Meeting of November 16, 2004

Held in the Poole Board Room of the Wardlaw Center



Members Present: Akins (Prof Prac); Cabot (OIT); Clough (President); First (Phys); Gentry (Arch); Horton (GTRI); Huff (GTRI); Hughes (ECE); McGinnis (ISyE); Peterson (ECE); Schneider (Mgt); Telotte (LCC); Uzer (Phys); Warren (EDI); Yen (BIOL); Norville ( for K. David, G. Student); Phuong (U. Student); Abdel-Khalik (SoF).


Members Absent: Alexander (Staff Rep); Chameau (Provost); Evans (GTRI); Foley (CoC)  


Visitors: Bohlander (GTRI); May (Pres. Office); McIver (Registrar); McMath (V. Provost)


1.      Leon McGinnis (Chair) opened the meeting at 3:05 PM.  He called on the President to comment on matters of interest to the Georgia Tech community.  The President offered the following comments:


a.       The Governor has allowed the Chancellor to re-open the question of formula funding; full formula funding for the entire University System amounts to nearly $103M in new money next year – Georgia Tech’s portion is about $12M, which can offset some of the budget cuts we have to implement and may allow us to add faculty and teaching assistants.  At this time, however, it is not clear what percentage of the formula funding will be included in the Governor’s budget.    


b.      Last Saturday we met with our Legislative Network; they are alumni who contact their local legislators to “make the case” for Georgia Tech.  The top priority issue for us this year is salaries; we have probably lost ground to inflation in the past few years -- hopefully, the Governor will include a good salary raise in his budget.  Other issues include the need for equipment funding for the Klaus building (~$4M), renovation of the Old CE Building ($5M “minor project”), and matching funding for the Nanotechnology Research Center (Governor has set aside $43M for it). 


c.       The head of the Governor’s Office of planning and budget spoke at our Legislative Network meeting; he indicated that State revenues are rising at a faster rate than expected – the highest rate in the past three years.  There is optimism that additional State revenue will be available for spending; however, most of it will be spent on prisons, medical costs, and K-12.  It remains to be seen how strong the budget recovery will be, and whether additional revenues will be available for the University System. 


d.      A recent newspaper article on salaries of university presidents is misleading; it combines the salary with deferred compensation (retirement compensation to be paid later by the foundation), giving the erroneous impression that the total represents the current annual salary paid by state dollars.


There were no questions for the President. 


Amy Phuong (Undergrad Student) distributed a memo inviting faculty to participate in “Midnight Breakfast” to be held on Tuesday of Finals week.  Interested faculty can RSVP to by December 1st, 2004.


2.      The Chair called for approval of minutes of the September 21st, 2004 meeting of the Executive Board.  The minutes were approved without dissent. (See Attachment #1 below).


3.      The Chair called on Ms. Jo McIver (Registrar) who requested approval for intercollegiate athletic teams to participate in post-season play.  A list of dates and locations of potential post-season play for each of the participating teams was presented (See Attachment #2 below).  She indicated that the list includes all possible post-season opportunities for athletic teams, and that the teams may not be invited to participate in all the events listed.  She stated that the Executive Board must approve before teams can participate in post-season play and that a “blanket approval” is being sought at this time, rather than requesting approval when a team is actually invited (one at a time).  A motion to approve participation in post-season play for various sports, as presented by the Registrar, passed without dissent. 


4.      The Chair called on Dr. Robert McMath (Vice Provost) to present an update on the activities of the Ad hoc Committee on Quality Undergraduate Education.  An outline of the presentation is attached (See Attachment #3 below). He stated that the Committee was established by the Executive Board last year, and charged with exploring and evaluating what quality undergraduate experience is (or should be) at Georgia Tech and ways of sustaining the highest quality commensurate with the ability of our students.  The formation and charge of the committee grew out of discussions on grade inflation.  The starting point for the committee’s discussions was a white paper authored by Professor Jack Marr (Psych) [“Congruent Quality in Undergraduate Education:  Can we make grade inflation irrelevant?] and a report by McMath based on a survey of students about their undergraduate experience [“What do undergraduates think about their academic experience at Georgia Tech?”]. The committee has 13 members most of whom are faculty representatives from the various standing committees dealing with undergraduates, along with two students and support staff.


 McMath stated that he reported to the Academic Senate on the Committee’s activities last April [see minutes of the April 20, 2004 meeting of the Academic Senate]  The interim report covered four areas:  (1) Student-faculty interaction, teaching methods, and course management; (2) Curriculum; (3) Support for students outside the classroom; and (4) Physical infrastructure.  The Committee spent a significant amount of time listening to students and faculty and examining what is happening in the various schools and colleges to identify best practices. Several examples of what is considered to be “effective teaching” and things that can be done to enhance the quality of teaching were examined.  The question of how one can bring some of the qualities of a small class into large lecture halls was also addressed; several schools are attempting to do that using new classroom technology.  Students had a great deal to say about TA’s; the report will include recommendations for training of TA’s and better coordination between the TA’s and the instructors.


The committee looked at how the undergraduate curriculum can be shifted more toward experiential learning; this is the focus of the SACS Quality Enhancement Plan.  The issue of connecting the curriculum parts into a “whole” was addressed; many students see the foundational courses in math, science, and the humanities as mere “barriers” before they get to their major, rather than an important foundational component of the curriculum.  Support for students outside the classroom is an area where significant gains have been made by enhancing the quality of advising; much remains to be done.  Specific recommendations will be made in the areas of mentoring of students interested in doing graduate work, or pursuing degrees in law or medicine, and access to information related to out-of-class opportunities such as co-op, research, and international experience.  Physical infrastructure, i.e. classrooms and classroom technology, will always be an issue; the report will include specific recommendations for improvements in the physical infrastructure to promote effective teaching and learning. 


McMath pointed to several activities now underway, which are closely related to the committee’s charge; these include: (1) the Quality Enhancement Plan (a part of the SACS accreditation review), which will focus on “experiential learning;” (2) “Discovery” approach in foundation laboratories – Georgia Tech is a leader in an NSF-funded multi-university project (Project Kaleidoscope) to develop a new generation of foundational science laboratories.  Part of the effort deals with planning the laboratories to be housed in the Undergraduate Learning Center, rather than simply replicating current labs; (3) Coordination of advising and academic support – advising has traditionally been done at the unit level, with various levels of success.  An organization of advisors from various units around campus (working with Leigh Bottomley and staff from McMath’s office ) has made great strides in sharing information across units and promoting professional education to enhance advising and mentoring; (4) Assessment of General Education – the Office of Assessment  is taking the lead on this effort; (5) OIT/CETL review of classroom technology – a committee chaired by Donna Llewellyn, CETL Director, is leading this effort; and (6) School/College best practices – faculty and student groups in various schools are identifying what needs to be done and are implementing the needed changes. 


McMath concluded by listing the remaining activities for the committee to complete their task.  He stated that the most important task is to develop a road map for how to implement the committee’s recommendations.  He stated that the committee will complete the work early next term, and will make a final presentation to the Executive Board and the Academic Senate in the Spring.  The Committee will also make presentations to the various schools and colleges since they provided much of the information used by the committee.  He pointed to the fact that many of the standing faculty committees, e.g. the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, and the Academic Services Committee, will be identified as the lead groups for implementing the recommendations.  However, it is not clear whether the existing committees will have the capacity to plan and lead the changes given the fact that many of them are already overloaded.  It may be necessary to revise the committee structure, or create new committee(s) to address these needs.  McMath stated that implementation of the committee’s recommendations will require resources, and that the report will identify these needs. 


A question was asked as to whether the committee has addressed the possibility that the Student Computer Ownership Committee may require all incoming freshman next fall (05)  to purchase a laptop (instead of the current requirement of either a desktop or a laptop), since we may not have the infrastructure to support it.  McMath indicated that the committee was not consulted on this issue.  A comment was made that additional technology (e.g. requiring students to own laptops) does not automatically contribute to the quality of education.  A comment was made that the Academic Services Committee has expressed their readiness to implement the committee’s recommendations which fall within their charge.  A question was asked as to where the best practices compiled by the committee have been published.  McMath stated that they have not been published yet; they will be included in the committee’s report.  A comment was made that it may be worthwhile for the committee to have a buzzport group so that information such as “best practices” can be widely shared even while in draft form.  McMath indicated that at this time the committee has its own internal communication group.  A comment was made regarding the current heavy load of the undergraduate curriculum committee, and the fact that they may not be able to handle any additional tasks. A follow-up comment was made that most of our standing committees are “reactive,” and that there is a need for a more “proactive” committee to look ahead and identify issues of the type addressed by this ad hoc committee. 


The Chair thanked Dr. McMath and the committee for their effort.


5.      The Chair called on Dr. Ron Bohlander, Chair of the Statutes Committee, to present a status report on proposed format revision for the faculty handbook.  A copy of the slides used in the presentation is attached (see Attachment #4 below).  Bohlander stated that last year (November 2003), the Executive Board asked the Statutes Committee to recommend and help implement a better format for the Faculty Handbook.  The effort was given a lower priority during the push to develop and implement the policy revisions needed to support the SACS accreditation effort.  With the completion and faculty approval of those revisions, the Committee is now looking at the Handbook format project.  He stated that the two main problems are: (1) excessive depth of section numbering (six levels) and (2) html version is not easily read.  He showed examples of Handbook sections to illustrate both problems.  Bohlander outlined the steps followed by the committee during this process: (1) reviewing best practices, (2) defining requirements, (3) assessing and improving web infrastructure for Handbook, (4) renumbering, (5) identifying and correcting out of date material, (6) assembling updated version, and (7) gaining approval from the Executive Board and the Faculty. 


The Committee began by examining the Faculty Handbooks at 19 peer institutions; the best four were selected (MIT, Penn State, Michigan, and Wisconsin).   Based on that information, the desired characteristics in the GT Handbook were identified, namely: (1) no more than three levels of outline numbering, (2) primary handbook document in html on the web with optional downloadable pdf version, (3) tables of content with fewer levels and variable depth, (4) minimize the need for scrolling, (5) provide a search engine focused on the handbook -- this is important for our style of handbook, where a topic or a committee may be addressed in several locations, (6) make use of hyperlinks to help in navigation to related material, and (7) provide an overall professional appearance with tasteful use of color. 


Bohlander described the current process for updating the Faculty Handbook.  He stated that the updates are performed by Tabitha Barnette (OARS), who maintains a master document in MS WORD.  She receives the faculty-approved updates from the Secretary of the Faculty with concurrence of the Statute Committee.  Once a year (typically August), she updates the WORD document and hands it to the webmaster who converts it to a pdf, makes that available on the faculty governance site, and creates an html.  Assistance was provided by Lori Sundal (OIT-EIS) in selecting a better content management software platform; “RoboInfo” from Macromedia was selected (designed for employee manuals).  The demo system has been used to verify that it is satisfactory to Tabitha Barnette (OARS), is compatible with GIT web server infrastructure, can incorporate the design standards set by ICPA for GT web pages, can meet all the handbook characteristics set by the committee, and is affordable.     A preliminary Faculty Handbook shell created by RoboInfo was shown; it includes a variable depth table of content and the capability to perform a search. 


Bohlander described the current numbering system in the Handbook, with 5-6 levels throughout.  The goal is to reduce that to three levels; reference numbers should reach down to topics but not to the details.  However, simply removing the bottom three levels was judged to be too coarse.  He described a draft renumbering system in which the outline is divided into major blocks (Introduction, Statutes, Bylaws, etc.).  A section heading introduces each block; the material following each block is numbered at the same level, thereby eliminating one inefficient level; the lowest numbering level would also be eliminated.  He invited members to examine the draft Handbook renumbering system at which includes useful links, including the current online faculty handbook and its pdf version, and the Board of Regents Policy manual.  The modified table of contents using the proposed re-numbering scheme and a revised handbook section were described. 


Bohlander pointed to the need to correct/remove obsolete material from the Faculty Handbook.  He stated that the basic approach is to fix “just the facts” and to avoid material with a “short shelf life” by linking to other sources.  He stated that the Introduction Sections 1.1 through 1.3 have been significantly shortened by the Committee; however, they still need updating.  Other notable areas needing attention include the Forward to the Statutes, as well as the sections on Facilities, and Utilities and Maintenance.  Sections requiring attention are highlighted in green in the draft posted on the project portal.  A table listing the “sponsor/author” of the various sections has been prepared; it shows when and who last proposed a change to each section, and is located in the Shared Documents section of the project portal.  Bohlander concluded by listing the action items for the various groups.  He asked members of the Executive Board to review the draft handbook at  and provide feed back to him by December 6 (  Owners of the informational sections should provide corrections of out of date material by December 15.  He stated that the Statutes committee will meet on December 9 to assemble the input and make corrections; the re-numbered Handbook will be moved into RoboInfo and adjusted to improve appearance.  The results will be shown to the Executive Board in early 2005 with the aim of presenting the revised Handbook to the General Faculty later in the Spring. 


A comment was made that one of the outputs from this project should be a process for Handbook maintenance. Bohlander concurred.  A follow-up comment was made that if the maintenance process is relatively straightforward, then things that are not done exactly right in this first revision can be easily fixed in future editions.  Bohlander agreed and stated that one of the nice features of RoboInfo is that it captures the name of the person under whose authority a section can be changed, which will be helpful as we move forward.  Gentry stated that it is not clear who owns which parts of the statutes, and who has the authority to change something.  The Secretary of the Faculty pointed out that all changes need to go through the Office of the Vice Provost (Dr. McMath). Bohlander stated that one way to capture this information is by tabulating the last “sponsor/author,” and that the Statutes and Bylaws themselves lay out the revision process.  He stated that the current handbook document has a fairly complete record of who sponsored each change; this can provide a good starting point for deciding who needs to look at the material which needs to be revised.  He stated that the draft includes a column (pink) listing other sections referenced within each section to assure consistency in the final version.


The Chair thanked Dr. Bohlander and the Statutes Committee for their effort.


6.      The Chair called on the Secretary of the Faculty to present the proposed agenda for the November 30, 2004 Fall meeting of the Academic Senate combined with called meeting of the General Faculty (See Attachment #5 below).  Abdel-Khalik indicated that the main item on the agenda is a presentation by Les Saunders on the Campus Master Plan, and that Ron Bohlander will present a “condensed version” of today’s presentation on handbook format revisions to get input from the faculty at large.  He stated that Bob McMath has requested that the presentation on the ad hoc Committee on Quality Undergraduate Education be postponed to a later Academic Senate meeting.  The proposed agenda, as amended, was approved without dissent.  


7.      The Chair called on Abdel-Khalik, who reported on the need to appoint the Nominations Committee for the Spring 2005 elections.  Two EB members will co-chair the committee; they, in turn, will recruit four other faculty members to serve on the Committee; one student member will be jointly selected by the undergraduate and graduate student representatives on the Executive Board.   He indicated that, traditionally, the EB is represented by the Vice-Chair and another member from last year’s committee; Joe Hughes (EB vice Chair) and Tom Horton (who participated as an observer in last year’s Committee) have agreed to serve.  It was agreed to present the names of the remaining committee members for Board approval by an electronic ballot instead of waiting till the January 11, 2005 meeting. 


8.      The Chair called for any other business; hearing none, he adjourned the meeting at 4:15 PM.



Respectfully submitted,


Said Abdel-Khalik

Secretary of the Faculty

November 22nd, 2004


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


1.       Minutes of the EB meeting of September 21, 2004.

2.      Post-season Play of Intercollegiate Athletics Teams (2004-05)

3.      Committee on Quality Undergraduate Education (Outline of Presentation by Bob McMath)

4.      Progress Report: Project to Revamp Format of the Faculty Handbook (Presentation by Ron Bohlander)

5.      Proposed Agenda for November 30  Fall meeting of the Academic Senate combined with called meeting of the General Faculty