Meeting of May 5, 2015

Held in the Poole Board Room of the Wardlaw Building


Members Present:       Abrams (Ugrad student), Balsam (Secretary of the Faculty, GTRI), Bras (Provost), Butera (ECE), Coleman (GTRI-ELSYS), Cross (EVPR), Dorsey (Staff Council), Grover (Vice-Chair, ChBE), Hall (GTRI-CTISL), Kirkman (Chair, Public Policy), Canellas (Grad student), Powell (OSP), Riley (ECE), Schnepp (Staff Council), Schumacher (Psychology), Shepler (Chemistry), Turner (Business), Williams (USGFC Rep., ECE), Zakir (Radiation Safety,)


Members Absent:        Balch (CoC-IC), Clark (Staff Council), Eckert (GTRI-ATAS), Gamble (CoA-Arch.), Hernandez (Chemistry), Lyon (Grad. Student), Peterson (President), Simpson (OSP), Wood (ECE),


Guests:                        Cozzens (Vice-Provost), Herazy (Asst. Provost)


1.     Prof. Bob Kirkman, Chair, opened the meeting at 3:08 P.M.

2.     Prof. Kirkman directed the Boardís attention to the minutes of their April 9, 2015 meeting found in Attachment #1. Two typos were identified for corrected minutes. A motion to approve corrected minutes was seconded and passed unanimously.

3.     He introduced newly elected SGA undergrad and grad presidents Jen Abrams and Marc Canellas, respectively.

4.     Prof. Kirkman then called on Provost Bras to remark on matters of interest in the life of the Institute.

a)     Provost Bras said we had finished graduation and all the ceremonies went very well.  There are three ceremonies: Hooding ceremony Friday morning, graduate ceremony Friday evening, and two undergraduate ceremonies on Saturday morning and afternoon. He said that each time we are improving and refining the ceremonies.  We graduated over 2700 students and now have 145,000 living alumni.  The graduate speaker was President Emeritus Wayne Clough.  The two undergraduate speakers were Arnie Duncan, Secretary of Education for the morning session, and in the afternoon, General Field Breedlove, supreme commander of NATO forces in Europe.  The best are always the students; the undergraduate and graduate students who speak at these events.

b)     He expressed his thanks for the support of the new Academic Calendar.  This is a great moment to move forward for GT.  The effort was the result of a white paper from undergraduate student government.  We try to respond effectively and we did. 

c)     The Inventure Prize was April 1st and is quiet an exciting experience.  The event and projects seem to get better every year.  The Capstone Design Expo which now extends over many disciplines was also held recently with 1000 students, 200 projects, and many visitors.  It was an extraordinary event; McCamish has become a national example of that type of event.

d)     They are still working on the budget and continue to refine the numbers; the preliminary budgets go into the Regents in a few days.

e)     The admission class is extremely good.  The acceptance is a little higher than what the goal was with ~3% higher yield than historical.  All the planning and estimating is based on a model and not always easy to predict.  The Institute will provide all the resources needed for this entering class.

Provost Bras then called on EVPR Steve Cross for his comments on GTRI, the GTRI Director search, and the high performance computing facility.

f)      Dr. Cross stated that in addition to his duties as EVPR, he is the interim Director for GTRI so is very interested in the director search.  We had a finalist in last week that looks very promising.  We should have a new director in place by mid-summer.

g)     President Peterson accepted an award last week prior to the GTRI Town Hall.  This award was presented by the Defense Security Services (DSS), a federal agency on behalf of all of GT for the effectiveness of GTís practices.  What is significant is there were only two agencies selected out of 10,000 organizations that have classified work.  GT was the first university ever chosen which is a very significant honor.  That is a great testament to GT and to GTRC. 

h)     You should hear soon the development firm that was picked to design the HPC building.  It is a very innovative funding strategy.  Received BoR permission to have a multi-year lease.  It is located at 777 Spring Street, just on the south side of the College of Business.  If we look at new buildings that have been built in the last 5 years: Marcus Nanotechnology building opened 5 years ago, Carbon Neutral Energy Solution building that opened about 2.5 years ago, and the Engineering and Bio-systems building that will be moved into next month.  The one that was the best is the EBS because there was great coordination and synchronization between the colleges and the faculty that will be in the building and the administrative functions that were responsible for bringing that building online.  That building is going to be fully equipped and faculty will move in one day and be productive.  The desire is to have the HPC building that will open as effectively as the EBS building.

Question: About the incoming class; there is an important distinction between in-state and out-of-state; did that come into play with this class.

Answer: It does comes in and the goal is 60% in-state and 40% out-of-state.  We have never quiet reached that, we will remain close to those parameters.  All categories have gone up.  Number of women is up considerably with 40% women.  Underrepresented minorities are up considerably.  Engineering is slightly down, but this is only statements of interest.  Within engineering, mechanical engineering is higher. Sciences is about the same. Computing is high. Architecture remains the same.  Ivan Allen is up, which is good.

Statement: We are thankful in Tech Square for the additional security measures.  We know that it costs a lot of money, but it has changed the environment in the building.

5.     Prof. Kirkman began discussions on a topic that came from the Deans of the Colleges by way of Suzan Cozzens about the Periodic Peer Review Process.  This is a process every 5 years after tenure that each faculty member is to go up for review by peers in the home unit.  The broad question from the deans is that process robust enough, is it strong enough, is it as strong as it could be in terms of holding faculty accountable for what they do here in terms of research, teaching, and service, and the balance of those things.  They proposed the question to Susan and she pointed out that is a matter of the faculty, this is spelled out in the Faculty Handbook in section 3.3.9, The Periodic Peer Review Policy.  This belongs to the faculty to consider and decide.

Prof. Reid statement: he is serving on the committee in ECE that has met a couple of times, but what has bothered a couple of the members is the committee does not seem to have any teeth.  Committee can say a lot of things, but what can they do?

Dr. Bras: Could it be structured so it in fact it serves as a true feedback and action?  Would like ability to write a letter that a faculty member is not performing

Feedback is occurring. But can there be statements that the faculty member is not performing.

Prof Butera stated he served for 3 years on the same committee as George.  Observed from the process that there are many things the committee is responsible for during the year for tenure and promotion cases that these kind of fall in the noise.  He does not recall the committee ever discussing what are out standards here.  We are told to look at it and comment, but we donít really understand it so they do not get a lot of attention.  As faculty, we need to understand what our role is exactly, what the standards are and what we are looking for.   He does not recall there ever being a clear understanding.  There may be some hesitancy here on the part of faculty not necessarily not wanting to do the process, but not knowing exactly what the teeth are and where the line is

Prof Kirkman: From the text in the Faculty handbook: In section 3.3.9, Periodic Peer Review, ďthe criteria used may be those ordinarily used by the Faculty memberís Unit, or alternative criteria may be applied to reflect the varying emphases/roles senior Faculty may play.Ē  That is basically the same standard and criteria for tenure decision with some balance of research, teaching, and service that may be adjusted based on the role the faculty member is serving at that time. And there is some procedures for how to agree on what the criteria are if alternate criteria is to be used.  In terms of the consequence, there is the recommendation for another review in 5 years or in 3 years if there is a particular deficiency.  So the question is what if there are two 3 years recommendations in a row; there is a recommendation to send to FSGC and ultimately then to the President. It is not clear what that means or what it looks like and if there is ever any case made for revocation of tenure; that is something that none of us cares to think about.  More broadly, in stating the purpose of this policy is trying to strike this balance between acknowledging the important role that tenure plays in safeguarding academic freedom while at the same time calling for accountability of faculty to one another when they have tenure.  That is the difficult balance it is trying to strike; does it ere on the side of toothless because we have this role of tenure and need to leave tenure in some respects in violet so does that mean we do not really have accountability.  Is there a way to amend this policy; is this an issue the board wants to take up at this time?

Q: Ms Abrams: Is this purpose of this peer review to evaluate how teaching is going at Tech?  What is the purpose of peer review?

A: Prof Kirkman: It is the entire performance of that faculty member as a faculty member in all the different roles that a faculty member plays.  It generally is some balance of research, teaching, and service.  That may vary depending upon the role that faculty member plays. Great checkpoint on that is tenure; until you get tenure, you are essentially on probation as you are trying to prove yourself.  Once tenure is granted, there is a presumption that tenure will not be revoked except for moral turpitude or committing a crime.  There are grounds for revoking tenure, but they are extreme.  So once tenure is achieved, is there any kind of check on your performance; is there anything to keep you motivated to be focused on the life of the institute; or is there a way to bring someone back in that may be flagging in their work? 

Statement: Largely this process is generally more critical for Associate Professors than Full Professors.  They have been an Associate Professor for five years when they get feedback on how they are doing and how close they are to promotion.  Or maybe they have been an Associate Professor longer and stagnated in their career; those are harder to work with.  There are cases where individuals have received recommendations and have corrected problems.

In any other organization other than academia, the solution is financial.  If you are not performing, then you do not receive a raise.

Provost Bras: These reviews are very important. Expectations are that someone with tenure should continue to perform. They may not perform the same way, as the mix may change as we advance in our career.   I expect people to perform.  When there is a person who does not have any students, has no research, misses and is late to classes, then I am concerned.  We should have a way to handle that.  It is not common, but does happen. 

Statement: Someone came up for their PPR, and they were given a three-year review.  We tried to come up with a criteria and what they should do.  We are looking for everyone to be a vital member of the college.

If someone is given a 3-year review, it should include a development plan that the faculty member and dean agree on.  When the faculty member goes back up for their 3-year review and they have performed, that is what is wanted.  If they come up for the 3-year review, and the development plan is not being achieved, then we need a way to address this.

What is the balance of responsibilities? If teaching is part of the PPR and you are only looking at one number for CIOS; that is meaningless as a more robust evaluation of teaching is needed.  In some units, peers attend classes to access the faculty members teaching.

Q: It is hard to let go of those that are not performing and hard to reward those that are performing.  Could tenure be for a fixed amount of time?

A: That would then be a contract and a different model than what we have now.  Tenure is what our faculty has so I donít think our faculty would vote to remove tenure

Q: If a faculty member is not performing, could their salary be lowered? That is not something the faculty could do, but administration may be able.

A: Provost Bras:  All these things are possible, but for obvious reasons you need a case.  If the committee is not doing their job, then it is hard to build a case.  The committee must put things in writing. 

Is there any sense this is something we as a board want to address?  Should there be a task force or is this a task for one of the standing committees?  Prof Riley is willing to help look at this.

Susan Cozzens stated they would agree with the Deansí assessments that there are some serious issues that are not showing up in the PPR letters.  PPR letters are not clearly identifying the problems.  The question is not whether to have a task force but is there any willingness to step up and address this.  We know there are some faculty members that are blatantly not performing.  Can we strengthen our voice in identifying the fact of knowing about it?  Also, to wait six years to remove someone is a long time to wait to act on someone that is blatantly not performing.  To wait six years is not responsible on the part of any of us.  Fellow peers need to step up sometime along the way and do something and not punish our students. We do have cases where some people really do listen to this review and have completely turned around and turned in to productive faculty. 

It is not clear that the issue is the process as opposed to actually implementing the process that we have.  The chairs yearly review should be the first time to identify an issue.

When you are in a small department and the PPR is created, you can have members in a PPR that are evaluating someone that is on their PPR committee.  This is a flaw and a problem in small units. 

Where do we want to go from here?  It does sound like there are some tweaks that could strengthen what we have.  An option to do something at the three-year review and not wait for the second three-year review would be an improvement

Bob Kirkman and George Riley are willing to look at this for a first review.  Bob will put out an invitation to the board for anyone interested to join them.

6.     Prof Kirkman: The next item on our agenda is also a discussion item.  He does not think it needs a task force but could be considered by the group looking at standing committees.  An issue that came up in conversations over the last year regarding the standing committees and regarding the search for a new secretary was about the position of Chair of the FEB.   This position is supposed to be the spokesperson for the Faculty.  It is a position of some standing.  The chair rotates off after one year.  Should this position of the Chair of the FEB be a one year assignment? Is one year long enough to create some momentum toward an initiative.  Bob is leading the review of the Standing Committees which is not complete; he is willing to continue that effort after his term on the FEB is up.  Would it be possible to develop a model whereby the Chair and Vice-Chair are elected separately and have a longer term built in, perhaps two year terms, to serve? The person sitting in the Chairís position would have a longer time for generating momentum and seeing through some longer term projects on behalf of the faculty.  This is another point for further discussion for possible amendment to faculty governance guidelines.


Ron has brought to our attention a model at MIT which is somewhat different.  They do not have a Faculty Senate; they have a Faculty Policy Committee and then a set of Standing Committees that handle faculty governance.  They have a model where every two years they elect someone to be Chair-elect who serves as Chair-elect, essentially as an apprentice chair, overlapping the term of the current Chair for one year and then serves as two years as the Chair.  Then during the last year, a new Chair-elect is elected. An Associate Chair is elected in alternate years.  When not electing a chair-elect, then they are electing an associate chair to perform different duties.  In the MIT model, the chair is also effectively a member of the Presidentís Cabinet.  The Chair, Chair-elect, and Associate Chair have regular meetings with the President and Provost at MIT.  This is the model that MIT has.  Ron suggests this may be a model we may want to consider.  There are issues that would need to be considered. Would the Chair-elect be elected from the FEB by the FEB or by the Faculty? Or would the Chair-elect be elected from the faculty? Would the FEB elect or would the entire faculty elect the Chair-elect and Associate Chair? 

Is this something that should be considered?

Statement: One year is a short period of time to accomplish something. Consider all the initiatives we have going on that does seem like a short time.

Statement: How much is lost? There are still FEB members that are here that know what is going on and can continue with initiatives.

It has to do with the nature of the chair.  The chair runs the meetings and brings up issues that are discussed, but the role has limits in our model.  In the MIT model, the Chair has a more active role.

Statement: We have for a long time enjoyed having Ron here because he has a historical perspective.  And this would help with the historical.

The MIT model elects a Secretary every other year, but our model has benefited with a separate system, we gain years of information.  There is some merit to the model we have for selecting the Secretary.

Some organizations have the out-going Chair continue to serve as the past-Chair to help with continuity.

Another model: Incoming Chair, Chair, outgoing Chair where the outgoing Chair is in charge of nominations.

Q: Other than the mechanics of electing Chair-elect, Associate Chair, what would the chair do differently? 

A: As the Chair-elect, the individual would have already developed an understanding of how the FEB works, have started a working relationship with the President and Provost.

This is something that is worth bringing up.  We can continue this discussion later.  As we continue with the Standing Committee review this may be something we could consider.  We are not going to come up with any conclusions today. If you have any other comments, please do share with Bob.

7.       Prof Kirkman called on Prof Rob Butera to discuss the APR reviews and appointment of a committee.  Last year was the first year that the FEB had this responsibility for these reviews.  When we restructured how the APRs worked, they wanted to make sure there is still a faculty accountability piece.  They looked at all the APR reviews and all the 1-year follow up reviews.  These APRs go to the Deans and to the Provost.  For each APR, they had two committee members review the report.  They set down for a full committee discussion of what they had identified to determine if there were any institutional trends.  They went through them all and came up with the common items.  They wrote Dr. Cross about those items and he responded.  Even though each unit is unique, there are some institutional issues.  It was an interesting process and worth taking the time to review the reports.  

The Chair requested volunteers to be on the committee:  Profesors Butera, Grover, Kirkman, Shepler, and Shumacher. Agreement to also obtain committee members from the newly elected FEB members.

8.       Prof Kirkman called on Prof Martha Grover Prof Michael Loss cannot fulfill his last year on the IUGG representing the College of Sciences.  She has gone back to previous elections to determine individuals that were willing to serve.  She asked Mindy Millard Stafford if she would be willing to serve.  Motion, Seconded, and passed to appoint Prof Stafford.

9.       Prof Kirkman called on Secretary Jeanne Balsam to tell the Board about a proposed calendar of Faculty meetings in the next academic year.  He provided a handout in Attachment #2 showing the proposed calendar.  She moved that the calendar be adopted.  The motion was seconded and passed without dissent.

10.    The Chair called on Ms. Balsam to tell the Board about upcoming elections of the chair and vice-chair of the Faculty Executive Board for the 2015-16 academic year.  Ms. Balsam stated that nominees for Chair and Vice-Chair needed to be identified by the first meeting of the next year, namely August 25, 2014.  She planned to send an email to that effect to all Board members, present and incoming, explaining the opportunity to serve and providing descriptions of duties.  Then at the August meeting, nominees would be introduced, and if there were multiple candidates, an email ballot would be sent to continuing and new members to decide those who would serve.  She asked any who had an interest in serving in one of these positions to send her an email.  Recommendations of nominees were also welcome.

11.    Prof. Kirkman then polled committee liaisons for any reports of matters that should come to the Boardís attention.  The following were significant highlights not covered elsewhere:

a.      Representatives from the Staff Council Debby Dorsey and Meredith Schnepp:  They will be having their first Town Hall on April 21st.  They have formed five committees: Compensation and Benefits, Employee Engagement, Communications, Campus Physical Environment, and Employee Health and Well-Being. They had over 150 applications for 60 spots; there is a lot of enthusiasm. 

b.     Jen Abrams, Undergraduate Students: We just finished finals.  Summer is a little light, but we still have a lot of work that we are doing.

c.      Marc Canellas, Graduate Students: Grad side: One of the main pushes is to establish with Dr. Cozzens, a Mutual Expectations Document to set minimum expectations for both graduate students with their research advisors and for the Research advisors what is expected from their graduate students.  Trying to help graduate students have the best experience possible with their advisors.

d.     Micah Coleman, Student Activities: There are some changes coming to how they are going to fund things based on the student activity fee.  Marc Canellas provided insight.  They are working with the administration to split the activity fee between an Activity Fee, CRC Fee, and Student Center Fee. 

e.      Bobby Hall, Computer Ownership: They finalized the guide for 15-16 last month and has been posted.

f.      Michele Powell, Academic Services: The last meeting was on the Retirement benefits and letters have gone out.

g.     George Riley, IUCC.  It is a very busy time of year with many petitions to review.



Submitted by Jeanne H Balsam, Secretary

June 16, 2015


1)       Minutes of the April 9, 2015 Faculty Executive Board meeting.

2)       Calendar of faculty meetings for 2015-16 academic year.