.  Mr. Strike stated that he was presenting a recommended change in Statute 5.6.12 concerning the Student Grievance and Appeals Committee.  The need for this change was first requested by the Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Student Integrity.  It was motivated by revisions the faculty adopted last year in the Student Code of Conduct.  In the revised code the Student Grievance and Appeals Committee no longer handles appeals from students who have received sanctions under the code.  Mr. Strike presented a recommendation to delete an obsolete paragraph describing this appeals work.  Dr. Jeff Streator, Chair of the Student Regulations Committee, commented that he was glad to see this taken care of.  He chaired the effort last year to revise the Student Code of Conduct and believed the recommended change was necessary.  Mr. Strike moved that the recommended change documented in Attachment #3 be accepted.  The motion was seconded and passed without dissent.

 

6.   The President then called on representatives of some of the Academic Faculty’s Standing Committees to present minutes and action items requiring approval.  Copies of minutes have been recorded at the website noted as Attachment #4 below.

a)      Prof. Paul Benkeser, member of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, introduced minutes from three meetings (10/10/07, 10/24/07, 11/7/07), two of which had action items:

In the 10/10 meeting minutes, the following changes were approved:  Three new special topics courses from CETL were recognized and free-elective credit was allowed for students taking two existing courses.  Four courses were dropped from the ME curriculum.  Prof. Benkeser also pointed out errors in the original agenda’s listing of action items and this correction has been made to the agenda on file.

In the 11/7 meeting minutes, the following changes were approved: Both degree programs of the Civil and Environmental Engineering will participate in the Research Option.  The Div. of Professional Practice was approved for six new courses built around domestic and international part-time internships.  Eight of their old courses were deactivated.  Both degree programs of the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry will participate in the International Plan.  Biology’s three new courses were approved and sixteen courses deactivated.  Architecture’s new course was approved.

Prof. Benkeser moved that all the above minutes and action items be approved.  The motion was second and approved without dissent.

b)   Prof. Gary Parker, Chair of the Graduate Curriculum Committee, introduced minutes from two meetings (10/25/07, 11/15/07), both with action items:

In the 10/25 meeting minutes, the following changes were approved:  A new course was approved for Computer Science and one for Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.  A joint masters degree with the University of Pretoria was approved for Civil and Environmental Engineering.  ISyE was approved for a new PhD degree with major in Operations Research, along with two new courses. 

In the 11/15 meeting minutes, the following changes were approved:  Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and Architecture each were approved for a new course.  Mathematics was approved to cross-list two courses with Computational Science and Education in the College of Computing.

Prof. Parker moved that all the above minutes and action items be approved.  The motion was second and approved without dissent.

c)   Prof. Jeff Streator, Chair of the Student Regulations Committee, introduced minutes of two committee meetings (8/29/07, 10/29/07) and the results of one email ballot (11/21-26/07).  In reviewing the action items in the latter two, he used the attached PowerPoint slides and text in Attachment #5.

Prof. Streator began by moving that the Academic Senate approve the minutes of 8/29 which had no action items. This was approved without dissent.

He went on to explain the recommendations that came out of the 10/29 meeting: 

1)  Policy documents will henceforth state that academic averages are truncated after two decimal places rather than rounded up.  Prof. Streator explained that this is already how published grades are computed.  The change was just to get this in writing.  Dr. Streator moved that this change be accepted.  It was seconded and passed without dissent.

2)  In the regulations about how student grade grievances are handled, the word “not” shown in blue on Slide 2 of Attachment #5a was inadvertently dropped in preparing the text of the regulations in section XX of the Catalog of the Institute.  Dr. Streator moved that “not” be put back in.  It was seconded and passed without dissent.

3) Ordinarily, the Georgia Tech Registrar’s Office only accepts transfer credits from accredited institutions of higher learning.  Dr. Streator reported that the committee wanted to relax that for new institutions of the University System of Georgia as shown in Slide 3 of Attachment #5a.  Dr. Streator moved that this change in policy be accepted.  The motion was seconded and passed without dissent.

4) The rules in Section XVII of the Catalog governing participation in extracurricular activities currently require that a student not be on academic probation.  The committee proposed to delete that requirement.  Prof. Streator explained the rationale as being in part an issue of enforcement.  Current procedures do not provide a mechanism to know all the activities a student participates in or to inform all student activities of ineligible students.  He noted that intercollegiate athletics is one exception where the necessary information is available to enforce current policy.  Thus, he said there is an issue of fairness in singling out students in activities like athletics.  Prof. Streator moved to delete the requirement that a student not be on academic probation in order to participate in extracurricular activities.  The motion was seconded. 

In discussion, Dr. Clough commented that the NCAA does not have a rule that a student must not be on academic probation, and Tech is one of a very few institutions that requires this.  He said that it was probably put in place with the thinking that extracurricular activities took time away from effective studying but he said he knew of no evidence to support that.  John Stein (Dean of Students) commented that there are other student activities that currently are monitored for enforcement of this rule; namely, student government.  It is not just applied to intercollegiate athletes.  A question from the floor was, if it is not known whether a student involved in extracurricular activities is not on academic probation, how is it known whether they satisfy any of the other three criteria.  Prof. Streator and Reta Pikowsky (Registrar) acknowledged that this was a very good question.  Dr. Clough indicated there may be a few people participating in extracurricular activities who are not Georgia Tech students.  Another comment from the floor was that the rule in question might serve as an important communication to students about the importance of not getting on academic probation even if the rule is unenforceable.  Dr. Streator said the committee felt that ultimately fairness outweighed that concern.  Relative to motivating students to get off academic probation, Dr. Clough submitted that the NCAA rules on academic progress were strict enough to be an even more effective tool.  If the student athletes stay on academic probation they and the Institute lose a scholarship.  The NCAA rules are designed for each student to graduate in five years and to check them every term.  John Stein commented that while athletes may be properly motivated, the proposed change would remove a tool from motivating other students.  He also said that fraternity and sorority members are also monitored with respect to academic probation and are another group for which the current rule is enforced.  Dr. Clough observed that students often do not have this rule high in their thinking about their academic performance and so there may be other more effective ways to reach them.  Prof. Streator reminded the meeting that academic probation itself is a sanction and visible on the transcript.  Bill Schaefer commented that the change made sense in respect of the hundreds of students who participate in extracurricular activities but are not required to be documented on any list.  Those organizations that wish can retain in their constitution a requirement not to be on academic probation. 

The above motion passed on a voice vote.

Prof. Streator moved that the minutes of the 10/29/07 meeting of the Student Regulations Committee be approved.  The motion was seconded and passed without dissent.

Prof. Streator then explained that a question of Tech’s competitive admissions policy had come to the committee and was decided by an email ballot.  He reported the committee favored a change in the wording of these policies as shown in Attachment #5b.  It is recommended to delete the sentence “Applicants who do not satisfy basic admissions criteria may, for sufficient reason, be admitted with the approval of the Executive Admissions Committee appointed by the president of the Institute.”  Also recommended is a minor change in choice of wording in the next paragraph as shown in the attachment.  Prof. Streator stated that he learned from the President’s Office that the Executive Admissions Committee does not make admissions decisions and thus the revised text is more accurate.  He noted that these changes apply to the admissions policies governing both freshmen and transfer applicants. 

Prof. Streator moved that the proposed change in wording be approved.  The motion was seconded.  Dr. Bohlander commented that the need for this change was noted by the Georgia Tech committee that has been working toward NCAA certification in recent months.  Dr. Clough stated that the objective is not to be doing anything special for any student group that Tech does not do for everybody.  So this change makes clear that all prospective students have access to the same processes for admissions.  The motion passed without dissent.

7.      The President stated that approval was needed for the minutes of two Standing Committees of the General Faculty.  None of these minutes had action items.  Copies of minutes have been recorded at the website noted as Attachment #4 below.  Dr. Bettina Cothran, Chair of the Faculty Benefits Committee moved that the 9/25/07 minutes of the Faculty Benefits Committee be approved.  Ms. Marlit Hayslett, member of the Academic Services Committee moved that the 9/20/07 and 10/18/07 minutes of that committee be approved.  The President combined these motions without objection and obtained a second.  The motion(s) passed without dissent.  Dr. Cothran also thanked the President and the Provost for their attention to the needs for childcare facilities.

8.      The President called for any other business, and hearing none, he adjourned the meeting at about 4:40 PM.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Ronald A. Bohlander
Secretary of the Faculty

December 6, 2007

 

Attachments to be included with archival copy of the minutes:

 

  1. Minutes of the Meeting of the General Faculty, General Faculty Assembly and the Academic Senate October 16, 2007
  2. Presentation on Emergency Preparedness on Campus
  3. Proposed change in the Statutes
    1. Presentation
    2. Wording of the change
  4. Standing Committee Minutes
  5. Action items from the Student Regulations Committee
    1. Presentation concerning the meeting of 10/29/07
    2. Changes to Policy on Competitive Admissions from the Student Regulations Committee E-ballot of 11/21-26/07