GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

FALL MEETING OF THE GENERAL FACULTY

and

GENERAL FACULTY ASSEMBLY

Combined with

MEETING OF THE ACADEMIC SENATE

 

Tuesday, October 16, 2007, 3:00 pm

Student Center Ballroom

 

MINUTES

 

 

1.      Leanne West, Chair of the Executive Board opened the meeting at 3:00 PM.  She introduced President Clough who delivered the 2007 State of the Institute Address with the theme Vanishing Boundaries (Presentation text, slides, and audio podcast, as well as a brochure distributed at the meeting can be found at the web sites referenced below – Attachment #1).   A summary prepared by Robert Nesmith, Editor of the Whistle, follows:

 

Tech erasing traditional boundaries

Georgia Tech continues its sojourn into the 21st century as a university that is actively breaking down the barriers usually associated with educational institutions, said President Wayne Clough as he delivered his State of the Institute address to faculty and staff [on October 16, 2007].

Cooperation among its member schools and colleges, along with local and foreign governments and leaders, serve to make Tech’s students better prepared to undertake their studies in a broader context, both interdisciplinary and international, due in part to a university that is “collaborative in its nature.”

“As the 21st century unfolds around us, the future shape of that new technological research university is becoming clear,” Clough said. “It is innovative, continually reshaping its educational experience and refocusing its research thrusts to produce the talent and the discoveries the future demands. It embraces the challenge of creating solutions to the world’s seemingly intractable problems and shaping the way in which technology is used.”

 

No limits

Themed “Vanishing Boundaries,” the address used everyday examples on how Tech is successfully extending beyond established boundaries and limitations of education, from location to the melding of traditional courses of study. He highlighted the Horizon Wimba Live Classroom—from Tech’s Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning—and the “Halo” high-definition virtual classroom developed by Arbutus Learning Center researchers and HP engineers as examples of physical location no longer being an impediment to delivering a course of study.

“Originally developed for high-end, corporate video conferencing, the Arbutus systems will cost much less and work for large-sized classrooms. We are hoping to begin using it soon for classes that have students in Atlanta and Savannah, and we will demonstrate it for the Board of Regents in a few weeks,” Clough said.

 

Diversity of students

Programs such as the Georgia Tech Promise program were touted as providing more economic diversity on campus. Students from Georgia in families earning less than $30,000 a year can receive help from the endowment, along with work/study programs and additional grants.

And for the last three years, Tech has produced 10 percent of the nation’s African-American doctoral degrees in engineering—even with 320 other accredited engineering programs across the country. While saying no one person can receive credit for this, Clough singled out Gary May, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering chair, who received the 2006 Mentor Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

The International House on East Campus, created to be a mix of students from many cultures and nationalities, houses 48 students. Through an Institute program, they are aided in their efforts to share their cultures with each other and the campus.

Clough also lauded students’ volunteer efforts to reach out to communities, both locally and globally. Members of Tech’s student body have helped Gulf Coast communities in the wake of Katrina and enhance Atlanta through TEAM Buzz.

“We seek to achieve both [economic and cultural diversity], and use them to create a vibrant community of learners,” Clough said. “In short, we hope our graduates are educated for life, not just a job.”

 

Interdepartmental collaboration

Clough illustrated how the barriers are breached beyond what one may think of as “technology” disciplines. While Tech is not typically thought of as a medical school, recent partnerships with Emory University and the Medical College of Georgia have led to new areas of nanomedical research, resulting from the marriage of computing, engineering and the sciences. No less than 125 interdisciplinary centers exist on campus, from nanomedicine to digital media.

“Each year my wife, Anne, and I host the new faculty at the President’s House, and I ask many of them what attracted them to Georgia Tech. The most common response is the opportunity to work in a genuinely interdisciplinary environment,” Clough said. “Research is ongoing on our campus that will allow DNA to be repaired, that will allow nanoparticles to detect and destroy cancer cells before they spread and that will create diagnostic techniques for ovarian cancer.”

Efforts by the music department and the growing arena of video games were cited as how technology and the liberal arts were encouraged to commingle, in an attempt to end centuries of separation.

“We are deliberately encouraging our campus to be a place where the arts and technology interact. The by-product is enormous, as it helps humanize and inform the end result,” Clough said. “Our poet-in-residence, Tom Lux, is fond of saying that writing a great poem is not just an act of pure impulse, but is founded on structure as much as is the design of a bridge.”

As a marker for the university’s progress in this area, Clough pointed to the student-organized career fair held in September, where more than 400 companies (a new record) came to recruit. While he pointed out the “usual” companies—Boeing, Ford, Cisco Systems, IBM—others were new, including Medtronic, Goldman Sachs, Bloomberg and even Chick-fil-A, Wal-Mart and Walgreen’s, reflecting the university’s growing prominence not only in healthcare, but on Wall Street, in logistics and in marketing.

“We cannot assume we have completed the task of the lowering of our disciplinary boundaries, but I believe our culture is no longer tolerant of them,” he said.

 

Energy awareness

Addressing another cross-disciplinary subject, Clough outlined Tech’s research on the issues of energy and climate change with the university’s partnerships with Oak Ridge National Lab in a new, $125 million biofuels research center and a $12 million partnership with Chevron to help develop alternative fuels for transportation. He lauded the efforts of Peter Webster and Judy Curry in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Strategic Energy Institute researchers Bill Koros and Ron Chance, and Public Policy professor Marilyn Brown.

Again showcasing the university’s interdisciplinary nature, he also touted the team of faculty and students from the College of Architecture who were competing in the national Solar Decathlon, where colleges submit a full-scale, solar-powered house for competition.

 

A global perspective

While other institutions actively seek to send their students abroad, Tech seeks also to establish degree programs and campuses overseas, with initial efforts exploring new doctoral programs in Hyderabad, India, as the latest example. Other programs, such as the engineering program in Metz, France, allow Tech students to study abroad without “missing a beat” in their curriculum, as well as learn a broad range of other subjects.

Established cooperative programs, as well as economic development activities, are in place in Ireland, France, Singapore and Shanghai, all used as examples of broadening the university’s reach beyond our national borders. As a result, relationships with business and government leaders are strengthened, cementing Tech’s efforts to help shape the global economy.

This has led to unprecedented access to leaders in the highest levels of government internationally, as the campus has welcomed the president of Ireland, the president of Liberia and even a high-level official from North Korea.

“Georgia Tech is working hard to become a genuinely global university, and as I talk about the opportunities that are presented to us by vanishing boundaries, you are hearing these characteristics of a global university interwoven in all aspects of our efforts,” Clough said.

These efforts also extend closer to home. The “natural” boundaries that have surrounded the campus in recent years have given way to business ventures and increased cooperation with area businesses, the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia.

After years of becoming what Clough described as “an island-state,” now the university works in tandem with the city to bring development and business opportunities to areas that once were in the midst of deterioration and blight. Technology Square on Fifth Street, as well as the North Avenue Research Area and Technology Enterprise Park, were cited as examples of Tech’s continual eradication of the boundaries between campus and downtown.

“The new Georgia Tech is at once local, and also global, with 1,000 students on other campuses around the world or online,” Clough said. “Taken together, [the programs and activities offered] are the building blocks in the process of defining the technological research university of the 21st century—also known as Georgia Tech.”

After President Clough concluded his address, he took a moment also to congratulate the women’s tennis team who won the national championship in their sport.  He then opened the floor to questions and posed one to himself:  What about the place of the individual investigator in a world in which interdisciplinary collaboration is so important?  He said the answer is that Tech continues to support the aspirations of individuals and it is appreciated that such creative acts can make huge differences.  Many of the problems of the day, however, do require larger, more collaborative efforts.  So there is a place at Georgia Tech for both kinds of scholarship.

Justin Rubner, a reporter with the Atlanta Business Chronicle, asked Dr. Clough to expand on the subject of Georgia Tech’s initiatives in India.  He replied that in all of Tech’s initiatives in other countries, the reason Tech is there begins with the fact that in each case Georgia Tech was asked to be there and someone is putting up the necessary funds.  The State of Georgia does not provide funds for Tech to go to another country.  In India, two city-states have asked Georgia Tech to consider activities in their part of the world.  This may involve as much as building a campus or at least a series of comprehensive programs.  In these and other countries, there are particular needs that Tech is being asked to fill that will help these countries or regions meet certain goals.  In the end, each wants to be competitive in the high end of technology but each has certain gaps to fill.  In France, local university activities are very specialized and Tech can help with interdisciplinary approaches.  Ireland is growing its research resources and needs help in the interim to make the impact it seeks.  In India, the Indian Institute of Technology is an excellent school but their graduate program is small and that is where they could use assistance.  Both the regional governments and industry in India are interested in Tech setting up graduate programs.  Perhaps over time, Tech might expand to also include undergraduate programs.  Discussion began with Mumbai and now involves Hyderabad, India.  How this develops will depend on them finding the resources not only to get an initiative started but also to sustain it. 

 

2.      After a brief intermission, the President re-convened the meeting at about 3:40 PM.  He called for approval of the minutes of the meeting of May 1, 2007 [a meeting of the Academic Senate & Academic Faculty combined with a Called Meeting of the General Faculty].  He indicated that the minutes were published and posted on the faculty governance web site and that there were no additions or corrections. (See Attachment #2 below for web site reference).   The minutes were approved without dissent.  

 

3.      The President then called on representatives of each of the faculty’s Standing Committees to present their annual reports and any minutes requiring approval.  Explicit approval of the faculty for specific action items was also sought where required.  In most cases the representatives followed closely the reports in the committees files on the faculty governance website noted in Attachment #3 below and so this text will not be repeated here.  The following is an outline of the material presented showing the representatives that appeared to make the presentation.  Where additional remarks where offered, these are noted.

Standing Committees of the General Faculty

a.       Faculty Benefits (Bettina Cothran) Annual Report
Minutes: 2/2/07, 3/28/07, 4/26/07, 8/28/07. No action items.
President Clough commented that House Bill 815 introduced in the last session of the Georgia General Assembly would broaden eligibility in the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) to all salaried (i.e. “exempt”) employees and the amount of the employer contribution to ORP would be determined by the Board of Regents, as a measure to improve fair financial support to the program.  While this bill did not pass within the time available in the last session, it will be pressed strongly in the next session.

b.      Faculty Honors (Bill Hunt) – Annual Report
Bill concluded by urging faculty and schools to make nominations for the honors to be awarded in 2008.  He stated he would be happy to speak to groups of faculty about this.

c.       Faculty Status & Grievance (Tony Wasilewski) – Annual Report
President Clough commented that the past year brought an unusual number of cases that made this committee’s load especially heavy.  The administration and faculty leaders are working with the committee to get them the support they need so they can better handle heavy loads in the future, should these occur.  When a faculty member brings a grievance to the attention of the committee, it is important to get it resolved as quickly as possible. 

d.      Statutes (Tim Strike) – Annual Report

e.       Academic Services (Jeff Donnell) – Annual Report
Minutes: 4/19/07. No action items.

f.        Welfare & Security (Jilda Garton) – Annual Report
Minutes: 9/7/06, 10/9/06, 11/27/06, 12/11/06, 1/8/07, 2/19/07, 4/9/07, 7/9/07. No action items.
President Clough commented on studies made at Georgia Tech before and after the Virginia Tech tragedy last April aimed at addressing Tech’s needs for emergency planning and preparedness.  A considerable amount of work has been done, including the installation of new equipment to provide alerts to the campus in case of an incident.  Dr. Clough expressed the hope that all members of the Tech community will sign up for the Georgia Tech Emergency Notification System (GTENS) which let’s members of the Tech community know vital information in emergencies via cell phone and text messages.  The best thing is to sign up for all possible communication modes, so if one gets bottlenecked, the others might still get through.  He stated that only about 50% are signed up so far and more are desired.  There will also be a loudspeaker system installed on campus soon as another means of reaching the community.  Dr. Clough asked the faculty to urge students to keep Tech updated about how to reach their parents in cases of emergency and he cited instances recently when such information would have made necessary notifications much easier.  He said that it may be necessary in the future to require this information as part of each term’s registration process. 

Standing Committees of the Academic Faculty

a.       Undergraduate Curriculum (Paul Benkeser presented the Annual Report as last year’s chair and Chuck Parsons presented minutes and action items as this year’s chair.)
Minutes: 5/2/07, 5/14/07, 5/18/07, 6/13/07, 7/11/07, 7/18/07, 8/1/07, 8/20/07, 8/23/07, 8/29/07, 9/12/07, 9/26/07. 
Action items (from 9/12/07): Architecture: 3 new courses in building construction; BME: to participate in default Research Option, plus 1 new course and changes in minor and degree requirements; ChBE: 1 new course.

b.      Graduate Curriculum (Gary Parker) – Annual Report
Minutes: 6/14/07, 8/23/07, 9/13/07
Action Items - from 6/14/07:  ChBE: 1 new course; Architecture: 3 new courses; College of Computing: 1 new course.  From 9/13/07:  Nuclear and Radiological Engineering and Medical Physics Program: 2 curriculum changes and 10 new courses; ChBE: cross-listing for 1 course.

c.       Student Regulations (Jeff Streator) – Annual Report
Minutes: 9/7/06, 9/14/06, 9/28/06, 10/12/06, 11/2/06.  No action items.

d.      Student Academic & Financial Affairs (Patty Sobecky) – Annual Report
Minutes: 8/30/06, 10/31/06, 2/8/07, 4/11/07.  No action items.
President Clough commented that discussions have been underway on another topic concerning campus security.  If a faculty member believes a student may have issues that could be addressed through counseling, they can report concerns about this student to Student Counseling.  Bill Shafer (Vice President for Student Affairs) told the faculty about new videos available on the Counseling Center website that can help in understanding and addressing stress experienced by students.  He also stated that Rosalind Meyers (Assoc. VP Auxiliary Services) and he have convened a new committee of faculty, staff, and students to look at all the services and support to students in the area of mental health.  From their inputs and the recommendations of Virginia Tech studies, there is a good prospect of fine tuning what is already a very good system in place today.  He commented that John Stein (Dean of Students) is in charge of campus responses when specific issues arise and he is supported by the staff psychiatrist, the Stamps Health Services Center, and the Counseling Center.  President Clough stated that Tech is looking closely at the checklist derived from Virginia Tech reports and this is being used to take a close look at where Tech stands.  In areas where there are gaps, corrective work is proceeding vigorously.

e.       Student Activities (Brent Carter) – Annual Report
Minutes: 6/22/06, 7/6/06, 7/18/06, 9/22/06, 10/13/06, 11/3/06, 12/8/06, 2/2/07, 3/2/07, 4/27/07, 7/26/07
Action items: Approval of all student activity charters and constitution revisions recommended by the committee as documented in their minutes and the annual report.

f.        Student Grievance & Appeal (Rick Neu) – Annual Report
Dr. Neu noted that the fifteen cases heard in 2006-07 represented an increase of five in the number of cases over the previous year.

g.       Student Honor (Gus Giebelhaus) – Annual Report
Dr. Giebelhaus opened with a reminder that the year was divided into a portion before the new Student Code of Conduct took effect on January 8, 2007 and afterwards.  He said that this committee works very closely with the Office of Student Integrity (OSI) in the Dean of Student’s office and commented that the rise in cases from 320 last year to 347 this year is likely to have more to do with better education of the faculty about how to get help from OSI when there are possible issues with student integrity.  Dealing with such things professionally through OSI is preferred over having faculty trying to cope with these matters on their own.  Do-it-yourself remedies can lead to inconsistencies as well as possible personal legal liabilities.  Dr. Giebelhaus also noted that under the new Student Code of Conduct cases are sorted into low and high severity cases and these are handled somewhat differently.  In low cases, appeals go to the Dean of Students and in high cases to the office of the Senior Vice-Provost for Academic Affairs.  Dr. Giebelhaus thanked Dr. Tom Morley from the Academic Integrity Committee and Ms. Ericka McGarity (Asst. Dean of Students and Director of Student Integrity) for their help and hard work in getting the new Student Code of Conduct in place.  The goal of everyone is standing up for high standards but with fairness and due process.  He also thanked the members of the committee for the long hours they contributed to this.  There was a question from Dr. Jeff Streator (from the Student Regulations Committee) about whether the new Code of Conduct and its processes had indeed led to hoped for streamlining.  Dr. Giebelhaus answered that there was a bit of a rough start at first but now smooth operation is setting in.  The major advantage is realized when students opt for faculty conference resolution or administrative decisions rather than hearings before the Honor Committee.  He also mentioned that the committee worked through the summer to clean up the entire backlog and this is the first time in a long time that there is no carryover of cases from one academic year to the next.  Tom Morley commented this was the first time in more than twenty years for that to be accomplished.  John Stein (Dean of Students) stated that the system is working very well and careful attention is paid to the mandated timelines for each step in the process for both the students and administration.  He reiterated that administrative resolutions were really helping to expedite the process.  Dr. Giebelhaus explained that in past years, students seemed to assume that they might get more lenient treatment from the committee than from the administration and they are now learning otherwise.

h.     Academic Integrity (Tom Morley) – Annual Report
Minutes: 3/9/07, 4/20/07. No action items.
Dr. Morley explained that the committee is part way through the process of revising the Sanctioning Guidelines to bring them in line with the new Student Code of Conduct.  These guidelines provide guidance for the severity of sanctions in relation to typical kinds of offenses under the code.  A draft of the new guidelines has been drawn up and this is now out for review by faculty.  Dr. Morley urged that comments be sent to him or to the current chair of the committee, Robert Kirkman.  Dr. Clough thanked Dr. Morley and Dr. Giebelhaus and their committees for their hard work to make the processes under the student code of conduct significantly fairer and more efficient.

i.       Student Computer Ownership (Jim McClellan) – Annual Report
Minutes: 11/16/06, 12/13/06, 1/26/07, 2/12/07. No action items.
Dr. McClellan particularly thanked staff members on the committee, Linda Cabot (OIT, now retired), Miles Edson (ResNet), and Alex Taubman (Bookstore), who make the work of this committee much more effective.  He noted that the committee’s primary focus in the past year was on developing a recommendation (and getting it approved by the faculty) to require students to own laptop computers beginning with incoming students in the fall of 2008.  He said that there are already pilot efforts in specific programs along similar lines, such as the one in the CS1 course in the College of Computing.  He expressed the hope that other faculty will start to take advantage of these developments in planning their courses.

In each of the above committee presentations, the presenter moved for the adoption of the listed minutes and action items (if any).  All were approved without dissent.

 

4.      The President called for any other business and began with several comments of his own.  He said he would be meeting with his cabinet in the week of October 29, 2007 to focus on how Georgia Tech should respond to the drought in the Atlanta area.  He noted that Georgia Tech is already doing much to conserve water through capturing rainwater and air conditioning condensate at several new buildings, including the Molecular Sciences Building, the Ford Environmental Science and Technology Building, the Klaus Building, and the Campus Recreation Center.  Useful natural springs have also been found or re-located, such as near the football stadium.  Dr. Clough announced that he would be forming a campus committee of students, faculty, and staff to study further options to address water conservation strategies and policies, and he asked any interested in serving to contact his assistant, Carol Gue, to volunteer.  Discussions will begin in the week of October 29.

On another matter, he said there had been two very serious cases of abuse of Institute p-cards by staff members.  Some of this involved detailed well-planned fraud.  This is something the Institute, the State Attorney General, and the Inspector General’s Office of NSF are looking at very closely (because NSF funds were involved in some of this abuse).  So Georgia Tech will be announcing new policies concerning p-cards this week.  The existing system of checks was such that supervisors did not catch the fraud or abuse that was in progress.  Future processes will involve more attention from faculty in verifying expenditures.  P-cards that are not much used will in many cases be suspended.  Tech will do all it can to accomplish a more reliable system and re-establish trust.  For continuous improvement, a committee will be formed to evaluate how well processes are working going forward.

Dr. Clough then opened the floor to questions.  One person had a follow up question about campus security and asked about making it possible to lock classrooms from the inside, because such a device would have been helpful in providing better sanctuary to students at Virginia Tech.  Dr. Clough answered that such a step is being looked at seriously.  He also offered to publish a report of Georgia Tech’s analysis of its own security posture as compared with a checklist developed by Virginia Tech.

Dr. Bohlander offered a word of thanks to all the faculty committee members and their leaders for their diligent work in support of faculty governance and the improvement of the Tech community.  He also expressed his appreciation for all their cooperation in staging this “festival” of annual reports.

Hearing no further business, Dr. Clough adjourned the meeting at 4:40 PM.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Ronald A. Bohlander
Secretary of the Faculty

October 26, 2007

 

Attachments to be included with archival copy of the minutes:

 

  1. State of the Institute Address – 2007
    PowerPoint
    See also http://www.gatech.edu/president/soi/ for full text, brochure, and audio podcast.
  2. Minutes of the Scheduled Meeting of the Academic Senate & Academic Faculty combined with a Called Meeting of the General Faculty May 1, 2007:  http://www.facultysenate.gatech.edu/ASAFGF2007-050107-Minuteswp.htm
  3. All annual reports and minutes may be found at
    http://www.facultysenate.gatech.edu/CommitteeMinutes.htm