Meeting of May 21, 2013

Held in the Poole Board Room of the Wardlaw Building



Members Present:        Bohlander (Secretary of the Faculty, GTRI), Butera (Vice-Chair, ECE), Gamble (CoA-Arch.), Kirkman (Public Policy), Peterson (President), Tavares (EVPR’s Office), Turner (Business), Tyson (Chemistry), Washington (Grad Student), Williams (USGFC Rep., ECE), Wozniak (GTRC), Zakir (Radiation Safety)


Members Absent:        Bras (Provost), Coleman (GTRI-ELSYS), Cunefare (ME), Downing (EII), Eckert (GTRI-ATAS), Lyon (Chemistry), Neu (Chair, ME), Picon (U’grad Student), Vuchatu (GTRI-ESD), Weissburg (Biology), White (CoC), Wood (ECE),


Guests:                        Balsam (Statutes Chair), Cozzens (Vice-Provost for Grad. Ed. & Faculty Affairs), Herazy (Provost’s Office), Weber (Grad Student),


1.      Prof. Rob Butera (Vice-Chair) opened the meeting at 3:05 P.M.  He introduced the new graduate student leaders, Mr. Arren Washington, President, and Mr. Johann Weber, Executive- Vice President.  Mr. Washington is a fourth year PhD student in Chemistry and Biochemistry and Mr. Weber, a fourth year PhD student in Public Policy.  Prof. Butera reported that Mr. Nicholas Picon and Ms. Lucy Tucker were recently elected president and executive vice-president of the undergraduate student body and he looked forward to welcoming them when they were back on campus.

2.      He directed the Board’s attention to the Minutes of the April 2, 2013 Executive Board meeting (Attachment #1). Ms. Nazia Zakir offered a correction.  The minutes were adopted as corrected without dissent. 

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

a)      The President reported that Mr. Al Trujillo had been chosen as the next president of the Georgia Tech Foundation.  An alumnus, Mr. Trujillo had been a long-time supporter of the Foundation and a former chair of the Alumni Association. 

b)      Dr. Peterson also noted that Georgia Tech undergraduate biology major, Ms. Kristen Jolley, had recently done well in the College Championship edition of the popular game show Jeopardy. 

c)      During the past week, the Board of Regents approved arrangements for an MS degree in Computer Science to be given in Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) format. It would be offered for a cost of under $7,000.  This would be the first degree program in the country in the MOOC format and represented a reduction in cost by a factor of about 5.  The degree program would be presented through Udacity and with the help of a $2 million gift from AT&T.  Georgia Tech also was presenting twelve non-degree courses with Coursera and had attracted 350,000 students.  The faculty of all the schools in the College of Computing voted to support MS in CS degree through the MOOC format and they would be carefully controlling the quality of the experience.  Vice-Provost Susan Cozzens noted that the Institute Graduate Curriculum Committee had received regular reports on progress in preparing this degree.

4.   Prof. Butera called on Ms. Jeanne Balsam, Chair of the Statutes Committee, to provide a progress report from the Subcommittee on Faculty Definition.  She presented the material in Attachments #2 and followed the outline in this file closely. 

In reference to slide 5, Ms. Balsam noted that there were a couple issues that would be important to the eventual success of the faculty definition effort but which were outside the scope of the subcommittee.  A) It would help for the Institute to be able to recruit and hire some non-faculty members with a benefits package as good as those afforded to faculty.  B) It would ultimately be desirable to give non-faculty members a voice in the affairs of the Institute through the creation of a staff council or something similar.  Dr. Cozzens provided further explanation:  There were three differences between benefits and privileges of faculty as compared with staff:  1) Faculty with 12-month appointments received 21 days of vacation and staff received 14 days at the beginning of their appointment, though the vacation allotment would rise through time to 21 days; 2) Faculty were allowed up to one day a week to consult; and 3) Faculty and staff had different grievance processes.  Dr. Ron Bohlander, Secretary, pointed out that Ms. Balsam was only addressing the need for equity in vacation as a recruiting tool at least for some staff members.  Otherwise there would continue to be pressure to label new hires as faculty in cases that were marginal at best. 

With slide 6, Ms. Balsam emphasized the significant changes in the Faculty Handbook that would be required.  One of these concerning Standing Committees was covered later in the meeting by Dr. Bohlander.

She stated that the Subcommittee’s goal was to have a new faculty definition and faculty governance changes in place to be used for the spring 2014 faculty governance elections.  Members of the Board affirmed that it would be very important to handle well the transition from the old definition of faculty to the new to the extent it would impact any who might no longer be considered members of the faculty. 

5.   The Chair called on Dr. Bohlander and Prof. Bob Kirkman to continue with the related topic of how standing committees would work after faculty redefinition.   Dr. Bohlander reminded the Board that along with redefining faculty, there was the intent to reconstitute the Academic Senate and create a new Research Faculty Senate.  There was also an expectation of some joint work with a new staff advisory body.  How should each of these be designed?  It was recognized that the business of such representative bodies would normally be prepared by standing committees and brought to the representative bodies for consideration and approval (or denial).  Thus, it would be helpful to understand what standing committees would need to exist in the future and to understand which of the representative bodies or combinations of bodies would oversee their work.  Dr. Bohlander noted that a thorough review was also overdue of today’s standing committees and their charter and membership.  He then presented the material found in Attachment #3 and followed it closely. 

Slides 4-13 comprised a summary of the charters and makeup of each of the six standing committees of the General Faculty and the nine standing committees of the Academic Faculty.  Dr. Bohlander observed that two of the committees, Benefits and Welfare & Security Committees, would be good candidates for a relationship with all faculty and staff.  The other committees designated today as belonging to the General Faculty would probably belong to both academic and research faculty in the future.

As Dr. Bohlander went through these summaries many important comments and observations were made by members of the Board, including President Peterson, which could be summarized as follows:

·         In the sphere of student rules and regulations, Board members favored restricting faculty attention to academic matters vs. general behavior regulation.  Faculty input on non-academic matters could be helpful as advice but should not be required.

·         In the sphere of reviews of student activities, most could be assigned to administrative action within predefined guidelines and without routine attention by faculty.  Faculty could then be consulted only for unusual situations that could benefit from faculty input.

·         The Board advised that charters to standing committees should be cautiously prepared to avoid over promising what the committees must cover each year.  Committees should have some discretion over topics to address within their scope.  Must-do assignments should be made sparingly for those cases that were really essential.

·         While in today’s committees, participation on most student matters was restricted to tenure-track faculty, non-tenure-track faculty could make valuable contributions to some committees focused on students.

·         It would be prudent to add more administrators and staff as ex officio members and advisors to some of the committees.  This would enable the committees to make use of pertinent specialized expertise.

Prof. Bob Kirkman then outlined his plans to lead a review of each of the standing committees.  He planned to survey and talk with chairs and members of the committees.  He believed that the Board had just raised many important issues that could be explored in more detail directly with the committees.  In addition to the above issues, he felt it was important to ask each committee about:

·         The degree to which the charges of each committee were clear to its chair and members.  The degree to which binding obligations were clear in the charges. 

·         Their understanding of the constituency of the committee in relation to the scope of the committee.  What ex officios were or would be helpful?  How restrictive should the membership of a committee be?

·         Their thoughts on the volume of work assigned to the committee. 

·         Their sense of the committee’s continued relevance. 

·         Their sense of the legitimacy of the faculty’s authority to carry out the charges as written (or as practiced).
Which decisions should faculty make?  For which topics/issues should faculty just provide advice?

·         Perceived overlap with other committees.

·         Ideas for altering the charges and scope of the committee

A suggestion was made also to collect some information on trends in faculty governance at peer institutions.  Dr. Bohlander suggested caution about proliferating many new standing committees because finding candidates to run could be a challenge, as the nomination committee regularly found out.  Prof. Butera emphasized the importance of including academic professionals on committees dealing with academic matters.  In many cases they could make strong contributions but were excluded today.  Dr. Cozzens confirmed that the Subcommittee was planning to include them as full-fledged members of the Academic Faculty.

6.   Dr. Bohlander also presented a draft calendar for the 2013-14 academic year (Attachment #4).  He stated that the proposed meeting dates had been cleared with the President’s Office and the Registrar.  The dates were very similar to the 2012-13 academic year except for the November Academic Senate meeting which came a week earlier to avoid the week in which Thanksgiving holiday fell.  He promised to keep the Executive Board informed of any new developments in calendar planning as he worked in the days ahead to secure meeting rooms. 

7.      Prof. Butera polled committee liaisons for any reports of matters that should come to the Board’s attention:

Prof. Doug Williams  reported on the April 20, 2013 meeting of the University System of Georgia Faculty Council (USGFC).  That session covered:

·         Concern at some colleges that professors were being evaluated with emphasis on the percentages of W, D, and F grades issued in their classes (where lower percentages were preferred).

·         A presentation by Dr. Houston Davis, USG’s Chief Academic Officer. 

o   He talked about coming guidelines that could base formula funding more on student progress rather than just enrollment numbers.  Some members of the Faculty Council wondered if this would lead to pressures on the faculties to weaken standards in the interest of the appearance of more progress. 

o   Dr. Davis also spoke about the desirability for each member institution of the USG to have a distinct mission (with less overlap between institutions).  Approval of new degree programs could depend on the proposed degree’s fit with a given institution’s mission.

·         The desire by the Chancellor’s Office for the USGFC to meet four times/year instead of two.  They would also try for greater diversity in the site of the meeting. 

Ms. Nazia Zakir reported the Faculty Benefits Committee met on May 6 and covered childcare services, concern about lack of raises, and the need for more faculty and staff awards and recognition programs.  It was Prof. Bettina Cothran’s last meeting as chair. 

Prof. Butera asked if there was any further business and, hearing none, adjourned the meeting at about 4:45 p.m.

Submitted by Ronald A Bohlander, Secretary

June 15, 2013


1)      Minutes of the April 2, 2013 Executive Board meeting, as amended

2)      Report from the Faculty Definition Subcommittee

3)   Review of Standing Committees in Faculty Governance

4)   Draft calendar for faculty meetings in the 2013-14 academic year.