Meeting of April 5, 2011

Held in the Poole Board Room of the Wardlaw Building


With an Addendum Covering Subsequent Electronic Ballots



Members Present:        Bafna (Architecture), Bennett (Mgt), Bohlander (Secretary of the Faculty, GTRI), Bowman (Chair, INTA), Bras (Provost), Buck (ECE), D’Urbano (Vice-Chair, OSP), Gordon (Assessment), Ingram (ECE), Jenkins (GTRI), Lyon (Chemistry), Millard (GTRI-ICL), Peterson (President), Tavares (EVPR’s Office), White (CoC), Williams (USGFC Rep., ECE)


Members Absent:        Baldridge (Grad. Student), Bishop (GTRI-ELSYS), Boone (U’Grad. Student), Leggon (Public Policy), Marder (Chemistry), Neu (ME), Weissburg (Biology), Wozniak (OTL)


Visitors:                       Balsam (Statutes Committee), Herazy (Provost’s Office), Shafer (VPSS), A. Smith (SVPAA), Utschig (CETL), Wasch (Legal Affairs)


1.      Prof. Kirk Bowman (Chair) opened the meeting at 3:05 P.M. and welcomed Dr. Jon Gordon to his first meeting as a member of the Executive Board.

2.      The Chair directed the Board’s attention to the Minutes of the March 1, 2011 Executive Board meeting (Attachment #1).  These were approved unanimously.

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

a)      Dr. Peterson mentioned the appointment of Tech’s new basketball coach, Brian Gregory.  Dr. Peterson commended the coach for his record of support of academics at the University of Dayton where all the seniors in the program did graduate.

b)   The President stated that the legislature was within just a few days of completing its 2011 session.  No changes from previous reports on budgets were expected.  The biggest uncertainty centered on what the Regents would decide at their meeting on April 19, 2011 about tuition and fees.  Georgia Tech’s current tuition was about 75% of peer institutions, and there has been a plan to reach equity.  However, this goal appeared likely to require more years to reach than had previously been planned.

c)   Dr. Peterson said that Georgia Tech leaders had been studying what to do with the programs offered through the Savannah campus of Georgia Tech in light of the decision of the Regents to approve new engineering programs at Georgia Southern University and at the University of Georgia.  A letter was sent to the students, faculty, and staff that the Institute was seriously considering terminating the undergraduate degree programs in Savannah since Georgia Southern would have engineering programs just 50 miles away.  There were about 300 students in Georgia Tech’s undergraduate programs in Savannah as of spring 2011.  220 of them were in their first two years of the program on the campus of Armstrong Atlantic State University.  The remaining 80 were in their junior or senior years on the Georgia Tech campus in Savannah.  Thus there has been a history of only a small fraction qualifying to move up to junior status.  Dr. Peterson said that Georgia Tech was committed to having programs in the Savannah area but that the best options may no longer include undergraduate programs.  Dr. Peterson asked Provost Bras to expand on this topic.

Dr. Bras reported that the Institute’s task force on Savannah has been meeting weekly since December 2010.  Fact finding trips were made to Savannah and a number of interviews with stakeholders were conducted.  Four undergraduate degrees were supported in Savannah: civil engineering, computer engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering.  There were 22 faculty members based in Savannah from three schools.  In addition to the undergraduate students mentioned above, there were about 35 graduate students who were based in Savannah but who also spent a fair amount of time in Atlanta.  Thus a comparatively small number of students were being served by the faculty assigned to Savannah and costs were proportionately high.  Dr. Bras also noted that the contingent of faculty posted to Savannah experienced some competitive disadvantages from service in an outpost away from the mainstream of their school colleagues and resources. 

Dr. Bras concurred that there was a high likelihood of discontinuing the undergraduate engineering programs on the Georgia Tech Savannah campus. If this came to pass, there would be a carefully phased shut down.  Dr. Bras said that Georgia Tech would see that existing students were supported through their programs of study. A path forward for other programs at Savannah would be developed.  There was no plan to withdraw entirely from Savannah.  Several possibilities in degree program enrichment, professional education, and professional degrees were mentioned but decisions had not been reached on any of the possibilities.  Some of the unique strengths of the communities around Savannah (such as the port and military installations) were mentioned in relation to the kinds of program offerings that might be welcomed.

Q.  Were there entities in Savannah who were urging that Georgia Tech not close its undergraduate programs?  Ans. Dr. Bras said, yes, there were some who still felt there was value in a Georgia Tech degree granting operation in Savannah.  However, so far the task force had not come up with something that would attract students to Savannah who would not be attracted to Atlanta and would justify the increased cost as compared with services from the Atlanta campus. 

Q. Were there possibilities of collaboration with Georgia Southern?  Ans. President Peterson said typically about 85 students a year transferred from Georgia Southern to Georgia Tech part way through their program of studies.  It was expected that future Georgia Southern students would most likely stay at Georgia Southern once the engineering program was launched there.  The relationship between Georgia Tech and Georgia Southern was quite good, but the Georgia Tech program in Savannah has been on the edge of viability.  With the advent of another nearby engineering program, the Georgia Tech program would likely no longer be viable.  The need to make sound fiscal decisions was heightened by continued major cuts in state support to the university system.

d)   Dr. Bras continued with a report on the search for a new Dean of Engineering. He urged faculty to attend the candidates’ talks that would be scheduled over the next few weeks.

e)   Dr. Bras stated there was a 5% increase in applications (totaling about 14,200) for admission to the next freshman class.  The rate of admission was 47.5%.  Of those admitted, the average SATs was 1425 and average GPA 3.96.  Hispanics population in the admitted group was up by 29%, African American +12.7%, females +10%, and non-Georgia residents +10%.

f)   Dr. Bras noted progress in developing implementation plans for the Institute’s strategic plan and said that the faculty would soon see increased communications on this.  The steering committee had gone through 130 whitepapers describing possible projects and, with the help of the colleges, had down selected to ten high-priority initiatives in addition to the original ten initiatives identified in the strategic plan.

4.   Dr. Bowman called on Dr. Tris Utschig from Center for Enhanced Teaching and Learning (CETL) to provide an update on the Course/Instructor Opinion Survey (CIOS) through which students provide feedback on perceived quality of courses and instructors.  Dr. Utschig utilized a handout (Attachment #2) to document the points he presented.  He said there were two parallel efforts to improve the CIOS.  The first of these was the effort to improve the content of the survey itself, and the second was the choice of a new method to deliver the surveys to the participants.  Dr. Utschig reminded the Board that they had approved the effort to improve the instrument in the spring of 2008 and supported the formation of a task force.  Subsequent steps were outlined at the top of the attachment.  The revised survey instrument was provided at the bottom of page 1 of the attachment.  Dr. Utschig noted that there were more questions in the new survey, yet students in the pilots thought it was shorter.  He speculated that this could be due to better organization and a better design for comment boxes.  CETL felt the new survey was now ready to deploy.

There had been issues with the deployment of CIOS that also needed to be addressed.  For example, students studying abroad were on a different schedule from those on main campus, yet the old deployment only permitted one time period when the survey could be open for responses; namely the last two weeks of the term plus finals week as scheduled for the Atlanta campus.  Thus new delivery mechanisms with greater flexibility were needed.  Three options were considered:  developing improvements internally, utilizing the Sakai platform and integrating into T-Square, or outsourcing to a third-party survey house.  The only viable option turned out to be outsourcing, and so a pilot with the vendor Digital Measures was accomplished in Summer 2010 and another planned in Spring 2011.  Dr. Smith noted that the option with Digital Measures was the cheapest of the options considered.  He also stated that this vendor had a good track record of service to other campuses.  Page two of Dr. Utschig’s attachment showed several comparisons between the old survey delivery mechanisms and those available from the proposed vendor.  A survey of opinions about Teaching Assistants (TAs) would also become possible with Digital Measures, Dr. Utschig said.  Dr. Utschig said that Digital Measures would provide all the desired features except one, at least at the outset.  The missing feature was the ability for a department to add unique questions of their own.  That was a possible future enhancement.

Full implementation of the new instrument using the vendor Digital Measures was proposed for summer 2011, a time when the lower volume of students and courses made a launch more practical.  The Provost’s Office has approved the expenditures necessary.  Dr. Utschig solicited comments from the Board for how best to communicate to faculty and students about these changes.  He also asked for the endorsement of the Board prior to CETL’s presentation of this to the Academic Senate on April 26, 2011. 

Q. Dr. Bras asked about the written comments students provided and stated these were often the most valuable feedback.  Why did these only go to the instructor?  Ans. There was nothing in the instrument that would prohibit wider distribution of the comments.  There had been a long tradition at Georgia Tech in which the sense of the faculty was that the comments were for understanding and improvement by the faculty members alone.  The use of CIOS in promotion and tenure decisions was secondary, though numerical scores were published and used in that way. Follow up comment:  Dr. Bras noted that the Institute was committed to the importance of teaching and so the evaluation of teaching performance was important. Numerical scores were good and used but survey comments provided important depth of understanding that numerical scores did not.

Comment: There could also be a place for faculty to make comments about each class they have taught. Such comments might cover the facilities provided or how this cohort of students compared with previous ones.  If comments from students about faculty did go forward to schools/colleges as suggested above, it would be even more important that faculty have a mechanism to file their own comments.  Response:  Dr. Bras responded sympathetically to these observations but mentioned that school chairs could provide better mentorship if they had access to student comments. 

Comment:  If Digital Measures  could not allow departments to add custom questions it meant the departments could not use the CIOS to help assess their curriculum.  The vendor should be pressed for this function.   Response: It was possible to have different survey instruments and then target different courses with the different instruments. 

Q. Was it possible to get some benchmarking of satisfaction data to compare Georgia Tech responses with those at other campuses, especially when a vendor was used that worked with multiple campuses?  Ans. Perhaps but the surveys were all different so this would involve apples and oranges comparisons. 

Q. Did the feedback from the pilots indicate that the students preferred the new instrument? Ans. Yes.

Dr. Bohlander noted that it was already planned for CETL to present their information and plans to the April 26 faculty meeting.  Dr. Bohlander moved that the Executive Board endorse CETL’s report on the new survey instrument and their consideration of an external vendor.  The motion was seconded and passed unanimously.

5.   Dr. Bowman then called on Dr. Bill Schafer, Vice-President for Student Affairs, to present a proposed new change in the material in the Faculty Handbook concerning the use of Institute facilities.  Dr. Schafer however deferred to Ms. Jeanne Balsam, Interim Chair of the Statutes Committee and she made the presentation.  There were several handouts marked as Attachments #3, a, b, and c in the list below the minutes.  Ms. Balsam presented the material found in Attachment #3a.  Her remarks followed closely the narrative contained in the slides in this attachment.  She commented that the Statutes Committee had reviewed the proposed section for consistency with the rest of the Faculty Handbook and for agreement with Board of Regents policy.  She said Bill Schafer’s team who drafted the proposed new section had been very responsive to inputs from the Statutes Committee.  The proposed material had also gone to the Student Regulations Committee for their review and some adjustments were made in response to their input.  The Statutes Committee concluded that the proposed material was suitable to present to the General Faculty. 

Ms. Balsam stated that the proposed new version was organized to be easier to use.  It put policy matters up front, followed by the procedures to implement the policy.  The drafting team had investigated what other universities had done in drafting a freedom of expression statement; they also participated in a significant national webinar on this topic.

Ms. Balsam explained that a new Committee on the Use of Institute Facilities would be responsible for hearing appeals of decisions on facilities use.  The current Faculty Handbook said that a denied party must file an appeal to the Georgia Tech President within two days after denial, and then within another two days, the Executive Board must consider and rule on that appeal.  If the Executive Board were unable to act on the appeal in that amount of time, then by default the applicant for use of facilities would be allowed to proceed.  The proposed new procedures allowed an applicant five days to appeal to the Chair of the Committee on the Use of Institute Facilities.  The Committee then would have seven business days to work out a mutually acceptable solution or to rule on the appeal.  If nothing were decided then, again, by default the applicant for use of facilities would be allowed to proceed.  Denials by the Committee could subsequently be appealed to the President and then to the Board of Regents.

Q. President Peterson asked Kate Wasch, Managing Attorney in the Office of Legal Affairs, for some clarification:  Did the Institute’s legal staff look at this in light of problems the campus had in the past with scheduling?  Ans. Yes, these changes were intended to avoid problems previously experienced.  The proposed policy made it much clearer what was allowed and who had the authority to approve engagements of space.

Q.  When departments would hold seminars with outside speakers, were they going to be treated as a faculty organization and subject to those rules of scheduling?  Ans. Dr. Schafer said that in the old policy, faculty members would require prior approval of the Provost for an outside speaker, a rule that was not being followed.  Now it would only be necessary to schedule a room with whoever did that for a given building.  Dr. Bohlander noted that the proposed new Section 47.6 A(3) said “Nothing in this policy is intended to restrict in any way the use of Institute facilities for seminars and special instructional lectures sponsored by an administrative or academic department or the Department of Distance Learning and Professional Education.”

Dr. Bohlander thanked Gary Wolovick (another Managing Attorney from the Office of Legal Affairs) for providing some background in advance of this meeting.  Institute leaders had been working on this draft policy for a couple years.  In the meantime actual practice had diverged from published policy due to evolving perceptions of best practice; that situation had created heightened risk of litigation.  Thus, even if the proposed new section of the Faculty Handbook were not perfect, it was at least consistent with actual best practice and worthy of acceptance as a better instrument. 

Dr. Bohlander moved that the Executive Board schedule the presentation to the faculty of the proposed new Section 47 of the Faculty Handbook and recommend its approval.  The motion was seconded and approved unanimously.  

6.      Dr. Bowman asked Dr. Bohlander to review the proposed agenda for the faculty meeting scheduled for April 26, 2011 (Attachment #4).  Dr. Bohlander explained that there were several amendments to the Faculty Handbook that needed to be presented and so a called meeting of the General Faculty would be needed in addition to the scheduled meeting of the Academic Senate and Academic Faculty. He noted that the President would shortly request another change to the Handbook and that would be included in the agenda as well if the Board agreed. Dr. Bohlander reviewed the proposed agenda and moved that a meeting of the General Faculty be called and that the agenda be approved as outlined.  The motion was seconded and approved unanimously.

7.   Dr. Bowman asked for reports from committee liaisons and from the representative to the University System of Georgia Faculty Council (USGFC):

·         Mr. David White reported that the Academic Services committee has been focused on services crucial to the strategic plan and recently met with EVPR Steve Cross and Dean of the Libraries Murray-Rust.  They planned to meet soon with OIT and Space Planning.  The committee would be making a report to the Board during the summer.

·         Dr. Williams reported that the USGFC bylaws issue raised at the last Board meeting had been communicated to colleagues on the Council but not resolved yet.

·         Mr. Dave Millard reported that the Faculty Benefits Committee learned that Ms. Sharon Ray had left the Office of Human Resources (OHR) and taken a position with another institution.  So several initiatives that she had been working on were on hold.  Ms. Marita Sullivan would represent OHR on the Committee.  OHR would be taking over responsibilities for the recognition of major faculty/staff service anniversaries.  The possibility of revising the award of the gold T for twenty-five year anniversaries was discussed in light of perceived confusion with other universities known by the initial T.  OHR was also reviewing staff tuition support programs in comparison with ones for faculty. 

·        Dr. John Buck reported that the Academic Integrity Committee met on Mar. 18.  First, they considered possible additions to the student academic integrity sanctions model to allow for considerations of aggravating or mitigating circumstances surrounding alleged violations.  The second topic was the matter of collaboration on class projects, degrees of collaboration, and distinctions between collaboration and cheating.  When was it allowed and when not?  Q. How much discretion should an individual professor have?  Ans. Dr. Smith expressed concern about uneven rule making if there was too much discretion.  However, collaboration and teamwork were important learning skills.  So each class syllabus needed to make clear when collaboration was appropriate in that class.  One could imagine developing a set of templates for faculty to use in their syllabi.

8.   Dr. Bowman asked the President to present an additional item of business that had just arisen.  Dr. Peterson said that it had recently come to the attention of his office and the Office of Legal Affairs that the some of the statutes of Georgia Tech were inconsistent with Board of Regents policies in two areas:  A) Board of Regents policy included removal of a faculty member for cause, including “willful or intentional violation of the policies of the Board of Regents or the approved statutes or bylaws of an institution.”  The President requested that the faculty approve adding this clause to Tech’s policies concerning dismissal with cause.  B) It was the policy of the Board of Regents and the practice of other System institutions to suspend faculty members and other employees who were charged with malfeasance.  This suspension was typically without pay (but with provisions for reinstatement and back pay if the charges were later found to be without merit).  In contrast, Section 5.10.5 of the Georgia Tech statutes precluded suspension without pay.  The President requested that the faculty delete the statement in Tech’s statutes that said all suspensions would be with pay unless legal considerations forbade it.  Even though Board of Regents policies had precedence, Dr. Peterson said that Georgia Tech policies needed to be explicitly consistent to avoid problems in litigation.  He committed to put his request for these changes in writing to the Chair and Secretary of the Executive Committee [subsequently received and made available here as Attachment #5].

Dr. Bohlander moved that the Executive Board endorse the changes in the Faculty Handbook recommended by the President and refer the matter to the Statutes Committee to bring a first reading of the changes to the April 26, 2011 meeting of the faculty.  The motion was seconded and passed unanimously.  Dr. Bohlander explained that this proposed change in the statutes would need two readings to be fully adopted so it would be heard in the April meeting and then again in the first meeting in the fall, in October 2011.

Dr. Peterson asked for an update on faculty elections.  Dr. Bohlander stated that the election still had about eight days left in the voting period but so far participation was strong.

9.   Hearing no further business, Dr. Bowman adjourned the meeting at about 4:30 p.m.



Submitted by Ronald A Bohlander, Secretary

May 23, 2011


1)      Minutes of the March 1, 2011 meeting of the Executive Board

2)      Plans for CIOS.

3)      Proposed changes in Section 47 of the Faculty Handbook on facilities use.

a.       Presentation

b.      Proposed new policy and procedures

c.       Old section of the Faculty Handbook

4)      Proposed agenda for a scheduled meeting of the Academic Senate and Academic Faculty combined with a called meeting of the General Faculty on April 26, 2011.

5)      Request of the President for a change in policies on discipline and removal of faculty members.





Addendum #1

The Secretary sent an electronic ballot to the Executive Board on April 18, 2011:

Dear Fellow Board Members –


It is my pleasure to give you a report on the faculty elections just concluded and to ask for your vote of acceptance and approval of these results, in accordance with our bylaws.


The rate of participation was again 36%, a stable rate over the past three years. 


One of the races resulted in a tie; namely, the race for a seat on the Faculty Honors Committee.  My recommendation to you is that we seat both of the people who tied.  We have no good mechanism for resolving ties.  Holding a runoff election when two people tie is no better solution than the original vote.  We have sometimes polled the Executive Board to resolve a tie (and had a hard time not tying that vote).  But in this case, the committee in question is small and could probably use another member.  I have gone over that with the current chair, Prof. Jennifer Leavey, and she is very supportive of seating both candidates.  At some future point, when someone leaves the committee, we would renormalize to the count specified in the Faculty Handbook.


Thanks again to all who participated, to the Nominations Committee for their hard work in preparing the slate, to Susan Chang and colleagues in OIT for support of the online election system, and to Reid Tankersley in the Provost’s Office and Rex Welch in OHR for help in correcting our database when someone does not get a ballot who should have.


What will happen from here is the following:


So my question to you is, do you accept and approve the attached results of the election just concluded, including seating both of the tied candidates? 

________ Yes                   _________ No.  The problem is: _________________________________________


May I please have your response by close of Wed. April 20?

A quorum of Executive Board Members answered yes with no dissent.  The ballot passed.

Addendum #2

On May 4, following a period of consultation with Board members, the Secretary sent an electronic ballot to the Executive Board to confirm the appointment of a formal hearing committee in response to a request for a hearing from a dismissed faculty member.  Details of the dismissed member and charges are omitted here in keeping with the confidential nature of the proceedings.  The following committee members were appointed without dissent, with a quorum of members reporting:

Singh,Preet M


Materials Science & Engr




Li,Geoffrey Ye


Electrical & Computer Engr


Research Engineer II

Applied Physiology, School of

Deen,Sami U.

Research Scientist II

GTRI-Electronic Systems

In addition the Board designated the following as backups:



Mechanical Engineering



Electrical & Computer Engr



Materials Science & Engr


Research Scientist II



Research Scientist II

GTRI-Cyber Technology