Meeting of November 13, 2007

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), Gaimon (Mgt), Henry (ORC), Huey (EAS), Morley (Math), Parvatiyar (U. Grad Student), Rossignac (CoC-IC), Stein (VPSS), West (Chair, GTRI), Wester (Grad Student), Williams (ECE/GT-S), Wood (LCC)


Members Absent: Dagenhart (ARCH), Price (IMTC), Schuster (Provost), Whiteman (ME)


Visitors:  Allen (President’s Office), Paraska (Program Review and Accreditation), Peterson (ECE & Chair, Task Force on FSGC), Strike (GTRI & Chair, Statutes Committee)

1.                  Ms. Leanne West (Chair) opened the meeting at 3:06 P.M.  She asked for approval of the minutes of the October 23, 2007 meeting of the Executive Board (Attachment #1).  This was approved without dissent.

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

    1. President Clough provided some reflections on the incident on Nov. 8 in which a minor explosion occurred in the Ford Environmental Science and Technology Building and a GTENS emergency notification to evacuate the campus was mistakenly sent out.  Dr. Clough shared a story of how he got the emergency messages while he was visiting the University of California at Berkeley.  CNN also picked up the story and spread it to the world.  The events that actually happened in the Ford Building were relatively minor and handled correctly.  Atlanta fire department hazmat experts arrived along with Georgia Tech emergency responders.  They attended to the two young women who had been involved in the incident and worked to make sure that the fire was contained and put out as well as to make sure that new risks were not triggered in nearby labs.  Campus safety personnel had been practicing for about three months for a range of possible emergency situations and so practice messages were drafted that could be edited and sent out in real situations that might arise later.  Apparently, an overzealous employee took one of these messages and sent it out via the new GTENS system without tailoring the message to the actual needs of this situation.  Instead of evacuating the whole campus, instructions should have been given to evacuate just the Ford Building. 

      Georgia Tech nonetheless learned a great deal from this mistake, including that the GTENS system is operational.  Dr. Clough urged everyone to sign up to receive notices from this system if they have not done so already.  GTENS provides mechanisms for calls to cell phones, text messages, and email.  Having redundant communication modes tends to prevent a bottleneck in one from being a showstopper.

      Dr. Clough said that the lessons from this inadvertent experiment were reviewed by Andy Altizer (Georgia Tech Director of Emergency Preparedness) in the President’s cabinet meeting Nov. 13.  Many unexpected consequences of the evacuation notice occurred; for example, persons in pay lots who got the message to evacuate were nonetheless required to wait to pay for their parking before they could leave because the attendants had no other instruction.  So Georgia Tech will make many improvements in arrangements for handling emergencies as a result of findings in this incident.  Dr. Clough indicated that Andy Altizer would make a presentation to the next Academic Senate and Faculty meeting.
    2. Dr. Clough reported that Georgia Tech has begun studies of compensation provided to staff and professional employees .  He stated that it is good to make such a study periodically, say every three to five years, so that compensation imbalances can be redressed.  Anderson Smith (Sr. Vice-Provost for Academic Affairs) and Sandi Bramblett (Dir. Institutional Research and Planning) have also begun a benchmarking study of faculty compensation, comparing average levels here to ones found elsewhere.  The Board of Regents has launched its own study to support budget discussions with the State.
    3. Georgia Tech has kicked off two task forces to look at water conservation. 

      The first is focused on practical issues on the campus.  They will review what Georgia Tech has done and can do to conserve water on campus.  All new buildings and many of the retrofitted buildings already have low-flow water services.  Several new buildings capture rainwater falling on the facilities and store it in cisterns.  Many buildings capture air-conditioning condensate water.  These resources are then used for selective irrigation.  The task force will study how individuals use water on campus and will then mount campaigns to encourage conservation activities on the part of the campus community.  Dr. Clough reminded the Board that the Governor has called on the campus (and others) to reduce water usage by at least ten percent.  It is not clear technically when to draw the baseline from which to measure this savings.  If one goes back a couple years, the campus has already reduced per capita usage by 25%.  Regardless, Georgia Tech and the University System Chancellor’s Office take the Governor’s challenge very seriously and will respond in the same vein.  The second focus of this first task force’s work is outreach.  Quite apart from expert engineering, Georgia Tech has some very practical application experience in water conservation that can be shared with other institutions particularly in the local community.  Dr. Clough indicated that this task force is on a fast pace and should have recommendations ready within about a month.

      Dr. Gary Schuster (Provost) has formed another task force made up of faculty experts who can provide technical assistance to the state and the nation about how to cope with drought issues.  Examples may include, work on predicting climate change and design and management of reservoirs.  Several faculty members have already testified to legislators at the state and federal levels.  Work of this kind is a valuable service and engages the campus community in meaningful development of new solutions. 
    4. Dr. Clough reported on a visit by nearly all the Regents to the campus on Nov. 12, 2007.  The focus was high-definition distance learning in the Global Learning Center and the Arbutus Center for Distributed Engineering Education (led by the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering).  Both high-definition visual and audio techniques have been employed to change the paradigm for distance learning so that students and teachers who may be remote to each other feel like they are simply communicating through a large open digital window.  The teacher can even follow who is speaking in the remote classroom because 3D sound supports the sense of where the sound is coming from.  The people in Georgia Tech Savannah have been important contributors in the application of this development.  The Regents have recognized that Georgia Tech has been a leader in this area and came to the campus to learn about these developments so they could encourage the growth of distance learning across the University System of Georgia.  Georgia Tech has proposed to the Regents that they provide some pilot funding to enable Tech to enhance what is being done in distance learning between Atlanta and Savannah and the other schools around Savannah that have worked with the engineering program there; namely, Savannah State, Armstrong, and Georgia Southern.  This would enable classrooms in these partners to be outfitted.  One of the key enablers is that Georgia Tech is a member of the National LambdaRail, a very high bandwidth network system.  This has now been extended throughout the University System of Georgia, giving the state a significant leadership opportunity. 
    5. Dr. Clough then mentioned the search that is underway for a Vice-Provost for Academic Diversity, a cabinet level position.  Four excellent candidates have been announced in the Whistle.  Interviews were planned for the weeks of Nov. 12 and 19. 
    6. The President reported that planning of the Undergraduate Learning Center building has been completed and the earliest implementation steps have begun.  This building will have a very open design with many ways to walk through and between the different levels of the building. It will tie into the library and will house a new information commons, many academic services to students, and all freshman and sophomore science labs.  Dr. Clough stated that Georgia Tech, using private funds, will be able to choose an architect by early December from around a hundred architecture teams competing for the job.  The Undergraduate Learning Center will be a monumental building for the very center of campus and will symbolize Tech’s commitment to excellence in undergraduate learning.  It will also be the eastside frame of the Tech Green, and so a group of distinguished landscape architects have been engaged to help plan the grounds around the building.  Dr. Clough mentioned that someday the Van Leer Auditorium across the street would need to be replaced and then another part of the frame could be enhanced.  This would complete what would feel like a classic academic quadrangle.  Dr. Anderson Smith (Sr. Vice-Provost for Academic Affairs) has been leading the planning effort for the Undergraduate Learning Center and is still engaging new groups for discussions of how it will be used. 

There were several follow up questions:

·        Ms. Anu Parvatiyar asked if there is a job description for the Vice-Provost for Academic Diversity.  Dr. Sue Ann Allen (Executive Assistant, President’s Office) promised to send her a copy.

·        Dr. Bohlander asked if the project to build the Undergraduate Learning Center would include funds for the renovation of the existing library.  Dr. Clough responded that ideally Tech would want to have $120 million to do this project.  When the Undergraduate Learning Center project began, it was estimated to cost $45 million.  Now this estimate is $85 million.  So it is not believed possible to raise enough money to renovate the existing library at this time (i.e. as part of this project).  Dr. Clough said that Dean Rich Meyers and other staff from the library have been very much involved in the planning of the Undergraduate Learning Center so they can optimize the use of the existing buildings when the new one comes on line.  For example, the old building will become more useable by graduate students.  There will also be new compressed stacks there.  Dr. Clough suggested that Dean Meyers might make a presentation to the Board about the future of the library including the new information commons, and Dr. Bohlander suggested that the Chair and Dr. Allen get together to make a specific plan for that.

·        Mr. Brock Wester asked if there was a timeline for replacement of the Van Leer auditorium.  Dr. Clough said no; that it was simply recognized that this building has aged significantly.  Nevertheless, he surmised it could be quite sometime before this matter would have enough priority to act on a change unless a donor with this specific interest stepped forward.

3.                  The Chair then called on Ms. Susan Paraska (Director, Program Review and Accreditation) to seek the Board’s support for improvement plans developed in response to feedback from the NCAA during the ongoing certification process.  Ms. Paraska made a brief presentation from PowerPoint slides contained in Attachment #2a, and also made reference to plans for improvements in Gender Equity (Attachment #2b) and for Minority Participation (Attachment #2c).

Ms. Paraska thanked the Board for the opportunity to follow up from last month’s meeting.  She reported that the improvement plans had been further advanced in the intervening month.  She highlighted one further improvement in the Minority Participation plan where the plan was extended to cover a broader range of minorities than was discussed in earlier versions.  She stated her belief in the strength of the plans as now constituted and she explained that there was little feedback on these specific plans from the recent Peer Review Team (PRT) visit, other than their interest in making sure that the Georgia Tech faculty had the chance to provide advice and consent concerning them. 

Ms. Paraska reviewed the feedback that was received overall from the PRT report, as shown on slide 2 of Attachment #2a.  The first issue was the need to increase the President’s level of control of intercollegiate athletics programs on campus.  This has subsequently been addressed by an amendment to the Bylaws of the Georgia Tech Athletic Association (GTAA).  The second item concerned admissions processes.  Ms. Paraska described ongoing work to map out the process and see where improvements were needed for greater efficiency and equity.  The team working on this comprised Dr. Sue Ann Allen, Dr. Jack Lohmann, Ms. Deborah Smith, Mr. Paul Parker, and Ms. Paraska.  Dr. Morley asked, what is the lowest level of mathematics mastery that an incoming student could have and still plausibly succeed academically at Tech?  Ms. Paraska answered that the study she was describing was focused on the admissions process rather than the criteria used with the process.  Dr. Clough stated that the point of this effort was to ensure that all students know about and have access to the same admissions channels and processes regardless of whether some are student athletes.  If there are appeal routes, all should know what they are.  Ms. Paraska explained that much of what needed to be corrected was miscommunications that made it seem there was a different process open to student athletes, when this was not in fact the case.  Dr. Morley asked for clarification of how many students had been admitted through “special admissions” (such as appeals via the Executive Admissions Committee).  Dr. Allen answered that those who were admitted through this committee numbered about twelve, but there were another approximately thirty who were admitted through Georgia’s Limited Admits program.  (She stated she was not sure if this larger number reflected admissions over more than one year, and she also noted that not all of the Limited Admits were student athletes.)  Ms. Paraska indicated that culmination of the admissions process study was expected in the week of Nov. 19. 

That brought the discussion to the main purpose for the Executive Board’s involvement at this time; namely, the consideration of the Gender Equity and Minority Participation Improvement Plans.  Ms. Paraska asked the Board to endorse the plans via a modified version of the Resolution they adopted in their April 10, 2007 meeting, as shown in slide 4 of Attachment #2a.  Per the resolution, the Board would also request an annual report of progress from the GTAA. 

Dr. Morley stated that he thought this periodic report and accountability was a very good idea to insure that meetings every year say more than just what is intended, as in raising salaries of women coaches.  Dr. Clough said it is the intention to be firm and rigorous about this.  Each year a committee will give a complete report on where Tech stands in relation to goals in these improvement plans.  John Stein asked whether the people transferring from GTAA to Tech staff were included in the staff compensation study that Dr. Clough mentioned earlier.  Pearl Alexander answered that she thought they would be but that the study would take about two years.  Dr. Morley asked for an update on steps to help the women’s softball team.  Dr. Clough explained that the concern has been about the field they use which is a fine facility near 14th Street but is not as convenient as it should be.  The land where it sits now is owned by the Georgia Tech Foundation and has been proposed for sale.  The plan is for funds from the sale to be used for a new site.  Two sites have been considered: a) “Burger Bowl” (off Hemphill Ave.) and b) a parking lot that serves the offices in the O’Keefe Building.  The latter has been adopted as the preferred site as it is already owned by Tech and is closer to other athletics facilities.  Estimates of the cost have come in at around $6 to 6.5 million.  Construction might start this year and be ready for play the season after next.  Bill Ballard asked what salary comparisons are meaningful in sports.  Dr. Clough answered that comparisons can be made within a given market and sport.  Comparisons can be made between men and women but one also has to look at the markets they serve.  Comparisons are meaningful among like coaches in the top twenty teams and within the ACC.  One must also allow for individual differences, reflecting time in service to Tech and individual team success.  Dr. Bohlander asked about the goal in the Minority Participation Improvement Plan that says “Annually review the success of student-athletes considered special admits to determine if a disproportionate number are minority students.”  He said he found this goal difficult to decipher, in part because it did not include a goal to remedy problems that might be found.  He also pointed to similar vagueness in salary equity goals. Ms. Paraska said that the plans at this stage focus more on determining the present situation than on setting remedies.  Until the situation is better understood, setting specific remedies is not appropriate.  Dr. Clough also commented that the overarching academic reforms instituted by the NCAA will drive improvement in academic performance of student athletes.  Ms. Paraska indicated that student data would be part of the annual report of the Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR), Dan Schrage, to the Academic Senate.  Salary data would be looked at carefully but any adjustments would be specific to the merits in each case.  Ms. Paraska reminded the Board that the GTAA committees responsible for improvement in gender equity and minority participation are headed up by Tech faculty members and they will exercise due diligence in monitoring and driving necessary improvements.  Ms. Leanne West reiterated the concern that the areas just mentioned would benefit from an indication that actions would follow observations.  Ms. Paraska responded that she expected actions would be required as an outgrowth of reporting to the faculty.  Dr. Clough asked that the Board remember that the plans submitted to the NCAA are just one part of a larger infrastructure calling for gender equity and minority participation.  Title IX, for example, also sets goals and standards relative to personnel and facilities.

The following motion was made, seconded, and passed without dissent:

The Executive Board of the Georgia Institute of Technology endorses the Institute's 2006-07 NCAA Division I Athletics Certification Self-Study, including the revised Gender-Equity and Minority-Opportunities plans.  Recognizing the importance of cooperative efforts on issues affecting both athletic and academic endeavors, the Executive Board requests a report annually from the Georgia Tech Athletic Association Board of Trustees on compliance with and completion of the Gender-Equity and Minority-Opportunities plans, as well as any remedial actions imposed or required by the NCAA Committee on Athletics Certification.

Ms. Paraska thanked the Board and commented that the report mentioned above is in addition to the report that Dan Schrage is required to make as the FAR, but that he could be consulted on whether it would appropriate to cover both in the spring of 2008 or to wait until later for a first report as contemplated by the above resolution.

4.                  The Chair called on Dr. Andy Peterson to give a progress report from the Task Force on Improvements in the Faculty Status and Grievance Committee (FSGC) which the Executive Board instituted at its last meeting.  Dr. Peterson made use of the PowerPoint presentation found in Attachment #3.  Dr. Clough commented briefly that the work of this task force is very important because Tech had slipped up in 2006-07 in not being able to address in a timely manner grievances that arose concerning some personnel actions, such as tenure decisions.  So an improved process is needed that is fair, equitable, and efficient.

Dr. Peterson reviewed the list of members of the task force (see attachment) and commented that all of the faculty members except himself had direct experience with the FSGC either this year or in previous years.  In addition, Monique Tavares is providing support to the committee from the Provost’s Office and Kate Wasch is a senior attorney with Legal Affairs.  He noted that part of what needs to be improved is the clarity of the descriptions of the committee and its processes as found in the Faculty Handbook.  He then went on to characterize the situation prompting the task force, as follows:  Ordinarily, the committee has had a load of about three cases per year, and with seven people on the committee, they were quite able to handle that.  However, the 2006-07 year brought 10-11 cases and this swamped their resources to move in a timely way.  In addition, until recently no administrative support was supplied to the committee, and some committee members became absorbed in other duties and the committee did not know how to get replacements.  Finally he noted there is a fair amount of confusion in understanding the many possible processes the committee can follow.  Three different methods are described in the Handbook for resolving a grievance: an informal hearing, an informal investigation, and a formal hearing.  Of these, the informal investigation is the most useful in uncovering the facts in the case, but it is unclear when the other methods might be chosen.  There is also confusion about the formal hearing; for example, is it really an appeal of a decision by the President or something that precedes and contributes to his decision. 

Dr. Peterson reviewed a typical chain of events with the current processes, as shown on slide 4 of the attachments.  One of the Georgia Tech designated ombuds or FSGC Chair often help the grievant focus on what they feel needs to be redressed.  If the committee decides to accept the case then it offers either an informal investigation or hearing.  Dr. Peterson noted that there is little understanding of how an informal hearing is to be conducted, but those are rarely done.  At the end of the investigation (or hearing), the committee prepares and circulates a report to the parties involved and the report goes to the President.  The President then has fifteen days in which to issue a decision, after which the grievant has 21 days in which to request a formal hearing.  This illustrates some of the confusion because the language establishing the formal hearing does not describe it as an appeal, but rather as something leading to a decision despite the fact that a decision has already been reached.  Dr. Clough noted that the grievant can also appeal to the Board of Regents.

Dr. Peterson went on to make some recommendations from the task force’s deliberations so far:

·        Formalize the commitment of administrative support to the committee.

·        Create a secondary pool of faculty members in reserve to help with investigations during years when the load is high.  In such a system, one or two members of the pool might be called in as needed to help a current committee member conduct an investigation, thereby multiplying the people available to handle the case load.  In years when the case load is smaller, the pool would not be called on.  Dr. Peterson noted that this was preferred over increasing the size of the committee, because the current size committee has served well for many years.  He stressed that this reserve pool be made up of academic faculty members, perhaps two per college, because most of the additional case load is driven by reappointment, promotion, and tenure (RPT) decisions.  Candidates for the pool might include past members of the committee and would be appointed with oversight from the Executive Board.  The task force believes that a somewhat higher case load may occur more frequently in the future than in the past making this pool worthwhile. 

·        Clarify the processes followed by the FSGC.  In particular Dr. Peterson indicated it was desirable to try to resolve questions such as the following:

o       Is the informal hearing intended to be an informal mediation that precedes and may obviate the need for an informal investigation?  Or is it simply an alternative to an informal investigation?

o       Is the formal hearing supposed to occur before the President’s decision and provide additional input, or is it supposed to be an appeal of that decision?  As an appeal process there appear to be flaws. Through an involved process a panel outside the FSGC is chosen to hear the formal hearing and this panel then works with the FSGC to write a report that goes to the President for (another) decision.  So in effect, the President hears the appeal of his own decision, which is an awkward arrangement that seems unlikely in most cases to reach a different conclusion.  The language of the Handbook seems to imply that if a formal hearing is requested it has to be provided.  It may, however, only be appropriate if there is a reasonable chance that new information might be uncovered.

Dr. Peterson said the task force is not yet prepared to answer these questions and may have to look deeper into the intent of those who originally wrote these sections of the Handbook.

·        Prepare an internal handbook for the committee to use in specifying procedures and formats.  Dr. Peterson reported that the committee was already working to assemble such a thing so no additional action was needed to press forward with this.  The idea is to provide grievance petitions with a structured format and possibly employ a web interface for gathering the particulars of each case.  A guidebook would be prepared for the committee to use to know more about how to do each step and how to prepare reports.

·        Continue to leverage the Georgia Tech ombuds to help with initial screening.  Dr. Peterson said they have been active last year and this in helping grievants understand their options and be more specific in their petitions.  They cannot however stay involved once a petition is filed.  Dr. Peterson reminded the Board that the current ombuds are Professors Emeritus Ed Thomas and Narl Davidson.  They work outside of any other formal responsibilities and report to the President.  People seem to contact each of them at a rate of about one/month.  Dr. Clough commented that the ombuds provide a service to faculty, and that there is a distinct but parallel arrangement for staff members who are not part of the General Faculty.

·        Update the Faculty Handbook to cover any of the above improvements.  In addition to the thoughts expressed above, Dr. Peterson said that the Handbook is not very specific about whether a petition can be rejected by the FSGC and if so what happens then.

Dr. Peterson then reported on two versions of possible improved processes (outlined in Slides 12 and 13):

Version A: In this one the Formal Hearing is treated as an appeal hearing.

Version B: In this one, a Formal Hearing can be requested after the FSGC issues a report on its findings from the investigation it conducts.  This hearing (if any) would be held before the matter goes to the President for a decision.

Dr. Peterson stated that in both of these, the FSGC chair can hold an informal hearing as a preliminary step for mediation purposes, but this is not treated as an alternative to an investigation.  Moreover, in both, there would be an opportunity for a rebuttal letter to be prepared by the grievant if he/she objected to material included in the FSGC report.

Dr. Peterson observed that the Committee had not reached decisions about Version A vs. B and that there were other loose ends as well.  For example,

·        Should the formal hearing be removed as an option and simply refer appeals to the Board of Regents?

·        Is it really appropriate for the committee report to be sent to all the parties before it goes to the President?  There is some concern that this will simply open up a great volume of rebuttal.  In other words, is the rebuttal letter a good idea?

He stated that the task force would seek input from a broader constituency including persons who may have knowledge about the origins of the material now found in the Faculty Handbook.

The floor was opened for questions. 

·        Dr. Morley commented that there is precedent for having a pool of experienced reserves to deal with peak case loads:  The Student Honor Committee has implemented such a thing in the past when they had a peak load.   Dr. Clough agreed and said that this process formalized after it was first tried informally. 

·        Dr. Clough thanked the task force for their work and insights so far and said that anything the task force can do to streamline this process while preserving fairness and the rights of the faculty is much appreciated.  He said he rather preferred that any formal hearing happen before the matter comes to him for a decision. 

·        Pearl Alexander said that a process similar to version B is the way things are handled for staff.  Dr. Clough suggested that the task force look at how some peer institutions handle things like this. 

·        Dr. Bert Bras asked if the Board of Regents had set out any standards and processes for the University System to use.  Dr. Bohlander responded that he had recently forwarded material to the task force on this question in Section 803.1102 of the Board of Regents Policy Manual. 

·        Dr. Bohlander commented that reforming the processes of this committee so that its proceedings are fair and just but also get methodically to closure is more important than understanding the history of how the present confusion arose.  He suggested that Dr. Ed Thomas (mentioned earlier as an ombuds) may be able to help with the history as he served as Secretary of the Faculty several years ago in a period when the FSGC may have been organized as it is now. 

·        He further observed that the problem with Version A is the step where the President gets a second report.  The Problem with B is that the FSGC makes a report but does not make a decision and thus it is hard to appeal or rebut.  Dr. Peterson agreed and said that if the FSGC made a decision then its work would be subject to open records request.  Pearl Alexander said the FSGC would then also be subject to the Open Meetings Act. 

·        Dr. Rossignac asked if a vote is taken by the FSGC on a case and communicated to the grievant.  Dr. Allen responded that the record includes the number of committee members for and against the committee’s recommendation.  How individuals on the committee voted is not recorded.  A follow up question from Dr. Rossignac was how many members of the FSGC had to be present at such a decision and the answer was at least four out of the seven. 

·        Dr. Bohlander commented that the Executive Board had dealt swiftly this year with replacing inactive members of the FSGC.  He suggested that an amendment to the Bylaws be considered to mention explicitly a standard of expected participation and that vacancies caused by inactivity will be filled by the Executive Board. 

·        A question from the floor was what percentage of the cases concern RPT?  Dr. Peterson responded that, of the eleven cases last year, six concerned RPT.  Dr. Allen reminded the Board that General Faculty and post docs can also use the grievance process and such cases are usually employment related. 

·        Pearl Alexander observed that any type of grievance could be brought to the FSGC as it stands now, and she asked if it might be better for some types of grievance to be directed to another channel.  She cited sexual harassment as one example.  Dr. Bohlander commented that there seems to be a usual understanding that in cases of harassment, one would follow the section of the Handbook on harassment first.  Then if one or more of the parties did not feel the matter was handled correctly, they have a safety net that they can bring a grievance about the process to the FSGC.  He expressed the belief it was intended that the FSGC can not only handle specific grievances but also can address assertions of unfair processes.  Ms. Alexander said she felt that might be written more clearly if that is the intent. 

·        John Stein commented that when the FSGC does not accept a case they must follow strict guidelines.  Dr. Peterson responded that the committee has long followed a practice of not hearing cases it deemed too trivial, or irresolvable, or unlikely to be supported by sufficient evidence.  Pearl Alexander confirmed that this is also done in administering staff grievances.  Mr. Stein suggested that the task force look at having consistent language between the processes followed for faculty and for staff.  Dr. Allen agreed and observed that if a faculty or staff member objected to being turned down by the FSGC or the equivalent on the staff side, they could appeal directly to the President, and if that failed, then to the Board of Regents.  She said she also believed that after a committee rejection the faculty or staff member could go directly to the Board of Regents.

The Chair thanked Dr. Peterson and asked to draw this progress report to a close with a promise to follow up with him on next steps arising from the discussion.

5.                  The Chair then changed the order of the agenda and called on Vice-Chair Barbara Henry to give the Board a report on recommendations concerning the Nominations Committee for the coming year.  [The nominations committee is responsible for preparing a slate of faculty members to run for openings on the Executive Board, on the standing committees, and for positions on the General Faculty Assembly that represent sections of services and central administration that are too small to hold their own elections.]  Ms. Henry reminded the Board that it has been customary for the committee to be led by an Executive Board vice-chair and to have one other member of the Executive Board serve on the Nominations Committee such that one represents academic faculty and the other non-academic faculty.  Then there have been four others outside the Board also representing both academic and non-academic faculty.  After receiving one more volunteer from a colleague on the Board, she reported that the following have agreed to serve if the Board so appoints:

·        Prof. Patty Sobecky, School of Biology

·        Prof. Richard Barke, School of Public Policy

·        Jilda Garton, Assoc. Vice-Provost for Research, GTRC

·        Tom Horton, Chief of Staff, GTRI

·        Prof. Bert Bras, School of Mechanical Engineering

·        Barbara Henry, Director, Office of Research Compliance

She made a motion that this slate be accepted.  It was seconded and passed without dissent.

6.         The Chair called on Mr. Tim Strike, Chair of the Statutes Committee to bring a recommendation for a change in the Faculty Handbook.  His PowerPoint presentation is included in Attachment #4a along with the text of the proposed change in Attachment #4b. 

Mr. Strike explained that a change was needed in the Statute setting up the Student Grievance and Appeals Committee (SGAC) because the revised Student Code of Conduct (adopted in Nov. 2006) no longer directed this committee to hear appeals from students who have received decisions on alleged misconduct.  The Statutes Committee received requests to deal with this matter from students familiar with this change and from administrative units now responsible for appeals.  Mr. Strike explained that he would be asking the Executive Board to endorse a change that would bring the Statutes into agreement with the Student Code of Conduct, and if this was accepted, it would go to the General Faculty on November 27, 2007 for the first of two readings necessary to effect the proposed change.  He stated that the proposed change was to remove entirely the paragraph that describes the obsolete appeal process, as shown in Attachments #4a and 4b.

Mr. Strike commented that at a later point someone needs to better clarify what duties remain for this committee outside of the appeals process that has been proposed for deletion.  Dr. Bohlander asked if the Statutes Committee has talked to the SGAC.  He said they had not but they did have expert input from Monique Tavares and Carol Moore in the Provost’s Office about the needed changes.  Dr. Bohlander confirmed that the proposal was consistent with all the input he had received and asked Dr. Greg Huey whether he had any insights as the Executive Board liaison to the SGAC.  Dr. Huey reported that the committee had not yet met as far as he knew.  A question was raised about the deleted paragraph which contains a reference to a right for a student to appeal to the President as provided in the Board of Regents Policy Manual, Section 401.01.  The question was whether this was no longer relevant or simply covered somewhere else.  Mr. Strike responded that it is now covered in the revised Student Code of Conduct.  John Stein confirmed that the proposal from Mr. Strike was consistent with the recommendations of the committee that designed the new Student Code of Conduct.  Dr. Rossignac asked if changing the Statute should wait for clarification of the affirmative purposes of the committee.  Dr. Morley responded that it was prudent to make immediate changes to bring the Statutes into line with the Student Code of Conduct.  Further changes could take awhile.  Dr. Bohlander agreed with Dr. Morley because it is hazardous to have policy statements about appeals and grievances that are not in agreement with each other, lest this situation cause problems in subsequent appeals or legal actions.  Mr. Strike confirmed that there would be plenty of other opportunities to take up further amendments later.  

A motion was made to approve the deletion of the paragraph in Section 5.6.12 recommended in Attachment #4b, subject to confirmation to the Executive Board that the SGAC approves.  The motion was seconded and passed without dissent.  [Note added in preparation of the minutes:  Confirmation from the SGAC was forwarded by Mr. Strike to the Secretary on Nov. 19, 2007.]

7.         The Chair, Leanne West, encouraged that all Board liaisons be in touch with their committees to be sure they are on track.  She asked for any matters of concern.  John Stein mentioned that he had heard nothing from the FSGC.  It was suggested that, having a lower case load, they may have been so far wrapped up in helping the task force.  Dr. Bohlander encouraged him to check in. 

8.         The Chair introduced the next agenda item as one requested by Dr. Wayne Whiteman, who unfortunately was on travel and unable to be the issue in person.  His concern was to clarify the indemnification of faculty who agree to be advisors to approved student activities.  For example, he was asked to be the advisor to a proposed new hang gliding club.  He felt it prudent to inquire whether the university would assume liability that would cover him in the event an incident occurred that might lead to a law suit.  Ms. West asked Pearl Alexander if she knew of any written policy on this topic.  She answered that she was not sure where to point in the documents of the Institute but her understanding was that sanctioned activities would be covered.  Dr. Allen suggested that it would be prudent to check with the Office of Legal Affairs because universities have become sensitive to issues like this after the deaths that occurred in connection with the Texas A&M University bonfire several years ago.  Ms. Alexander said that the question was already making the rounds and Legal Affairs has referred the question to her.  The answer she found was that activities by a faculty advisor were covered if they were performed within the scope of the faculty member’s job.  However, a clear written statement of this policy has not yet been located and Ms. Alexander promised to work on this some more.  John Stein commented that it is important to be clear about this because he knows of examples where faculty advisors around the country have been named in lawsuits and this can happen in many kinds of faculty advisement, including with fraternity and sorority houses.  Further comments were heard that Legal Affairs really needs to be involved to help the Board understand what already exists in writing.  Dr. Bohlander reiterated that a faculty member has properly raised this as a question of due diligence in making sure that there is a clear statement before he engages in a responsibility that might impact his family finances.  To be avoided is a situation in which the agency that handles the Institute’s insurance gets to pick and choose after the fact what to cover and that decision winds up having a bearing on the Institute’s support of the faculty member.  Ms. Alexander acknowledged the gravity of the situation and the desirability for clarity.  She supported the idea that Legal Affairs revisit these questions and help get the needed clarity.  Dr. Morley reported that most student activities have not been directed to obtain their own special insurance.  John Stein mentioned that there is an expectation that a faculty advisor not only be assigned to each chartered student organization, but that they also be present at any event held by that organization.  He questioned whether all faculty advisors understood that expectation.  Dr. Rossignac asked if it is necessary for an activity to have a faculty advisor, and several answered that this is a Georgia Tech requirement.

Ms. West concluded this discussion with a promise to take this question back to Legal Affairs for further action and also to involve other stakeholders, such as the Student Activities Committee.  Bob Wood, as the liaison to the Student Activities Committee, was also asked to help.

9.         The Chair directed the Board’s attention to a proposed agenda for the November 27, 2007 faculty meeting (Attachment #5).  She asked if there were any questions.  Dr. Allen reported that arrangements were still in progress but likely to work out for Andy Altizer to make the indicated presentation on campus security.  Dr. Bohlander commented that this meeting was mandatory because of the need to approve proposed candidates for the December commencement and because there are several crucial curriculum changes awaiting approval.  Ms. West explained that this meeting was originally scheduled as just a meeting of the Academic Senate, but the Board needed to make it also a called meeting of the General Faculty so that the proposed Statutes change could be heard.

A motion was made and seconded to accept the proposed agenda and combine a called meeting of the General Faculty with the scheduled meeting of the Academic Senate.  The motion passed without dissent.

10.       Hearing no other business, Ms. West adjourned the meeting at about 5:05 p.m.

Submitted by Ronald A Bohlander, Secretary

December 4, 2007

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


1)      Minutes of the Executive Board Meeting on October 23, 2007.

2)      Improvement plans in relation to NCAA Certification

a)      Presentation

b)      Plan for Gender Equity

c)      Plan for Minority Participation

3)      Progress report from Task Force for Improvements in the Faculty Status and Grievance Committee

4)      Recommended amendment to the Statutes

a)      Presentation

b)      Wording of the proposed amendment

5)      Agenda for the November 27, 2007 scheduled meeting of the Academic Senate and called meeting of the General Faculty