GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

THE EXECUTIVE BOARD

 

MINUTES

Meeting of January 10, 2006

Held in the Poole Board Room of the Wardlaw Center

 

 

Members Present: Akins (Prof Prac); Ballard (GTRI); Barnhart (GTRI); Braga (CHEM); Bras (ME); Cabot (OIT); First (Phys); Foley (CoC); Gentry (Arch); Huff (GTRI); Hughes (ECE); McGinnis (ISyE); Schneider (MGT); Wood (LCC); Yen (BIOL); Alexander (Staff Rep); Andersen (U. Student); Norville (for David; G. Student); Abdel-Khalik (SoF).  

 

Members Absent: Clough (President); Chameau (Provost); Price (IMTC)

 

Visitors: Benkeser* (U. Student; INTA); Hughes* (CEE); Jackson* (U. Student; Biology); Jacobs* (CEE); Nordin (Legal Affairs); Porter* (U. Student; ISyE); Smith (Vice Provost; representing Clough & Chameau); Stuart* (Library); Vogt* (U. Student)

* Open session only

 

1.      Leon McGinnis (Chair) opened the meeting at 3:05 PM.  He announced that the first part of the meeting will be an “executive session” during which the Board will appoint a hearing committee consistent with section 5.10 of the Statutes (Procedures for Removal of Faculty Members) – http://www.academic.gatech.edu/handbook/.  The following actions were taken during the executive session:

 

a.       A protocol for establishing the dismissal hearing committee was unanimously approved (see Attachment #1 below).

b.      A slate of 29 faculty members from which the hearing committee members are to be selected was named and rank-ordered in accordance with the approved protocol. 

 

The executive session was concluded at 3:50 PM. 

 

2.      The Chair called the open part of the meeting to order at 3:55 PM.  Dr. Andy Smith (Vice Provost) stated that the President is out of town and the Provost is attending a Board of Regents meeting.  He offered the following comments in behalf of the President:

 

a.       The new Chancellor, Erroll Davis, will officially join the University System in February.  Dr. Clough met with him, one-on-one, for 1.5 hours. This is a good appointment given his prior involvement in higher education; he has served on the Boards of Carnegie Mellon and the University of Chicago, and Chaired the Board of the University of Wisconsin.

 

b.      We have five days before the deadline for undergraduate applications; the applications are down slightly (6.7%), however applications are up for women, African-Americans, and international students.  Applications are down in Computing and Engineering, but are up (double digits) in Ivan Allen and Sciences.  Graduate applications are up in all colleges except Computing with double digit increases in Engineering, Ivan Allen, Management, and Sciences.  The goal is to increase the number of graduate students while maintaining undergraduate enrollment nearly constant. Out-of-State enrollment targets will be closely tracked since they have a significant impact on the budget.  

 

c.       We are pleased to report that Dr. Jim Meindel (MIRC) has been awarded the IEEE Medal of Honor, the highest award given by that organization for preeminence in the field through outstanding technical contributions.

 

d.      Last week, Dr. Clough attended a summit in Washington, D.C. on international education, a meeting between University Presidents and upper level Administration officials.  President Bush and his wife, Secretary of State Rice, and the Secretaries of Education and Commerce were present.  Dr. Clough believes there is understanding of the concerns of American universities concerning export restrictions and issues dealing with international collaboration in education and research.  There was also agreement that there need to be many more international students studying at American universities.  There is “high-level” interest in making progress on visa issues for both international students and visitors.  President Bush would like to increase foreign language instruction especially languages of interest with respect to national security.     

 

e.       The Georgia Legislature is back in session.  This will likely be a shorter session with modest accomplishments.  Funds will be provided for increased health care costs (costs to GT and its employees will likely remain the same).  Education will be the central focus of the Governor’s legislative package; he will recommend a 4% raise for Georgia teachers.  Funds will also be provided for the Nano-Sciences building; more construction money may also be provided which may move the Undergraduate Learning Center a little higher on the list.  

 

Dr. Hughes (ECE) stated that ECE will have a symposium in the Spring to recognize Professor Meindel’s accomplishments.  Smith indicated that two GT departments (Modern Languages and Mathematics) received BOR awards for innovative education; a part of the February 28 Academic Senate meeting will be devoted to presentations by these two programs followed by a reception to recognize their achievements. 

 

3.      The Chair called for approval of minutes of the November 15, 2005 meeting of the Executive Board.  The minutes were approved without dissent. (See Attachment #2 below).

 

4.      The Chair called on Dr. Larry Jacobs (Associate Chair, CEE) to present the proposed BS degree in Environmental Engineering (See Attachment #3 below).  He stated that over the past two years CEE has been working on developing an accredited undergraduate BS degree in Environmental Engineering.  The School now offers only one undergraduate degree (CE).  The proposed undergraduate environmental engineering degree was unanimously approved by the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee on October 26th, 2005.  The meeting minutes were not published in time for them to be approved by the Academic Senate on November 29th.  The proposed degree program can not be forwarded to the Board of Regents until it is approved by the Academic Senate.  Since the Academic Senate does not meet till February, the proposed degree program is being presented today for approval by the Executive Board in behalf of the Academic Senate.  This will allow us to get it to the BOR a month earlier, so that we can begin offering this degree in Fall 2006.  This is important since we would like to include this degree program among those to be evaluated by ABET in the 2008 accreditation cycle (all GT engineering programs are scheduled to be accredited in 2008).

 

A question was asked as to whether copies of the proposal have been published.  The Secretary of the Faculty indicated that the proposal has been attached to agenda and posted on the web.  A question was asked regarding plans for the existing accredited graduate degree (MS) in Environmental Engineering.  Jacobs stated that CEE has the only ABET accredited MS degree in the College of Engineering.  The deadline for deciding whether or not to apply for re-accreditation of that MS degree is January 31st, 2006.  If the proposed undergraduate Environmental Engineering degree program is approved, CEE intends to keep the MS degree program but will not seek ABET accreditation for it.  Instead, ABET accreditation will be sought for the new undergraduate degree program in order to be consistent with the rest of the College.  A question was asked as to whether the recent decision by the BOR to authorize UGA to offer a BS degree in Environmental Engineering would affect the approval of our proposed degree program.  Smith (Vice Provost) indicated that we do not expect any opposition from the BOR.  A motion to approve the proposed BS degree in Environmental Engineering passed without dissent.      

 

5.      The Chair called on Dr. Andy Smith (Vice Provost) to present a proposal for creating the Title of “Professor of the Practice” (See Attachment #4 below).  Smith stated that an overview of the proposal was given at the previous Executive Board meeting.  The proposal is being made in response to requests by departments and colleges to create a mechanism that would allow Georgia Tech to hire senior professional practitioners who have made major contributions to their field to serve as non-tenure track faculty.  The proposal was first made by ISyE; other units interested in such positions include Management, Architecture, Computing, and ME.  It is proposed to create only one senior-level position (“Professor of the Practice”) rather than multiple levels as is done at some other institutions.  Unlike Adjunct Professors, people holding the title of “Professor of the Practice,” can be paid by Georgia Tech.  These appointments (part-time or full-time) will fall under the BOR job classification of “Academic Professional with Academic Rank.”  Creation of this position does not require changes in the Statutes or Board of Regents approval.  However, in making such appointments, faculty input to the decision will be required in the same manner as that for a tenure-track faculty member.

 

A comment was made that creating only one senior-level position eliminates many of the concerns expressed by people at other universities where such positions exist.  A follow-up comment was made that NSF is becoming increasingly more interested in large scale complex systems; allowing junior faculty to interact with accomplished practitioners who have many years of experience would be greatly beneficial, inasmuch as it offers them the opportunity to become involved in complex system issues.  A question was asked as to whether people in such positions would fall under the same dismissal policies and procedures described in the Faculty Handbook.  Smith stated that similar to Academic Professionals and Research Faculty, people holding such positions will have General Faculty status.  Hence, the same rules apply.  While there is expectation that they will be employed for several years, they are annually reappointed (annual contract).  If a person is to be dismissed in the midst of his/her contract, the process described in the Handbook has to be followed.  A question was asked as to where funding for such positions would come from.  Smith stated that, like all hiring requests, funding for these positions will depend on the level of enthusiasm by which units “make their case” to their respective Dean and the Provost.  A question was asked as to whether people in such positions would be counted as “faculty” when we report such data as student/faculty ratio, etc.  Smith stated that data of that type generally refer only to Academic Faculty and that people in such positions can be thought of in the same manner as “Senior Research Scientists,” albeit on the academic side.  

 

A motion to endorse the proposal for creating the title of “Professor of the Practice” at Georgia Tech as described in Attachment #4 passed without dissent.  Smith stated that the proposal will also be presented to the Academic Senate for their endorsement.

 

6.      The Chair called on Dr. Andy Smith to discuss the process of peer teaching evaluation.  A copy of the report entitled “Report on the Activities of the Ad-hoc Committee on the Evaluation of Instruction” (Chaired by Smith) dated April 5, 2001 was distributed (see Attachment # 5 below).   [The report was presented to the Academic Senate on April 24, 2001 – see meeting minutes at http://www.facultysenate.gatech.edu/asmins24april.html].  Smith stated that the report dealt with three topics:  (1) improving the student course evaluation survey form; (2) optimizing student response and providing better access to the results of the survey; and (3) examining alternative measures of teaching effectiveness.   As a result, the current access system and a shorter survey form were developed and adopted.  The committee’s recommendations included establishment of peer evaluation to complement student evaluation and self-evaluation as a part of an overall scheme of teaching evaluation.  Smith stated that while the committee’s recommendations were approved by the Academic Senate, the establishment/use of peer evaluation of teaching was viewed as necessary but not mandatory; at this time, many of the colleges do not do it. 

 

Smith summarized the principles of peer evaluation as elucidated in the committee report, which include:  (1) Peer evaluation must be done in a systematic manner, and involve independent evaluation of teaching effectiveness using a structured form to be completed by faculty evaluators; (2) There must be provision for both formative and summative peer evaluation; (3) The evaluation of teaching performance must be assessed through observation (preferably of a videotaped lecture) and course materials which may include course outline, syllabi, text and references, homework and assignments, graded exams, instructor comments on student work, etc.; (4) Peer evaluation of teaching must be appropriate to the teaching context and should consider suitability of content, course organization, clarity of presentation, knowledge in subject taught, quality of materials used in teaching, intellectual tasks set for the students, interaction with students, and an attempt and achieving excellence in teaching; (5) Peer evaluation of teaching effectiveness could also include other instructional activities, e.g. directed research of students, supervision of graduate student research and teaching activities, development of new courses, etc., as appropriate with the school’s mission; (6) The portfolio should include a self-evaluation of teaching provided by the instructor.  This self-evaluation would also be reviewed by the peer evaluators.  The self evaluation would provide a feed back loop for the teaching evaluation process over the years; and (7) The peer evaluation must be done on a regularly scheduled basis (e.g. at least once a year for one course for non-tenured faculty and at least once every three years for tenured faculty). 

 

Smith stated that while these principles may suggest that peer evaluation will require a great deal of time and effort by the evaluators, his experience suggests that it takes only about 45 minutes to conduct a review.  His experience (School of Psychology) also suggests that peer evaluation is a reliable indicator of teaching effectiveness with consistent results among independent reviewers.  Since assuming his current position as Vice-Provost, he has spoken to different departments and schools which do not currently use it (including the College of Engineering).  He stated that his office has also been working with student government on developing incentives to improve the student participation level in the course/instructor evaluations and making students aware of the importance of such evaluations; at this time the participation level is nearly 50%.  Efforts will also be made to convince faculty to adopt practices which have proven effective in increasing the student response rate.

 

Gentry stated that the College of Architecture has been conducting peer teaching evaluations for the past three years.  The experience has not been very positive especially for small units where in one instance untenured faculty end up reviewing each other every semester.  As a result of the manner in which the reviews are conducted and documented, the teaching evaluation letter placed in the tenure package has become meaningless.  He stated that some of the observations involve matters of style which are better communicated in private.  Conceptually, peer evaluation of teaching is a good idea; however, in practice, it appears to take a great deal of faculty time without providing a commensurate value.  Smith stated that he would be happy to work with the College of Architecture in order to make the process valuable and meaningful.  The instrument used in the evaluations needs to be structured in a manner that makes it possible to conduct the reviews in a relatively short period of time while providing valuable information.  There have been success stories in other units -- for example, the School of Psychology conducts the reviews once per year for tenure-track faculty and once every five years for tenured faculty (to coincide with post-tenure periodic peer reviews). Each of the approximately 20 faculty members in the School has to do about two such evaluations per year, which is not a big load.  A question was asked as to why this issue is being discussed again.   Gentry stated that he has asked that the issue be placed on the agenda because of the experience in Architecture.  A question was asked as to whether peer teaching evaluations will be required for all promotion and tenure decisions in all units.  Smith stated that, currently, some units (e.g. College of Science) require it; however it is not uniformly required across the Institute.  A comment was made that for large units (e.g. ECE), this can translate into several hundred hours of faculty time, which can be used more productively (e.g. writing research proposals).   Smith stated that the evidence suggests that it does not take a great deal of time and, if done properly, it can provide valuable information that ultimately enhances teaching.  A comment was made that while this information is important for promotion and tenure evaluations, it is more important that the information be used to actually improve the teaching effectiveness of faculty.  Smith stated that this is the primary reason for doing the evaluations and that significant effort and resources are being devoted to improve faculty teaching effectiveness.  He noted that the “Faculty Support Services” department has recently been re-named as “Faculty Career Development Services”    and that he is trying to come up with additional mechanisms to provide faculty with development opportunities in the educational area.  The Undergraduate Learning Center will include a “faculty development studio,” where these services will be brought together.                      

 

7.      The Chair called on members of the Library Student Advisory Council to discuss recent and planned library renovations (See Attachment #6 below).  Dan Porter (ISyE) began the presentation by stating that several years ago, the Library, OIT, and other departments asked what they can do to enhance undergraduate retention.  The first step in that process was to identify the students’ learning needs, namely the tools and services which benefit students and the spaces to be developed in order to provide a productive learning and working environment.  Six different focus groups with 40-50 students, along with several faculty and staff members, were held in February and March of 2005 to identify the attributes of an effective learning environment from the students’ perspective.  Specifically, what can the library, OIT, and other services do to align their products and services with the students’ needs?  The focus groups indicated that, most importantly, learning spaces must provide access to good, cutting edge, actively-supported, and well-maintained technology.  Students also would like the spaces to be aesthetically pleasing -- a space where they can work collaboratively with other students.   The Library West Commons (LWC) is the first example of such enhancements.  Previously, usage of LWC was very low; it provided limited technology access, with very drab individualized compartments (cubicles).  Physical improvements in WLC have made it into a widely-used campus hub staffed 24 hours/day; these improvements include 84 new computers, 7 printers, a multi-media center with 23 computers, and group presentation space.  Benefits derived from this renovation include increased usage (student library usage nearly doubled during the past year), and enhanced students collaboration while providing opportunities for independent study.  The 24/7 staffing has increased customer service.  Lessons learned from this successful “experiment” include the need to: (1) involve students early in the design process; (2) provide ready access to advanced technology; (3) create group spaces to encourage collaboration; (4) ensure that support services and hours of operation follow student usage habits; and (5) incorporate/co-locate various services (OIT, Library, Auxiliary Services, etc.).

 

Rachel Benkeser (INTA) continued the presentation by discussing plans for the Library East Commons (LEC).  She stated that one week after opening the renovated LWC, the Provost asked the Dean of the Library to explore the possibility of extending the renovation to include the second floor of the library (traditional group study space).  The aim is to enhance student productivity by creating unique spaces which can be adapted to student needs.  Due to budget cuts, renovation of LEC was not immediately started.  Student involvement began in Fall 2004 when a group of student leaders approached the library and OIT to indicate their willingness to do whatever is required to improve the library.  The Library’s Student Advisory Council was formed in the winter of 2005.  A student survey was conducted soon thereafter.  The survey results indicated the need for group computing facilities, performance venues to inform and inspire students by breaking down traditional barriers between departments, excellent refreshments, the means to display student work (products and research), and state of the art technology.  Based on the students input, a floor plan for LEC was developed to incorporate as many of the desired features as possible (see Attachment 6).  The largest fraction of the space is aimed at enhancing computing and group work; this includes 30 workstations seating groups of 2 to 8, with color and black-and-white printers, and 6 “get-and-go” workstations for just-in-time printing.  These facilities are very valuable for group projects commonly assigned in undergraduate classes.  Enhancing group work is a major focus since LWC does not meet that need.  New adaptable furniture will be used to allow students to create space which is suitable for their needs.  Jazzman’s Café was opened yesterday; hopefully, it will become the “intellectual watering hole” on campus – a place where students, faculty and staff can come together to share ideas, communicate, and be informed in a scholarly setting.  It will have extended hours and will offer varied seating arrangements and popular reading materials.  The Library Theater will be the final addition to LEC.  It will provide seating for up to 100 people, and will be the venue for the “Tuesday Talks” lecture series, as well as other lecture series in order to bring people to the library and make it a campus hub.  It will also provide multi-dimensional display units where students can display the results of their research.  The theater is expected to open in June 2006.

 

Brett Vogt (CEE) continued the presentation by discussing plans for the Library Resource Center (LRC) to be located in the library basement.  The goal is to create a space where various services can be co-located.  Library renovations will transform it into a campus hub; hence, it makes sense to locate the services needed by students there.  OIT will move its customer support to that location and will double their current hours of operation.  Undergraduate advising will also be located at LRC; it will offer a convenient location with expanded hours.  It will also offer consistent advice for all students including those interested in pre-professional tracks.  One-on-one tutoring will also be offered at LRC.  One-on-one tutoring offers a comfortable atmosphere for students to get help; it has proven to be much more successful than typical tutoring provided in the freshman experience.  By locating this program at LRC, it is hoped that students will be more aware of it, thereby increasing usage.  Additional services to be located in LRC include staff meeting room that can also serve as a presentation rehearsal studio.  Future services to be co-located at LRC include the Counseling Center and the Writing Center.  This will truly convert this space into a hub of student activities, where any need or problem a student may have can be addressed in a comfortable setting. 

 

Vogt concluded the presentation by summarizing the progress so far.  LWC renovation has been successfully completed; its impact has been amazing -- the number of students using the library has doubled in only one year.  It is hoped that LEC and LRC will build on, and expand, this success.  By seeking and incorporating student input early in the design process, these renovations will meet the student needs by creating supportive and effective learning environments.  However, the Library and OIT have struggled to adequately fund these renovations.  Nevertheless, it is hoped that this successful collaboration with meaningful student input will become a model for other areas of campus improvement. 

 

A question was asked as to where funding for such renovations comes from.  Vogt indicated that funding comes from the technology fees, as well as the Institute’s operating budget.  He stated that the total cost for LWC renovation was $1M; it has proven to be a very cost-effective way to increase library attendance (increase of ~500,000 student visits per year).  A follow-up question was asked regarding the adequacy of the funding for the other renovations.  Vogt indicated that while the LEC and LRC renovation projects have been initiated, there is still a gap in funding – some of the facilities (e.g. the presentation rehearsal room) will be built but not fully equipped.  Hopefully, funding will be made available in the near future.  The Chair thanked the students for their efforts and their informative presentation.                                          

 

8.      The Chair called for other business; hearing none, he adjourned the meeting at 5:05 PM. 

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Said Abdel-Khalik

Secretary of the Faculty

January 16, 2006

 

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

 

1.      Protocol for Establishing Dismissal Hearing Committee

2.      Minutes of the EB meeting of November 15, 2005 http://www.facultysenate.gatech.edu/EB2006-111505-Minuteswp.htm

3.      Proposed Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Engineering

4.      A Proposal for Creating The Title of “Professor of the Practice” at Georgia Tech

5.      Report on the Activities of the Ad-hoc Committee on the Evaluation of Instruction (dated April 5, 2001). http://www.facultysenate.gatech.edu/evalinstruct.html

6.      The Library Renovations (Presentation by the Library Student Advisory Council)  http://cyberbuzz.gatech.edu/prescouncil/docs/minutes/Library Board Presentation.ppt