GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

THE EXECUTIVE BOARD

 

MINUTES

Meeting of February 19, 2008

Held in the Poole Board Room of the Wardlaw Center

 

 

 

Members Present: Alexander (Staff), Ballard (GTRI), Barnhart (GTRI) , Bohlander (Secretary of the Faculty, GTRI), Braga (Chemistry), Bras (ME), Clough (President), Henry (Co-Vice-Chair, ORC), Huey (EAS), Morley (Math), Parvatiyar (U. Grad Student), Rossignac (Co-Vice-Chair, CoC-IC), Stein (VPSS), West (Chair, GTRI), Wester (Grad Student), Williams (ECE/GT-S)

 

Members Absent: Dagenhart (ARCH), Gaimon (Mgt), Price (IMTC), Schuster (Provost), Whiteman (ME), Wood (LCC)

 

Visitors:  Llewellyn (CETL), Smith (SVPAA), Utschig (CETL)

1.         Ms. Leanne West (Chair) opened the meeting at 3:05 P.M.  She asked for approval of the minutes of the January 15, 2008 meeting of the Executive Board (Attachment #1)This was approved without dissent.

2.         Ms. West then called on President Clough to comment on matters of interest to the Georgia Tech community:

    1. Pres. Clough reported that Mr. Bob Thompson has announced his intention to retire (effective April 1) as Senior Vice President of Administration and Finance, a position he has occupied for thirteen years.  During this time, he led the way to tremendous progress in Georgia Tech business processes, making them much more efficient and user friendly.  He has also been responsible for steering Tech through significant expansions of facilities both here and abroad.  Mr. Steve Swant, who has served under Mr. Thompson, will assume the position of Senior Vice President on Apr. 1.  Mr. Swant has been at Georgia Tech for more than eleven years, having served previously at UCLA and the University of Washington. 
    2. .Pres. Clough reported that the Georgia Legislature was in the process of approving Georgia’s supplemental budget, covering adjustments in the budget for the remainder of fiscal year 2008.  This includes a piece to cover the bonds issued to enable Georgia Tech’s acquisition of the North Avenue apartments from Georgia State University.  Both the House and Senate have approved the measures and the bill has been brought to a conference committee.  Fiscal year 2009 budget discussions have begun in the House and Dr. Clough said it was possible they could be done by the end of March.  The Governor has supported funding to the university system in accordance with “the formula”.  If followed this would provide Georgia Tech the support it needs for faculty to cover the loads created by expanded enrollment in fiscal year 2007.

      The Governor also recommended a 2.5% salary increase for faculty, which is lower than what the system had hoped for. A House Higher Education Subcommittee has conducted a review of where the university system stands in faculty salaries relative to peer institutions.  It turned out that Georgia Tech salaries for academic faculty were equal to the median of its peers, but the subcommittee recommended that the State and the system work to get to the place where irs salaries were at the 75th percentile.  To do that would require a $24,000 increase in average Georgia Tech faculty salaries.  There was a question about whether salary ranges were studied and President Clough said no.

      The House Higher Education Committee has also embarked on a review of the university system’s Maintenance, Renovation and Rehabilitation (MRR) funding.  Up to now, about 1% of the value of the facilities of a given campus has been allocated for MRR.  Typical rates in industry are 3-5% and the Committee recommended that the MRR allocation be increased.  President Clough said that would be very welcome because the ability to meet MRR needs often depended on shorting other budget categories.  President Clough mentioned that Tech’s undergraduate student body president, Ms. Anu Parvatiyar, was the only student present for these committee hearings (other than student interns), and he thanked her for being part of the Georgia Tech team.

      A follow up question concerned how Georgia Tech has dealt with salary compression issues.  Dr. Clough said that doing anything substantive required having authorization for significant raises; times of low salary raises tend to create more salary compression.  Dr. Clough went on to say that in spite of the fact that salary increases would be relatively low on average, it was expected that some variation in individual raises would be granted so that some acknowledgment of merit could be made.

      Dr. Clough reported that Georgia Tech continues to communicate with the legislature about the proposed Undergraduate Learning Center.  The amount of funding requested in fiscal year 2009 has been reduced to be more in line with current state budget realities.  The original amount requested, $60 million, did not fit under the Governor’s budget cap and so was not recommended.  Georgia Tech has subsequently proposed $10 million that would enable the design to be completed and the project to get underway with site clearing during the next year.  It would then be completed for the balance of the funding the following year.  There has been encouraging support so far for this revised plan.  Dr. Andy Smith (SVPAA) announced that the Deans have approved his appointment of a committee of faculty and students from around the Institute to advise him and the design team on the Undergraduate Learning Center as the project proceeds.

      Dr. Clough reminded the Board that the legislature’s budget is just the next stage in getting the funds Tech needs.  After that, the Chancellor and the Board of Regents allocate the funding that is authorized.  The Chancellor has asked for and Tech has been supplying a great deal of data to support the decisions ahead.  Funding requests will be analyzed in terms of enrollment increases and cases for targeted enhancements.  If the legislature completes its work in time, the Board of Regents would normally expect to make their allocations and set tuition rates in the April board meeting.  A question from the Executive Board concerned how this timeline affects Georgia Tech’s internal budget process.  Dr. Clough said that Tech would issue departmental guidelines and build an estimated budget in parallel with the above actions so that it can converge quickly once final figures are available.
    3. President Clough announced that Ken Paulson, Editor and Senior Vice President for News of USA Today would be on campus on February 20, 2008 to address the Georgia Tech community in the Ferst Center for the Arts.  Dr. Clough thanked John Stein, Bill Schafer, and Anu Parvatiyar for their efforts in arranging this [as part of the Finding Common Ground Student Planning Committee’s efforts].  Mr. Paulson’s talk, “Rebooting America: News for a New Generation,” would cover how USA Today interacts with university faculty and students.  Meetings were also planned with students and faculty for some highly interactive sessions.

      President Clough mentioned that a recent edition of the paper announced the New Faces of Engineering honorees (as part of the annual Engineer’s Week), and Georgia Tech student Jessica Heier was among the honorees for her work in logistics systems for humanitarian relief.  Nominated by the Institute of Industrial Engineers, Ms. Heier is a Ph.D. student, working with Drs. Özlem Ergun and Julie Swann in ISyE, and was the only student so honored by Engineers Week.
    4. Dr. Clough commented on the string of presidential candidate visits to the campus.  Such visits are coordinated with student leaders, and he reported that a group of students are working to prepare a senate debate event.  Georgia Public Broadcasting will be collaborating on this.  Dr. Clough thanked the students for their efforts.

3.         The Chair then asked Dr. Clough to cover the topic on the agenda concerning the 2008 winter holidays.  Dr. Clough showed the Board two alternatives under consideration in Attachment #2.  Option 1 would make holidays of the days shown in green.  Holidays would begin on Monday, Dec. 22, and continue through Friday, Dec. 26.  Jan. 1 during the next week would also be a holiday.  This option would span Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa, but there would be some workdays between that first week and the Jan. 1 holiday.  The holidays with Option 2 would be the days shown in blue.  The holidays would begin on Thu. Dec. 25 (Christmas) and continue through Jan. 1 (New Year’s).  It would not include Hanukkah, but there would be no return to work between Christmas and New Year’s.  Dr. Clough indicated that whichever option was chosen, persons with a desire to participate in particular holiday occasions that were not covered by the official holidays would be accommodated with special arrangements.  He mentioned that a sampling of opinions from administrative persons indicated a preference for Option 2, but no decision had been reached.  He asked for the opinions of the Executive Board and these included:

·         For many, Christian services on 12/24 are more important than on 12/25.

·         People tend to get their work done in advance of 12/24 and are ready to take off sooner than 12/25.

·         A lot of vacation happens around this time, meaning that whenever Tech is open in the two weeks around Christmas, there is only a skeleton workforce.

·         Staff may be more impacted than anyone else.  Faculty have enough vacation and fewer specific things that need to happen in the last two weeks of December (in general), so they have more flexibility.

·         It was observed that there is a FASET get acquainted program planned for Fri., Jan. 2, 2009 so it would be helpful to have staff at work Dec. 29-31 to prepare.  Pres. Clough observed that even if Option 2 were selected, some people might need to work an exceptional schedule.

·         There are also sometimes urgent petitions from students just before classes (which start Jan. 5, 2009).  So again, the days in the period Dec. 29-31 could be valuable work days.

·         A question was asked if it was possible to leave which days were taken as holiday up to the employee, and the simplest answer was no.  Some swapping can be arranged as a special case but it is important to settle the question about when the campus is officially closed and when some utilities could be turned off.

·         A factor to consider is what the K-12 schools are doing in this time frame.  (These schedules were not known to the Board at the time of the Board meeting.)

·         Personal preferences were expressed for either Option 1 or Option 2 depending on the individual.

President Clough thanked the Board for their input and promised a prompt decision soon [which was announced by the time of writing in favor of Option 2].

4.         Ms. West then called on Dr. Donna Llewellyn, Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, (CETL) for an appeal for help in updating the Course/Instructor Opinion Survey (CIOS).  Dr. Llewellyn introduced her colleague in CETL, Dr. Tris Utshig, who works in the area of teaching assessment, and stated that it was time to update CIOS and the Board could be a significant help.  She presented the slides found in Attachment #3. The first form of the CIOS survey was initiated in 1986, as slide 2 shows, with 26 questions answered on paper in Scantron format.  The questions were empirically derived in consultation with the School of Psychology.  In 1999 the survey went on line and in 2002 it was shortened to ten questions in the hopes of improving participation.  However, the ten questions were derived without a careful factor analysis and so may not have been the best ten questions.  The duration of time for submitting surveys was extended and students were provided access to results as long as there was a minimum level of participation (30%).  Later some further flexibility in survey times was introduced to better cover alternative schedules for distance learning and remote campuses.

Dr. Llewellyn explained that the programming behind the survey has become hard to sustain and thus it is timely to revise the survey and reprogram it more or less from scratch.  She stated an option to outsource was also under consideration.

She said that surveys like CIOS have become common and from this a body of research has become available on the best questions to ask.  Slide 5 lists some types of things that are good to ask, and slide 6, the converse  Dr. Llewellyn explained why a survey like CIOS is more of a rating system and not enough to be a complete evaluation by itself; it is just one tool among several needed for a full evaluation.

Dr. Llewellyn then explained that faculty “ownership” of CIOS was important so that it was not something imposed on faculty.  That was why she was appealing to the Executive Board for help, like that provided in the past.  She also affirmed the importance of student input.  She asked that a task force be formed comprised of faculty, students, and CETL members.  The Executive Board could lend its influence and make up a number of the participants.  Dr. Llewellyn set out a number of goals for their work in slide 9 and proposed a timeline for work in 2008 with first use during summer 2009.

Dr. Llewellyn addressed the following questions from the Board:

·         Q.  Have there been efforts to measure directly teaching effectiveness rather than just ask subjective questions?  Ans.  Yes and it is hard.  A Georgia Tech faculty task force was formed in 2002 called Alternative Methods of Measuring Teaching Effectiveness.  A measure was approved by the Academic Senate that said each unit should have multiple ways of measuring teaching effectiveness.  One could be CIOS, another peer review of teaching, and a portfolio approach in which students turn in portfolios of work that are evaluated by outside third parties.  Different schools have tried specific program techniques and CETL has helped with some of these.  Dr. Smith indicated that research points to CIOS and peer review as the best two things to do.  Dr. Clough reminded the Board that faculty members might teach better in some subject matter formats than in others, so there may not be a single answer for a given faculty member.

·         Comment:  Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure (RPT) committees have indicated that the improvement they most need is a higher response rate on CIOS.  Reply: That is one reason why it is important for students to be involved in the next round of improvements.  The current response rate is around 50% and it turned out that the response rate did not change much when the survey was moved online.  What did change was this: when CIOS was on paper, professors who wanted the results got a high response rate and the converse was also true.  Online, CIOS smoothes this out so the variance in response rate for different professors is less and more up to the students.

·         Q. Is there a survey tool in T-Square?  Ans.  Yes, but it is not ready for production use.  Options for reprogramming CIOS are: 1) Have OIT reprogram CIOS but with new questions; 2) Go with an outsource option – there are at least three candidates; and 3) work with Sakai to improve their tool to make it acceptable for use in T-Square.  A cost-benefit and trade-off analysis has been started.

·         Q.  Has there been any consideration for a mid-semester evaluation.  Ans.  That was tried enthusiastically in about 1999 and the rate of use was too small (~3%) to make it worth continuing.  CETL will individually help any faculty member who wants to make a mid-semester evaluation.

·         Comment:  It appears that the feedback from CIOS is too slow to help the teacher improve in real time so it must be mainly to support promotion and tenure evaluations.  Reply:  That is partly correct but a teacher can use CIOS for improvement from one semester to the next.  For students, CIOS can help them in their choice of the best sections of courses for them.  Both scores and trends can be powerful input to the promotion and tenure reviews.

·         Q.: What does it mean that the faculty own CIOS?  Is this ownership of the operation and maintenance or simply of its design and intent?  Ans. CETL maintains the infrastructure and handles the operation of the survey.  But what is asked, how it’s asked, and with what frequency are questions that representative members of the academic faculty should answer after receiving expert input.  In the history of the Tech faculty, there have been periods of bad feeling when the survey was felt to be imposed on them by administrators, rather than adopted by faculty.  A follow-up comment was made that there may be some diversity in faculty perceptions of the value of CIOS because different schools use the tool in different ways.  This might make convergence on a common approach hard but Dr. Llewellyn expressed her faith in rational accommodation.

Ms. West then asked for volunteers to help Dr. Llewellyn with a task force.  The following Board members volunteered:  Doug Williams, Bob Wood, Greg Huey, Brock Wester, and Anu Parvatiyar.  Dr. Llewellyn indicated she would begin with these and work with them to broaden representation.  Dr. Bras offered to provide occasional consulting. 

5.         Ms. West turned the Board’s attention to a discussion of the role of administrators on four committees of the faculty where their election is restricted by the Institute’s Statutes and By-Laws.  She directed the Board’s attention to Attachment #4 for a statement of the problem, and to item 6 in the minutes of the January 15, 2008 meeting [Attachment #1] when the Executive Board first discussed this matter.   These documents show that restrictions are placed on the election of administrators specifically to four bodies: The Executive Board, the Faculty Status and Grievance Committee, and the two curriculum committees.  Some of these committees do have participation by administrators but in an ex officio capacity.  The restrictions are on elected members.

Ms. West called on Dr. Ron Bohlander to share some comments that former Secretary of the Faculty, Dr. Ed Thomas, provided about the history of these restrictions.  Dr. Bohlander prefaced his remarks by providing a little more background.  He explained that input from administrators and supporting staff is important on most of the four bodies.  For example the President and Provost and others from their offices work with the Executive Board and Pearl Alexander represents staff.  The highest administrative officers in undergraduate and graduate education participate with the curriculum committees and both committees are also supported by the Registrar.  Administrative support for case load management is provided to the Faculty Status and Grievance Committees.  The restriction in question is only applied to elected members of these bodies.  Dr. Bohlander further explained that the problem focused on where to draw the line on administrators and specifically whether to exclude Associate School Chairs, Associate Deans, and other Directors with similar duties.  For a number of years, election of Associate Chairs has been allowed but recently questions were raised about whether this was the correct thing to do.  Dr. Bohlander reported that there were 2-3 on the Executive Board with administrative titles of at least that level; similarly there are six on the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee and two on the Graduate Curriculum Committee.  He said that he had asked Dr. Thomas why restrictions were placed on election of administrators to these bodies in the first place.  Dr. Thomas replied that these policies were set long before he served as Secretary so he had no direct knowledge of the reasons.  He had the impression that curriculum matters might have been handled by presidential appointments in early days and that when the faculty became more involved, these policies were made to reinforce the faculty’s voice in curriculum matters.  He believed that there was still a case for ensuring that faculty input channels were strong and complemented administrative channels.  Dr. Thomas further observed that it would be difficult to make a clear definition of an administrator, both because there is a range of titles, and because administrative duties are often a part time assignment in addition to regular faculty duties. 

Ms. West explained that the next step was to commission a group of Executive Board members to look at this matter and bring recommendations back.  Ms. West said that she had asked Barbara Henry, the Board’s chair of the Nominating Committee, to serve on this group because she has special knowledge of the field of potential candidates for nomination.  Drs. Tom Morley and Ron Bohlander volunteered for the group.  Dr. Bert Bras commented that the people who volunteer most readily for curriculum committees seem to be associate chairs.  They seem to have an aptitude for this kind of work.  He recommended that more emphasis be placed on recusal as a solution rather than outright exclusion.  Recusal is something that is common among faculty working on NSF panels and on RPT committees.  In fact, he said, conflicts of interest are not limited to administrators and restrictions on such conflicts should apply to faculty as well as administrators.  President Clough commented that there would always be gray in the definition of administrators and it would be fruitless to try to remove that.  The Tech community expects that administrators remain active in teaching and scholarship, so no one is ever wholly an administrator.  He said there are some cases like the Faculty Status and Grievance Committee where no administrators, by any definition, should serve because of the Committee’s role in appeals of administrative actions.  Dr. Smith noted that the members of the Faculty Status and Grievance Committee draw their membership from the Corps of Instruction and asked why then had this committee been chaired by someone from GTRI in the 2006-07 year?  Dr. Bohlander explained that the Board of Regents and Tech’s Statutes defined Corps of Instruction to include all professorial ranks plus “full-time research and extension personnel and duly certified librarians … on the basis of comparable training.”  Thus the Board of Regents has defined Corps of Instruction to mean essentially the same thing as what Georgia Tech defines as General Faculty. 

Ms. West thanked the volunteers for this assignment and moved to the next item.

6.         The Chair then asked Prof. Greg Huey to bring the Board an update on his efforts to work with the Student Grievance and Appeals Committee (SGAC) and others on a clarification of their mission.  She also referred to Attachment #5.  Dr. Huey said that the role of the committee formally changed with the recent change in Student Code of Conduct and that there has been nothing for them to do for quite some time.  The committee has scheduled a meeting in the week of February 18, 2008 and Prof. Facundo Fernandez, the 2007-08 chair, will lead a discussion of the role the committee would like to have.  Once that is accomplished, meetings will be set up with additional people as mentioned in the Attachment for coordination of duties.  Dr. Bohlander noted that Attachment #5 includes a statement from the Student Regulations about a potentially important role for this committee in receiving appeals of grades and similar academic decisions.  He asked, if there is this role, why is the committee not getting requests for appeals?  He also asked if there was any overlap with the business the curriculum committees handle in the petitions they hear.  John Stein, Dean of Students, answered that there is no overlap with the curriculum committees.  He said that students who make inquiries to his office are referred to Carole Moore in the Senior Vice-Provost’s office and she leads the students through the steps needed to address their concerns.  He said he believed most grade disputes and the like are then resolved at a departmental level and never need to get to the SGAC.  Several other Board members spoke in support of these observations.  It was explained that petitions to the curriculum committees were more questions of withdrawal and readmission and not grade matters.  Dr. Clough reminded the Board that even if no appeals ever make it to the SGAC, the Board of Regents may require that there be a “court of last resort” for such appeals.  There may also be an expectation under SACS accreditation that clear routes of appeal exist.  He asked that those looking at the role of SGAC research these requirements before making any changes (especially if the committee were to be recommended for elimination).  Dr. Bohlander observed that another option is to review the balance of appeal work heard by the SGAC and the curriculum committees.  If one committee has hardly any load and the other(s) are really overloaded with appeals, then options should be considered to rebalance the loads.  There was also a question from a member of the Board about whether the broad wording of the current Student Regulations provided students with an avenue of further appeal to the SGAC if they did not like a decision on a petition to the curriculum committees and it was agreed that it would be nice to define a limit on the number of appeals available.  Dr. Smith reminded the Board that, in any case, appeals can finally go to the Board of Regents who on occasion has made Tech reverse a petition ruling.  Ms. West thanked Dr. Huey for the update and promised that the Board would continue to follow this. 

7.         Ms. West called on Ms. Barbara Henry (nominating Committee Chair) for a recommendation of an appointment.  Ms. Henry explained that Nael McCarty had left Tech and vacated his position on the Academic Integrity Committee.  The By-Laws provide that the Nominating Committee should ask recent runners up in elections for this committee if they would like to serve.  In accordance with this Ms. Henry recommended that Dr. Elliot Moore (ECE) be appointed to fill the unexpired term on the Academic Integrity Committee, serving until August 2009.  This was seconded and approved without dissent.  Ms. Henry noted that Dr. Moore serves at the Georgia Tech Savannah campus and that Tech would support his participation in the committee through teleconferencing and the like.

8.         Barbara Henry continued with a report from the Nominating Committee.  She reintroduced the committee members, Dr. Bert Bras (Exec. Bd. & ME), Dr. Richard Barke (Pub. Pol.), Ms. Jilda Garton (GTRC), Mr. Tom Horton (GTRI), and Dr. Patty Sobecky (Biol.), and thanked them for their service.  She reviewed the nominations that have been received so far.  Several committees were noted as still not having enough nominees to cover the open positions, including committees for Undergraduate Curriculum, Graduate Curriculum, Student Regulations, Student Activities, Student Grievance and Appeal, Student Honor, and Student Computer Ownership.  Ms. Henry asked that Board members help in any way they could to identify further nominees.  Dr. Bohlander drew the Board’s attention to a schedule for the different actions leading up to and through the faculty elections (Attachment #6).  In line with this, he said that the Board would need to approve a final ballot at its next meeting on March 11, 2008.  So he reinforced the need for the Board to help the Nominating Committee.

9.         Ms. West asked for any reports from Standing Committee liaisons on the Board. The following was reported:

·         Prof. Tom Morley reminded the Board that Tech embarked on a new process in student integrity last year with the adoption of a new Student Code of Conduct.  A year’s worth of experience will have been gained by the end of the current semester and he observed that some statistics already indicate very different results from previous experience.  The number of total cases is slightly up.  Far fewer cases have been referred to the Honor Committee – only one in fact.  (This means that most cases are being heard by designated persons in the Office of Student Integrity, in accordance with the options available to the students.)  However, the number of appeals taken to the next level of administration (either John Stein, Dean of Students, or Dr. Andy Smith, SVPAA) seems dramatically larger.  Prof. Morley proposed that this summer, a group of faculty and students be assembled from the Student Honor Committee, the Academic Integrity Committee, and Student Regulations Committee to review progress.  They can take note of what is working and what needs to be adjusted and then report back to the Executive Board in the fall.

·         Mr. Eric Barnhart reported that the Academic Integrity Committee is still working on guidelines concerning consequences for various kinds of discipline problems.  This will affect how the Office of Student Integrity handles cases and will also provide instructors with guidelines about how to view and handle infractions as they see them.  This will provide guidance to instructors about how to make expectations clear in their course syllabi.

·         Dr. Bob Braga reported that the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee has a work load that changes focus with the seasons and at the moment it was dealing mostly with student appeals of decisions in the fall term; i.e. readmissions and requests for withdrawal.

·         Mr. Bill Ballard asked on behalf of the Academic Services Committee where things stood with getting clear written statements about Tech’s liability coverage for Faculty Advisors to student organizations.  Ms. West indicated that work is still proceeding on that with several discussions since the last Board meeting, though a resolution has not yet been reached.  Dr. Bohlander reported that one of Tech’s attorneys Gary Wolovic has indicated that there are two issues: 1) When people refer to faculty advisors the reality is that some advisors come from the staff instead of the faculty and some of those are hourly employees.  To take care of liability coverage for advisors, fair provision needs to be made for both faculty and staff, salaried and unsalaried.  Under Institute insurance it helps if the role of advisor is part of each employee’s job.  That is relatively straightforward for a faculty member because support of student activities is a reasonable part of each faculty member’s job.  But when an hourly employee takes on the role of advisor, their work with a student group needs to be part of the regular work day for which they get paid in order for it to be part of their job.  That issue is one of the ones that still needs some work.  A comment was made that there are similar concerns about the liability of a faculty member who takes a group of students on a field trip.  Dr. Bohlander assured the Board that this too is being discussed but the matter is not just about liability protection.  A full solution requires clearly communicated procedures to be followed when a faculty member is leading or advising a student event off campus.  There may be a need for a manual, training, or both.   It is possible a certification may be required for liability protection to be in force.  These things are being looked at in depth.  2) The other question that has arisen is whether every student group truly needs an advisor.  Some universities have done away with that requirement.  Tech has not fully considered this, but clearly such a decision would have an effect on how advisor liability is administered.  John Stein stated that student organizations funded by student government must have an advisor under rules currently in force.  Prof. Morley stated that Danielle McDonald now runs workshops for student organization presidents and faculty advisors but they are not mandatory.  Pearl Alexander said that the Department of Administrative Services exercises some judgment about whether a given activity is actually covered by the state’s insurance and so it would be helpful to have policies that clearly define when an activity is acceptable and covered so that such activities are known in advance and understood by all the parties  John Stein said that his office gets many inquiries from faculty and he refers them to the Office of Risk Management because they can help faculty members know what needs to be done to maintain coverage.  Unfortunately not every faculty member knows to ask for such help.  Ms. West wrapped up the discussion with a promise to work toward closure on this issue.

10.       Ms. West asked for new business and Dr. Bohlander asked for a few minutes to brief the Board and ask an important question.  He reported that he and Mr. Tim Strike (Chair of the Statutes Committee) had a recent productive meeting with Ms. Monique Tavares (Director of the Office of Faculty Career Development) who is designated by the SVPAA to look after maintenance of the Faculty Handbook as published on the web.  Related to this Dr. Smith (SVPAA) has convened a group (Monique Tavares, Carole Moore, Jan Brown, Jane Ammons, and Kate Wasch) to work on a review of the Faculty Handbook with a purpose of recommending improvements in wording and content.  They have completed most of their work on the first fifteen chapters of the Handbook.  The meeting with Ms. Tavares was to facilitate the next step where these recommendations go to the Statutes Committee to prepare to bring them to the faculty.  One of the thoughts that came up in the discussion is the possibility of developing a central website that makes available all Institute policies in one place.  In this case, there would no longer be a reason for separate major policy manuals to have redundant statements of policy.  Dr. Bohlander gave examples of material that was independently covered in the Faculty Handbook and in the Human Resources Manual.  He said that there have been attempts to have these say the same thing but since different bodies maintain them, they can get out of synch.  Dr. Bohlander mentioned that Ms. Tavares had made a study of peer institution policy manuals and Cornell has a central library of policies such as he was suggesting.  A search engine could span all parts of a central policy library so that the user could get a comprehensive picture of policy on any given topic.  If such a facility were in place, then questions discussed in this meeting about, for example, student appeals of academic matters might have been easier to answer.  Dr. Bohlander asked if such a central policy library facility on the web would be appealing to the Board members.  Dr. Smith explained that the reason he launched his group’s work on the Faculty handbook was that it had become difficult to find the policies that applied to given questions.  He said Tech’s lawyers were also frustrated by the lack of policy clarity, gaps in policy, and policy redundancy.  Some disputes had been taken to court as a result. He stated that he supported a central place for policy and that Ms. Tavares’ office could maintain that.  Dr. Smith reported that his group had been spending 1 ½ hours per week since fall semester working, for example, to clarify wording and processes like those for Periodic Peer Review and Reappointment, Promotion, and Tenure.   Ms. Pearl Alexander reported that the Office of Human Resources is going through a major reorganization and she has been asked to coordinate human resources policies.  She felt that a central office responsible for overarching policy administration would be helpful.  She felt this would help make policies more consistent and better coordinated.  It might also make it easier for the Institute to address its various compliance requirements and better support training.  Dr. Smith mentioned that today it sometimes happens that new Regents policies go unnoticed and unimplemented for awhile so better oversight would be a plus.  Dr. Bohlander observed that the faculty appreciate having a strong role in reviewing and amending the Faculty Handbook but it has become a bit of a disjointed document with some sections describing various offices and services in campus that do not need much faculty input.  He recommended that the Tech community leaders step back from the present Faculty Handbook and redefine what is needed in central policy.  In addition to the Faculty Handbook, the other two major policy collections are the Human Resources Manual and Business and Finance Manual all of which could be accessed through a central web site. He pointed out that it would also be desirable for Student Regulations to be part of a central policy picture.  The OIT supported tools for on line policy manuals would need to be addressed.  Dr. Bohlander said that the one presently in use with the Faculty Handbook is worn out and no longer practical to sustain.  Thus he said it is timely for many reasons to convene a high-level team for a concerted effort at a central policy resource.  Dr. Smith said that he saw the group he had convened as taking the first steps toward such a thing.  Dr. Bras observed that the average faculty member were not frequent users of the policies in the Handbook but the associate chairs and associate deans were frequent users.  Nevertheless, transparency of policy is important to the faculty.  Ms. West asked for follow-up reports and Dr. Bohlander promised that would be provided.  He said he was pleased that there seemed to be support for a coherent policy repository.

11.       Hearing no other new business, Ms. West adjourned the meeting at about 5 p.m.

Submitted by Ronald A Bohlander, Secretary

March 9, 2008

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

 

1)   Minutes of the Executive Board Meeting on January 15, 2008.

2)  Two options for winter holidays in 2008)

3)   Presentation of a plan for updates to the Course/Instructor Opinion Survey

4)  Notes on a question of administrators serving on certain faculty governance bodies.

5)  Notes on questions about the mission of the Student Grievance and Appeals Committee.

6)  Schedule of actions to implement faculty governance elections in 2008