Meeting of August 31, 2010

Held in the Poole Board Room of the Wardlaw Building



Members Present:        Bafna (Architecture), Baldridge (Grad. Student), Bennett (Mgt), Bishop (GTRI-ELSYS), Bohlander (Secretary of the Faculty, GTRI), Boone (U’Grad. Student), Bowman (Vice-Chair, INTA), Bras (Provost), Buck (ECE), D’Urbano (OSP), Fox (Library), Henry (Chair, ORC), Ingram (ECE), Jenkins (GTRI), Leggon (Public Policy), Lyon (Chemistry), Millard (GTRI-ICL), Neu (ME), Peterson (President), Weissburg (Biology), White (CoC), Wozniak (OTL)


Members Absent:        Marder (Chemistry), Morley (Math), Michael Perdue (EAS), Rossignac (CoC-IC), Tavares (Provost Office), Whiteman (ME), Williams (USGFC Rep., ECE)


Visitors:                       Herazy (Provost’s Office), Liu (CoC), Ray (Benefits Director), Schafer (VPSS), A. Smith (SVPAA), Sullivan (OHR), Wertheimer (Space Planning), Wolovick (Legal Affairs)

1.      Ms. Barbara Henry (Chair) opened the meeting, noting that it was a joint meeting of the 2009-10 and 2010-11 Executive Boards at 3:00 P.M. 

She began by welcoming newly elected members, Andrew Lyon (Chemistry), Richard Neu (ME), Marc Weissburg (Biology), David White (CoC), and Kevin Wozniak (OTL).

She also thanked those who would be leaving the Executive Board after this meeting: Tom Morley (Math), Michael Perdue (EAS), Jarek Rossignac (CoC-IC), and Wayne Whiteman (ME).  She noted that she also was at the end of her term.

She introduced Corey T. Boone as the new President of the undergraduate student body.

2.      She directed the Board’s attention to the Minutes of the June 22, 2010.  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)      He began by welcoming and introducing Dr. Rafael Bras as Georgia Tech’s new Provost, noting that the following day, Sep. 1, was the first formal day of his service as Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs.  Dr. Peterson briefly reviewed the highlights of Dr. Bras career as noted in more detail in Attachment #2.  Dr. Bras said he was very pleased to be here and appreciated what the Executive Board did for faculty governance.  He noted that he had served as chair of the faculty at MIT and so had some experience in faculty governance.  The key for success he said was to realize that faculty and administration are part of a unified team.  He said he had much to learn about Georgia Tech and he looked forward to the conversations.  In parallel it was important to identify important things to do together in the near term.  This would help to flesh out the strategic plan and take some steps in that direction.  Dr. Bras noted the important decision ahead about a new Dean of Engineering (in light of Dr. Don Giddens recent announcement of his plan to retire).  He concluded by commenting that Georgia Tech’s global campus initiatives were important and needed special attention to ensure they continued to make a quality impact.

b)      Dr. Peterson highlighted the importance of the new annual Board of Regents ethics training instituted in 2010 for the University System of Georgia (USG).  He stated that this was called for by the State government.  This web based training and assessment was administered by the Office of Human Resources during FY 2010.  Dr. Peterson said that a report was due Sep. 19-20 to the State Government showing the degree of compliance in completing the training and it was important that this be essentially 100%.  Dr. Peterson asked the Board’s help in achieving this result.  He acknowledged that the timing of the request to complete the training came close to the start of summer and so some extension in time to complete had already been granted.  He said that the state viewed participation as a condition of employment and the requirement applied to all types of employees who receive payments for their services.  Ms. Marita Sullivan (Director of OHR) stated that approximately 90% of staff had completed the training and about 86% of faculty, but that compliance rates for student employees and temporary employees were much lower.  She was asked how an employee could be reminded whether they had completed the training, and she indicated employees could email her department for that information.  In response to a question, she clarified that only employees on staff as of April 1, 2010 were required to complete the training this year.

c)   Dr. Peterson noted that Board members were likely to have questions about budgets.  He stated that his recent published explanation covered the situation pretty well.   See Attachment #3

d)   The President thanked the outgoing members of the Executive Board for their service and especially thanked Barbara Henry for her service as chair.  

e)  Dr. Peterson made copies of the new Strategic Plan available that was formally announced earlier in the morning in a meeting of the campus community.  He encouraged the campus to engage in the challenge of beginning to implement the plan.

4.      Ms. Henry then called on Dr. William Schafer, Vice-President for Student Affairs, to present proposed changes to Georgia Tech policies concerning utilization of its facilities.  Dr. Schaefer was assisted by Gary Wolovick, Senior Attorney in the Office of Legal Affairs, and Howard Wertheimer, Director of Capital Planning and Space Management.  The Board was provided with a copy of the proposed new policy in Attachment #4a.  Dr. Schafer led a presentation from the slide shown in Attachment #4b

Dr. Schafer reminded the Board that recent studies by faculty leaders over the past few years have suggested that individual policies of the Institute are not always found in the most logical collection of policies. The Institute’s existing policy on facility utilization was located in Section 47 of the Faculty Handbook, but since this policy applied to all members and visitors to the campus, such a policy might be better located in the Business and Finance Manual.  Dr. Schafer stated that he understood that the faculty might be open to such a move and that Dr. Bohlander had discussed this with the Statutes Committee chair, Dr. TyAnna Herrington. 

Dr. Bohlander interjected some background explanation.  He said that the scope of the Faculty Handbook had for at least three decades contained many different kinds of things: the Statutes of the Institute and its Bylaws (both of which required votes of the faculty to amend), other policies, and information concerning how certain services work (such as the Library and the Office of Information Technology).  The Faculty Handbook was one of four primary repositories of Institute policy, the others being the Human Resources Manual, the Business and Finance Manual, and the Catalog of the Institute in which may be found student regulations.  It had been recognized by the Executive Board and others concerned with policy in recent years that it would be wise to eliminate duplicative policy statements about particular topics that might be currently found in more than one of these manuals.  He gave an example of the smoking policy which can be found in both the HR Manual and the Faculty Handbook and explained that policies found in two manuals often did not agree with each other and that was a problem.  There was also general agreement that some policies were not in the best place to be recognized by the appropriate parts of the campus community.  Furthermore, informational items in the Faculty Handbook rapidly got out of date and it would be better to point simply to the website of the services that have been described. 

President Peterson asked whether a change in the policy now found in Section 47 of the Faculty Handbook required a vote of the General Faculty, and Dr. Bohlander replied that the faculty could be asked to vote on a change but the authority for a change was ambiguous because a faculty vote was only required for matters in the Statutes and Bylaws.  Policies of considerable interest to the faculty were usually brought to a vote.  Some policies that were seen as more within the purview of administrators have not been.  Dr. Bohlander said he felt that faculty and students would have some interest in facilities use policies and their input should be sought, but whether the matter must be brought to a faculty vote was unclear.  [For clarification: the previous change to this policy was authored in August 1996 by the Office of Facilities and was not brought to the faculty.] Dr. Peterson said that the administration was unclear about this as well and thus the discussion with the Executive Board was especially valuable. He further stated that the proposed new policy statement on facilities usage reflected not so much a change in practice but an updating of policy statements to make them more consistent with actual practice.  He said that the Institute needed better clarity about its processes for policy change and cited several other examples.  Dr. Bohlander stated that the leaders of the faculty’s Statutes Committee also recognized the need for greater clarity about the process for policy change and the faculty’s role in that.

Dr. Bras asked a question concerning the content of the proposed new policy on facilities (Attachment #4a), on page 11, Section E titled “Non-Institute Speakers invited by Faculty, Staff or Faculty or Staff Organizations”:  Did this mean that a faculty member who wanted to invite a speaker for their class or for their research group to hear, they needed to apply for permission?  Mr. Wertheimer answered that the policy did not apply to things that could be accommodated within the scope and facilities dedicated to a class but if a different room were needed or the seminar were for a larger audience, then a room would simply need to be reserved in an appropriate way.  Dr. Bras stated his concern was that it was possible that the volume of transactions might be overwhelming if handled centrally.  He also felt there was a level of visitor that should not need much formality. 

Dr. Schafer agreed that further clarification could be useful in the statement of the policy but that the current policy, he felt, was even more out of keeping with current practice and that the draft before the Board was a step in the right direction.  He suggested that a possible course of action was to move the existing policy to the Business and Finance Manual and then to complete the review and adoption of the new policy.

In reviewing new content in the proposed new policy, Dr. Schafer explained that several people from Georgia Tech participated in a national webinar on Facility Use and Free Speech (cited in the attachment) and they learned useful things about current practice at other universities and about legal precedents.  There has been an attempt to incorporate those lessons in improvements in the proposed draft.  Mr. Wolovick gave his support for the facilities use policy being in a general institute policy manual because he felt a wider spectrum of campus participants would find the policy in that way.  He also pointed out that the proposed policy made a strong affirmation of free speech in the opening part of the policy, which was important as a framing principle.  Finally, the draft proposed policy would be in keeping with today’s actual practice and the existing policy in Section 47 of the Faculty Handbook was no longer consistent with practice.  From a legal standpoint, it was very important to be following written policies. 

Mr. Wertheimer pointed out the provision on page 4, Section III, for a Committee on the Use of Institute Facilities on which the faculty would have a representative.  Having such a committee was identified as a best practice through the national seminar mentioned earlier.  Dr. Bohlander noted that this section called for an appointment by the “faculty senate” and pointed out there was no body called that at Georgia Tech.  There were the General Faculty Assembly, Academic Senate, and Executive Board.  The latter might be the most appropriate body for making such an appointment.  Support for this was voiced by others. 

Further Q&A discussion then took place:

Q.  It was asked if the policy addressed controversial speakers and were provisions made that every speaker was welcome?  Ans. Mr. Wolovick answered that the new policy was content neutral and would not put Tech in the position of deciding if a speaker was worthy based on what they wanted to say.  Legal precedents have suggested that any such policies of exclusion would not be supported in law.  It was recognized that certain kinds of topics could draw crowds for which special logistics and security arrangements were needed and this was regularly addressed as needed.  Such needs would be looked at on a case by case basis.

Q. Suppose the facilities use policy moved to the Business and Finance Manual, what recourse would the faculty have in the future if they had an issue with the policy?  It was noted that the proposed Committee on the Use of Institute Facilities reported to the President and only had one faculty member, and it was not clear that a faculty view would carry much weight.  Since now the policy included strong statements about free speech, it had gone back in the direction of a policy more within the faculty’s core concerns. Ans. Dr. Schafer expressed the hope that each of the major constituents represented on the proposed new Committee on the Use of Institute Facilities would always be taken seriously, but Tech needed to move forward being inclusive of multiple constituents in the Tech family.  Dr. Bohlander suggested there were two other avenues for faculty recourse as well.  He cited a recent example where a standing committee looked into a matter of concern to faculty (e.g. the campus smoking policy), researched it, and obtained a formal faculty endorsement of their recommendation for a change in policy.  This was conveyed to the administration and has been accepted as an area to be changed.  He said that the same kind of message could come from the Executive Board.  He pointed out that there would always be areas of policy where the administration took the lead because such areas were within their responsibilities and because there could be legal constraints requiring specialized expertise to navigate.

The President asked if there was any action required from the Executive Board in response to the draft proposal from Dr. Schafer et al. Dr. Bohlander asked Dr. Schafer to clarify the next steps.  Some discussion ensued about the pros and cons of finishing the new policy and then moving it to a new policy manual, or the other way around – to move it and then finish the revision.  A motion was made and seconded to move the facilities use policy to the Business and Finance Manual and then follow up with revisions.  Further discussion ensued:

Comment.  Dr. Ingram (who serves as liaison to the Statutes Committee) observed that such a move represented a change to the Faculty Handbook and as such needed more review by the Statutes Committee.  While some discussion had occurred between the current policy team and faculty leaders, the faculty involved did not have a copy of the new policy.  Now that it was clear there were statements of policy concerning free speech, it could be that further faculty review by the Statutes Committee should occur.  Ans.  Dr. Bohlander noted that there was no clear policy on what to do with parts of the Faculty Handbook beyond the Statutes and Bylaws parts of the Handbook, and this part was not a Statute or Bylaw.  However, he also stated that the current matter would be cleaner if a new policy was actually finished and there had been adequate faculty input.  That was not the case as the proposed policy had just come to light.  Thus a delay for further comment was warranted.

Comment.  It would help to understand why it was a good idea to couple a freedom of expression policy with a campus use policy in the same document.  The latter pretty easily could be moved to an administrative manual, but the former might belong in a Faculty Handbook.  Ans.  Support for such a separation was expressed, but some counterpoints were also expressed by the team who had been working on the draft policy:  All of the campus was concerned with free speech, not just faculty.  Furthermore, the principle of free speech was an important framing principle for the implementation of campus use.  Support was expressed by members of the Board for the idea that freedom of expression was a value shared by many parts of the campus community and was not the exclusive purview of the faculty.  Dr. Bohlander observed, though, that a statement of free speech values could be contained in the Faculty Handbook and there could be pointers between manuals to reflect the connection between framing principles and implementation. 

Q.  Did the need for a revision of the current policy become clear due to some litigation by speaking groups who could not get a venue on campus?  Ans. There was a facilities related lawsuit two years ago but the policy as a whole was not challenged.  There were however details in the policy such as the designation of specific free speech zones which were at issue.  For example, the policy said there were three zones but only one was available in practice.  This free speech zone applied to non-members of the campus community.  Students had the right (not clearly stated in existing policy) to exercise free speech anywhere as long as they were not disruptive.  These were examples of the kinds of details that have been updated in the revised policy. 

Q. for clarification: The above motion would move the material in Section 47 of the Faculty Handbook to the Business and Finance Manual without change until a new policy was ready for consideration.  Was that correct?  Ans. Yes.      Follow-up Question. And currently such a policy was only in the Faculty Handbook?  The students did not have something also?  Ans.  It was only in the Faculty Handbook.

Comment.  Mr. Wertheimer noted that whatever was decided on the move of the policy, faculty help was needed in completing the work on a new policy. 

A vote of 8 in favor and 8 opposed to the above motion was recorded.  It was concluded that the sense of the Board was open to consider a change both in the content and location of some of the policy, but there was not a consensus that the changes were far enough along to approve or implement.

Drs. Nate Bennett and Mary Ann Ingram volunteered to help the group headed up by Dr. Schafer to refine the proposed policy and consider portioning of the policy into parts which would reside in the Faculty Handbook and in the Business and Finance Manual.  When ready, it could be brought back to the faculty.  Dr. Bras suggested that serious consideration be given to placing the first section of the proposed policy concerning freedom of expression (essentially page 1 of the draft) in the Faculty Handbook and place the remainder in the Business and Finance Manual.  Ms. Henry asked that this matter be brought back to the Board as soon as possible.

5.      Ms. Henry asked Ms. Sharon Ray, Director of Benefits in the Office of Human Resources (OHR), to tell the Executive Board about changes that were coming to health benefits for employees at Georgia Tech.  She used the slides shown in Attachment #5.  Ms. Ray reminded the Board that Tech employees have a core set of benefits set by the Board of Regents and an additional set of supplemental benefits more or less unique to Georgia Tech.  Her presentation covered both types of health benefits in that order. 

Ms. Ray explained that the Alternative PPO networks mentioned on slide 1 were 86% the same as the standard network (and 100% the same for hospitals in the Atlanta area).  These networks were somewhat more restrictive and allowed costs to be cut by 15-20% for those who would opt to participate in the Alternative PPO plans.  Self funding in slide 1 referred to the USG exercising the option to be self insured and to engage Blue Choice simply as an administrator.  The tobacco use surcharge mentioned would be $50/month for employees who smoked.  For 2011 and beyond, retirees 65 and older would be required to enroll in Medicare part B in order to receive any USG contribution toward health care.  In answer to a question, Ms. Ray stated that HMO plans covered only emergency care for employees outside the US.  If an employee travelled overseas for substantial periods of time for Tech they would be better served by the PPO plans.  

Ms. Ray clarified that the opportunity to participate in the donated leave program for faculty by donating unused sick leave would be offered only during open enrollment periods each year, and this year for the first time.  That is, new donations would be made once each year as long as donations were sufficient to meet future needs without special appeals.  In answer to a question, Ms. Ray stated that the motivation for donating leave under this program was simply to help take care of the needs of colleagues.  There was no benefit to the donor.  Dr. Bohlander stated that GTRI had been able to implement such a program in the past two years and so far about a half dozen individuals had been helped through times of significant need.  It was a well-regarded program.  On another matter, Ms. Ray stated that the organization administering the Flexible Spending Account (FSA) program was likely to change due to some service issues.

Concerning expected premium increases in 2011, Ms. Ray noted that some of the increases were not as great as last year’s.  The alternative PPO plans would have no increase relative to 2010’s standard PPO plans.

She stated that employees would select benefits plans for 2011 during open enrollment through online channels via TechWorks. 

6.   Ms. Henry then explained that it was time to consider Georgia Tech’s faculty representative to the USG Faculty Council (USGFC).  She reminded the Board that Dr. Doug Williams (ECE) had been selected selected a little over a year ago while he served as Vice-Chair of the Executive Board.  The Executive Board appointed him as Tech’s faculty representative through the 2009-10 academic year with the option to reappoint.  In order to ensure that communication lines were open between the Executive Board and Dr. Williams, he had been asked to attend Executive Board meetings as part of this role as Tech’s USGFC representative.   She recommended that Dr. Williams be reappointed to take advantage of his expertise and experience in this relatively new Council. Ms. Henry noted that the USGFC just received formal recognition by the Board of Regents and represented faculty in all institutions in the USG.   It was moved, seconded, and approved unanimously to reappoint Dr. Williams on the same basis for the 2010-11 academic year.

7.   Ms. Henry asked Dr. Kirk Bowman (Vice Chair) to handle a reappointment matter.  Dr. Bowman told the Board that Dr. Linda Thomas-Mobley had resigned her position as representative of the College of Architecture on the Institute’s Graduate Curriculum Committee and that Dr. Parag Chordia had agreed to fill the vacancy in a manner consistent with the bylaws.  He would serve if appointed until August 2013.  It was moved, seconded and passed unanimously to appoint Dr. Chordia to fill this vacancy. 

8.      Ms. Henry, in accordance with recent tradition, provided a brief review of the Executive Board’s business in 2009-10 as summarized in Attachment #6.  She then asked for reports from task force leaders and standing committee liaisons.    Notable highlights included:

·         Dr. Cheryl Leggon noted the excellent service of Dr. Gary Parker as chair of the Faculty Status and Grievance Committee and expressed the thanks of the Board for his service as chair.

·         Mr. David Millard stated that the Faculty Benefits Committee was investigating how to add more representation on the committee from staff.  Dr. Peterson said how much he appreciated that thoughtfulness.  Dr. Bohlander noted that Ms. Jennifer Herazy in the Provost’s Office and other senior staff members had been tasked by the President to consider options for how staff could organize to have a council of some kind and determine its own representatives to such things.  He asked that Mr. Millard help tie these two initiatives together as appropriate.

·        Dr. Mary Ann Ingram reported that the Statutes Committee has been working on a major overhaul of the Faculty Handbook based on recommendations from a task force instituted by Dr. Andy Smith, Senior Vice-Provost for Research.

9.   Ms. Henry asked Dr. Bohlander to lead the Board through what remained to be done to elect a chair and vice-chair for the year ahead.  He reported that he had received one nomination for each position.  Dr. Bohlander asked if there were any other nominations from the floor.  Hearing none, he reported that Dr. Kirk Bowman (International Affairs) has been nominated for Chair and Mr. Chris D’Urbano (Industry Contracting Office) for Vice-Chair.  Each provided a few brief remarks by way of introduction.  A motion was made to elect them by acclamation and this passed unanimously.

10.   Hearing no further business, Ms. Henry declared the meeting adjourned at about 4:40 p.m. and the Board then proceeded to a reception in the Gordy Room.


Submitted by Ronald A Bohlander, Secretary

September 27, 2010


1)      Minutes of the June 22, 2010 meeting of the Executive Board

2)      Curriculum vita of Provost Rafael Bras.

3)       Budget update from the President

4)    A new policy for the utilization of facilities - Dr. Bill Schafer, VP for Student Affairs

a)      Draft policy statement

b)      Presentation

5)   Changes in health care programs for 2011

6)   Executive Board highlights for 2009-10