GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

COMBINED MEETING OF THE

GENERAL FACULTY ASSEMBLY

and

ACADEMIC SENATE

 

Tuesday, February 4, 2003, Student Center Theater

 

MINUTES

 

 

1.      The President opened the meeting at 3:05 PM.  He welcomed the members and offered the following comments on matters of interest to the Georgia Tech community:

 

a.       We are working hard to build relations with the new administration; Governor Perdue previously served on the Georgia Tech Advisory Board for three years; he is familiar with and a strong supporter of Georgia Tech and higher education in general -- he previously served as Chair of the Higher Education Committee of the State Senate; so, none of the issues will be new to him.  He is a thoughtful individual with strong emphasis on ethics; he is making good appointments to his administration; several key staff members are GT alumni -- they know us well and have shown themselves to be receptive to listening and being thoughtful on how to move forward.   We have also visited with leaders of the State Legislature, including Chairs of the Committees most important to us; they are all very supportive of Georgia Tech and higher education in general.   

 

b.      This is not a good budget year for the State; the Foundation budget is also weak because of lower earnings.  We have had serious cuts in our State budget (nearly $17M to date); these cuts offset the revenue enhancements (tuition increase from out-of-State students and increased income from the formula), which we were going to use to improve the campus -- we have, nevertheless, made some advances (hiring new faculty in critical areas), albeit much less than what we would have been able to do without the budget cuts.  Further budget cuts would be quite serious and damaging; this will be reflected in our public statements.  We do not know the final outcome of the State budget process, since many important decisions remain to be made; if the tax increases proposed by the Governor (~ $600M) are not enacted, the State budget would have to be further cut by nearly that amount -- a “proportional” estimate of the impact of such a cut on the GT budget translates to ~ $7M.  On the other hand, if the formula increase requested by the Governor is funded, we deserve, and should expect, a reasonable share of those funds because of our enrollment growth over the past two years.  So, at this time, the outcome is not clear; however, we will likely not have the resources to undertake many, if any, new initiatives. 

 

c.       Our research funding remains very strong, thanks to the efforts of our faculty, staff, and students, who have been able to successfully compete for such funds. The Federal budget for research is strong; the President has supported and signed a bi-partisan bill to significantly increase the NSF budget -- 15% per year over the next five years; research budgets for other Federal agencies (e.g. DOE and NASA) will also increase.  There is a recognition of the need to balance research funding for life sciences versus engineering; this will likely result in increased support for engineering research; funding for scholarships and fellowships for US engineering graduate students will likely increase significantly.  The President indicated that he continues to serve on President Bush’s Advisory Panel, which affords him the opportunity to get advanced insights into research funding.

 

d.      Our facilities construction is on schedule and on budget -- we are very pleased with the significant improvements we have made in our infrastructure, which will be very helpful to our institute in the long run.

 

e.       Our alumni and friends continue to support our gift campaign; fundraising efforts are on target despite the decline in the stock market; we will continue to work hard in that area.    

 

A question was asked regarding the impact of the current State budget on the process of shifting the Yamacraw faculty into the base budget, and on funding of GTREP as a separate line item in the University System budget. The President indicated that the Governor’s budget contains all the funding we had sought for the Yamacraw initiative, including the research funding, which will transition to the GRA budget -- we need to make sure that the funding remains in the budget.  At the same time, we need to continue to work hard to get our share of the formula to create new faculty lines to support the Yamacraw faculty, since ultimately, that initiative will be cut off. The Yamacraw initiative has been a marvelous success story -- doing twice as much as it promised to do.  As for GTREP, our goal has been to “fire wall” it from our budget -- they need to stand on their own feet.  They have not produced students for a long enough period to receive enough formula funding; they are also growing much faster than the formula would support -- So, we have to continue to get special initiative funding for them. We are working hard with some of the new State leaders who support GTREP to get that funding; the Regents and the Chancellor are very pleased with the success of GTREP.  Also, the Chamber of Commerce of the City of Savannah has made this their top initiative with the State Legislature this year. 

 

A comment was made regarding the recent change in the Georgia Tech web site and that it has become difficult to navigate.  The President indicated that, prior to changing the web site, hundreds of people on campus were interviewed to find out what they wanted in the web site;  we now use it for many things, including all our business activities, student application activities, information activities, etc.  The institute web site provides an initial interface with all these activities; beyond the initial interface level, it becomes the responsibility of the various units to support these activities.  The President indicated that comments and suggestions regarding the web site should be sent to Bob Harty (Director, Institute Communications & Public Affairs), and that he and the Provost will follow up on this issue.  

 

2.      The President called for approval of the minutes of the previous meeting, which was posted on the web -- Called meeting of the General Faculty combined with Fall meeting of the Academic Senate (December 3rd, 2002).  The minutes were approved without dissent. (see Attachment #1 below for web site reference)

 

3.      The President called on the Provost, Dr. Jean-Lou Chameau, who presented a talk entitled:  “Where are we really? and What will it take to be where we want to be?”   The Provost indicated that the presentation is based on his extensive discussions last year with members of nearly ten different schools and departments, as well as attendance at faculty workshops, a school chairs retreat, and discussions with many individual faculty members, staff, and students.   The Provost began by offering a candid assessment of the current state of each of the six colleges and the library.  The College of Architecture: one of the earliest programs to gain national reputation; has relatively few senior leaders; does not attract the top students; offers diverse programs; has heavy contact hours compared to the competition; and its studio space is outdated.  The College of Management: gaining momentum, however, the competition has not been idle; experiencing faculty transformation; intellectual leadership and culture of excellence are needed for enhanced reputation; in the process of developing a strategy and focus; has major opportunities through leveraging GT’s technological strengths, and new facilities. 

 

Similar assessments were offered for the Colleges of Engineering and Computing:  excellent faculty, students, and reputation; historical drivers behind Tech’s reputation; not yet (close) universally recognized as among the national and international elite; depth and succession planning issues; beginning to compete well for the top students; getting there was hard – staying there and continuing to improve is harder.  The Ivan Allen College: a young liberal arts college with a “Tech twist” (science and technology focused); has diverse programs of variable strengths; few senior leaders; Tech’s reputation is an asset for quality of students; identity and culture are “works in progress;” poor physical environment in some areas.  The College of Sciences: building a strong foundation for excellence – 40% of faculty hired in past five years; schools in or near top 10% (among 800-900 programs nationwide); reputation variable – not (yet) a part of “our competition;” outstanding junior faculty; thin senior leadership with few “institutional builders;” does nor compete well for top students; facilities have been a major handicap – starting to change (new ES&T building).  The Library:  ranks 106 of 113 in the Association of Research Libraries (MIT ranks 75); has strong leadership; no infrastructure to manage GT intellectual output; limited linkage to learning process; outdated facility – Library West Commons is a positive step.

 

The Provost stated that the method/direction by which the academic units address their current challenges and opportunities will play a pivotal role in attaining the Institute’s vision of defining the technological university for the 21st century.  He outlined ideas for how the academic units can help make that vision a reality. He said that while the academic units are in excellent shape overall and continue making tremendous progress, each one has particular areas that can be strengthened further.  The Provost put forward the following suggestions for each of the six colleges and the Library.   The College of Architecture:  focus on key disciplinary areas, continue building senior intellectual leadership, and improve the studio environment.  The College of Computing:  continue promoting a culture of collaboration, keep strong focus on faculty and student quality, and become a leader in undergraduate education.  The College of Engineering:  continue building momentum and offering leading-edge programs, build programmatic depth across the board, and plan for a significant and recurring investment of resources in faculty and facilities to maintain momentum.  The Ivan Allen College:  nurture programs that are already strong, take advantage of opportunities in other areas, and keep focus on high quality and critical mass development.  The College of Management: maintain focus on the development and recruitment of excellent people in both the faculty and administration, differentiate the college from its competition, and expand and continue improvement of the master’s and Ph.D. programs.  College of Sciences:  bring key programs that are fundamental to the future of Tech to critical mass, continue developing and hiring institutional leaders, and plan for an intensive commitment of resources and investment in facilities to achieve these goals.  The Library:  build strategic partnerships through information technology, build converged learning environments (such as the planned Undergraduate Learning Center), and enter the peer group of technological universities in the Association of Research Libraries. 

 

The Provost listed some “cross-cutting themes,” which apply Institute-wide, including:

 

·        Georgia Tech is not an engineering school, but a leading technological university.

·        Do not follow; lead (examples include Centers of Excellence, bioinformatics, nanoscience, and investing funds in emerging ideas).

·        Maintain and enhance our entrepreneurial culture on campus.

·        Multidisciplinary programs and laboratories are a key component to our success.

·        Tech is a major research university and therefore must continue to build the high quality facilities, infrastructure and people that are integral to such a major research university.

·        Continue expansion of opportunities for undergraduate research.

·        Ensure that a Tech education has a “global flavor.”

·        Continue strong history of entrepreneurship and economic development activities.

·        Marketing is not evil.

·        Increase faculty depth (expand size of faculty in target areas, develop senior institute leaders, improve faculty development and faculty life).

·        Students (continue competing for the best, aggressively pursue “unusual” students, be more aggressive in student development and placement, improve student community life to serve larger number of students living on campus).

 

The Provost concluded by stating that, overall, we are in an excellent position; there are challenges, as well as opportunities for improvement; all our units and faculty are committed to excellence and are taking the right steps even in a time of budgetary constraints. 

 

A question was asked as to whether we may consider combining the Colleges of Engineering and Computing.  The Provost indicated that there are no such plans; there are several different models across the country for the relation between engineering and computing; the model we have is not the most widely used; however, it has been very successful and we do not intend to change it. From a practical standpoint, both colleges are already very large; combining them would be unwieldy, especially with the added CoC commitment to undergraduate education.   In response to a question regarding the meaning of the word “culture” used during the presentation, the Provost responded by using the example of the Ivan Allen College; it is a young college, consisting of many units; all the “pieces” do not necessarily have the same long-term goals and/or vision; they are working very hard to implement a “unified vision” as articulated by Dean Rosser -- it takes time to establish that “unified culture;” on the other hand, there is an overall culture of entrepreneurship among the Georgia Tech faculty, researchers, staff, and students; the institute should nurture that spirit --  we should provide a general organizational framework by which we operate; however, within that framework, we should allow for the “organized chaos” that is the root of so much incredible creativity.

 

A question was asked regarding the role of Georgia Tech’s international units.  The Provost responded by pointing to the fact that 33% of our Bachelor-level graduates last year had some form of international experience by the time they graduated; for most other universities, that number is in the range of two to seven percent -- most of whom are in the arts, with very few in engineering and sciences.  Georgia Tech students have a menu of opportunities for international experience (3 months to a year) through an international Co-op program, a variety of summer programs, Singapore and GTL activities, etc. These activities enrich the students’ educational experience; additionally, the research components within some of these activities (Singapore and GTL) enhance Georgia Tech’s reputation around the world. 

 

A comment was made that among the unique aspects of Georgia Tech is the huge disparity in size among different units (e.g., ECE versus Applied Physiology); how does that impact our progress and priorities in times of budgetary constraints? -- a $100k investment would have a very large impact on a small program, and relatively little impact on a large unit; yet we could not stop investing in large units, since “damage” accumulates over time. The Provost responded by indicating that one has to recognize that some programs need to be large because of  the nature of their discipline and/or mission, while others do not, as long as a “critical mass” is maintained; in all cases, however, one needs to focus on quality, and look at the impact of each investment when establishing priorities. 

 

The President thanked the Provost for his insightful presentation.

 

4.      The President called on Professor Bill Sayle (ECE), who presented a proposal to Extend the time period for students to submit their course-instructor opinion survey, as well as the hours during which the surveys can be submitted on line.    Copies of the transparencies used in Dr. Sayle’s presentation are attached (see #2 below).  Sayle indicated that students are currently allowed to submit their instructor-course opinion survey on the web until the last day of classes, and that the system is available only between 6 AM and Midnight (Eastern Time).  The first part of the proposal extends the time period for students to submit their evaluations through the end of exam week.  He pointed out that the 0600-2400 EST time constraint was a “software” issue; we also did not want the students to be “tired” or “upset” when they submit the evaluations.  However, since we now have programs around the world within different time zones, it is proposed that we extend the opportunity for students to submit their evaluations on line -- 24 hrs/day, 7 days/wk.  Sayle presented response rate data for the Fall 2002 term (data provided by CETL); the rate ranged from nearly one third (CoC) to one half (MGT).  He indicated that both parts of the proposal have been endorsed by CETL. 

 

The Director of CETL, Dr. Donna Llewellyn, pointed out that the current 0600-2400 limitation is caused by the need to authenticate the responses through BANNER; OIT is in the process of developing alternate means for authentication, which would be available around the clock (even while BANNER is backing-up student records); the new authentication system has to be in place before we can implement the 24/7 proposal.   She also pointed out that CETL has been receiving student comments on the “process” itself; when on-line evaluations began (Fall’99), the ratio of negative to positive comments was nearly ten to one; now most of the “process” comments are positive; the only recurring negative comments are exactly what this proposal is attempting to correct:  (1) the desire to complete the survey during finals week (too busy studying during previous two weeks), and (2) the need to have access to the system 24 hours a day.  She indicated that currently nearly 20% of the responses are received during the first day, 20% are received on the last day, with a relatively low response rate during the remaining ten-day period.       

 

It was suggested that the two parts of the proposal should be considered separately, since some faculty may agree with one but not the other.  A comment was made that extending the evaluation period to include finals week may skew the outcome, since students who do poorly on the finals may respond more negatively, and with a disproportionably higher rate.  A question was raised as to the reason for the low response rates; Llewellyn indicated that it is difficult to identify the reasons by querying “non-respondents.”  A question was raised as to what the response rate was when “paper surveys” were used; Llewellyn indicated that the response rate for the last three Fall terms prior to implementation of on-line surveys was 52%.  A comment was made that it is unlikely that the proposed changes will have a significant impact on the response rate. It was agreed that CETL should document the impact of these changes on the response rate, as well as the various evaluation indices, and report to the faculty after collecting sufficient data for a meaningful analysis.  It was agreed to vote on both parts of the proposal simultaneously.  A motion was made to approve both parts of the proposal: (1) extending the time period for students to submit their course-instructor surveys through the end of finals week, and (2) extending the hours during which the surveys can be submitted on line to 24 hours/day, 7 days/wk.  The motion passed on a voice vote.      

 

5.      The President asked the Provost to chair the rest of the meeting since he had to teach a class.  The Provost called for approval of the minutes of Standing Committees of the General Faculty, all of which have been posted on the web.  He indicated that none of the minutes to be considered has action items requiring approval by the General Faculty Assembly and that the committee chairs are available to answer any questions.  (see Attachment #3 below for web site listing of minutes of all Standing Committees)

 

a.       Statutes: September 5, 2002 and November 19, 2002

b.      Academic Services:  September 3, 2002, October 1, 2002, November 12, 2002 and January 7, 2003.

c.       Welfare and Security:  October 23, 2002 and December 6, 2002.

 

There were no questions for the committee chairs.  The minutes were approved without dissent.

 

6.      The Provost called on Professor Hughes, Chair of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee to introduce minutes from that committee and action items therein.  Hughes indicated that there are three sets committee meeting minutes to be approved [December 2&4, 2002, January 6, 2003 and January 15, 2003]; these have been posted on the web (see Attachment #3 below).  He enumerated the action items, all of which are contained in the January 15, 2003 meeting minutes [change in credit hours for Learning Support courses, approval of new course in Biomedical Engineering, and change in the computer science requirements for nine degree programs].  A motion to approve the three meeting minutes and the action items contained therein passed without dissent. 

 

7.      The Provost called on Professor Green, Chair of the Graduate Curriculum Committee to introduce minutes from that committee and action items therein.  He introduced two sets of minutes: December 5, 2002 and January 23, 2003 with several action items.  The minutes have been posted on the web (see Attachment #3).

 

Action items from the December 5, 2002 meeting are:  (a) New MBA program requirements and associated new MGT courses, and (b) new course in Public Policy, PUBJ 8000, for joint doctoral program with GSU.  Green stated that while the changes proposed by the college of management to the MBA program are routine, one unusual aspect of the proposal, however, is that it includes several 1.5 credit-hour courses; the idea is that one of these courses would be taught during the early part of the semester, while another would be taught during the later part of the semester.  He stated that the second action item (new course PUBJ 8000) is simply a “place-holder” course whereby Georgia State students who are enrolled in the joint (GT/GSU) doctoral program can have a way to register.   

 

Action items from the January 23, 2003 meeting are:  (a) Dual degrees for a Master of City and Regional Planning at Georgia Tech and JD (Law) degree at Georgia State University, and (b) LCC PhD program in Digital Media and five associated new courses.  In response to a question, Professor Cheryl Contant (ARCH) indicated that no new degrees are introduced in the first action item -- the program involves two separate degrees from the respective institutions; shared courses would be used as electives in each program. Green concurred with Contant’s statement and indicated that since no new degrees are involved, the proposal does not require Board of Regents approval; however, it does require GT Academic Senate approval.  In response to a a question as to whether there are any other programs in the US in the area of Digital Media; LCC representative indicated that there are several programs, including one at Carnegie Mellon, and that GT has the leading program in this area.

 

In response to a question regarding the rationale for creating the half-semester MGT courses and why two (e.g. “financial accounting,” and “managerial accounting”) could not be combined into one semester-long course, the MGT representative stated that these two particular courses were indeed one course -- they were separated into two modules to get the best qualified faculty members to teach the respective parts. Green stated that another argument for separating the modules is that some of the students may need one module, while others may need the second; a significant number may not need them both.  Other questions were raised regarding scheduling of half-semester courses, timing of final exams for courses taught during the first half of the semester, drop date for courses taught during the second half of the semester, and tuition refunds.  Green indicated that prior to approval of the courses by the Graduate Committee, he had checked with the Registrar to make sure that all such details can be handled; the Registrar had assured him that these issues can be handled for the limited number of MGT courses under consideration.  A question was directed to the Registrar as to whether or not she would welcome the prospect of other units offering such half-semester courses on a wider scale.  She indicated that we would likely run into problems with classroom scheduling, and that, if there is interest, she would appoint a committee to look at all the issues involved.  She also indicated that if this practice is expanded, the refunds issue would become significant since the Bursar’s office would have to develop other means to handle it; currently they are planning to handle this “manually” for the small number of courses involved.  The Provost indicated that, for the time being, the half-semester courses are limited only to the MBA program.  A question was asked as to whether enrollment in these courses is restricted to students in the MBA program and, if not, what is the possible impact on financial aid for seniors who may drop from the courses later in the semester? The MGT representative indicated that the courses are not restricted; however, undergraduates do not normally register for these classes.  The Registrar re-iterated her earlier comment that if there is interest in expanding this practice, faculty should let her know; in that case, she will appoint a committee to examine all the issues involved -- Green concurred.

 

A motion to approve the two Graduate Committee meeting minutes presented and the action items contained therein passed without dissent. 

 

8.      The Provost called on Professor Miroslav Begovic, Chair of the Student Academic and Financial Affairs Committee to introduce minutes from that committee.  He introduced three sets of minutes:  April 12, 2002, November 7, 2002, and November 26, 2002, and indicated that there were no action items requiring Academic Senate approval in these minutes.  The minutes have been posted on the web (see Attachment #3).  He pointed out that during the past ten weeks, the committee has been working on the issue of “grade inflation” discussed by the faculty last year, and that an interim progress report will be presented to the Executive Board next month; a final presentation will be made to the faculty later in the Spring.  A motion to approve the meeting minutes passed without dissent.

 

9.      The Provost called on Professor Thomas Morley, Chair of the Student Activities Committee to introduce minutes from that committee.  He introduced three sets of minutes:   September 12, 2002, October 29, 2002, and November 26, 2002, and enumerated several items contained therein, none of which requires separate approval by the Academic senate.  The minutes have been posted on the web (see Attachment #3). A motion to approve the meeting minutes passed without dissent.

 

10.  The Provost announced that Chancellor Meredith will give a presentation to the Georgia Tech Faculty at the upcoming February 25th, 2003 General Faculty meeting.  He indicated that the presentation will be very timely in light of the evolving State budget, and encouraged faculty to attend.

 

11.  The Provost called for any other business; there was none.  He closed the meeting at 4:35 PM.

 

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Said Abdel-Khalik

Secretary of the Faculty

February 6, 2003

 

Attachments to be included with archival copy of the minutes:

 

  1. Minutes of previous Faculty meeting:  GF & AS (12/03/02) http://www.facultysenate.gatech.edu/ASGF-120302-Minuteswbpg.htm
  2. Proposal to Extend Hours for Student Course-Instructor Opinion Survey -- Presentation by Professor William Sayle.
  3. Minutes of Standing Committees http://www.facultysenate.gatech.edu/CommitteeMinutes.htm