Meeting of September 29, 2009

Held in the Poole Board Room of the Wardlaw Building




Members Present: Bennett (Mgt), Bishop (GTRI-ELSYS), Bohlander (Secretary of the Faculty, GTRI), Bowman (Vice-Chair, INTA), Buck (ECE), D’Urbano (OSP), Fox (Library), Harley (Grad. Student), Henry (Chair, ORC), Ingram (ECE), Jenkins (GTRI), Marder (Chemistry), Millard (GTRI-ITTL), Morley (Math), Peterson (President), Staskevicius (U’Grad. Student), Tavares (Provost Office), Whiteman (ME), Williams (USGFC Rep., ECE)


Members Absent: Bafna (Architecture), Leggon (Public Policy), Rossignac (CoC-IC), Schuster (Provost),



Visitors:  Baines (OIT), Donbaugh (AVP HR), Herazy (Provost’s Office), Kirkman (Academic Integrity Committee Chair), Leonard (Data Security Task Force Chair), Moore (AVP AA), Mullin (OIT), Parker (Faculty Status and Grievance Committee Chair), Schafer (VPSS), Schmidt (Director Student Integrity), Senf (Student Honor Committee Chair), Stein (Dean of Students), Streator (Student Regulations Committee Chair)

1.      Ms. Barbara Henry (Chair) opened the meeting at 3:02 P.M.

2.      She directed the Board’s attention to the Minutes of the August 25, 2009 Executive Board meeting (Attachment #1).  These were approved unanimously.

3.      She next called on President Peterson to comment on matters of interest to the Georgia Tech community.

a.     Dr. Peterson thanked Board members for their participation in the recent investiture ceremony.  He said he was pleased that the focus of the event was on the strategic planning process that was underway.  More than 700 people participated in the afternoon strategic planning workshops.  The strategic planning team was directing people’s attention to possible educational environments in 25 years and what Georgia Tech should do to move toward the most desirable creative outcomes.  Dr. Peterson said that truly big ideas were wanted and provided a few examples to think about.  He encouraged members of the Board to stay in touch with the Strategic Planning website and participate in upcoming subcommittee discussions of each of the emerging theme areas.  He also said there would be further campus-wide discussion events in late October or early November and again in late January or early February.  The goal was to have a first draft of the strategic plan by mid-February.  Dr. Peterson reported that the strategic planning process had recently sought input from the Parents Association and the Georgia Tech Advisory Board, and both provided helpful suggestions.

b.     Dr. Peterson moved on to the topic of furloughs.  Four of the mandated six days of furlough had been identified in the fall semester as default days for furloughs.  Although most people would take furlough days in the month of December, a save ahead program had been instituted such that withdrawals from paychecks for furloughs would begin in September at the rate of one day’s pay per month, to spread the impact.  He stated that a Furlough Committee had advised the President’s Office on how to administer the furloughs and they continued to meet to develop options for how to administer the two remaining furlough days in the spring semester.  Days around Spring Break or around Commencement were under consideration.  Whatever would be decided for default furlough days, managers would have flexibility to arrange for different days if their employees needed to work the default days in order to maintain program commitments.

c.     President Peterson stated that target budgets for the FY10 academic year were firming up.  He said that communications of these budget figures would be ready to go out to campus units within about two weeks. 

d.    Dr. Peterson reported that Georgia Tech had been notified of another winner of a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE); namely, Justin Romberg, assistant professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE).  Dr. Peterson said that to date, Georgia Tech had 15 NSF career award winners..

4.      Ms. Henry then called on Prof. Kirk Bowman (Executive Board Vice-Chair) to provide some comments on the Institute’s furlough arrangements based on faculty feedback he has received.  He noted in beginning that there was no sign of any mass collective action against the furloughs at Georgia Tech.  The administration here enjoyed a great deal of good will and legitimacy.  However, he said there appeared to be misunderstandings that were causing many of the questions he was hearing.  For example, people were unclear how much autonomy Georgia Tech had relative to state government or the University System of Georgia (USG) in setting furlough policy.  Some knew that other universities in the United States had made unilateral decisions with respect to furloughs in their budget circumstances and wondered if Georgia Tech had the freedom to make the same types of decisions.  Dr. Bowman said that three points had come out of discussions with faculty that might be useful to consider in the future if additional furlough days needed to be instituted:

·         The word furlough was felt by many to be a misnomer; that pay was docked for days of furlough but the expectations for accountable work products were not reduced commensurately.  Dr. Bowman cited the case of Brittain Fellows whose only role was to teach.  How would they take furlough days without impacting student learning?  He acknowledged that there might be legal or policy-based reasons for using the word “furlough” to protect benefits to faculty, but there was a danger that it hid some of the realities of this form of budget savings.  The faculty understood that Georgia Tech would not want to adversely impact students but there was a risk that avoiding such impacts made it too easy for the legislature and others to overlook the true impacts of budget cuts.  If it appeared possible to make such cuts and not impact things of value like education then why not make even more of them?

·         The second issue was a concern about progressivity; i.e. that six days of furlough impacted faculty and staff members in lower pay levels more than those in upper ones.  More might be done in future furloughs to lessen the burden on those who made less.

·         Finally, there were questions about staff who were exempted from furloughs but he said that in the end most people seemed to come to understand why the exemptions made sense. 

Dr. Bowman asked if there were any comments. One member commented that although the term furlough was problematic in some ways, it was a better choice than a reduction in future raises or a reduction in current pay.  President Peterson responded by clarifying that the prospect of raises in FY10 was nil and the prospect in the following year was unclear at best.  He wanted to be sure that people understood that furloughs had not been planned in order to bring raises back.  In the current situation the tradeoff was between furloughs and terminations.  Taking six furlough days had been mandated by the Chancellor’s Office as part of their strategy to meet budget targets.  The President acknowledged that in the future a tradeoff could arise involving furlough days and raises but that was not the current reality. 

The President also commented that the Institute could not create an expectation that people would work on their furlough days but that professional situations did on many occasions lead to extra efforts on days when one is nominally off duty and that faculty might experience this on furlough days.

The President asked for clarification about what was meant by progressivity in this context, and Dr. Bowman cited the example of the University of California system where, the more one made in salary, the more furlough days were taken.  The President reminded the Board that the current plan did provide a limit on furlough days so no one went below the federal poverty level.  More allowance than that was not approved by the USG in setting up the current furlough plans but the principle was worth considering if further furloughs were needed.  Chuck Donbaugh (AVP HR) added that the Chancellors Office had not been receptive to calling furloughs by any other name and in fact the term was appropriate to the situation in which faculty benefits were preserved at a full level.

5.      Ms. Henry next called on Mr. Herb Baines (Director of Information Security, OIT) and Mr. John Mullins (OIT Director) to tell the Board about efforts to protect data security in the Institute.  Ms. Henry also noted that Dr. John Leonard (Chair of the Task Force on Data Security) was in attendance.  Mr. Mullins began by saying that it was important to periodically raise the visibility of data security issues.  He said there had been a formal program of data protection in place at Georgia Tech for about ten years.  It had been very successful but Georgia Tech could not afford to be complacent.  The scope included the protection of faculty and student data, the institution’s sensitive and proprietary data, and the smooth running of the information technology that the Tech community depended on.  He said, whenever a security incident occurred, campus people raised questions about the Office of Information Technology’s (OIT’s) standard security practices.  He said there were two important working principles:

·         There was a presumption of trust.  When an incident happened there was a starting assumption that the faculty, staff and students involved had good intentions.  Often the initial focus was on possible sources of outside attack.

·         The second principle was to take a minimalist approach.  Any data collected around an anomalous set of events would be as unobtrusive as possible.  Only as much data would be collected as needed to ensure compliance with all laws and regulations and to ensure smooth running of the network and computer resources.

He said these principles provided a framework for the status report that his colleague Herb Baines would provide.  Mr. Mullins said Georgia Tech’s focus was on how to make its data systems and their security better for tomorrow.

Mr. Baines made a presentation to the Board with the slides in Attachment #2a and with reference to a handout recorded in Attachment #2b.  Mr. Baines stated that OIT worked closely with the faculty on such things as technology control plans and export controls to support their research goals.  They also worked directly with faculty in the classrooms and the labs to ensure that systems were running smoothly.  OIT’s work was not just about keeping attackers out.  He expanded on Mr. Mullin’s remarks by saying that OIT actively worked to help maintain as open an environment as possible in terms of information technology and exchange.  An architecture for information security (slide 4) was established back in 2001.  Each unit of Georgia Tech made its own technology choices to accomplish this architecture and OIT’s job was to help facilitate that.  Mr. Baines reviewed the material in slide 4 and stated that the network of 115 Computer Support Representatives (CSRs) across campus had an important part in the vital prevention section of this architecture.  The history of computer and network protection was summarized in slide 5 with some important metrics.  In 2001 each user was individually responsible for protecting his/her own computer resources.  Trends were shown in the slide for numbers of attacks and numbers of compromises over time in comparison with the dates various measures were taken.  He said the last development on the chart, Sakai or T-Square, was an initiative to store vital student and faculty data in network-accessible secure enterprise servers. This meant that sensitive data did not have to be carried in risky portable computer stores.  Mr. Baines pointed to the short form summary of key roles in information security in slide 6 and a more detailed account in the handout (Attachment #2b)

He reiterated that networks were only monitored to the extent necessary to ensure Tech maintained a network with fast throughput.  Tech was also required by various federal higher education regulations to monitor its network for detection of certain prohibited activities.  If investigations of specific incidents turned up evidence of prohibited activity then the offices of Legal Affairs, Human Resources, and Internal Audit would be consulted by OIT for appropriate guidance, as described on p. 9 of Attachment #2b.  Mr. Baines said they had recently cooperated with the Faculty Task Force on Data Security chartered by the Executive Board and that a recommendation for a permanent faculty committee of some sort would soon be made.  He said faculty could do a lot to guide and support improvements in data security processes.

Mr. Baines received some questions:

Q. What sorts of incidents were included in the graph of slide 5?  Ans. This graph did not include simple malware attacks.  Incidents were only included if they affected more than one unit of the Institute.  Many of the incidents in question resulted in botnet attacks of other computer systems.

Q. Could OIT help provide greater clarity about when information on Institute computers was “sensitive”? The person asking the question noted there were many kinds of sensitivity, e.g. personal identity data, ITAR controlled data, proprietary data, etc. and faculty members were uncertain about precise thresholds of sensitivity.  Ans. Faculty members should refer to the Data Classification Handbook which was developed in collaboration with experts to answer such questions in a practical way.  Mr. Baines advised faculty members to use more secure resources like T-Square whenever possible. 

Q. What could OIT do to enable faculty members to review past grades given to their students so they could provide informed recommendations when requested?  Ans. Mr. Baines discussed potential alternatives for that but acknowledged that complete solutions were not in place yet.

Q. What were the plans for a permanent faculty committee on Data Security?  Ans. Dr. John Leonard reminded the Board that a Task Force on Data Security was initiated by the Board in April 2009.  The Task Force had so far concluded that more faculty input would improve communications and lead to better solutions.  He predicted that the Task Force would return with a formal recommendation in a couple months.

6.   Ms. Henry called next on Christopher Schmidt (Asst. Dean of Students and Director of the Office of Student Integrity) to explain provisional changes that have been implemented in the Student Code of Conduct, subject to pending review and final approval by the faculty.  President Peterson provided some background information first.  He explained that a conversation with the USG Chancellor and others from the Board of Regents (BoR) precipitated the desire for changes.  The member of the BoR who hears appeals of grievances of all kinds reported that Georgia Tech brought more grievances to the BoR than all the other institutions in the USG combined.  In seeking to find out the reason for this Dr. Peterson discovered that many different levels of grievances at Georgia Tech were heard eventually by the President, and by rule, any decision of the President about a grievance could be appealed to the BoR.  So, Dr. Peterson asked Provost Gary Schuster, Chuck Donbaugh (AVP HR), and Bill Schafer (VPSS) to review grievance policies so that lower level matters could be handled without the involvement of the President and thus would avoid the involvement of the BoR.  Major personnel actions and student sanctions could still come to the President.  This meant that tenure decisions, terminations, employee suspensions, and student suspensions or expulsions were among the kinds of decisions that could still be appealed to the President.

Mr. Schmidt picked up the thread, referring the Board to two handouts, Attachments #3a and #3b, that had been provided as read-ahead material.  The first of these was a markup of the Student Code of Conduct showing the changes made on a provisional basis to expeditiously solve the problems the President had just explained.  The second was a memo from the President that set the policies into motion.  Mr. Schmidt went over a short summary of the proposed changes in slides recorded in Attachment #3c.  He stated that the proposed new Code did not change definitions of misconduct or the model of appropriate sanctions but mainly changed how allegations would be adjudicated and appealed.  Slides 2 and 3 summarized changes in the initial adjudication and possible appeal processes to correct the BoR concerns and make the overall process efficient enough for timely decisions with present staffing.  He also stated that clearer indications of initial allegations were now provided to students before they came for their initial appointments with Student Conduct Administrators. 

Ms. Henry noted that the chairs of three faculty committees were present who dealt with various aspects of the Student Code of Conduct.  She asked if any had comments they would like to share.  Dr. Jeff Streator (Chair) said that the Student Regulations Committee felt surprised by the existence of the provisional changes in the Student Code of Conduct.  He felt previous efforts to revise the Code were part of good faith collaborations between his faculty committee, student representatives, and the Office of Student Integrity.  He expressed the hope that faculty input would be very much a part of the next step to review the provisional changes and formally adopt these or appropriate alternatives.  He said he understood that the provisional changes had had to be made expeditiously.  Other faculty members emphasized the importance of more faculty input.

Dean of Students John Stein asked if the matter did need to go back to the Student Regulations Committee since the provisional changes were restricted to procedures and did not involve changes in policies about misconduct or sanction models.  Dr. Bohlander (Secretary) said he felt the Student Regulations Committee had jurisdiction over any change in the Student Code of Conduct.  Dr. Streator noted that the boundary between policy and process was sometimes blurred.  For example, changes in discretion about who hears cases were both policy and procedural matters.  Dr. Bohlander noted that the Student Code of Conduct was not segregated into policy and procedure sections and thus the tradition at Georgia Tech was to refer all changes in the Code to the Student Regulations Committee. 

To allay concerns about whether a student could still choose to have their case heard by a panel or a Student Conduct Administrator, Mr. Schmidt explained that he tried to honor student preferences as often as possible.  However, sometimes a need for a decision close to the end of a term dictated that only one solution was practical inside time constraints. 

Prof. Tom Morley moved that the review of provisional changes to the Student Code of Conduct and recommendation of final changes be referred to the Student Regulations Committee.  The motion was seconded and passed unanimously.  Dr. Streator stated that this matter could be added to the next meeting of the Student Regulations Committee which would be on October 7 at 2 p.m. in the J. Narl Davidson Conference Room.  Dr. Bob Kirkman, Chair of the Academic Integrity Committee stated that his committee had been reviewing the provisional changes and wished to provide some input to the Student Regulations Committee.  Dr. Streator welcomed this and any other inputs.

7.   Ms. Henry called on Professor R. Gary Parker (Chair, Faculty Status and Grievance Committee (FSGC)) to tell the Board about some issues that had come up in the course of investigations of grievances. He said there were two issues that the FSGC felt called for new procedures. 

·         He explained that the FSGC heard three cases of grievances concerning tenure decisions this past spring, which was a larger number than usual.  Dr. Parker reminded the Board about the process followed by the FSGC as documented in Section 14 of the Faculty Handbook.  He explained that in a few cases, the grievant might request a formal hearing and in such cases a hearing panel of five people was constructed, four of whom were drawn from a random list of members of the General Faculty and the fifth member came from the FSGC.  Both parties to the grievance could strike some names in arriving at the final panel.  Although it was quite rare, one of the cases this past spring did result in a formal hearing.  The FSGC was concerned that the resulting hearing panel involved some non-academic faculty members who lacked requisite background to decide tenure grievances.  The recommendation from the FSGC was to change the Faculty Handbook policy so as to require that hearing pools only contain academic faculty members in such cases, and in fact might be restricted further to only tenured faculty.

·         The second issue concerned a decision of dismissal following a Periodic Peer Review (PPR), or what some term a post-tenure review.  The faculty member who brought the grievance ultimately chose to resign rather than to pursue the matter.  Dr. Parker said that in reflecting back on their involvement with this case, the FSGC felt there were some sections of the current policy that could be improved and better expressed.  They simply asked for the opportunity to provide some input towards improvements.  In response to a Board member’s question, Dr. Parker explained that it seemed that PPRs did not follow clear Institute-wide standards.  The distinction between a Periodic Peer Review and an initial tenure decision was not clear enough.  It was noted that the past year was one of the first times that the PPR policies and procedures had been thoroughly tested in practice. 

Ms. Carole Moore (Asst. Vice-Provost) commented that a small task force had been in place working on revamping and tightening up the language in the Faculty Handbook, including sections dealing with Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure (RPT), and Periodic Peer Review (PPR).  This group also recognized that the precision of the PPR section could be improved.  She said that section had now been rewritten and would soon be presented to Andy Smith (SVPAA), then to the Executive Board, and finally to the Statutes Committee.

Ms. Mary Ann Ingram (Executive Board Liaison to the Statutes Committee) confirmed that the Statutes Committee had not yet seen any of the new recommended language but commented that some other groups, such as the ADVANCE Professors, had been working on possible improvements in RPT sections of the Faculty Handbook.  She indicated an interest in having these ideas considered before changes were finalized.  

Ms. Barbara Henry asked if it would help for the Executive Board to create a top-level Task Force.  Dr. Parker said that the FSGC would like that.  Dr. Bohlander suggested that it might help to bring improvements in the RPT and PPR sections to closure ahead of improvements in all the rest of the Faculty Handbook, and this might be done by involving interested faculty members (e.g. from the FSGC, Statutes Committee, and ADVANCE professors) working with the team chartered by Andy Smith.  A consensus was reached to form a Task Force to recommend revisions of Faculty Handbook material concerning RPT & PPR. This would address needs for clearer language and guidelines, address problems seen in the FSGC, address diversity issues, and generally bring processes and policies up to date.  A motion was made to take a preliminary step toward a Task Force: Gary Parker, Carole Moore, Monique Tavares, and Mary Ann Ingram were asked to meet and recommend a charge and a roster for this Task Force.  The Task Force should encompass appropriate faculty members (including representatives of the SVPAA's task force, and representatives of FSGC and Statutes Committee) who have already studied these questions.  The motion for all of this was seconded and passed unanimously.  Mary Ann Ingram was asked to take the lead in coordinating this preliminary work and to report as soon as practically possible.

8.   Ms. Henry called on Prof. Tom Morley (Chair) to provide an update from the Task Force on Definition of General Faculty at Georgia Tech.  Prof. Morley reported that he and Dr. Bohlander had met with Chuck Donbaugh and Jim Rolen from the Office of Human Resources (OHR) in order to complete previously agreed next steps.  They reviewed a draft list of faculty titles prepared by OHR to be consistent with the proposed definition of membership in the General Faculty.  Another list was reviewed of titles that used to have faculty status but were proposed to no longer have this status for future hires.  The latter was prepared to assess what departments might be most impacted by the proposed changes.  Dr. Morley hoped to have a more definitive list of titles within about a week. 

He also reported that small refinements continued to be made in the proposed new definitions for the Faculty Handbook based on inputs such as those made by the Provost’s Office and by members of the Executive Board (at their last meeting).  These updates were reflected in Attachment #4.  Barbara Henry asked for confirmation that those who currently held the title of General Faculty would not lose that.  Prof. Morley confirmed that those who currently had General Faculty status would be grandfathered if their titles were no longer associated with the General Faculty.

9.   Ms. Henry called on Prof. Kirk Bowman to recommend approval of the following appointments:

a.   Prof. E. Michael Perdue (EAS) to represent the College of Sciences and fill a vacancy on the Executive Board, serving until August 2010.  This followed the resignation from the Board of Dr. Greg Huey.

b.   Prof. Jonathan Clarke to represent the College of Management and fill a vacancy on the Graduate Curriculum Committee, serving until August 2012.  This followed the departure of Prof. Martins from Georgia Tech

c.   Prof. Sam Graham (ME) to fill a vacancy on the Statutes Committee, serving until August 2010.  This followed the departure of Prof. Griffin from Georgia Tech.

Prof. Bowman moved that the Executive Board approve the above appointments.  The motion was seconded and passed unanimously.

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

·         Mr. Dave Millard reported the Faculty Benefits Committee had made significant progress on a proposal that would allow faculty to donate sick leave to other members of the faculty who had exhausted their leave.  The President suggested that Chuck Donbaugh be invited to the next Board meeting to provide an overview of the changes that were coming in faculty benefit programs.

·         Prof. Morley commented that the Board should keep an eye on the workload of the Student Honor Committee as the impacts of changes in the Student Code of Conduct unfolded.

10. Ms. Henry called on Dr. Bohlander to present recommendations about the October 20, 2009 meeting of the General Faculty, General Faculty Assembly, and the Academic Senate.  He stated that the proposed agenda had been posted (see Attachment #5) and was very straight forward, featuring the President’s State of the Institute Message along with Annual Reports and approval of the minutes and action items of all faculty Standing Committees.  Ms. Alina Staskevicius asked if changes in Dead Week regulations would be considered at this meeting. Dr. Bohlander replied that they would if the Student Regulations Committee reached a decision and filed minutes in time.  Dr. Bohlander moved that the Executive Board approve the proposed agenda of the Oct. 20 faculty meeting.  The motion was seconded and was passed unanimously.

11.   Hearing no further business, Ms. Henry declared the meeting adjourned at about 4:55 p.m. 


Submitted by Ronald A Bohlander, Secretary

October 21, 2009


1)      Minutes of the August 25, 2009 meeting of the Executive Board

2)      Institute Data Security topic

      a) Presentation

      b) Handout

3)      Student Code of Conduct

      a) Provisional changes

      b) Presidential memo on revised grievance processes

      c) Presentation by Mr. Christopher Schmidt (Director Office of Student Integrity)

4)   Proposed changes in Faculty Handbook on Definition of General Faculty

5)   Agenda for the combined meeting of the General Faculty, General Faculty Assembly, and
Academic Senate on Oct. 20, 2009