Meeting of October 22, 2002

Held in the Poole Board Room of the Wardlaw Center


Members Present: Agrawal (ChE); Allen (Arch); Boyd (Stu. Servcs); Chameau (Provost); Clough (President); Evans (GTRI); Henry (OSP); Horton (GTRI); Jayaraman (Mgt); Kahn (CEE); Marr (Psy); Peterson (ECE); Swank (GTRI); Telotte (LCC); Uzer (Phys.); Warren (EDI); Alexander (Staff Rep); Michaels (G. Stu); Riddle  (for Massey, U. Stu); Abdel-Khalik (SoF).


Members Absent: Mark (CoC)


Visitors:  Green (Math); May (Pres. Office); McDowell (ME); McMath (Provost Office); Meyer (Library)


1.      Larry Kahn (Chair) opened the meeting at 3:05 PM. and invited the President to comment on matters of interest to the Georgia Tech community.  The President commented:


a.       Rich DeMillo has accepted the position of Dean of the College of Computing; he is a Georgia Tech alumnus; has strong credentials in both the academic and business arenas; the search committee and faculty are very pleased with the appointment.

b.      Search process for a Director (“Chief”) of Campus security is progressing; have met all four candidates; pleased with credentials of candidate pool; as soon as the new Chief is in place, we will search for a person to concentrate on emergency preparedness issues.

c.       Homecoming this week end; with input from the faculty and the Deans, the Alumni Association (Joe Erwin) has decided to increase emphasis on “academics” -- agenda will include a significant number of lectures by faculty, all of which are oversubscribed; will present the State of the Institute Address to the alumni.

d.      Last week a meeting was held at GT which included White House staffers, Tom Bevan’s group, and top security officials from around the State, to develop plans for information sharing between the local and Federal levels; meeting attended by head of office of Information Technology for the Office of Homeland Security -- provided a number of ideas for Georgia Tech to work on; GTRI is to be complimented on organizing this event.

e.       Monday night we will have the first Institute Poetry reading under the guidance of Tom Lux (Chaired Professor in poetry); Billy Collins (former US Poet Laureate) will be one of the lead poets; event is sold-out -- 1100+ expected to attend; great opportunity for the Georgia Tech community to participate in such activities.

f.        Have just completed assignment dealing with Atlanta Sewer system; rewarding to work with Mayor Franklin who brings the enthusiasm, honesty, integrity, and vision needed by Atlanta; she announced the “Clean Water Atlanta” program -- bold plan to clean the city waste and drinking water; GT faculty have been closely involved; established an avenue for significant future involvement by GT faculty with the city.


The President was asked to comment on the nature of the shuttle service to be used to/from Technology Square.  The President indicated that we intend to use some form of “clean technology” -- electric or gas-driven, and that there is a good chance that someone else may fund it; it will circulate around Ferst Drive to avoid traffic delays; working with Fraternities and Sororities on a “Greek Master Plan” -- the Fifth street entrance will be significantly enhanced with bike and pedestrian access; hopefully, both will be completed by the time Technology Square is opened.


2.      The Chair called for approval of the minutes of the September 24th, 2002 meeting of the Executive Board; minutes were approved without dissent. (See Attachment #1 below).


3.      The Chair called on Professor David McDowell (ME) to present a status report on the activities of the Promotion and Tenure ADVANCE Committee.  (Copies of the slides used in the presentation can be found at the web address referenced below -- Attachment #2).  McDowell began by outlining the committee’s goals, namely: (a) identifying measures to improve the Institute’s promotion and tenure processes, and (b) providing the foundations for uniform administration of the process to guard against various forms of bias.  He described the expected deliverables -- a report, a document of “best practices,” and a set of interactive instructional materials for faculty involved in the RPT review processes.  He provided a timetable for the committee’s activities; the committee was appointed by the Provost last August (2002) and is expected to complete its work in the spring (2003).  The committee includes faculty members from each of the six colleges, along with liaison members from the Provost’s office; financial support is being provided by NSF.  McDowell indicated that the committee is approaching its assignment in a “scholarly” fashion by examining the literature, conducting surveys, and collecting data on various forms of bias. He discussed the different forms/aspects of bias being explored by the committee -- both obvious (gender, race, and ethnicity) and otherwise, including biases related to (a) the nature of the faculty member’s contributions (engagement in interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary research; teaming versus independent work; publishing venues; balance of funding and intellectual products), (b) how the reviews are conducted (selection/composition of review committees, use of citation index to compare faculty in different disciplines), and (c) types of biased actions encountered (e.g. assignment of resources and graduate students, service activities, and mentoring/career advisement opportunities).  He pointed to earlier publications from the ADVANCE program, as well as other publications, including the report issued by the Executive Board’s Ad Hoc Committee on RPT “best practices” (co-chaired by Leon McGinnis and Richard LeBlanc; see He discussed three conditions to enhance equity: (a) providing more information on the candidates, (b) clarification of criteria/standards, and (c) openness/transparency of the evaluation process.  He indicated that early observations of the GT process point to significant differences at the unit level in the RPT practices, the degree of “openness,” and completeness of written guidelines.  He also indicated that existing documents do not address possible forms of bias.  McDowell concluded his presentation by commenting on the potential value of the interactive (CD-ROM based) educational materials to be developed by his committee for faculty participants in the RPT review process in various units to enhance their awareness of bias-related issues. 


A question was asked as to the cause of the large differences currently present at the unit level and whether such differences mean that the Statutes may not be followed.  McDowell indicated that the Statutes provide a great deal of leeway which results in different approaches, which is not necessarily detrimental to the process.  A question was asked as to other possible outcomes from the committee’s work should there be a finding of bias in the current process.  McDowell indicated that the committee findings will be documented in a report; it may be too early to say whether this will result in a new set of guidelines/Statutes to be submitted for faculty approval, however, development and dissemination of the educational/training “awareness” materials should help in raising the standards of fairness and equity. Horton commented that GTRI does not deal with tenure issues, however, they are interested in the promotion process; he asked if the committee would be interested in including a GTRI member in an ex-officio capacity; McDowell responded positively; Horton indicated that he will follow-up with GTRI management.


A question was asked as to how one would measure bias, other than from an “operational” standpoint, versus “functional” bias where the system does not work effectively from one year to another.  McDowell indicated that such information is very difficult to get at; however, studies in the literature clearly show that individual bias exists in peer evaluations, and that non-uniformity of procedures, committee selections, and information sharing contribute to that bias.  It was pointed out that these are all “operational” factors; the question is whether data from the previous decade or so show that there has been preferential selection based upon non-academic factors.  McDowell indicated that based on the work of the ADVANCE program, it appears that systematic issues may indeed exist.  A question was raised regarding the issue of standards -- Since different disciplines/units may have different views as to the relative importance of different scholarly activities (e.g. conference presentations versus journal articles, or individual versus team efforts), does the committee intend to ask the units to re-consider their assessment “standards”?  McDowell indicated that the committee recognizes that the assessment standards are highly discipline-dependent and that it would not be wise/desirable to impose such uniformity; however, one should be aware that, within a given set of standards, there may be bias in how the faculty member’s contributions are assessed -- for example, studies show that women contributing to group efforts do not get as much credit for such activities as their male counterparts. 


The President commented that this study can be very helpful to the Institute in many ways; while there are differences among the disciplines in how to evaluate scholarship, it would be helpful to have more uniformity in how the candidates’ contributions are presented -- for example, some units emphasize involvement in undergraduate research (an important Institute goal), while others do not; some of the issues identified by this study will be common to all faculty regardless of gender, ethnicity, etc.; the “nuances” may be very important in identifying what needs to be fixed, e.g. a GT study was recently conducted to compare the promotion rates for different groups (male, female, minority, etc.); the results showed that there were no differences in the outcomes, which may suggest that there was no bias; however, the process may have been much harder on women.  The Provost commented that we should view the effort of the committee very positively; while the overall data may indicate that the outcomes are similar, we want to improve the process and eliminate systematic bias that people may not be aware of (e.g. how group and/or international activities of female faculty are evaluated vis-à-vis similar activities by male faculty). A question was asked regarding the openness of the process and the impact of whether committees are appointed by unit chairs or elected by faculty. McDowell indicated that there is a great deal of variability on this issue and that we should attempt to become more uniform.  The Chair thanked Dr. McDowell and the entire committee for their hard work and contributions to improving an important process for the Institute. 


4.      The Chair called on Dr. Richard Meyer (Library) to present an overview of electronic publication and archiving of research reports.  Dr. Meyer indicated that his presentation will be broadened to deal with the general issue of Institutional Repositories.  (Copies of the slides used in the presentation can be found at the web address referenced below -- Attachment #3).   Dr. Meyer provided background information on why scholars publish their work, and why scholarly publications were established.  He enumerated the values provided by the print publishing process (establishing ownership of intellectual property, certifying quality, dissemination, and archiving), and its weaknesses (diffusion of IP through many journals, holding institutions hostage to publisher monopolies, and inability to augment scholarly output with other media).  He noted that since 1986 the average cost of serials has increased by nearly 250%, while monographs have increased slightly more than the CPI (68%). As a result, GT may not be able to keep all the journals we currently subscribe to; also funding available to purchase monographs has diminished (nearly eliminated).  Dr. Meyer distributed the results of a statistical price analysis of nearly 3,300 Titles at GT, which lists significantly-overpriced titles; if we were to cancel these titles (do not believe we will do that), we could re-allocate 25% of acquisitions budget -- (See preliminary report cited below -- Attachment #4). This phenomenon is one of the major forces which is helping to shift the scholarly communications process to the electronic realm; opportunities exist in the digital environment for faster communications among scholars, lowering the costs, providing alternative peer-review processes, and multi-media augmentation.   Current national trends include: (a) Networked digital library of theses and dissertations (established at Virginia Tech, now 25-30 institutions participating), (b) The Open Archives Initiative (establishes standards for applying metadata to resources stored in a repository so that they can be efficiently harvested by search engines), (c) collective establishment of digital repositories by ARL libraries, and (d) consortia (e.g. SMETE -- part of Univ. Cal. system -- is a repository for engineering learning objects).   Libraries have significant experience in metadata standards, database maintenance and migration, and multi-media technology.  While digital repositories can potentially replace scholarly publications, they are meant to augment and expand access to information -- complement the process of acquiring published literature.  Dr. Meyer ended his presentation by outlining current activities at Georgia Tech: (a) creating a platform for long-term archiving of digital theses and dissertations synchronized with the national effort (ETD’s task force), (b) electronic publication/archiving of Sponsored research task force; library is the official archive for sponsored research reports; cumbersome process to transmit printed reports; have started to digitize about 2500 such reports; task force to create necessary mechanisms to retain sponsored research reports in their initial digital form; create platforms to allow easier access to the reports by the GT community, while preventing un-authorized access to intellectual property.  The library has also been asked to create a digital repository for learning objects (Tom Barnwell -- longer term project).  Library has been extensively re-organized to help implement these initiatives; created a new position of Associate Director responsible for the technical services (interviewing; soon to be appointed); support team to include a Digital Initiatives Manager.


A comment was made that the list of significantly-overpriced titles appears to be dominated by Elsevier.  Meyers indicated that they are a tenacious protagonist; GT, UGA, Emory and GSU have a joint agreement with Elsevier to limit costs; Elsevier is not the only one on the list; some Professional Societies (e.g. ACS and APS) are also on the list; they attempt to limit membership dues by raising revenues from other sources, including publications.  A question was asked as to how this trend will impact academic and research faculty; Meyer indicated that use/access data for dissertations indicate that on-line availability increases access by two orders of magnitude; GT’s own data on utilization of items placed on-reserve confirms such increase. A question was asked about the cost data presented and whether the figures refer only to the print version or the electronic version; Meyers indicated that the data varies by publisher; they typically represent the cost for the print version; beginning next year, we will get only the electronic version.  A question was raised about security concerns; while it is understood that sponsored research reports deposited with the library should not contain proprietary information, it may be possible for someone to glean enough information to identify the type of classified research going on at GT. Meyers recalled his experience in industry and how they maintain their proprietary research, in order to allow them to compete more effectively.  He indicated that the GT community needs to decide on the balance between maintaining information isolated within the campus, and elevating the GT brand name; the library will respond to the wishes of the campus community.  The chair thanked Dr. Meyer for his presentation.  


5.      The Chair presented the proposed agenda for the Fall meeting of the Academic Senate to be held on December 3, 2002 (Attachment #5 below).  The Secretary of the Faculty indicated that the meeting will also be designated as a “called meeting” of the General Faculty in order to act on the Statutes modifications related to expansion of the Student Honor Committee and creation of a new Standing Committee on Academic Integrity. The proposed agenda was approved without dissent.


6.      The Chair called on Abdel-Khalik, who reported on the need to appoint the Nominations Committee for the Spring 2003 elections.  Two EB members will co-chair the committee; they, in turn, will recruit four other faculty members to serve on the Committee -- the names are to be presented to the Board for approval at the November 19 meeting.  Traditionally, the EB is represented by the Vice-Chair and another member from last year’s committee; Jack Marr (EB Vice Chair) and Doug Allen (last year’s Committee chair) have agreed to serve.


7.      The Chair called on Professor William Green, Chair of the Institute Graduate Curriculum Committee, who requested that the Board act on behalf of the Academic Senate to approve a change in the designator of graduate courses offered by the School of Textile and Fiber Engineering from TFE to PTFE.  This action was approved by the Graduate Committee on October 10, 2002; Board approval is being requested to allow the Registrar to implement the change prior to the Spring term.  A motion to approve the requested change in graduate courses designator for the School of Textile and Fiber Engineering passed without dissent.     


8.      The Chair called for any other business; hearing none, he closed the meeting at 4:35 PM.



Respectfully submitted,


Said Abdel-Khalik

Secretary of the Faculty

October 24, 2002


Attachments (to be included with the archival copy of the minutes)


  1.  Minutes of the EB meeting of September 24, 2002.
  2. Status Report -- Promotion and Tenure Advance Committee (Presentation by Dave McDowell)
  3. Institutional Repositories (Presentation by Richard Meyer)
  4. GT Journal Price Data (Preliminary Analysis Results)
  5. Proposed Agenda for December 3rd, 2002 Fall Meeting of the Academic Senate and Called Meeting of the General Faculty