GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

THE EXECUTIVE BOARD

 

MINUTES

Meeting of October 7, 2008

Held in the Poole Board Room of the Wardlaw Center

 

 

 

 

Members Present: Bishop (GTRI), Bohlander (Secretary of the Faculty, GTRI), Bowman (INTA), Fox (Library), Henry (ORC), Jenkins (GTRI), Marder (Chemistry), Morley (Math), Rossignac (CoC-IC), Schuster (Interim President), Stein (Dean of Students), Tavares (OARS), West (Chair, GTRI)

 

Members Absent: Dagenhart (ARCH), Fowler (Grad. Student), Gaimon (Mgt), Huey (EAS), Qu (ME), Wellkamp (U. Grad. Student), Whiteman (ME), Williams (Vice-Chair, ECE)

 

Visitors:   Allen (President’s Office), Smith (SVPAA), Strike (Statutes Committee)

1.      Ms. Leanne West (Chair) opened the meeting at 3:03 P.M.   

2.      She directed the Board’s attention to the Minutes of the August 19, 2008 Executive Board meeting (Attachment #1).  These were approved without dissent.

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

a.     Dr. Schuster began with an update on the search process for the next president of Georgia Tech.  He characterized the current phase as a quiet and confidential one in which the selection committee was continuing to receive nominations.  He said the candidate lists would probably be nearing completion soon and preliminary interviews would be started.  He stated that he thought that the committee would be able to announce finalists early in 2009.  He called attention to the presidential search website which posts information on progress and has a link to enable anyone to “Write to the Search Chair”, Regent Willis Potts.  He said that, if Executive Board members or others on campus have nominees to suggest, it would be good to use this link promptly to pass on nominations.

b.     Concerning on-going challenges from the economy, Dr. Schuster stated the Georgia Tech budget and that of the whole University System of Georgia were under a lot of pressure from reduced state revenues.  The September meeting of the Regents approved a plan for a 6% budget cut.  At that time it was hoped this would be sufficient.  Dr. Schuster anticipated that the Regents would be considering further cuts to levels of 8 to 10% overall in their October meeting due to the continued problem of falling state revenues.  He reminded the Board that the Georgia Tech administration has been working to make a plan consistent with the 6% cut and this included a moratorium on hiring, as well as other budget restrictions and reductions, particularly on travel and equipment.  If the mandated cuts reached 8 or 10% he said Tech would have to look very carefully at its options and be very strategic; there would be no painless choices.  Mr. Steve Swant (Executive VP, Administration and Finance) and Dr. Schuster have been putting together possible options.  Better guidance was expected after the October Regents’ meeting.

c.     Dr. Schuster called attention to the open enrollment period just begun for faculty and staff benefits.  The Regents Indemnity plan for health insurance has now been modified to accomplish a fairer arrangement.  Dr. Schuster said the plan was for the Institute now to contribute the same absolute amount to any health insurance plan, instead of the old scheme in which the Institute contributed the same percentage of any health insurance plan the employee chose regardless of its cost.  In the future, if the employee chose a more expensive plan, the employee contribution would be expected to cover the added cost over less expensive plans.  As a consequence, the employee contributions to the Regents Indemnity plan would increase 99% because this plan was the most expensive.  In compensation, the cheaper PPO Plan was bolstered by adding some of the features of the Regents Indemnity plan. 

Dr. Schuster said that, if the Regents found it necessary to institute 8-10% budget cuts, he thought they were likely to look at further modifications to benefits that could help save more money.

d.    Dr. Schuster reiterated that the Georgia Tech priority in addressing budget challenges was to focus on maintaining the academic core.  Every effort would be made not to sacrifice the quality that Georgia Tech was known for.  Sensible and strategically defensible cuts would be made as necessary.

e.     Dr. Schuster reported on the meeting the previous weekend of the Georgia Tech Advisory Board.  Enthusiasm from the advisors was high.  That weekend was also Family Weekend.  The second largest turnout of students’ family members was welcomed to the campus.  Feedback was very positive.  He mentioned that he had delivered a State of the Institute address to students and to the family members, and would be doing the same at the upcoming faculty meeting on October 21, 2008.

f.     He also encouraged the faculty and staff to participate in the annual Charitable Campaign, saying that it is particularly important to maintain commitments to help those less fortunate during times of economic stress.

Dr. Schuster then asked for questions.

Q. About a week ago it was reported that Wachovia Bank had frozen some accounts of other academic institutions around the country.  Did that affect Georgia Tech at all?  Ans. The President said that Steve Swant and Tom Pearson (in Business Services) reported that it has not affected Tech thus far. 

He went on to say that in general Georgia Tech and other academic institutions are in essentially uncharted waters and so it is difficult to make near term projections of what will happen or to plan appropriate responses.  He said though that if Tech did respond with care and make good choices, the eventual turn around in the economy could put Tech in an even stronger position.

Q. When the Board of Regents decided to equalize its contribution to the different health insurance plans, did it change its total level of expenditure?  Ans. The President said he did not have the answer but suggested the question be forwarded to Clint Demetriou in Human Resources.

Q. To better understand Tech’s commitment to education and research and its general plan to find efficiencies, how would this affect the infrastructure that underlies those missions?  The question was not about things like salaries for professors but rather about the things that enables the professors to their jobs more effectively.  Ans. Yes, that was challenging, the President said, because there were some components of the budget that do not fall in the group of costs obviously associated with academic endeavors but nonetheless have a great influence on the quality of what is achieved in the academic enterprise.  Their contributions were recognized.  Thus, Georgia Tech leaders would need to be thoughtful in making any cuts so essential things, however labeled, would not be sacrificed.  For example, he said, last year Georgia Tech had a record year in terms of the value of sponsored research awards ($445 million).  Clearly, the Grants and Contracts office was needed to support handling this volume.  He said he also had heard suggestions that building and grounds maintenance be cut back, but that too could create a self-defeating environment for the important work to be done.  Cuts would have to be made somewhere but Tech would work hard to minimize the impacts, Dr. Schuster said.

Q. Has the issue of early retirement been considered as it might contribute to solutions?  Some who would retire could return to help maintain vital functions but at 49% of their time.   Ans. The experience with early retirement programs in other institutions has not been favorable as those most likely to leave were often the highest performers.  Other options relative to retirement have been raised for discussion but no conclusions have been reached.  It was not possible to force anyone to retire, Dr. Schuster said.  Data were being gathered on how many at Tech were already eligible for retirement and when this was further along, it was possible that a plan would emerge, but any participation would be voluntary.

4.      Ms. West then called on Mr. Tim Strike, Chair of the Statutes Committee to make a proposal concerning promotion guidelines for research-titled faculty.  Mr. Strike presented a briefing documented in Attachment #2 and opened with the comment that it was unusual for the Statutes Committee to have a proposal for a change in the Faculty Handbook so early in the year.  He explained that the matter came to the committee at the end of spring 2008 and that the proposal was aimed at an improved promotion process in the cycle that was already underway this fall.  His presentation closely followed the Attachment, with these additional observations:

·         He explained that GTRI had brought the need for these changes forward to support them in hiring a number of additional research faculty in response to substantial increases in sponsored research awards. 

·         Many of those being hired and many already here had substantial industry experience that was valuable to Georgia Tech but which occurred between their bachelor’s and master’s degrees.  The proposed changes would better recognize and reward the value of this experience.

·         Since the proposed changes were just in a procedural section of the Faculty Handbook, the faculty would be able to enact the changes in one faculty meeting.

·         Mr. Strike explained that the recommended changes also responded to other requests from the campus.  For example, Slide 5 shows a section deleted that described how the ranks of research titled faculty related to “counterparts” in the professorial ranks.  The concept of a counterpart was confusing and it was decided this section had little value.

·         Another change recommended was shown on Slide 6 where the baseline for years of experience, years of service, and years at Georgia Tech was moved one day later than the current version.  The recommended version more clearly reflected what had been understood over the years concerning the minimum time between promotions to successive levels.

·         The meat of the proposed changes was shown on Slides 7 and 8.  Slide 7 showed an added optional test for promotion to Research Scientist II (or related grades) in which experience could be counted before the master’s degree was earned.  Slide 8 showed an adjustment to the promotion criteria for advancement to Senior Research Scientist that was designed to be consistent with Slide 7.  Mr. Strike noted that in all cases, at least a master’s degree was required.  He said that the proposed wording also made clear that it was okay to have a doctorate and no master’s degree, an improvement over current wording.

Mr. Strike then took questions:

Q. How much flexibility was allowed concerning credentials, because these guidelines seemed to imply there is none?  Ans. Exceptions have been made from time to time, but generally in any case of exceptions, the supporting data have shown the candidate was a cut above the norm for that grade.  Examples of exceptional cases were cited.

It was moved and seconded to endorse the proposed changes to the faculty at their meeting on October 21, 2008.  This passed without dissent.

5.      Ms. West called on Dr. Ron Bohlander (Secretary) to discuss a proposal to create a task force on the definition of General Faculty at Georgia Tech.  Ms. West said this task force was needed to take a fresh look now that the USG was able to offer the Optional Retirement Program (ORP) to fulltime employees, not just to faculty.  Dr. Bohlander reminded the Board that when the Faculty was asked at its February 27, 2007 meeting to consider adding Athletics Affairs Professionals to the General Faculty to provide access to ORP, the faculty passed a resolution to revisit this topic when access to ORP was no longer an issue.  Dr. Bohlander also explained that the Office of Human Resources was now engaged in a review of titles and compensation at Georgia Tech and they were dealing with a large pool of persons with the title Classified Professional with General Faculty Status.  The problem was that the title was not descriptive of the type of work performed and there was a huge range of compensation within the pool.  Thus OHR has embarked on a program to move people into titles that are ranked according to required experience and credentials and better described what each person actually did.  The problem with that was that membership in the General Faculty was defined in the Georgia Tech Statutes by whether the person’s title was in a list associated with General Faculty membership.  Before a great many more titles should be added to this list, a fresh study should be made of how General Faculty should be defined at Georgia Tech.

The Executive Board leadership recently briefed Dr. Schuster and Dr. Sue Ann Allen that this was coming and they agreed the Executive Board should establish a task force to work that out.  Dr. Bohlander presented Attachment #3 to the Board as a draft of a possible charge to the task force.  This work would be divided in two main parts: first to look at options in the form of definition, and then to bring recommendations for changes to the Georgia Tech Statutes. The latter actions should be carefully prepared, he said, so as not to impact benefits for current employees who might be impacted. 

Dr. Bohlander noted that the Board of Regents (BOR) has a very helpful baseline definition for faculty in its Policy Manual and that Georgia Tech definitions should be consistent with that.  At the same time, Georgia Tech aspired to be a leader among technical universities and this could lead to some special emphases.  He noted that some other member institutions in the USG have admirably lean definitions of faculty and such examples should be studied. 

It was observed that some persons now have faculty status because of past efforts to provide access to ORP but they may not really think of themselves as faculty members participating in activities normally associated with faculty.  At the same time, Dr. Bohlander cautioned that dialog with the affected people may uncover faculty ties that may not be apparent on the surface.  Care woud need to be exercised in making proper provisions for particular titles and for individuals in relation to General Faculty status.

Ms. West then said that a task force would be commissioned.  She asked for volunteers and Dr. Tom Morley offered his services.  Ms. West asked Bob Fox if he would be able to serve to ensure that library input was included.  He said he would consult with the Dean of the Libraries to recommend an appropriate person.  She asked Dr. Schuster, Dr. Allen, and Dr. Smith for someone to be appointed from the administration.  They suggested Monique Tavares.  Ms. West indicated that Chuck Donbaugh and Clint Demetriou from OHR would be contacted to serve.  She wrapped up by asking the rest of the Board to think this over and let her know of additional volunteers or suggestions.

Dr. Andy Smith (Sr. Vice-Provost for Academic Affairs) made two suggestions with respect to the charge to the committee:

·         That peer institutions outside the USG also be studied for suggestions about definitions.

·         That the task force should also look at what titles the Institute should have.  He cited some recent discussions about possible titles like Clinical Professor that would support anticipated work in the health field.  He indicated that Ms. Tavares could provide some background from recent studies in the Provost’s Office.

Ms. West thanked him for these inputs and indicated that there would be a follow up communication to the Board on how the task force was set up.

6.      Ms. West brought the Board up-to-date on recent developments with the new University System of Georgia Faculty Council (USGFC).  She explained that some faculty leaders in other units of the USG pioneered this Council during the 2007-08 academic year with the intention that the USGFC represent the voice of faculty to the BOR.  An initial set of bylaws for this organization was not acceptable to the research universities (UGA, GSU and GIT) and leaders of these units got together and suggested some changes that have been incorporated in new bylaws which Ms. West provided as Attachment #4.  She explained that the major improvement was to change the way that decisions were arrived at through the participation of representatives of each of the USG faculties.  In the initial bylaws, each institution got one vote and decisions were reached by a majority vote of the institutions. The problem was that the research institutions have needs or outlooks that are sometimes different from the rest and also represent a large fraction of the total faculty members in the USG.  Yet they would only have around 10% of the votes on the Council.  The revised bylaws provide that the Council will be divided into tiers and votes taken in each tier.  A decision would be reached when the three tiers agreed on a mutually acceptable recommendation.  An executive committee of the elected leaders of the three tiers would help guide the work of the council as a whole.  Research universities would comprise one of these tiers.  Ms. West reported that a majority of the USG faculties had endorsed the bylaws so the USGFC considered itself to be in existence.

Ms. West indicated that the next two steps for Georgia Tech were:

·         To indicate an endorsement of the new bylaws and

·         To choose someone to represent Georgia Tech on the Council. 

She suggested that Georgia Tech’s  representative come from the Executive Board for the near future while this whole process was still being worked out so that the Board could keep close tabs on it.  She further suggested that an academic faculty member with two years remaining on the Board might make an ideal candidate because he/she would then have the opportunity to provide some leadership continuity and because many of the matters that would be in common among the members of the USG would be academic in nature.  Ms. West asked that the first step be taken in this October meeting and the selection of the representative in the November meeting.

Subsequent discussion focused on

·         The work load required and the number and form of meetings that would take place;

·         The breadth of experience with faculty governance across the USG ranging from almost no experience to very mature programs like those at Tech;

·         The types of issues that have been raised within the USGFC so far;

·         The drivers for creation of the USGFC; and

·         Alternatives for Georgia Tech’s best representative.

A question was raised about what a representative of Georgia Tech would actually represent.  Would they represent the Institute as an institution, or represent the Faculty of Georgia Tech, or just be a chosen faculty member expected to do their best for the USG as a whole?  Dr. Bohlander suggested that the best answer is the middle one: that the person would represent the interests of the faculty of Georgia Tech.  He also said that he and Ms. West had emphasized to the USGFC that it is inappropriate for this Council to raise questions at the spur of the moment and seek snap answers.  Many worthwhile questions deserve studied answers involving discussions with other faculty members who on a given issue may have already invested a great deal of time and study.

A concern was raised that the scope of the USGFC was not yet well-enough defined by their bylaws or was too broad.  On the other hand, it was also recognized that input to scope requires participation and that Georgia Tech’s input was respected.  It was noted that Georgia Tech’s involvement with the formation of the USGFC has promoted better communications already between faculty leaders at GIT, UGA, and GSU.

A consensus emerged that Leanne West should continue to be the representative for the present time if Georgia Tech did participate in the USGFC.  This was based on her substantial experience already with the formative issues.

Ms. West asked if a motion of endorsement of the USGFC was possible.  Dr. Morley asked if it was possible to agree to participate without endorsing the bylaws.  Dr. Bohlander suggested a motion to agree to participate under the bylaws which motion does not include the word “endorse.”  Dr. Morley made a motion that Georgia Tech agree to participate in the USGFC under its bylaws and it was seconded.  The motion subsequently passed with five votes for, none against, and four abstaining.

7.      Ms. West reminded the group of the work done in the previous year to amend and strengthen the procedures in the Faculty Handbook concerning the work of the Faculty Status and Grievance Committee (FSGC).  Part of that addressed the need for the FSGC to be able to call on a reserve pool of qualified persons who could assist with investigations of complaints made to the committee in times when the work load gets high.  She reported that the Secretary had provided the Deans and Director of GTRI with a list of names of past members of the FSGC and asked the Deans and GTRI Director to consider who they would like to recommend serve in this reserve pool.  The people listed on Attachment #5 were those whom the Deans and GTRI Director nominated to serve.  Two colleges, Architecture and Computing, were still working on their nominations.  Dr. Bohlander reported that the FSGC would appreciate having the list approved for those available so far.  The list of nominated reserves for faculty status and grievance investigations was approved without dissent.

8.      Ms. West explained that the Executive Board needed to fill a vacancy on the Welfare and Security Committee occasioned by Michael Schaepe (IPST) taking a job outside Tech.  Candidates were considered in accordance with the Bylaws and Mr. Jim Ellington (Director of Research Security for GTRI) met the criteria and agreed to serve.  Ms. West explained that Mr. Ellington would serve out Mr. Schaepe’s term which would conclude in August 2009.  Mr. Ellington’s appointment to the Welfare and Security Committee was approved without dissent.

9.      Ms. West then called on Dr. Donna Llewellyn (Director of the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning, CETL) to give the Board an update on the Course / Instructor Opinion Survey (CIOS) instrument. Ms. West reminded the Board that Dr. Llewellyn briefed the Board last year about needs for an update of CIOS and enlisted some members of the Board in reviewing options, leading to a trial run was conducted during the summer.  Dr. Llewellyn’s PowerPoint presentation was documented in Attachment #6a, and supplementary information, in Attachment #6b.  Dr. Llewellyn began by reviewing the history of CIOS as outlined in Slide 2.  Similarly she reviewed the history of the task force to revise the CIOS (Slide 3).  She explained that they had asked the Executive Board to authorize the task force because the faculty as a whole “owned” CIOS, not CETL.  The Board empowered CETL to put it together and they did.  Attachment #6b listed the members of the task force.  Dr. Llewellyn introduced Dr. Tris Utschig who has administered CIOS and had much to do with the project to improve it.  Attachment #6b also showed a comparison of the existing and trial run questions in the CIOS.  Dr. Llewellyn explained that the pilot form was somewhat longer in order to test enough questions that convergence to the right final questions could be based on informed choices.  She also discussed the purposes for the four sections of the pilot CIOS focused on student effort, quality of teaching, quality of the course, and overall ratings.  She indicated that many of the questions were ones that had been tested and analyzed from practices at well-regarded peer institutions.

Participation in the pilot during the summer was on a voluntary basis for class teachers.  About 200 hundred students were involved.  Students took both versions of the CIOS as well as answering questions about the CIOS.  Most students had no preference between the two versions but, of those who did, a substantial majority preferred the new version. 

A question was asked why a very short survey has not been considered.  Dr. Llewellyn responded that this had been considered but that a survey of about the length used sets up the crucial summary questions by asking students to consider questions about good elements of teaching before asking for a final verdict.  This tended to elicit more considered responses.  

A second-stage larger pilot was in planning, Dr. Llewellyn said.  The Associate Deans were just asked for advice and they recommended two things:  a) Do not include any faculty members who are up for pre-tenure review so that this does not impact tenure decisions.  b) Try to get students to fill out both old and new forms of the CIOS survey so comparisons can be made.

The floor was then open to suggestions and questions:

Suggestion:  Have a question that asks whether the instructor clearly communicated the course expectations.  It was felt this was essential to mutual satisfaction in education and was a different question than one about whether the course was consistent with its expectations.

Suggestion:  Change the question about instructor consultation to something like, “Was the instructor readily available and did he/she encourage consultation?”  It was felt encouragement was more than availability.

Q. In the question about how much did you learn, what does “much” mean?  Don’t we want to know more than a quantity of learning?  Can we ask something that gets at the value of what was learned?  Ans.  It is hard to measure value when value seems to depend so much on the discipline.  Follow up suggestion:  Can the question ask about the impact the student feels the course will have on their future? 

Q. What is the justification for having the student predict the grade they will receive?  Ans.  Some faculty felt that it helped to understand the responses to know which answers came from students who thought they were doing well and those who were struggling.  Dr. Llewellyn acknowledged that this question had not always been included in CIOS because its merits were not clear.

10.  Ms. West directed the Board’s attention to Attachment #7 which showed the planned agenda for the fall meeting of the General Faculty, General Faculty Assembly, and Academic Senate scheduled for October 21, 2008 from 2 – 4 p.m. in the Ferst Center for the Arts.  Dr. Bohlander asked the Board to make careful note of the time and place as these were different from the norm in both respects.  This agenda was approved without dissent.

11.  Ms. West polled the Board for any reports of note from the liaisons to standing committees.  All reports were routine.

12.  Hearing no other business, Ms. West adjourned the meeting at about 4:50 p.m. 

Submitted by Ronald A Bohlander, Secretary

November 3, 2008

Attachments

1)      Minutes of the Aug. 19, 2008 meeting of the Executive Board

2)      Proposal for changes to the Faculty Handbook concerning guidelines for promotion of research-titled faculty.

3)      Proposed charge to a task force on the definition of General Faculty at Georgia Tech

4)      Revised bylaws of the University System of Georgia Faculty Council. 

5)      List of proposed reserves to assist the Faculty Status and Grievance Committee with investigations when needed.

6)      Reports on proposed revisions of the Course / Instructor Opinion Survey (CIOS)

a.       PowerPoint presentation

b.      Information sheet (incl. members of the task force on improvements, existing CIOS questions, pilot questions)

7)      Agenda for the October 21, 2008 meeting of the General Faculty, General Faculty Assembly, and Academic Senate