Meeting of November 15, 2005

Held in the Poole Board Room of the Wardlaw Center



Members Present: Ballard (GTRI); Braga (CHEM); Cabot (OIT); Clough (President); Huff (GTRI); Schneider (MGT); Yen (BIOL); Andersen (U. Student); Keller (for David; G. Student); Abdel-Khalik (SoF).  


Members Absent: Akins (Prof Prac); Alexander (Staff Rep); Barnhart (GTRI); Bras (ME); Chameau (Provost); First (Phys); Gentry (Arch); Foley (CoC); Hughes (ECE); McGinnis (ISyE); Price (IMTC); Wood (LCC)


Visitors: Allen (Pres. Office); Barefield (Chem); Byars (MGT); Hayes (ECE/GTS); Green (Math); Pikowsky (Registrar); Smith (Vice Provost); Wills (ECE).


1.      Said Abdel-Khalik (SoF) opened the meeting at 3:00 PM in behalf of the Chair (Leon McGinnis) who was absent because of illness.  He called on the President to comment on matters of interest to the Georgia Tech community.  The President offered the following comments.


a.       Homecoming was very successful.  The faculty lectures were very well attended.  The Alumni Association is doing a good job in broadening the connection between our alumni and the academic programs. 


b.      On October 31st, Georgia Tech and the Georgia Research Alliance co-hosted the Southern Innovation Summit which was held at the GT Hotel and Conference Center.  The Summit was very successful; it was jointly sponsored by the Southern Technology Council (currently Chaired by Governor Purdue) and the US Council on Competitiveness.  The Governor indicated that he will increase funds to help small companies locate near universities.


c.       We are in the process of creating a “Technology Enterprise Park” to be located west of the rail road track; property has been purchased.  Construction of the first building will begin in about a month.  Agreement has been reached with the “anchor tenant” (new Atlanta Company to be announced later) and we are nearing agreement with the second tenant (company that works with GT); the third tenant will likely be one of the companies “graduating” from ATDC.  These three companies will likely fill the first building. Further expansion is planned.  The Technology Enterprise Park concept will help us maintain close R&D contact with companies incubated through GT, as well as other companies.  It will offer opportunities for our faculty to do research in collaboration with these companies, as well as employment opportunities for our students.  The Governor indicated his interest in putting additional funds in the next budget to help support these development activities.    


d.      Last week, President Clough, along with Dr. Allen (Pres. Office) and Dr. Hughes (CE), visited New Orleans (invited by Corp. of Engineers) to view the damage caused by hurricane Katrina.  The College of Engineering is working on a major NSF proposal to co-host a workshop (with the University of New Orleans, Tulane, and LSU) on the rebuilding of New Orleans.  The workshop will likely be held in New Orleans in February.  There are many policy issues in which GT can play a large role.         


A question was asked regarding the recent problem with data access and security. The President stated that all the actions necessary to protect our internal computing systems and data had been taken; however, the last two instances of data breaches had nothing to do with such defense systems.  They were primarily personnel issues.  The first deals with the I-9 forms which were being moved from a storeroom to a different location; some of the files were lost (possibly due to a disgruntled employee). The second data breach occurred at the Success Center, where someone stole a computer which had records from students who had applied for the Presidential Scholars Program in previous years.  According to GT policy, that information should have been removed from the computer and either placed on the server or eliminated completely.  Employees should not store data on their system beyond what is needed for their present activities; we need to stress that policy in our employee education program. The person who stole the computer was arrested later; we do not believe that he stole it because of the information it contained.  Nevertheless, the affected people were informed of the possible breach.  We are re-examining activities in which social security numbers are needed. We have done a great deal to protect our computing systems, but have to revisit the question of what information people should have access to and how they do it on a daily basis.  We are also looking at how to physically protect computers to prevent data breach through theft.  A comment was made that some faculty still have course grade sheets from many years ago when social security numbers were used for identification.  The President stated that this is one of the things we are looking at to get everyone to get rid of things they no longer need.  A question was asked regarding the type of experts who are expected to attend the workshop to be held in New Orleans.  The President stated that the workshop will focus primarily on heavy infrastructure issues, e.g. ports, harbors, transportation, and levee flood protection.  Clearly, there are related social science and urban planning issues which need to be addressed, but the focus of this particular workshop will be mostly engineering. 


2.      The Chair called for approval of minutes of the October 25, 2005 meeting of the Executive Board.  The minutes were approved without dissent. (See Attachment #1 below).


3.      The Chair called on Dr. Scott Wills (ECE, 2003-05 Chair of the Institute Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, IUCC) to present an overview of the issue of increasing committee workload due to the rise in student petitions and appeals.  He introduced other faculty present in connection with this issue: Dr. Kent Barefield (Chair, Student Rules and Regulations Committee), Dr. Lloyd Byars (2005-06 Chair, IUCC), Dr. Bill Green (Chair, Graduate Curriculum Committee), and Ms. Reta Pikowsky (Registrar).  Wills began by presenting data to describe the nature and extent of the problem (a copy of the slides used by Dr. Wills is attached -- see Attachment #2 below).  He stated that the IUCC has a very broad charter; the main committee activity is approval of all curricular matters (e.g. new courses, minors, certificates, programs, etc. – see Attachment #2 for a list of curricular items addressed by IUCC during 2004-05).  These are matters that require a great deal of attention.  Additionally, there are three main subcommittee activities which also require a significant amount of effort:  (1) General Education, which is a part of all our degree programs -- it deals with science, math, writing, presentation skills, and health and Wellness; (2) Study Abroad which has increased in scope given the recent increase in international study opportunities; and (3) Program Reviews, where existing degree programs are periodically reviewed.  In addition to those main activities, the committee had 738 student petitions during 2004-05, which is nearly 7% of the number of undergraduate students.  In other words, nearly one-fourth of the undergraduate students will on average submit a petition to the committee during their four-year career at GT.     Additionally, there were 27 personal appeals, which required 9 hours of Committee time.  Nearly 75% of the 24 IUCC meetings were spent on petitions and appeals (a total of 36 to 48 hours).  Wills stated that the increase in the petition workload impedes other essential IUCC activities; therefore, action is required. 


A table comparing the number of petitions and appeals for 1999-2000 and 2004-05 was shown (See Attachment #2).  Wills stated that 1999-2000 was the first year after semester conversion; there were many transition issues which were addressed through the appeals process. There were 760 petitions and five appeals during 1999-2000; many of the petitions were addressed by the Registrar’s office.  There were seven IUCC meetings devoted to petitions and appeals which represented approximately 46% of the total IUCC hours.  For 2004-05, there were 738 petitions and 27 appeals; while the number of petitions is smaller than that for 99-00, the recent petitions were more varied in nature and required more thought on how they should be handled.  Each of the 27 appeals heard during 2004-05 (versus 5 for 99-00) required 20 to 30 minutes of full committee time to process.  During 2004-05, there were 18 IUCC meetings devoted to petitions and appeals which represented 75% of the total IUCC hours.  A table showing the number of petitions and appeals during each of the five years between 99-00 and 04-05 was shown.  The total number of petitions reached a peak of 932 during 03-04, and declined to 738 for 04-05; much of this decline however, is due to resolution of all remaining cases related to semester conversion.  However, despite fluctuations in the number of personal appeals, the large rise experienced during 04-05 is a cause for alarm; some students now view the petition process as another “instrument” for getting through GT.  A summary of the nature of various petitions for 02-03 (prepared by Joe Hughes) was shown; the top three representing nearly more than 60% of the total are: (1) re-admission after being dropped, (2) late withdrawal or change all grades to “W”, and (3) substitution of course(s) and use of previous grade/credit.  Wills stated that the breakdown was probably similar during the two years he had served as IUCC Chair (2003-05).


Wills stated that a petition is first submitted by the student to his/her academic unit.  The unit makes a recommendation as to whether or not to approve the petition before forwarding it to the IUCC.  Some units include comments to explain the reasons for their recommendations, while others simply indicate approval or disapproval.  So, the input provided by the units is non-uniform.   Since the unit level recommendations are done by the people who best know the students and the courses, their input is very valuable; an “educational” program aimed at first-level evaluators would be very beneficial.  Wills stated that based on his six-year service on IUCC, it is clear that the process is being done by thoughtful people who know their job.  The appeal process, however, is essentially a “double appeal” – a student requests a certain action, if he/she is unhappy with the decision, he/she writes a petition; after the petition is processed by IUCC, the student has the opportunity to personally appeal in front of the IUCC.  This process takes a great deal of time even though a small fraction of the petitions is personally appealed (27 out of 738 in 04-05).  He believes that such personal appeals should be limited to “critical petitions” (e.g. readmissions rather than grade changes). 


Reta Pikowsky (Registrar) offered the following comments/suggestions (see memorandum dated November 9, 2005 for a complete list, Attachment #3 below).   She stated that while some have recommended that more of these decisions should be made by the units themselves, the IUCC provides a consistent vehicle for evaluating/deciding on the appeals.  This centralized process makes it possible to track trends and patterns that may lead to changes in policies, rules, and regulations, which would not be possible if the decisions were made at the unit level.  The increase in the number of petitions may be related to the increase in enrollment.  She noted that the number of medical withdrawals has increased particularly for past terms; this is often initiated with consultation in the Dean of Students Office – this process could be improved. There has been an increase in the number of undergraduate students who withdraw by the deadline and want to come back the next term.  Graduate students are allowed to do so, while undergraduates must petition to be allowed to return – should this policy be reconsidered?  Petitions dealing with not meeting the graduation requirements often cite poor academic advising as the reason.  Advisors should be encouraged to use the on-line degree audit (CAPP), which may make it possible for many of those problems to be caught in time for the students to address them.  More petitions are submitted by students after a second drop; it may be beneficial to initiate more stringent academic advising after the first drop.  Pikowsky stated that the in-person appeals of petition denials takes a great deal of time; these in-person appeals must include new information rather than a rehashing of what is already known.  We may also want to impose a limit on their duration (~5 minutes versus 20 to 30 minutes). 


A question was asked as to whether the concerns are primarily related to the number of in-person appeals or the total number of petitions in general.  Wills stated that both are of concern.  The fraction of petitions administratively handled by the Registrar’s office is decreasing (routine matters delegated by the committee to the Registrar’s Office); this means that while the total number of petitions may be flat, the number addressed by the committee is increasing.  The in-person appeals are obviously a concern because of the length of time they take (20 to 30 minutes each) and the significant rise in their number.  A comment was made that the number of personal appeals can be limited by limiting the types of actions which can be personally appealed.  This would require new rules which would have to be formulated by the Rules and Regulations Committee and approved by the Senate.  Wills stated that currently there are no constraints on the types of actions which can be personally appealed; Barefield concurred.  A comment was made that it is unreasonable to allow students to make personal appeals if they have no new information to present; students must be required to present new information in those situations.  Pikowsky stated that she talks to students ahead of time to find out if they have any new information.  A follow-up comment was made that it may be a good idea to formalize that process by requiring students to submit that information in writing, so that the committee can make a judgment as to whether there is actually new information.  Wells stated that in some cases petitions/appeals are submitted for actions which had taken place four or five years earlier.  Examples include students who do not have the GPA required to graduate who attempt to raise their GPA by petitioning for grade change or removing a course one at a time, or students who petition for removal of a “W” for withdrawal from a course taken several years earlier because it may hurt the petitioner in the job market.    Green stated that considerably fewer petitions and appeals are heard by the Graduate Committee than those heard by IUCC; however, the same trends have been observed.  A comment was made that it may be a good idea to put a time limit on how old an issue can be for a petition to be filed.  A comment was made that while the Registrar’s comments regarding the need to centralize the process are valid, there are two areas which can/should be removed from the IUCC’s jurisdiction.  The first is readmission after a drop, which represents the largest fraction of petitions (> 25%); these decisions are best made by the units to which the students are attempting to be readmitted.  The second area is medical withdrawals; IUCC members are not physicians or psychiatrists.  The legitimacy of the reasons for many of these medical withdrawals (e.g. depression) cannot be evaluated by the IUCC.  These medical withdrawal decisions should be made by a separate group with appropriate qualifications. 


A comment was made that it may be appropriate to form a committee to come up with specific recommendations based on today’s discussions; necessary changes in the rules and regulations based on these recommendations can then be formulated and submitted to the Academic Senate for approval. A motion to form such a committee was made.  The committee’s membership will consist of  Kent Barefield, Lloyd Byars, Bill Green, Reta Pikowsky, Scott Wills, an undergraduate student (to be appointed by the undergraduate student body president), and a graduate student (to be appointed by the graduate student body president).  The committee is to report to the Executive Board before the end of the Spring (06) term.  The motion passed without dissent.   The Chair thanked the participants for their efforts on this important issue.  He indicated that a summary presentation on this topic has been included in the agenda for the November 29, 2005 Academic Senate meeting.            


4.      The Chair called on Dr. Monson Hayes (ECE), Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Faculty Governance, to present a status report on the committee’s activities. A copy of the slides used by Dr. Hayes is attached (See Attachment #4 below). Hayes stated that following the Executive Board retreat last April, the Ad Hoc Committee was established to examine faculty governance across a multi-campus institution.  The Committee’s goal is to identify the issues (not necessarily the solutions) associated with faculty outside the Atlanta campus.  The Committee is to present its final report and recommendations to the Executive Board in the Spring.  A list of committee members was shown (see Attachment #4); it includes members from various units who have had experience with multi-campus issues.  Hayes stated that he spent three years at GTL, was involved in launching the Shanghai program, and is now located at GT-Savannah.  He stated that the mission of the committee as derived from last April’s Executive Board retreat is to identify the hurdles, if any, to be encountered in applying the current faculty governance policies and procedures (contained in the Faculty Handbook) as GT diversifies geographically.   Georgia Tech is becoming geographically diverse; new “outposts” appear throughout the world.  Major centers of operation outside Atlanta include Savannah, Lorraine, Shanghai, Singapore, and multiple GTRI outposts.  Additional initiatives are being pursued in China (Beijing University) and new initiatives in India are under discussion.  As GT expands, it is important to identify and understand the issues before problems arise. 


Hayes stated that after extensive discussions, the committee decided that an appropriate name for it should be “The Committee on Multi-Campus Faculty Development, Governance, and Integration.”  The name captures the important issues to be addressed by the committee.  Initial committee discussions led to the realization that there are many different programs and that each campus and international program is unique; issues important to one may not be relevant for another.  For example, while GTL and Shanghai are both outside the US, they each have unique problems which they do not share with each other; in Asia, one is more concerned with issues such as internet connectivity, patents and licensing, export controls, etc.  Therefore, the committee began by identifying the different program “categories” in order to identify unique issues associated with each category; four categories of programs and activities have been identified.  The first includes campuses like those in Savannah and the one proposed in India which are envisioned to hire faculty who will reside at those locations on a full-time basis.  Some faculty at those locations may never come to Atlanta; so, the issue is how they can be integrated within our faculty governance activities.  The second category includes campuses like Shanghai and GTL where faculty may rotate there for a specific period (a semester or a year) and then return to their main campus.  The third category includes faculty members who organize or participate in much shorter study abroad programs (~ 4 to 6 weeks).   The fourth category includes research faculty (e.g. GTRI employees) who work at various locations throughout the world.   


The committee will identify the issues and concerns with current policies in the faculty handbook as they apply to the four categories.  The three main areas of concern which will define the committee’s initial thrust are: (1) Success of faculty and faculty development.  This includes such issues as reappointment, promotion and tenure, availability of resources necessary for faculty members to be successful, reasonableness of faculty loads especially during program start-up, faculty mentoring, and embracing of programs by individual units.  (2) Integration with the main campus, which includes such issues as faculty representation on governance bodies and standing committees, dissemination of information and announcements, and reporting of grades and student faculty/course evaluations (difficulties due to fire walls and computer security concerns caused some faculty not to conduct the course evaluations).   (3) Hiring practices, which include such issues as criteria used for hiring (should we hire only tenured professors to serve outside Atlanta?), and involvement of non-tenured faculty in study abroad and start-up programs.  Hayes stated that other groups on campus, e.g. the Welfare and Security Committee, are also looking at issues related to faculty governance across the institute (he gave a presentation to the W&S Committee last week). The Institute has hired Price Waterhouse Coopers to assist GT in legal and regulatory issues associated with campuses in China. Hayes stated that it is important for the Committee to be aware of such activities, inasmuch as they impact faculty development and governance through issues such as intellectual property (including course content), tax status of individuals and units, fundraising, and export controls.   The President stated that the involvement of Price Waterhouse was initiated by Dr. Liotta and that the aim is to make sure that any agreements we enter into are consistent with Export Controls regulations.  


The Chair indicated that Dr. Hayes has agreed to make a similar presentation to the Academic Senate on November 29.  He thanked Dr. Hayes and the Ad Hoc Committee for their efforts on this important issue.     


5.      The Chair presented the proposed agenda for the November 29, 2005 Fall meeting of the Academic Senate combined with called meeting of the General Faculty (See Attachment #5 below).  In addition to presentations on the subjects of student petitions (Wills) and multi-campus governance (Hayes), the proposed agenda includes an overview of the GT Information Technology Infrastructure to support faculty and students which will be presented by Ron Hutchins (OIT) and Darren Hunt (Provost’s Office).  The proposed agenda was approved without dissent. 


6.      The Chair called on Ms. Claudia Huff (GTRI) to present the proposed membership list for the 2006 Nominations Committee (see Attachment #6 below).  Huff stated that she and Joe Hughes will serve as co-chairs of the committee; four additional faculty members have been recruited to serve on the committee, two of them are Academic Faculty (Barefield and Bostrom) and two are General faculty (Bohlander and Usselman).   Mary Clark (undergrad student) will represent the students on the committee; she was jointly appointed by the undergraduate and graduate student body presidents.  A motion to approve the proposed 2006 Nominations Committee membership list passed without dissent.     


7.      Dr. Anderson Smith (Vice Provost) distributed a proposal for creating the title of “Professor of the Practice” at Georgia Tech (See Attachment #7 below).  He would like the Executive Board to consider the proposal at the January meeting.  It will then be presented to the Academic Senate for discussions and approval.  He stated that the proposal does not require changes in the Statutes or Board of Regents approval. It allows units to hire people who have made major contributions to their fields.  These are non-tenure positions which fall under the BOR job classification of “Academic Professional with Academic Rank.”  There will be only one rank (Professor of the Practice).   Unlike the available title of “Adjunct Professor” the “Professor of the Practice” would be paid by Georgia Tech (either part-time or full time).  Smith stated that many academic units have been asking for this type of position and that the Deans of the Colleges support it.  It was agreed to place this item on the agenda for the Board’s January meeting.  There were no questions for Dr. Smith. 


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 20, 2005


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


1.      Minutes of the EB meeting of October 25, 2005

2.      Petitions and Appeals 2000 and 2005 (Presentation by Scott Wills)

3.      Increase in Undergraduate Student Petitions (Memorandum by Reta Pikowsky)

4.      Ad Hoc Committee on Faculty Governance (Presentation by Monson Hayes)

5.      Proposed Agenda for November 29, 2005 Fall meeting of the Academic Senate combined with called meeting of the General Faculty

6.      Proposed membership list for 2006 Nominating Committee

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