GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

THE EXECUTIVE BOARD

 

MINUTES

Meeting of January 23, 2007

Held in the Poole Board Room of the Wardlaw Center

 

 

Members Present: Akins (Prof. Prac.), Alexander (Staff), Ballard (GTRI), Barnhart (GTRI), Braga (Chemistry), Bras (ME), Clough (President), Dagenhart (ARCH), Gaimon (Mgt), Graab (U. Student), Hughes (Chair, ECE), Keller (G. Student), Schuster (Provost), Stein (VPSS), West (GTRI), Wood (LCC), Yen (Biology), Bohlander (SoF)

 

Members Absent: First (Physics), Foley (CoC), Price (IMTC), Williams (ECE/GT-S),

 

Visitors:  Allen (Pres. Office), Donbaugh (OHR), Griffin (ISyE, Statutes Chair)

 

1.        Joe Hughes (Chair) opened the meeting at 3:08 P.M. 

 

2.      The Chair called on President Clough to comment on matters of interest to the Georgia Tech community:

a.   The State Legislature’s 2007 session has begun.  The Governor’s budget is a good budget for higher education.  He is recommending a salary increase of 3% for faculty and staff and is recommending funding of the university system formula in full.  He is also funding things like facilities maintenance to the full extent requested.  Funding to the Georgia Research Alliance is recommended at $30 million for a base request and $10 million for an initiative to develop new vaccines.  The latter is possibly something that will grow and Georgia Tech has prospects to be a contributor, e.g. in systems biology and in applications of nanotechnology.  Tech does not have any capital projects listed for this year, though in recent years there has been considerable support for new buildings.  It is hoped the beginning phases of the Undergraduate Learning Center will be supported next year.  The Governor funded no “minor projects” for renovations this year, but last year Tech received support for the renovation of the old Civil Engineering building.  That work is slated to begin shortly, with occupancy by Ivan Allen College planned.  State funding will be supplemented by private donations which are currently being raised.  There is still the possibility of a renovation project for the Hinman Building which the College of Architecture needs.  President Clough testified earlier on the day of this Executive Board meeting to the higher education subcommittee of the House appropriations committee.  His account of work at Georgia Tech was very well received with the legislators expressing particular interest in work on energy, nanotechnology, and nanomedicine.

b.   The capital campaign is in its quiet phase working toward a public launch.  By the end of the past year at least $355 million was booked.  By the end of 2007, it is estimated that $475 – 500 million will be raised.  The overall campaign goal is $1 billion and a public announcement could be made once around $400-500 million has been raised.

c.   The President congratulated Rich Meyer and the faculty of the library because the Tech library is receiving the Award of Excellence this year for research universities.  This is especially remarkable since GIT is a focused institute without the full complement of professions including medicine and law.  The President complemented the library for innovations like the information commons which has attracted national acclaim.

d.   Tech is nearing the end of the period of undergraduate applications.  The volume seems to be similar to last year, which was a very good year.

e.   President Clough made a preliminary introduction of a new scholarship program for Tech’s neediest student applicants.  Tech’s admissions and financial aid teams have been studying this over the past six months and have found evidence that some of the neediest segment is increasingly unable to accept opportunities to come to Tech or to continue due to financial limitations.  This issue had been missed because in-state tuition is relatively low and financial aid is already strong by some measures, with e.g. the HOPE Scholarship program and the Co-Op program.  One must remember though that tuition is not the only cost of completing a Tech education and the data assembled show there is a support gap.  One indicator is that Tech has a relatively high fraction of its students (compared with peers) participating in Pell grants which go to low income families.  So Tech is now raising private donations as part of its capital campaign to make this new scholarship program a reality.  In response to a question from Alison Graab, the President indicated that a press conference announcing the scholarship program is planned soon.  In response to another question, the President confirmed that the program will include a component of work-study, which can also be satisfied by participation in the Co-Op program.  Tom Akins observed that the Co-Op program has more jobs available than students to fill them.  Another question focused on the relationship between such a scholarship and recruitment of applicants.  President Clough confirmed that the scholarship would allow more effective recruitment of highly qualified applicants from a more diverse cross-section of the state.

3.      The Chair called for approval of minutes of the November 21, 2006 meeting of the Executive Board.  The minutes were approved without dissent. (See Attachment #1 below).

4.   The Chair introduced the next topic for discussion as two proposals to add specific categories of professionals to the General Faculty.  He told the Board that ultimately, if these changes were approved, they would require formal changes to the Statutes.  Proponents decided to bring the ideas behind these possible changes to the Executive Board for discussion before preparing formal proposals for Statute changes.  Similarly, if the Executive Board feels these changes are needed, the option exists to go to the General Faculty or General Faculty Assembly to discuss and seek approval of the policy concept and then to charge the Statutes Committee with preparing specific wording of Statute changes to implement the policy.  Then these Statute amendments would come back to the faculty for consideration, in accordance with the provisions in the Statutes concerning amendments.  The Chair noted that the introduction of the title Professor of the Practice was handled in this way.

The Chair then called on Chuck Donbaugh, Associate Vice President for Human Relations, to present some proposals.  Chuck worked from two documents included in Attachments #2a and #2b.  Tthe first proposal concerns the Georgia Tech Athletic Association (GTAA) and its personnel.  Up to now GTAA is a separate 501 (c)3 not-for-profit corporation whose staff members are employees of that corporation.  Georgia Tech would now like to move all current employees of GTAA into GIT employment.  GTAA would continue as a corporation but would not have any employees.  The problem this creates is that important members of this staff, especially the coaches, often have a rather short tenure here (say 3-5 years being the norm).  GTAA employees today participate in a retirement program which vests in five years.  Under present rules, when these people become new employees of GIT they will have only one option for a retirement plan; namely, the Teachers Retirement System (TRS) which vests in ten years.  GTAA and GIT are very concerned that they will be unable to recruit quality coaches and other key athletic professionals if this retirement option is all they can offer.  So the solution to this dilemma, in at least the short term, is to provide select titles with General Faculty status.  This would give them another option to elect the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP), which has immediate vesting. 

Referring to Attachment #2a, Mr. Donbaugh pointed out that the list of professionals proposed for General Faculty status is focused on those in management and coaching whose work is directly related to the Institute’s intercollegiate athletics program.  About 50 people would be covered by the titles in such a list, and something over 30 of these are coaches.  Overall GTAA employs about 160 people so the portion proposed for General Faculty status is about one third.  An enabling change in the statutes would be required similar to the provisions for Professionals with General Faculty Status.  Prior to the introduction of that category, legal professionals, for example, were brought in as Research Associates to get around the barriers to the ORP.  Professionals with General Faculty Status provided a cleaner way to solve the problem without pretending such staff members were researchers.  So it is proposed to do something similar for Athletic Affairs Professionals.

President Clough added a few remarks.  It is awkward that Tech has only this remedy to deal with this situation.  Other schools in the University System of Georgia have followed this same route, including the University of Georgia.  In defense of the move, the President noted that having one’s athletic professional staff in a separate corporation is not in the best interests of the Institute because it is harder to integrate the athletic program with academics.  Both Tech’s previous and current Athletic Directors have been in favor of bringing athletics professionals and operations more tightly into the Institute.  The NCAA urges institutional responsibility for the athletic programs as much as possible, and so these concerns point in the direction of bringing GTAA personnel into GIT employment.  Georgia Tech is already fortunate that the GTAA Board has been set up with the President as chair; no voting members are employees of GTAA; the faculty has the majority of the voting members; and the presidents of the undergraduate and graduate student bodies serve on the board.  The NCAA looks at Georgia Tech as a leader in intercollegiate athletics governance.  There many linkages now between athletic and academic programs; for example, in scholarships and development.  The trend in other universities is toward moving athletics staff from their external corporations into the university and this is providing better integration and allowing the universities to attract higher quality staff.  Most have at least masters degrees, commensurate with their substantial responsibility. 

The Chair then reiterated that the material in Attachment #2a is a descriptive document conveying the basic concepts of a proposed policy change.  If this is ultimately approved, the Statutes Committee would be asked to modify Statutes found in Section 5.1.1 which is the place where members in the General Faculty are listed.  This section defines

·        A Corps of Instruction which comprises academic faculty, research faculty, academic professionals, librarians, extension personnel, and a few others.

·        An administrative section mostly focused on upper administration of the Institute.

·        Professional classified staff, as described above by Chuck Donbaugh.  The definition is “Persons in professional positions that require at least a masters degree or its equivalent in education and experience in a relevant field and are approved by the President.”

·        Finally another category in which specific individuals can be granted General Faculty status by the Executive Board.  In this case the privilege is not granted to the position and membership does not devolve the person’s successor automatically.  With the others described in the first three bullets, the position carries the privilege of membership in the General Faculty.

In addition there is a Section 13.2 in the Handbook containing further guidance from the Executive Board on which titles belong to the General Faculty and which do not unless an individual is so appointed under the last bullet above.  Thus if the proposal in Attachment #2a is approved, then the Statutes Committee would be tasked with adding Athletic Affairs Professionals to Section 5.1.1 and adding to the list of titles in Section 13.2.  This provides a little more flexibility than adding a long list of titles directly to the Statutes themselves.  Such flexibility is appropriate since the exact titles in this field are more likely to change over time than those of Assistant Professor, Associate Professor and the like.  The Chair asked for questions or comments from the floor.

A question was asked why not all GTAA employees would be covered by this policy instead of just one-third?  Mr. Donbaugh answered that the remainder include those commensurate more with GIT’s classified staff.  The latter are only offered TRS in GIT.  So the proposal would treat those in GTAA like classified staff the same as those already at GIT.  The issue that drives this proposal is the scenario where Tech is recruiting a professional that already has a portable retirement plan from another educational institution.  Such persons are not likely to find TRS acceptable with its lack of portability and its long vesting period.

One of the Board members mentioned that he had polled colleagues about the proposal at hand, in general terms, and the notion of calling people involved with the athletics program faculty was just not understood.  It is nothing against such personnel at all but just a matter of concern that the designation doesn’t make sense.  He encouraged the Board to seek wider input from faculty concerning their desires in this matter.  Chuck Donbaugh indicated that he appreciated this input and it is certainly unfortunate that faculty status has to be linked with access to retirement plans.  Regrettably, there is no other option at this time.

President Clough commented that similar issues were raised in the past when Classified Professionals with General Faculty Status were introduced.  For example, Tech’s lawyers clearly did not perform academic duties, but creating a category under General Faculty was the only way to recruit good lawyers.   Chuck Donbaugh indicated there is hope to change the linkage between faculty and access to ORP, but for the time being this option is not available.  President Clough observed that the GTAA folks are not seeking faculty status per se, only ORP access.

A question was asked whether current GIT employees will be able to transfer from TRS to ORP?  The answer is no because a retirement plan is a lifetime election.  The reason this option must be discussed for the current GTAA employees is that when they transfer to GIT they will be new employees of the latter and will at that time have to elect a retirement plan.  Unless the faculty acts to amend the statutes, they will permanently have no option except TRS.  This decision also affects the options available to all that Tech will be recruiting in the future.

The Chair noted that an important thing to remember is that Tech has two categories of faculty, General Faculty and Academic Faculty.  What most people think of as faculty is what Tech calls Academic Faculty. 

A member of the Board then indicated a concern that members of the General Faculty can vote on academic affairs but academic faculty have not been able to vote on athletic matters.  So the advantages of a better integrated athletics staff is a very new concept and one that needs some selling.  President Clough commented that many faculty members do not realize that the GTAA board is controlled by faculty and this needs to be better communicated.  The Chair also clarified a point relating to the comments just heard: Actually the General Faculty does not vote on academic matters (such as the curriculum); only the Academic Faculty or the Academic Senate does.  Only those things that affect all faculty members are under the purview of the General Faculty or the General Faculty Assembly.  That is actually why the distinction in categories of faculty exists.

A question was raised about whether there is evidence that the retirement options in fact influence recruitment?  Chuck Donbaugh indicated that it is believed to be a fact and that the actions of other universities like UGA support the argument that it is a competitive matter.  Young coaches stand out for particular concern because they particularly have options.  The matter becomes an issue then not only of recruitment but also retention because most universities are able to offer an ORP-like package.  The President indicated that almost all of these professionals are credentialed in a way that would make them eligible for General Faculty status if they were working in other departments of the Institute.

A question was raised about the position of Associate Director of Academic Services which is not in the list of Attachment #2a.  Mr. Donbaugh indicated that this was so because the members of this office were considered to be eligible for General Faculty without question since the office matches others who hold General Faculty status.

A question was raised about equity in relation to other activities say within the field of student life.  Would any of them be disadvantaged relative to Athletic Affairs Professionals if this proposal were adopted?  Chuck indicated that if a masters degree is required for the position, it is possible to offer them General Faculty status now.  The Chair observed that this may not be true if a title in question is listed as excluded in Section 13.2.2 of the Handbook.  Executive Board action would then be required to modify that list if appropriate.  Chuck further observed that it was not the intent to include any type of athletics function or office for General Faculty status that was excluded for others associated with student life.  So if problems like this exist, they need to be looked at more carefully.

A question was asked if the proposal could be made more acceptable to faculty by including a clause dissolving General Faculty privileges if the Chancellor later made it possible to have access to ORP without being a member of the General Faculty.  Mr. Donbaugh responded that possible actions by the Chancellor were still somewhat hypothetical.  The Chancellor did create a Benefits Committee on which Tech does have a representative.  The Committee did make a proposal to the Chancellor which he has accepted that includes the recommendation that membership in ORP or in TRS be extended to all new salaried employees.  This would need to be passed by both the Board of Regents and the legislature.  So that solution is possible, but Tech does not control it and its fulfillment is at least uncertain regarding timing.  A follow up question directed the discussion back to the possibility of a sunset clause or a mandatory review in three years.  Some faculty would be more accepting if the proposal was clearly a temporary measure.  Mr. Donbaugh said that would be acceptable to him but he had concerns about how those would be treated who had already been granted General Faculty privileges.

Joe Hughes (Chair) reminded the Board that there is the option under existing rules to grant particular individuals membership in the General Faculty, it just would not be automatic and would need to be addressed in each individual case.  If the Board of Regents and legislature later acted to break the link between the General Faculty and ORP, then Tech could suspend granting these special memberships in the General Faculty.  The other issue found elsewhere in the Board agenda is a needed study of membership and election questions in faculty bodies generally.  He observed if 50 new members of the General Faculty were added, then 2-3 more members would be elected to the General Faculty Assembly (GFA) from Central Services and Administration.  It is conceivable that as part of a review of representation policies, that certain categories of members of the General Faculty could be excluded from voting membership in the GFA.  There is some precedent for that already in criteria for membership in certain faculty committees.  Select activities now in the purview of General Faculty could also be moved to Academic Faculty only.  Dr. Hughes observed that all these possibilities could not be resolved in the short term and so simpler solutions were needed for the question at hand.

A question was raised about how employees of GTRC and the Alumni Association are treated.  Mr. Donbaugh answered that these organizations are independent and have very few employees.

He also commented on some of the options mentioned by Joe Hughes.  The option to handle membership in the General Faculty on an individual basis would take care of existing GTAA employees but be a real stumbling block in recruiting because the ability to offer ORP could not be guaranteed and would depend on a later action of the Executive Board.  A sunset provision would be preferable to this approach.

Gary Schuster, Provost, offered some comments:  He said his initial response was also that it did not make sense.  But the more he understood the particular problem Tech is in, the more he understood that the proposal on the table is the best option available.  He urged the Executive Board members to exercise leadership in light of having received a thorough briefing.  He further urged that if a sunset clause was ultimately considered that it not be triggered at a fixed time in the future but rather simply when the linkage between General Faculty membership and ORP is resolved. 

Then, the Chair asked Mr. Donbaugh to describe the second and similar proposal of the day.  This second proposal has to do with Post Doctoral Fellows and is detailed in Attachment #2b.  Post Docs are treated the same as classified employees as regards their benefit package today, which means that their only retirement plan option is TRS.  Most of these men and women stay here less than five years and therefore they do not vest in the program.  They are making a contribution to a retirement plan and all they can get out is what they put in themselves with some interest.  The employer’s contributions and any interest stay with the TRS.  The Faculty Benefits Committee first looked at this and made the proposal for change to the Provost who in turn passed in on to OHR.  The recommendation is to give Post Docs General Faculty status.  Joe Hughes observed that it is a relatively simple matter to add Post Doctoral Fellows to the lists under Corps of Instruction in Section 5.1.1 of the Statutes.  Joe also pointed out that the wording of the Statutes found in Attachment #2b is not completely up to date with the latest changes made by the faculty this past fall, but the intent is clear to add this title into the list.  Bill Ballard and Leanne West had worked with the Benefits Committee when this came up and affirmed this was fully supported by them.  Dr. Hughes reminded the Board that this proposal will not affect current Post Doctoral Fellows because they are already irrevocably enrolled in TRS, but it will affect future Post Docs.  He also noted the only cost impact because is just the difference in the cost of the employer’s portion of the two retirement plans, which are nominally similar.  President Clough asked how many Post Docs we have and would this proposal cover Brittain Fellows?  Mr. Donbaugh replied that the current complement numbers about 182 and Brittain Fellows are covered differently.  Joe Hughes commented that, again, adding these many people to the rolls of General Faculty would ultimately increase the size of the General Faculty Assembly by about nine members, but this time distributed across the schools of the Institute.

It was commented from the floor that some people serve in a capacity similar to a Post Doctoral Fellow but have different titles like Visiting Assistant Professor, and in that case they would not be covered by membership in the General Faculty.  Dr. Bohlander pointed out that the Statutes do exclude visiting and temporary faculty and he wondered if people would view Post Docs as excluded or out of place on that basis.  Could Post Docs not simply be appointed as Research Engineer I or II (or similar titles)?  Such titles are already part of the General Faculty.  Joe Hughes replied that “temporary” in the context of the Statutes is not intended to mean people who do not intend to spend their entire careers here.  It means instead  pre-defined very short term appointments.

It was observed from the floor that the retirement program may not be much of an issue deciding where people go.  Chuck Donbaugh said he hears a lot of feedback from Post Docs in support of fixing this problem and not having access to ORP is viewed as unfair.  President Clough observed that Tech would already be offering ORP to Post Docs if it could because it is the right thing to do.  Once again, mention was made of revisiting General Faculty membership questions if the linkage with retirement plans is lifted in the future.

The Chair called on Paul Griffin, Chair of the Statutes Committee, for comments.  He said his committee is ready to act if the faculty needs them to do so.  He did mention there had been some concern over the temporary character of a Post Doc appointment but that he believed appropriate wording could be found.

The Chair then moved to a discussion of next steps.  He asked for a sense of the Board as to whether the Board feels these proposals should be recommended to the faculty.  It was requested that the two proposals be considered separately.  It was asked if student representatives could vote, and a quick check of the Statutes showed they are ex officio without vote.  A question was asked if it is possible for the Executive Board to refer this matter to the faculty without a recommendation.  The chair indicated that such a referral could be made but a recommendation from the Executive Board facilitates a discussion of the issues.  Support was voiced for being more definitive in an effort to get clear feedback.  The Chair asked if anyone felt these matters should not be taken to the faculty at all and no one indicated that was the case.  Some support was voiced for sending the proposal to the faculty without recommendation.  Someone suggested it was important to provide the faculty with the reasons for the proposals, not just the action items proposed; i.e. the special circumstances and people involved, the necessity for fair economic treatment, and the unfortunate restrictions on the options to accomplish this.  The President suggested that the Executive Board consider a motion to recommend approval of each proposal and just see if there is a majority in favor. 

So a motion was made to send a proposal to the General Faculty to include Academic Affairs Professionals as members of the General Faculty; that the Executive Board endorses this policy and recommends the General Faculty approve it; and that the Statutes Committee be charged with preparing proposed amendments to the Statutes and the Handbook to implement the policy.  The motion was seconded.  The Chair asked for a show of hands for and against, and the motion was approved by a vote of 7 for and 5 against.  The President suggested that the proposal documentation to the faculty be augmented with the reasons for taking this action. 

The Chair then asked for a similar motion to send a proposal to the General Faculty to add Post Doctoral Fellows to the General Faculty; that the Executive Board endorses this policy and recommends the General Faculty approve it; and that the Statutes Committee be charged with preparing proposed amendments to the Statutes and the Handbook to implement the policy.  The motion was made and seconded and passed 11 to 0.

5.   The Chair skipped ahead in the agenda and took up the topic of upcoming meetings of the faculty.  Two were scheduled for February: one on Feb. 6 for the General Faculty Assembly and the Academic Senate, and one on Feb. 27 for the General Faculty and the General Faculty Assembly.  He discussed the option of taking the two proposals just discussed to the Feb. 6 meeting and adding a called meeting of the General Faculty to broaden participation in voting on the recommendations.  Then he expressed the hope, if the faculty approves the policies, that the Statutes Committee could have revised wording of the Statutes ready for the Executive Board to review Feb. 13.  In turn, those changes could be brought to the faculty at their meeting on Feb. 27 for a first reading.  The Statutes require a minimum of 60 days to elapse before a second reading is scheduled and this second reading must occur in spring or fall terms, not summer.  So the earliest the second reading could be held is April 28 or practically speaking in the first week of May. .  It was observed by the Secretary that it may be possible to move a now scheduled April 17 meeting to the first week in May.  This would mean that the proposals could be completely handled, if all goes well, within the current semester, which would be much more effective for OHR.  The Chair recognized that this is a tight time frame.  If it doesn’t get approved none of this matters, but if it does win approval then it is nice to be as efficient as possible.  Paul Griffin indicated he believed the Statutes Committee could support this schedule.  A motion was made and seconded to make the meeting of Feb. 6, 2007, a called meeting of the General Faculty in addition to the scheduled meetings of the General Faculty Assembly and the Academic Senate, with the agenda to include

·        The President’s remarks;

·        The two proposals just heard by the Executive Board; and

·        Approval of committee minutes

This was passed unanimously.

6.      The Chair said he had hoped to bring a specific proposal for a study committee to look at some needs for Statutes changes.  Recognizing that issues discussed today might have an effect on the charge to this committee, it was prudent to hold off.  His new goal was to bring a specific proposal to the next meeting if the Executive Board.  In the meantime, the Chair asked for volunteers to indicate interest in serving on the committee or for recommendations of people to serve.  Not all members need be from the Executive Board.

7.      The Chair asked for any new business.  Dr. Tom Akins gave a brief report on behalf of the Nominations Committee.  He hopes to have a report at the next Executive Board meeting.  Dr. Jim Foley from CoC is co-chair and the remaining members include Mary Frank Fox from Public Policy, Tom Horton from GTRI, Donna Llewellyn from CETL, and Leon McGinnis from ISyE.  He encouraged Board members to assist in finding candidates to run for faculty standing committees, for a few slots on the Executive Board, and for a few special slots on the General Faculty Assembly representing Central Services and Administration. 

8.   The meeting was adjourned at about 4:30 P.M.

Submitted by Ronald A Bohlander, Secretary

Feb. 12, 2007

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

1.      Minutes of the EB meeting of November 21, 2006.

2.      Proposals to add members to the General Faculty

a.   Athletic Affairs Professionals

b.   Post Doctoral Fellows