Meeting of January 27, 2015

Held in the Poole Board Room of the Wardlaw Building



Members Present:        Bohlander (Secretary of the Faculty, GTRI), Bras (Provost), Butera (ECE), Eisenberg (U’grad. Student), Grover (Vice-Chair, ChBE), Kirkman (Chair, Public Policy), Palmer (Staff Council), Peterson (President), Powell (OSP) , Riley (ECE), Schumacher (Psychology), Shepler (Chemistry) , Simpson (OSP), Stewart (Staff Council), Williams (USGFC Rep., ECE), Wood (ECE), Zakir (Radiation Safety)


Members Absent:        Balch (CoC-IC), Be (Staff Council), Coleman (GTRI-ELSYS), Cross (EVPR), Eckert (GTRI-ATAS), Gamble (CoA-Arch.), Hall (GTRI-CTISL), Hernandez (Chemistry), Lyon (Grad. Student), Turner (Business)


Guests:                        Breedveld (IGCC Chair), Cozzens (Vice-Provost), Garton (VP Research), Herazy (Asst. Provost), Mason (Sr. Dir. Grants & Contracts)), Roy (BoR Sponsored Ops)

1.      Prof. Bob Kirkman, Chair, opened the meeting at 3:03 P.M. 

2.      He directed the Board’s attention to the minutes of their November 4, 2014 meeting found in Attachment #1.  A motion to approve was seconded and passed unanimously.

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

a)      A recent attempted hold-up in the lobby of the Scheller College of Business re-sensitized the campus to safety concerns.  Fortunately, after further investigation, it was found no gun was actually used in the encounter contrary to early reports.  Subsequently, security in that building was substantially strengthened.  The president reported that crime on campus was 50% lower now than in the 2008-09 academic year and there were 20% more police officers on campus.  Over 1,100 cameras had been installed on campus with their video feeds constantly monitored.  In two recent sexual assaults, the cameras provided important leads to arrests.

b)      Preparation to renovate the library towers was continuing – details provided in minutes from November 4, 2014.  Funding to implement the project was being requested from the legislature, in accordance with the overall plan. 

c)      The Engineered Biosystems Building on 10th St was nearing completion.  Opening was planned for June 1.  The cost of the building was financed by state and private contributions, 80% of which would have been paid by the opening.

d)     A new High Performance Computing Building was being planned for a location in Tech Square near the Georgia Tech Hotel on Spring Street.  Requests for Quotations were out for the planned 700,000 ft2 building.  It would be a mixed tenancy building in which Georgia Tech would occupy about half the spaces, and companies, the balance.

e)      $5 million in funding has been requested from the legislature for the modernization and expansion of the Holland Plant to better supply chilled water for cooling to much of the campus.

f)   An additional $1.9 million in support to the Advanced Technology Development Center has been requested, to increase support to startup companies and industry in the State.

g)      Home Depot opened a new Innovation Center in the Centergy Building in Tech Square.  This would draw on project work from student interns in collaboration with Home Depot employees.

h)      The Capital Campaign was proceeding well.  The overall goal of at least $1.5 billion in committed funds had already been reached.  Now the focus was on attaining sub-goals.  For example, 90 endowed chairs out of the goal of 100 had been attained.  More than the $50 million goal had been raised for the Tech Promise Scholarship Program to provide support to students from low-income families.

i)        The President and Executive Vice-Presidents planned to hold at least eight town hall meetings with units around campus during the spring.

j)        Vice-President of Student Affairs, William Schafer, was resigning to go to West Virginia University.  The President had appointed Dean of Students John Stein to serve as Interim VPSA and continue to serve as DoS.

k)      Within the campus wellness initiative, a new Center for Health and Well-Being was planned and a director for this center was being sought.  This center would serve the entire campus – students, faculty, and staff. 

The President asked Provost Bras to share other insights and news:

l)        After Associate Vice-Provost Donna Llewellyn left Tech for Boise State, the teacher-support functions of the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (CETL), which she had led, were moved into the Office of the Vice-Provost for Graduate Education and Faculty Affairs.  However, CETL’s assessment functions would be handled from a section of the Office of the Vice-Provost for Learning Excellence.

m)    Provost Bras urged the faculty to become as familiar as possible with the Quality Enhancement Plan which was part of Tech’s SACSCOC accreditation reaffirmation efforts this year.  The theme of the plan was “Serve, Learn, Sustain.”  The SACSCOC accreditation team would be on campus March 9-12 to evaluate the plan and other accreditation information.  There would be opportunities for faculty, staff, and students to participate in information sessions prior to that time.

n)      Prof. David Frost, leader of Georgia Tech’s Strategic Plan Advisory Group, presented an update on January 21 concerning implementations of initiatives associated with the Plan.

o)      Out of 11,700 early applicants for first-year admission to the undergraduate program, 5,273 early offers of admission were made.  Since then a total of 27,200 applications for admission were received (to-date), which was more than last year (which also set records for applicants).  President Peterson commented that there were more applications for early admission decisions this year than the total applications of all kinds five years ago.

p)      Applications from prospective graduate students were also up.  Vice-Provost Susan Cozzens pegged this at a 12% increase for applications by January 1.  This was not attributable to Online Master of Science in Computer Science applicants which were on a different schedule.  The increase particularly came in Master’s degree program applicants.

q)      Research expenditures were holding about level.

4.      Prof. Kirkman called on Vice-President of Research, Jilda Garton, to tell the Board about new federal regulations for the administration of sponsored research. Prof. Kirkman also introduced Ms. Sandra Mason, Senior Director of Grants and Contracts. Ms. Garton presented the material in Attachment #2 and followed this material closely in her remarks.  She noted that these regulations had now been entered into federal law, and many of the regulations, which previously said what universities and other contractors “should” do, now said they “must.”  These regulations were intended to manage and reduce risk for the federal government.  Highlights included:

·         With a few exceptions, these regulations went into force on Dec. 26, 2014.

·         Cost sharing was no longer expected in most federal programs.  If there was a requirement for cost sharing, it had to have agency head approval or be a statutory requirement, could not be used in the evaluation of proposals, and had to be stated explicitly in the solicitation.

·         Progress in billing for research had to track closely with progress in performance. 

·         Many timelines for billing and completion of administrative actions were compressed.

·         Slides 10 and 11 particularly summarized other major changes.

Q. How would Georgia Tech’s faculty learn what they needed to know about these changes?  Ans. Ms. Garton indicated briefings were being given to School Chairs in the Colleges and GTRI leaders.  Three colleges and GTRI had been given briefings so far and more were to come.  Unit financial managers were receiving eight hours of training.  There was an explanatory website and an 11 minute video available from the Office of Sponsored Programs website.  Further information would be coming out in the Whistle.  Dr. Bras requested that faculty be provided with something very compressed and focused on their specific responsibilities.  He added that information should be provided to new faculty during their orientations. 

Dr. Bohlander offered to have this added to the agenda of the upcoming Faculty Senate meeting and the consensus was that this should be done.  Ms. Garton offered to support that with a concise report.

Q.  Was federal overhead still capped unless a unit like GTRI operated under Federal Acquisition Regulations?  Did the limits on cost sharing remove the caps? Ans. Unfortunately, the 26% cap was still in place.

Q. Did the Uniform Guidance apply to organizations like GTRI who operated under Federal Acquisition Regulations. Ans. Yes, such institutions operated under “Schedule C” and that was part of the Uniform Guidance.  The new regulations though contained little change though for such institutions.

5.      Prof. Kirkman next called on Prof. Rob Butera, to make a proposal to approve the creation of a standing subcommittee requested by the Institute Graduate Curriculum Committee (IGCC).  This would be the Subcommittee for the Responsible Conduct of Research.  The proposal was described in Attachment #3 which was handed out to the Board.  Prof. Victor Breedveld, Chair of the IGCC, was also introduced.  Prof. Butera provided some background: Four years ago he chaired an ad hoc committee that developed a plan to comply with new National Science Foundation requirements for “Responsible Conduct of Research” (RCR) training for all students engaged in research.  The plan was to put standards in place that could be followed across all of Georgia Tech but would allow each discipline to build RCR training into their programs in their own way.  The Academic Faculty Senate adopted a plan that included the creation of a stand-alone, appointed RCR committee of faculty members to review proposals from the disciplines and determine if they were compliant.  Recently, those involved realized it would be a better-supported activity if the RCR committee were constituted as a standing subcommittee of the IGCC.  The Faculty Handbook’s Section 2.6 states that the Faculty Executive Board is charged with reviewing and approving proposals for standing subcommittees, so the proposal in Attachment #3 was being brought to the Board.  Prof. Breedveld stated that the proposal had the full support of the IGCC.  Constituting the RCR subcommittee of the IGCC would regularize the operation of the team and provide for minutes to be embedded in the minutes of the IGCC.  It would also provide some opportunities to encourage harmonization between proposed curriculum changes and RCR planning.  Vice-Provost Susan Cozzens and Vice-President Jilda Garton endorsed this proposal. They said it would help make Tech’s compliance better documented. 

Prof. Butera moved that the proposal in Attachment #3 be approved by the Board.  The motion was seconded and approved without dissent.

6.      Prof. Kirkman then addressed the need to recommend someone to serve as Secretary of the Faculty after the current Secretary, Dr. Ron Bohlander, retired; his retirement was planned toward the end of the current fiscal year, as announced at the November 4 meeting.  Prof. Kirkman explained the process.  A team (comprising Prof. Martha Grover, Provost Rafael Bras, Asst. Provost Jennifer Herazy, Dr. Bohlander, and Prof. Kirkman) was formed to solicit nominations and expressions of interest.  This solicitation was circulated to all members of the Board and to members of the Standing Committees of the faculty.  The names of three persons came forward and these people were interviewed. Prof. Kirkman said all three persons were highly qualified, but after due consideration, the interviewing team recommended one of them, Ms. Jeanne Balsam, for this position.  While Ms. Balsam and her work were fairly familiar to many on the Board, Prof. Kirkman provided the following brief sketch:

Ms. Balsam had served as a member and very productive leader of the Statutes Committee for the past five years and had served in other faculty governance positions.  She had been a leader in developing and supporting faculty promotion processes over many years. She was a Principal Research Associate with GTRI and served as head of Quality Assurance programs for GTRI's Electronics, Optics, and Systems Directorate.  She was published and active in professional societies in that field.  She held a BS and MS in Computer Science from Georgia Tech.  She would serve enthusiastically in the role of Secretary and her unit was very supportive of her serving in this role.

Prof. Kirkman reminded the Board that according to the Institute Statutes, the President would ultimately make the appointment of the next Secretary of the Faculty with consultation from the Faculty Senate.  By tradition the Faculty Executive Board heard the recommendation first and had the opportunity to make its recommendation on this to the Faculty Senate.  Prof. Kirkman moved that the Board endorse the recommendation of Ms. Jeanne Balsam as the next Secretary of the Faculty, this recommendation to be considered in the Senate’s February 17, 2015 meeting.  The motion was seconded and approved without dissent.

7.   Prof. Kirkman then reflected on faculty governance generally and specifically the work of the Faculty Executive Board.  He asked if the work of the Board had perhaps become too transactional: mainly inviting or causing groups to bring it proposals and deciding to say “yes” or “no”.  The Board gathered for a couple hours about once a month, heard reports of things going on in the Institute, heard proposals, and decided whether to endorse them.  Often those things the Board decided were based on presentations that were fairly polished and felt settled going in.  Could the Board spend more time just to talk about important challenges of the Institute and explore through open-ended discussion possible transformations?  There was much support for the idea that the Institute would benefit from the Board spending more time talking about challenges and possibilities in discussions that were not hemmed in by pre-digested material or pre-established ways of doing things.  It was acknowledged that one of the functions of the Board was to become well-informed on developments on campus, but could that part of its time have a smaller footprint to make time for deeper discussion? 

Dr. Bohlander noted that the Board had a record of occasional very deep discussions, sometimes with one or more of the Standing Committees.  Examples in the past couple years were discussions of priorities with the then-named Academic Services Committee and a seminal discussion of the scope of Standing Committees generally.  To do more of this, the Board might need to be intentionally efficient.  He called attention to the section of this meeting’s agenda in item 9 which was organized like a “consent agenda”.

Various possible topics for deeper discussion were suggested by Board members, including campus security, the scope of faculty governance, strategy in the arts, possible increased emphasis on liberal arts in complement to engineering and science, increased emphasis on the sciences, education in a globalized context, and how to think about diversity within the campus community. Dr. Bras noted that there were sometimes very difficult and complex issues that seemed to defy searches for solutions, and yet through discussion, sometimes major breakthroughs were made.  If the Board succeeded in making an impact on strategic thinking, then that might enhance administrators’ interest in involving faculty earlier in planning major initiatives, instead of at the point when initiatives were almost finished.  Too much faculty governance activity had too little visibility.

Board members spoke in favor of having more discussion time on important topics but also felt it was necessary to be well-organized about planning the topics and communicating them well in advance.  In that way, people could be excited to engage and feel like they were using their time well. 

It was noted that this did not mean that the Faculty Executive Board should take on all faculty governance developments as a committee of the whole.  It should not get in the way of Standing Committee deliberations.  Committees often wanted to have the opportunity to refine and select what they felt was the best option to bring forward to the Board or to the Faculty Senate.  Drs. Peterson and Bras stated the belief that much of the heavy lifting in faculty governance would remain with the Standing Committees and the Board had an important role as a traffic director and gate keeper in moving Committee ideas forward to an organized conclusion.  What went to the Senates for final decisions depended on the Board’s direction.  So this administrative role could not and should not be abandoned.

Since Board agendas would still need to include reports of new but largely settled matters, the Board would need to actively set expectations for the time allocated to such items in order to make room for in depth discussion.  Dr. Bohlander noted that he often received requests to brief the faculty about new initiatives like significant upgrades in widely-used business software on campus.  Board meetings, or even Senate meetings, might not be the best venue for such communications.  It was possible that more town hall type sessions would need to be planned to give such initiatives wide exposure and awareness.

The Board’s consensus seemed to be that future Board agendas should be planned with more time for in-depth, open-ended discussion of important Institute topics of potential strategic importance.  These should not be predicated on an expectation of arriving at specific decisions.  Dr. Bras commended the Board for considering that and commended Georgia Tech for having a tradition of collegial relations between the faculty and the administration.

8.   Prof. Kirkman then polled attending representatives of a number of organizations for any reports of matters that should come to the Board’s attention. 

He began by giving a quick summary of the work of the Board’s task force looking at possible changes to recommend in the charters and membership of faculty standing committees.  The task force, comprising Prof. Kirkman, Prof. Grover, Dr. Bohlander, and Ms. Zakir, had met with ten of the fifteen standing committees.  They would meet with three more soon.  Meetings with the Faculty Benefits and Welfare and Security Committees would be deferred until coordinating meetings could be held with the new Staff Council.  Prof. Kirkman stated he would like to bring the Board a discussion of draft structural revision ideas soon, perhaps at the next Board meeting.

Mr. Dwayne Palmer, interim Chair of the Staff Council, reported that the Georgia Tech staff had concluded its first election of members of the Council.  The three persons who had served as inaugural but interim officers would be replaced by officers that the new Council would elect to serve for calendar year 2015.  Those results would be reported to the Faculty Executive Board at their next meeting.  Dr. Christie Stewart, Interim Vice-Chair, reported that five Staff committees were planned and their chairs were also being elected.  Members of these committees could then be appointed from interested staff members including those not on the Council.  The planned Staff Committees included ones on Employee Health and Well-Being, on Employee Engagement, on Campus Physical Environment, on Compensation and Benefits, and on Communications.  Prof. Kirkman thanked Mr. Palmer and Dr. Stewart for their service to the Institute in getting the Staff Council off the ground, and the Board gave them a round of applause.

Prof. Doug Williams reported that the spring meeting of the University System of Georgia Faculty Council would be on March 21, 2015.

Mr. Justin Eisenberg, representative of the Student Government Association, reported that budgeting was in progress for the Student Center and Campus Recreation Center.  The Mandatory Student Fee Advisory Committee voted on all student fees except the special institutional fee and recommended a $3 increase in the transportation fee.  Multiple committees were studying options to expand the Student Center and had met with students from other universities.  If expansion of the Studebt Center were recommended, that project could involve a new special student fee that would be the subject of a student referendum at the end of the academic year.

Ms. Michele Powell reported that the Faculty Benefits Committee heard an overview of the Joint Classification and Compensation System (JCCS) from Mr. Brandon Conkle.  There was also a report on health insurance for graduate students and how the Affordable Care Act has led the Board of Regents to offer a new optional program.  However, Ms. Powell indicated that most students were staying with an existing alternative insurance program as a better value.  A search was also underway for a new head of the Office of Human Resources.  New federal standards in the Uniform Guidance, briefed earlier by Jilda Garton, allowed costs for emergency child care to be charged to sponsored accounts when, for example, sponsored projects required absence from home.  However, state travel regulations did not allow such charges to be covered.  A study was being made about what level of costs might be involved if other funds could be allocated to cover such costs.  Finally, a question had been raised about whether staff and faculty could be served by the Stamps health facility used by students.  It was determined that the facility was at capacity and could not be made available for more than students to use.

Ms. Dana Simpson reported that the Welfare and Security Committee were considering potential alternatives to parking fees that were causing financial stress to graduate students (in addition to several other burdens that could not be covered by their assistantships).  The Committee had also heard that the Stingerette schedule was unreliable and unpredictable and that this contributed to safety issues for students.  Finally, the committee was assisting with communications to parent organizations about campus safety news.

9.   Prof. Kirkman asked Dr. Bohlander to report on some routine administrative matters:

Dr. Bohlander moved that the above three measures be approved by the Faculty Executive Board.  The motion was seconded and approved without dissent.

10. Prof. Kirkman asked if there was any further business.  Dr. Peterson reflected on the earlier discussion about how the Board could arrange deeper discussions.  He commended the Board and said the Board should not lose sight of all it had already accomplished in spurring major changes in faculty governance and the creation of the Staff Council.

Hearing no other business, the Chair adjourned the meeting at about 5:00 p.m.

Submitted by Ronald A Bohlander, Secretary

March 1, 2015


1)      Minutes of the November 4, 2014 Faculty Executive Board meeting.

2)      Briefing on new Uniform Administrative Requirements under which Institute research will be administered

3)      Proposal to make the Responsible Conduct or Research Committee a subcommittee of the Institute Graduate Curriculum Committee

4)      List of the proposed Nominations Committee

5)      Proposed agenda for the Meeting of the Faculty, Faculty Senate, and Academic Faculty Senate on February 17, 2015