GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

THE EXECUTIVE BOARD

 

MINUTES

Meeting of April 14, 2009

Held in the Poole Board Room of the Wardlaw Center

 

 

 

Members Present: Bohlander (Secretary of the Faculty, GTRI), Bowman (INTA), Dagenhart (ARCH), Fox (Library), Gaimon (Mgt), Henry (ORC), Jenkins (GTRI), Marder (Chemistry), Morley (Math), Peterson (President), Rossignac (CoC-IC) , Schuster (Provost), Stein (Dean of Students), Tavares (OARS), Wellkamp (UíGrad. Student), West (Chair, GTRI),

 

Members Absent: Bishop (GTRI-ELSYS), Fowler (Grad. Student), Huey (EAS), Qu (ME), Whiteman (ME), Williams (Vice-Chair, ECE)

 

Visitors:   Allen (Presidentís Office), Giffin (Student Computer Use Committee), Paraska (Director, Program Review and Accreditation)

1.      Ms. Leanne West (Chair) opened the meeting at 3:05 P.M.   

2.      She directed the Boardís attention to the Minutes of the March 24, 2009 Executive Board meeting (Attachment #1).  These were approved without dissent.

3.      Ms. West next called on Provost Gary Schuster to comment on matters of interest to the Georgia Tech community.

a.     Dr. Schuster explained that Dr. Bud Peterson would be joining the Executive Board meeting later, following a meeting of the Board of Regents (BOR) where they would be deciding on a plan for tuition for the 2010 fiscal year.  

Dr. Schuster said that he expected Georgia techís budget challenges would continue into the next year or so.  Recapping the FY2009 experiences, he said it appeared that the final overall budget reduction for the year would be 10.1% compared with the budget for Georgia Tech at the beginning of the fiscal year.  He said virtually all parts of the Institute had born a part of these cuts and they had been made as carefully as possible in the interest of the long term health of the Institute.

He stated that back in late December or early January the administration asked all the campus units to set aside 1% of their budget that they would not spend so that this could be used to absorb anticipated late year budget cuts.  It turned out that those cuts were necessary, so in the past few weeks, the administration confirmed to the units that they would take that 1% cut from the operational units and an additional 2% cut from some central budgets.  These cuts were part of the 10.1% mentioned above. 

He explained that total annual expenditures including research contracts and auxiliary services were over $1.1 billion, and so it was difficult to precisely balance the state part when the other parts were dynamically changing along the way.  

b.     Dr. Schuster said the prospects for fiscal year 2010 were uncertain.  The legislature had completed its work on the 2010 budget and this included some reductions relative to the budget originally proposed: about $6 million was cut from University System of Georgia (USG) operations and $10 million from Major Repair and Renovation. However, the Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons was budgeted for full funding of $43 million and construction was underway.  He said it now remained for the Governor to act on the budget bill, which he must do by May 13, 2009.  So at the time of this Board meeting it was uncertain whether the Governor might line-item veto something in the budget pertaining to the USG. 

c.     Dr. Schuster commented on the impact of the federal stimulus legislation (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009).  Some of these funds came to the states earmarked for higher education, he said.  In Georgia that totaled $92.6 million, and so that amount was added to the budget of the USG while $92.6 million of state money was withdraw in order to be used to fill other budget gaps.  There appeared to be two consequences: 1) There would be increased reporting requirements stemming from the federal funding.  2) It was anticipated that stimulus money in this same amount would be received for one more year and be part of the fiscal year 2011 budget.  But it was not clear how the USG budgets would be replenished with state money to fill the gap when the $92.6 million was no longer received in FY 2012.

d.    Dr. Schuster returned to the topic of the BORís meeting concerning USG tuition rates for 2009-10.  He said that it was likely that the BOR would eliminate the current Fixed-for-Four program in which tuition rates have not been allowed to rise for undergraduate students during their first four years of enrollment.  Existing students who entered under this commitment would be grandfathered in.  Students entering this fall or who have been at Tech for at least four years already would see tuition increases.  He said the BOR would also be deciding whether to continue the $100/semester Academic Excellence Fee in the coming year.  Once these decisions were taken and the Governor has signed the budget bill, then the BOR would be in a position to allocate budgets to the member units of the USG including Georgia Tech.  Dr. Schuster said he anticipated receiving budget guidance in May.

e.     He also noted that state budgets for fiscal year 2010 were built on a premise that state revenues would decrease 1% over fiscal year 2009.  The month of March 2009 was recently noted to be down 15% in revenue over March 2008 and revenues for FY2009 have been down about 8% relative to FY2008.  Thus, there was not much confidence that revenues would actually decrease only 1% in FY2010 over FY2009.  Should revenues turn out to decrease more than that in FY2010, Dr. Schuster anticipated further budget trimming at Georgia Tech.  Thus, he said that the Georgia Tech administration would allocate to Georgia Tech units starting budgets for FY10 on the basis of commitments already made and no new workloads would be assigned until there was an indication that state revenues were not going to be a problem.

There was one question for Dr. Schuster:

Q. What is the usual percentage attrition in staff at Georgia Tech in a yearís time?  Ans.  Dr. Schuster said he did not know for sure but made an educated guess of between 3 and 7% turnover per year.  He said that replacing people lost through attrition did not constitute new workloads.  Their replacements would be budgeted.

4.      Ms. West called on Dr. Ron Bohlander to present, on behalf of the Statutes Committee, a recommended change in the Faculty Handbook covering new procedures involving academic program reviews. Dr. Bohlander explained that Statutes Committee chair had a conflict and asked his assistance in making the presentation.  He utilized the slides (Attachment #2) prepared by the committee and acknowledged the assistance of Ms. Susan Paraska, Director of Program Review and Accreditation.  The Board was furnished with a copy of Ms. Paraskaís presentation on this topic made at the January 12, 2009 Executive Board meeting in which she had explained new requirements from the BOR that were prompting changes in Georgia Tech procedures.  As a result Georgia Tech would now be responsible for posting proposed curriculum changes and program reviews on its own website and would provide access to BOR staff.  Georgia Techís elected curriculum committees and the Office of Program Review and Accreditation would be the primary agents of curriculum review and change at the Institute level.  In January 2009, the Executive Board disbanded the Institutional Review Committee and left to the Office of Program Review and Accreditation the decisions of what order existing educational programs would be reviewed.  And so it was time now for the faculty to document their new procedures in the Faculty Handbook.  As spelled out in Attachment #2, the changes were in Section 46.1 found in the chapter on Educational Guidelines and Evaluation.  Dr. Bohlander stated that these recommendations had been reviewed and approved by the Institute curriculum committees.

Dr. Bohlander then moved that the Executive Board endorse these recommendations to the faculty for their consideration at the April 21, 2009 meeting of the Academic Faculty, Academic Senate, and General Faculty.  The motion was seconded and approved without dissent.

5.      Ms. West next called on Dr. Jon Giffin (Chair, Student Computer Ownership Committee - SCO) to tell the Board about options for incorporating course-specific resource needs, including software and textbooks, into Banner.  He explained that his presentation, documented in the slides found in Attachment #3, was informational in nature and did not include any action items for the Board.  He appreciated the opportunity to provide Board members not only some information about course-specific resource needs but also to bring them up to date on the status of the programs for which his committee was responsible.  The Institute had adopted the policy about one year ago that students were required to have a laptop computer.  Dr. Giffin said some conflicts had been experienced during this year when particular courses required something more specific than the Institute as a whole required in computing resources.  Thus, he wished to speak about how the Institute communicated with students about resource requirements for each course.  Dr. Giffin reminded the Board that the reason laptops were now required was to make it possible for instructors to utilize student computers in their plans for classroom learning activities.  Now that such uses were underway, it has become apparent that individual classes often needed specialized software, just as each class needed a specific textbook. 

He also said that increased reliance in college education on student owned computers meant that college owned computer labs were disappearing. They were no longer a fallback option for students to meet specific class requirements.† †Dr. Giffin pointed out two challenges:  1) Sometimes there are difficulties in installing class software on particular student owned computers.  2) Either the students were faced with buying software for a class and this could cost more than a textbook, or the college was faced with purchasing a site license.  Dr. Giffin said it was difficult for students to buy a computer and take into account issues that might later arise from required software because the students would not usually know at the beginning what courses they would be taking.  He said many students preferred Apple Macintosh computers but many of their courses required Windows-only software.  Thus the SCO was amending the required hardware/software specifications for 2009-10 to require that virtualization software and Windows be purchased with any Mac computer and that hardware versions be selected to support virtualization.

The more general question for the future was how to collect and convey to students the course-specific resource requirements they must satisfy for participation in each course.  Dr. Giffin said that the current thinking was to have each school enter their course-specific requirements (including textbooks, software, etc.) into Banner where they provide course schedule information to students.  He said there would be some additional data input load but this would provide students with all they needed to know in a central place.  It would also provide SCO with a more comprehensive sense of computer needs across campus and provide a better basis from which the Institute could consider campus-wide licenses.  Dr. Giffin mentioned that the proposed provisions would also help the Institute meet the requirements of a new law that takes affect July 1, 2010, the Higher Education Opportunity Act, which requires that students be informed about textbook costs at the time of registration, not when they show up in class or later go to the bookstore.

Q. Was there a budget set aside for campus-wide licenses?  Ans. Dr. Schuster said yes, there were institutionally supported site licenses.  Dr. Giffin said that OIT administered some but that individual colleges also put some in place at the college level.

Q. How could the Higher Education Opportunity Act place an obligation on colleges to publish the prices of class-required resources when the college neither sets those prices nor sells the items?  Ans. Textbook publishers were also required by the act to provide this information to the colleges in a timely way.

Q. Was it still most effective to require students to buy a computer relative to a single specification that applies to all majors? Was it not possible, for example, that a student in LCC working on video production would have a need for a different style of computer?  Ans.  Dr. Giffin said that this continued to be debated.  Some colleges did have additional requirements.  The proposal to use Banner in the way described was adopted to promote better awareness of college or school-specific requirements.

Q. Did student actually follow or exceed the computer hardware and software requirements in their purchases?  Ans. The Tech Bookstore reported that families often arrived with the SCO brochure and requested that the store provide exactly what was in the brochure.

Comment. Current staffing in some of the schools was already at capacity in the business of organizing textbooks for the school.  Adding the requirement to enter this into Banner as well as software and computer requirements could result in the need for more staff.  Ans. The proposal supposed that the same people who now entered course schedule information would provide the additional data.

Q. Would there be any attempt to encourage multiple courses to utilize the same software when practical, so that the studentís or the institutionís investment would last longer? Ans. It may be that a central review body should be empowered to do that and then the school would use a drop down box to identify the software needed for a course.

6.   Ms. West asked Dr. Seth Marder to discuss two issues of concern; namely, taglines in emails, and campus-wide service program options.  

Dr. Marder explained that the first topic arose in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry where the schoolís executive committee observed that some Georgia Tech staff members added taglines at the end of their email messages and these covered a broad variety of styles, ranging from quotes of philosophers to religious quotes or political statements.  The question that arose was this: When a person sends an email in an official capacity as a Georgia Tech employee did the tagline become a Georgia Tech communication subject to the same standards that would be applied to letterheads?  The feeling was that such taglines were, in many cases, not appropriate professional communication but promoted personal beliefs that lay outside the scope of oneís employment.  The schoolís committee would prefer to see signature blocks that only supplied name, title, and contact information. They felt though that it was best to deal with this in a uniform manner across campus.  So Dr. Marder said he was asked to raise this question to the Executive Board: Should the Institute have a consistent policy about signature blocks and taglines to emails?  He observed that some very personal taglines have appeared in the signature blocks of some Tech employees with administrative responsibilities and the potential existed for some recipients to take offense.

Members of the Board agreed there could be legitimate concerns and discussed many different perspectives on this delicate question.  Some asked to what extent the Instituteís existing information technology policies might already address this question.  Ms. West asked Mr. Jeff Jenkins to investigate existing OIT policies, Dr. Tom Morley to look into Board of Regents policies, Dr. Marder to provide any examples of specific complaints, and all to report back to the next Board meeting.

Then Dr. Marder moved on to his second topic. He reported that he had been working with Ms. Andrea Ashmore, Special Assistant to the President and Director of Institute Partnerships & Community Relations, on a plan for coordinating and publicizing volunteer activities of faculty, staff and students at Georgia Tech.  He stated that there was increasing interest within the community in making contributions of time and talent to charitable endeavors but that people would appreciate better pointers to opportunities.  Better publicity could serve this purpose and also create momentum and encouragement for more volunteerism.  He said it was also possible that efficiencies or synergies would result from better awareness of all that is being done and planned.  As a step toward better publicity, the Office of Communications and Marketing was helping to put together a website on volunteer activities.  He said that Ms. Sarah Mallory and Mr. Bob Nesmith, also in Communications and Marketing, suggested it would help for both the students and the faculty at Georgia Tech to formally pass resolutions of support for coordinated publicity and program promotion. 

Q. Would there be any program developed to recognize outstanding examples of service? Ans. Dr. Marder said that was possible if momentum developed and enthusiastic recognition grew organically.  He thought that sponsorship for awards was plausible.  He mentioned that President Peterson had asked what was going to distinguish the Georgia Tech student of the 21st century from those at other fine institutions.  Dr. Marder said it was possible that the Georgia Tech community would impart values for professional ethics and for community service that would provide these distinguishing marks.  The proposed initiative would help, he stated.  It would also help build a stronger sense of community within the Tech family and with the community around the Institute.

Comment.  There were so many student organizations on campus, and a large fraction emphasized service.  Thus it would be difficult to collect information from them all. Ans. Nevertheless, there has already been a lot of enthusiasm from student and other leaders for meeting this challenge.

Q. Could this be done in two steps:  now to endorse trying to do this, and then again once a movement was underway and opportunities were visible?  Ans. Yes, but it was best to make sure of a beginning.

Comment.  Dr. Peterson joined the meeting and said he had found the campus already involved to a remarkable degree in community service and was already at a level worthy of national recognition.  Ans.  Dr. Marder agreed but said that because the work underway was so diversified and fragmented, it lacked the visibility it could have with a coordinated effort.

To wrap up, Dr. Marder moved that the Executive Board endorse the following resolution and recommend that the faculty adopt this resolution at their April 21, 2009 meeting:

Resolved:  The faculty of the Georgia Institute of Technology support coordination and expansion of efforts to promote, facilitate, and document volunteer activities by the Georgia Institute of Technology employees and students towards the betterment of society.

The motion was seconded and adopted without dissent. 

7.   Ms. West welcomed President Bud Peterson to his first Executive Board meeting and asked him to tell the Board about the BOR meeting he just attended or any other subject he wished. 

Dr. Peterson reported that the BOR had indeed modified the tuition structure for the USG, starting with a suspension of the Fixed-for-Four program for new students.  Other structural decisions included:

         The Fixed-for-Four program would continue only for the current students who were already enrolled.  (Existing co-op students would be allowed eight semesters in five years.)

         All students would continue to pay the $100/semester Academic Excellence Fee. 

         Incoming freshmen would see effectively a 25% effective rise in what they pay for full time tuition.  The hourly tuition rate would remain at $203/credit hour but the number of credit hours included in fulltime would rise from 12 hours to 15.  Students taking more than 6 hours would automatically be charged for 15 hours.  Thus, entering students would pay $3,035 tuition per semester for fulltime enrollment, instead of $2,436.  Dr. Peterson noted that all entering in-state freshmen would be on the Hope Scholarship and thus the scholarship would be paying the increased tuition in their first year. 

         About a 45% increase in tuition would be seen by those continuing their education beyond eight semesters and beyond the protection of Fixed-for-Four. 

         The change in the definition of fulltime from 12 hours to 15 was being promoted as encouragement for students to make more rapid progress toward their degree so they would not need more than eight semesters to finish.

Q. How would these tuition increases impact the Georgia Tech budget?  Ans. In FY09 USG budget restrictions resulted at Georgia Tech in a 4.4% reduction in academic budgets and a 7.7% reduction in non-academic unit budgets.  Budgets in FY2010 have been planned to start where FY2009 budgets wound up.   Dr. Peterson said that increased revenues from tuition would be used to cover any mandated additional costs and then primarily used as a hedge against future cutbacks. When at a later time the FY2010 budget situation was clearer, then increases in budgets could be considered if they were feasible.

Q. Would tuition revenue under the new plan increase in the years following 2010?  Ans. Yes, even if tuition rates for new students did not increase again in FY2011, a larger fraction of the student body would be on the new tuition rates.

Dr. Peterson also commented on the effects of stimulus money going away in 2012.  Earlier in the meeting, it was mentioned that the USG would receive stimulus money in the amount of $92.6 million per year for two years.  NSF would also likely be making 75% more awards during this time from stimulus funds.  Campus planners were looking at strategies for how to absorb the changes that would come at the end of this money, Dr. Peterson stated.

Q. There could be another challenge:  Increased research dollars could lead to increases in research administration at a time when the Institute has been forced to reduce administrative staff due to budget cuts.  Would it be possible for universities to renegotiate overhead rates in order to meet the administrative challenges?  Ans. Dr. Peterson said Georgia Tech was looking into that and other strategies.  This question was also discussed at a recent meeting of the National Science Board.  Initial indications were that federal agencies were not ready to allow higher indirect rates due to increased reporting requirements attached to stimulus funding.  However, other accommodations were being explored.

Dr. Peterson summed things up by saying that Georgia was in a better fiscal position than some places in the country and the fact that the BOR had the courage to act on the need for more tuition was very encouraging.

8.      Ms. West called on Dr. Ron Bohlander to cover recent faculty election results documented in Attachment #4.  Dr. Bohlander thanked Andy Fox in OIT and Monique Tavares and Reid Tankersley in the Provostís Office for support during the election.  He reported that the level of voting participation by faculty increased this year from 30% to 36%.  He moved that the Executive Board approve the election results.  This passed without dissent. 

9.   Ms. West also asked Dr. Bohlander to cover a need to fill a vacancy.  He explained that Judith Norback was stepping down from the Academic Services Committee.  In accordance with the bylaws, the Executive Board Vice-Chair, Dr. Doug Williams had contacted Mr. Doug Britton who was a recent runner up in an election to this committee and Mr. Britton has agreed to serve.  The term would be from August 2009 Ė August 2010.  Dr. Bohlander therefore moved to appoint Mr. Britton to fill this vacancy on the Academic Services Committee.  The motion passed without dissent.

10.      Ms. West asked if there were any reports from the standing committee liaisons or task forces.  Notable highlights:

Dr. Tom Morley reported some concern from faculty involved in the Student Honor Committee about the proposed reorganization of the Office of Student Integrity that would reduce the number of judicial coordinators to only two (compared with 3+ previously).  It was feared that reduced staff would not be able to handle the workload.

Ms. West reported that John Leonard has agreed to chair the Student and Personnel Data Security Task Force.

11. Ms. West called on Dr. Bohlander to present a proposed agenda for the April 21, 2009 faculty meeting for approval.  He moved the adoption of the agenda found in Attachment #5.  It was approved without dissent.

12. Hearing no other business, Ms. West adjourned the meeting at about 4:50 p.m. She reminded the Board about the When the Whistle Blows ceremony to follow shortly at the Alumni Center.

Submitted by Ronald A Bohlander, Secretary

June 18, 2009

Attachments

1)††††† Minutes of the March 24, 2009 meeting of the Executive Board

2)††††† Presentation of proposed changes in the section of the Faculty Handbook on Academic Program Reviews.

3)††††† Presentation on course-specific resource requirements

4)†† Results of recent faculty elections

5)†† Agenda for the April 21, 2009 meeting of the Academic Faculty, Academic Senate, and General Faculty.