Meeting of June 23, 2009

Held in the Gordy Room of the Wardlaw Center




Members Present: Bishop (GTRI-ELSYS), Bohlander (Secretary of the Faculty, GTRI), Bowman (INTA), Fox (Library), Harley (Grad. Student), Henry (ORC), Peterson (President), Rossignac (CoC-IC) , Schuster (Provost), Staskevicius (U’Grad. Student), West (Chair, GTRI), Whiteman (ME), Williams (Vice-Chair, ECE)


Members Absent: Dagenhart (ARCH), Gaimon (Mgt), Huey (EAS), Jenkins (GTRI), Marder (Chemistry), Morley (Math), Qu (ME), Stein (Dean of Students), Tavares (Provost Office)



1.      Ms. Leanne West (Chair) opened the meeting at 3:05 P.M. and began by introducing the two new student leaders who were joining the Executive Board; Alina Staskevicius (President of the undergraduate student body) and Linda Harley (President of the graduate student body). 

2.      Ms. West directed the Board’s attention to the Minutes of the April 14, 2009 Executive Board meeting (Attachment #1).  These were approved without dissent.

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

a.     Dr. Schuster told the Board he was recently at a national meeting of Provosts and almost all reported that deposits from prospective new students were up compared with previous years.  Speculations about why this may be centered on indirect effects from economic pressures or possibly an increase in high school graduates this season.  So in any case, he said Tech was looking forward to the arrival of a seriously committed student body arriving in the fall. 

b.     Georgia Tech has begun setting the stage for an effort to develop a new strategic plan, Dr. Schuster reported.  Dr. Peterson was putting in place some guidelines, principles, and structures for this effort.  This included a challenge for a somewhat longer view:  what would Georgia Tech become in 20-25 years?  Once that was articulated, Tech could then establish what needed to be accomplished in the next 3-5 years that would ultimately contribute to the longer term vision.  Dr. Schuster explained that this way of framing the planning exercise was particularly important in times of fiscal stress because it helped the community to think clearly beyond present day fiscal constraints.  He said the Board would hear more as the summer progressed and the planning process would kick off in earnest in the fall.

c.     Dr. Schuster said the budget news continued to get worse.  Tax revenues in the state continued to plummet.  This presented not only budget consequences but also cash-flow problems.  State reserves have been greatly reduced.  With the state fiscal year about to close, cash flow had to be monitored carefully and the university system could see some impacts.  Looking ahead, Dr. Schuster said that the continued decline in state tax revenues was likely to mean additional budget cuts in the future.  The cumulative budget reductions so far had amounted to about 14% over two years.  Tech has been making preparations in the likely event further cuts would come.  He asked for the cooperation of everyone in whatever measures were necessary.  Part of this cooperation would be shared realization that basic revenue models may have permanently changed.  All members of the Tech community would have to work together to creatively assess and adjust its cost structures, Dr. Schuster said.

4.      Ms. West called on Dr. Ron Bohlander to give an update on a question raised by Dr. Seth Marder at the last meeting concerning university policies about taglines on emails.  This issue was researched in the meantime by Jeff Jenkins (member of the Executive Board and manager of information systems for GTRI) but unfortunately he was called away from this Board meeting by an equipment emergency.  Dr. Bohlander thus offered to relay what he had heard on this issue from Mr. Jenkins.  Dr. Bohlander reminded the Board that the question was whether policies were needed to limit taglines to professional content concerning contact information.  The concern was with philosophical statements in the taglines that sometimes involved personal statements of a religious or political or humorous nature that were not representative of Georgia Tech’s professional outlook or positions.  Discussion among the Executive Board members at the last meeting acknowledged those concerns but also recognized a need not to intrude more than necessary on individual expression.  Thus, Mr. Jenkins was asked to look into what existing policies might be in place having a bearing on this.  He consulted with the Office of Information Technology (OIT) and they told him they had considered adding a policy to the Computer Network Usage and Security Policy (CNUSP) but decided not to do so.  They considered the issue covered relatively well by:

·         Other sections of the CNUSP (No personal advertisements, nothing offensive, …)

·         Faculty Handbook policies such as those against creating an “offensive, demeaning, or intimidating environment.”

·         Ethics training materials from the State (highlighting requirements for non-offensive interactions and communications, …)

OIT wanted the campus to focus on the general guidelines of what can and cannot be in a Georgia Tech communications.   Dr. Bohlander said that Prof. Tom Morley had checked Board of Regents policies and found nothing specific about taglines.  Dr. Bohlander suggested that this question be revisited in the fall for a possible discussion of any appropriate next steps.  Dr. Rossignac asked that a check be made of whether other prominent universities have established any guidelines. Dr. Bohlander promised to refer that to Mr. Jenkins.  Ms. West clarified that this was a matter of concern but no formal complaints had been lodged yet against anyone concerning taglines.

5.      Ms. West next called on Dr. Doug Williams (Vice Chair) concerning a committee vacancy.  Dr. Williams reported that Beth Davis would be retiring from Georgia Tech and would resign from the Graduate Curriculum committee effective August 2009.  According to the By Laws, candidates to fill a vacancy should be drawn from the list of past runners up in elections to that committee.  Dr. Greg Corso qualified in that manner and had agreed to take this assignment.  Dr. Williams moved that the Executive Board appoint Dr. Corso to the Graduate Curriculum Committee for this unexpired term which will last until August 2011.  This motion was seconded and passed without dissent.

6.   Ms. West reported that there were no known agenda items for the July 21, 2009 meeting of the Executive Board.  The President’s office had no items that needed to be considered.  Ms. West asked if the July meeting could be cancelled.  A motion to cancel the meeting was passed without dissent.

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

Dr. Bohlander reported on behalf of Dr. Morley that the Task Force on the Definition of General Faculty had one remaining section of its recommendations to complete.  After this was finished in a couple weeks, the Task Force would meet with the President and Provost and then bring the matter back to the Executive Board, in August if possible.  It was planned to bring recommended changes to the faculty in the fall.

Dr. Williams said that the Student Regulations Committee was working on dead week policies.

Ms. Henry stated that the Faculty Benefits Committee was working on a donated leave policy.  She also said that a review of short term disability insurance providers had been conducted along with possible applications to maternity leave.

Ms. West reported on the Data Security Task Force which has been meeting almost weekly.  They would like to propose to the faculty in the fall that a new standing committee on Data Security be formed to promote better communication to faculty and recommend policies and procedures for safer handling of student and personnel data.

8. Ms. West called on Dr. Bohlander to present a proposed calendar of meetings for 2009-10.  He reported that the calendar shown in Attachment #2 was in accord with the statutes and had been approved by the President’s Office and the Registrar.  Room registrations had been secured.  Ms. West mentioned that a faculty member asked at the last faculty meeting about separating Academic Senate meetings from General Faculty Assembly meetings so that distinctive business could be addressed at each.  Dr. Bohlander indicated that while two of the meetings on the calendar were shown as Academic Senate meetings, pressing needs for Faculty Handbook revisions almost always resulted in combining these meetings with called meetings of the General Faculty.  He felt the concern about keeping academic and non-academic business separate could be better handled by taking the academic matters last at these meetings and making clear these questions were just for academic faculty to consider.    Dr. Bohlander moved the adoption of the calendar found in Attachment #2.  It was approved without dissent.

9.   Ms. West introduced the need to prepare for the election of her successor as Chair of the Executive Board as well as for the election of Vice-Chair.  She said she had very much enjoyed her period of service as Chair and hoped members of the Board would consider volunteering for this service in the year ahead.  [Note: both Leanne West as Chair and Doug Williams as Vice-Chair were at the end of their terms on the Board and not eligible for re-election.]  Dr. Bohlander explained the process that would be followed for the elections ahead.  By the next meeting he asked Board members to send him nominations for Chair and Vice Chair, or that candidates would indicate their interest themselves in running.  Then at the August meeting of the Board, candidates would be introduced and asked to say a few words about their interest in serving.  Immediately following that meeting, Dr. Bohlander would conduct an election via email ballots which would determine the new Chair and Vice Chair.  Dr. Bohlander then reviewed the duties of the Chair and Vice Chair and promised to send the members a copy of a summary of these duties as found in Attachment #3.  A member of the Board asked whether the Vice-Chair succeeded to Chair and the answer was that this was possible if the Vice-Chair still had at least one year of service left on the Board but it was not automatic.

10.   President Bud Peterson then joined the meeting in progress and Ms. West asked him to explain additional matters of interest to the Georgia Tech community, including the possibility of furloughs for Georgia Tech employees.  The President apologized for being late due to an urgent press conference and then covered the following topics:

a.     Dr. Peterson said that economic recovery would probably not come soon enough to prevent more cuts in budgets.  The FY10 budget allocation to Georgia Tech departments would start at levels essentially the same as those in place at the end of FY09.  The Board of Regents allocated a small amount more money than that, but the difference was being held in reserve against the likelihood of subsequent budget cuts. 

With that background, President Peterson turned to the topic of furloughs.  He pointed out that they were not usually an effective solution to budget savings in a university situation.  Revenues into the university included a large component that did not come from the state but rather from sponsors of grants and contracts..  If faculty and staff members were furloughed, some of this effort would be set aside and money might have to be returned to sponsors.  He stated the hope that furloughs would not be necessary unless the economic climate worsened dramatically.  If they came, it might be necessary for each institution in the University System to approach this differently but that would create further stress in the System.  He described how the different universities were already eliminating costs differently especially in administrative positions.  He stated there was no present plan at Georgia Tech or in the University System of Georgia to institute furloughs and he hoped they would not be necessary.

Q. Could the President issue a statement that would help people particularly in administrative support positions better understand the budget situation?  Ans. Dr. Peterson said it might be helpful and timely to issue another message about that

Q. Were state legislators developing a better understanding of the situation at Georgia Tech with its revenue from sponsored grants and contracts?  Ans. Dr. Peterson said there have been many discussions with legislators and these have been going well in helping them to understand the differences that come from sponsored research and the impacts from all the initiatives recently taken to address budget problems.  How Tech stands relative to metrics at peer institutions had been discussed and Dr. Peterson highlighted one interesting situation.  Tech was below peer institutions nationally in the cost of in-state tuition, but about average in out-of-state tuition.  There was a Regents policy, he said, that the ratio of out-of-state tuition must be four times the in-state rate.  While the latter had been rising to bring Tech more in line with peers, the out-of-state tuition would be apt to rise above parity if the 4x ratio were maintained.  If out-of-state tuition were priced out of the market, total revenue might actually be reduced in spite of increases in tuition.  Thus, discussions with stakeholders have been helping everyone improve their understanding of global issues affecting university financial health.

b.     Dr. Peterson turned to the topic of recent concerns about crime in areas surrounding campus.  He explained that he had called a meeting that morning with five officers from the Atlanta police department as well as three from the Georgia Tech police department.  He reported that the number of officers available to work in the area had recently increased and the police departments were instituting a number of new procedures designed to send a message that crime would be dealt with forcefully in the area around Georgia Tech.  A number of arrests had already been made in connection with a recent shooting involving a Georgia Tech student.  Campus leaders were also working hard to educate students about how to avoid dangerous situations.

c.     President Peterson reported that improvements were being made in processes to handle appeals of decisions involving students, faculty, and staff.  Since anything the President decided could be appealed to the Board of Regents it was important to limit appeals to the President to prevent the Regents’ calendars from filling up with low level matters.  Accordingly the President would in future only consider appeals concerning student suspensions and expulsions; staff suspensions, terminations, or job eliminations; and faculty promotions, tenure decisions, terminations, and suspensions.

d.    Dr. Peterson provided a preview of plans for his investiture scheduled for September 3.  The ceremony would occur at 11 a.m in the Coliseum.  Classes would be cancelled from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.  Workshops on Georgia Tech’s effort to develop a new strategic plan would be held in the afternoon.  Further celebration activities were planned for the evening.

12. Hearing no other business, Ms. West adjourned the meeting at about 4:20 p.m. 

Submitted by Ronald A Bohlander, Secretary

August 22, 2009 and amended August 25, 2009


1)      Minutes of the April 14, 2009 meeting of the Executive Board

2)      Calendar of faculty and Executive Board meetings for 2009-10.

3)      Duties for the offices of Chair and Vice Chair of the Executive Board.