Tuesday, February 10, 2009, 3:00 pm

Student Center Theater





1.      The Executive Board Chair, Leanne West, opened the meeting at 3:03 P.M., presiding since the President was delayed in arriving by a visit to the State legislature. 

2.      Ms. West asked for approval of the minutes of the meeting of November 18, 2008 [a scheduled meeting of the Academic Senate and called meeting of the General Faculty].  She indicated that the minutes were published and posted on the faculty governance web site and that there were no known additions or corrections. (See Attachment #1 below for web site reference).   The minutes were approved without dissent.  

3.   Ms. West then called on Reta Pikowsky (registrar) and Herb Baines (OIT) to speak about safe handling of student and personnel information. Mr. Baines began by reminding the attendees that identity theft has become a major issue in society.  Georgia Tech was expected to protect student and payroll information to avoid this threat.  He said that over the past year approximately 80 computers were stolen on campus and about 20 off campus.  There were also a few cases of network breaches.  In those instances where student information was involved Georgia Tech was required to make a report to the U.S. Department of Education about the steps taken to protect and remediate any possible misappropriation of student information.  In such cases each affected student had to be contacted personally. 

He thanked the faculty for their assistance with the Data Cleanup campaign last year and asked again for the faculty’s assistance in further reducing the risk of vital data compromises.  He said the disciplines under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) placed heavy responsibilities on Georgia Tech and any non-compliance involved considerable follow up work as well as potential sanctions and loss of funding.

Ms. Pikowsky reported that the Georgia Tech Executive Board was beginning the formation of a Faculty Task Force on Data Security.  She told those in attendance that more volunteers for this effort were needed.  She said this group would not only look at steps that would better secure sensitive data but they would also look at how to make sure faculty members had reliable access to the data they needed to do their jobs. 

Ms. West said this was a very important area of concern and reported that she personally had been through an episode of having her identity stolen and that it took a great deal of effort over a period of years to undo all the ill effects of that.  She asked for volunteers to provide contact information to Reta Pikowsky or herself.

4.   Ms. West called on Mr. Frank Stanley (from the Office of Emergency Preparedness) to explain the new Classroom Emergency Notification System.  He said that the new system was called SCREAM (System to Create and Relay Emergency Action Messages).  The objective of this system was to improve Georgia Tech’s delivery of emergency messages to its classrooms.  The SCREAM software would be Georgia Tech operated from campus network servers.  The classroom notification system reinforced the general notification system called GTENS (Georgia Tech Emergency Notification System) as well as the siren warning system which were already in operation.  SCREAM was self contained and capable of displaying emergency messages on a wide variety of campus computer screens and display devices.  Mr. Stanley said that whenever an emergency notification would be sent out by GTENS there usually would also be a message going out via SCREAM.  The latter system would cover 182 classrooms, conference rooms, OIT supported computer clusters in the library and the student center, 76 digital signs around the campus, and everyone connected to the LAWN wireless network access system (the latter typically serving around 7,000 users at any one time).  The text for SCREAM would typically be the same as the voicemail message in GTENS.  Most messages would be delivered in less than two minutes and updates could be done even more quickly than on GTENS.  Mr. Stanley said that the system would be rolled out soon and initial tests would be announced well in advance so users were not surprised.

Mr. Stanley then asked the faculty for their feedback on how long any given emergency message should remain on the screen after it starts.  He said it would be possible for computers to minimize the message if it weren’t pertinent and was in the way of the professor’s material.  But the default period on the screen needed to be determined.  He asked that any suggestions be sent to him, directly or via the Secretary, Dr. Bohlander.


5.   Ms. West then called on Drs. Leon McGinnis (ISyE) and Larry Jacobs (CoE) to report on the work of two task forces chartered two years ago by the Provost’s office.  Dr. McGinnis went first and reported on the Task Force on Interdisciplinarity, as recorded in Attachment #2a. His presentation followed closely the text of the slides in the attachment so will not be repeated here.  [Reference may also be made to the text of the Task Force’s report to the Provost in Attachment #2b.]  He commented that no one on the task force felt that Georgia Tech was doing a bad job of interdisciplinarity and in fact was making a very good job of it.  The object of the task force was to identify ways to make it even better.  He explained the aspiration-resource gap mentioned on slide 18 saying that Tech wants to do interdisciplinary research as if there was a student faculty ratio of about 10 but the actual ratio is about 22.  He said the management challenge highlighted in the third bullet was that interdisciplinary programs are grafted onto a management structure that is still organized around the traditional disciplines.  If interdisciplinary research and studies were to become increasingly important then it could be time to invent new organizational structures more in keeping with this future.  In slide 23 Dr. McGinnis said that the Provost’s Workshop on October 13, 2008 identified five traction issues or recommendations, of which the last three shown on slide 23 pertained to interdisciplinarity:

·         Regularize the processes for creating, evaluating, and retiring/repurposing interdisciplinary centers;

·         Consider more hires that are interdisciplinary at the outset; and

·         Consider forming a semiformal center for advanced studies – a forum for ideas to that might lead to new initiatives.

Dr. Jacobs followed Dr. McGinnis and presented a report of the Task Force on Curriculum, as recorded in Attachment #2c.  He explained the broad issues in the charge to the task force (slide 2) and said that several groups within the task force subsequently formed (slide 3) and their work would be the substance of his talk.  Work on modularity was led by Charles Isbell and explored whether the idea of threads could be extended from the computing curriculum to other majors in other programs.  The group recommended that having more minors would give students greater breadth as well as depth.  The group on the academic calendar recommended that Tech adopt three equal 14-week trimesters, though Dr. Jacobs said there was much work remaining to resolve challenges in work load issues and the like.  A pilot effort was planned for summer 2009 in which students would be actively encouraged to take more classes.  A group has been looking at ways to reinforce curriculum innovation and provide communities of interest as well as to foster innovative uses of new media.  Dana Hartley led the group on living learning communities and 2-3 pilot communities were being planned for sophomores in the North Avenue apartments in fall 2009.  Dr. Jacobs said that many ideas had come out of the group working on a possible “Year of Engagement” theme that Tech could use for enrichment and synergy between educational programs.  Finally one of the groups devoted attention to planning for the Undergraduate Learning Commons.  Dr. Jacobs summarized by saying that the task force as a whole felt that the proposals for trimesters and for interdisciplinary minors held the most promise.  He did receive some questions: 

Q. Did the task force consider a focus on Project-Based Learning?  Ans.  He said the task force felt that was a creative idea but one that should arise from the grassroots of the faculty.  He noted that some efforts were already underway in appropriate curricula.

Q. Were financial incentives looked at for teaching in the summer?  Ans. Dr. Andy Smith (Sr. Vice Provost for Academic Affairs) said, yes, units that teach more summer hours than they did in the past would receive tuition monies from the increase.  He said the other thing that has to be motivated was for students to register for these courses, and Tech was actively working on that.

Q.  Would supporting trimesters increase teaching loads? Ans. Dr. Jacobs said it should not.  He also said if trimesters were successful, it would increase the rate of progress of students through their programs and give students a better deal under the “Fixed for Four” program of limitations on tuition increases.

Q. Would a trimester be shorter than today’s fall and spring semesters? Ans. Yes by 1 week.

Q. Would it be the goal to have three completely equal academic periods, such that one-third of the faculty would be off in each period? Ans. Yes, but the “missing third” could still be here doing research.

Q. What have students been saying about an “equal” summer trimester?  Have they not had an expectation that the summer was not taken as seriously? Ans. Yes, there would be a culture change needed to make this work.  The pilot effort in Summer 2009 should tell Tech a lot.  Dr. Jacobs also said this was a way of regaining some of the curricular flexibility lost when Tech changed from quarters to semesters.


6.   Ms. West called on Dr. Doug Williams to talk about spring elections to faculty governance positions.  Dr. Williams reminded those attending that faculty are elected to standing committees and the Executive Board in the spring each year.  He said that the Nominating Committee which he chairs began identifying candidates a month before this meeting and they needed to be finished in two weeks.  He showed the faculty a list of the positions that needed to be filled by election this year (in Attachment #3).  Those positions shown in red were ones for which enough candidates had not yet been identified.  He asked that nominations be sent to him at the email address on the attachment.  In addition to the standing committee positions listed on Attachment #3, Dr. Williams said there were still more candidates needed for Executive Board races for the College of Architecture and for Services and Central Administration.


7.   Ms. West then called on representatives of Standing Committees to present minutes and any action items requiring approval as recorded in Attachment #4.  The following is an outline of the material presented showing the representatives that appeared to make the presentation. 

a)   Since there were no action items with the minutes of the Faculty Benefits Committee (chaired by Dr. Bettina Cothran), Ms. West simply asked for the approval of the minutes of 9/3/08, 9/29/08, 10/29/08, 12/2/08, and 1/13/09.  These minutes were approved without dissent.

b)   Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (Dr. John Tone): Minutes of 11/19/08, 12/3/08, 12/17/08, 1/5/09, 1/14/09, 1/28/09.
Action Items. From 1/14: ChBE – changes in BS in ChBE (std and biotech versions) to require that 3 electives be ChBE electives instead of free electives (& thus to better comply with ABET); Architecture – 3 new courses in Building Construction + International Plan participation for Industrial Design with several curriculum changes to facilitate this participation; Economics – revision in minor in economics, reducing hours from 18 to 15 (in line with current trends in stds.) and advanced coursework to 9 hours; Biology – revision in the minor in biology reducing hours to 15 and advanced coursework to 9; Chemistry and Biochemistry – deactivate 1 course and add 2 new courses, with attendant changes in curriculum requirements for BS in Biochemistry and BS in Chemistry (various tracks); Computing – changes in the Theory thread for BS in Computer Science, 1 new course, and revision to title of 1 course; ME – deactivate 3 courses; HTS – 2 new courses and changes to curriculum for BS with major in History, Technology, and Society, adding and subtracting certain courses & increasing to 3 the number of courses in science, technology, or medicine and increasing core course requirements to 38 hours, reducing free electives to 18 hours, and requiring a “C” grade or better in certain core courses.  All minutes and action items were approved without dissent.

c)   Graduate Curriculum Committee (Dr. R. Gary Parker):  1/22/09.
Action Items. From 1/22:  Architecture – 3 new courses for Building Construction + 3 new courses for City and Regional Planning.  The minutes and action items were approved without dissent.

d)   Student Regulations Committee (Ms. Reta Pikowsky, for Dr. Jeff Streator, Chair): 2/5/09
Action Items.  From 2/5: 1) New regulations concerning examinations for Advanced Standing:  Removal of mention of a specific application fee because it could change; prerequisites have to be met unless waived by the school offering the course; advanced standing not allowed in lab or studio classes except with consent of the school; limit of 9 credits of advanced standing to qualify for a degree.   2) The committee also recommended a new policy to set the deadline to change the grade mode from letter grade to pass/fail (and vice-versa) as the same day as the last day to withdraw from a course without penalty.  Ms. Pikowsky said that it was recognized that a student might make a mistake and change a course to pass/fail at the last moment, not realizing that a letter grade in that subject was required for graduation.  There has been a concern that academic advisors might not have time to catch all such problems.  To avoid both issues, the Registrar’s Office has committed to monitor such changes and to see to it that problems would be fixed in time.  She said that a new degree audit system would be in place in fall 2009 to help accomplish this.  In the meantime, the office would handle the load manually.  The minutes and action items were approved without dissent.

e)   Student Computer Ownership Committee (Dr. Jon Giffin): 9/2/08, 10/9/08, 11/4/08, 11/25/08, 1/22/09.
Action Items. From 1/22:  Approval of Student Computer Ownership Brochure for Summer and Fall 2009. Dr. Giffin explained that the changes from last year included 1) Discussion of the use of the Mac OS-10 operating system with virtualization of Windows (for those classes that require Windows software); 2) Requirement to have an external hard drive for backups, and 3) Reinstatement of Windows XP as a sanctioned option in addition to Windows Vista.  All minutes and the action item were approved without dissent.

8.      Ms. West asked if there was any new business.  Hearing none, she called on Interim President Gary Schuster, who had joined the meeting following his testimony at the House Higher Education Appropriations Committee meeting concerning Georgia Tech priorities in the recommended 2010 budget.  He offered the following comments on matters of interest to the Georgia Tech community:

a.       He told the assembly that the Board of Regents (BOR) and Chancellor’s Office announced the previous day that there was a single finalist for the position of president of Georgia Tech.  He was Dr. G. P. “Bud” Peterson, Chancellor of the University of Colorado, Boulder.  He reminded the faculty that there was a mandatory two-week period that had to elapse before the Board of Regents could announce a final selection.  This would enable any who wished to provide the BOR with any comments on the selection they were considering.  He reminded the faculty of the link on the Georgia Tech web site for this purpose.  Dr. Schuster spoke very highly of the pending selection.

b.   Dr. Schuster said that the economy and budget situation were very challenging.  At the direction of the Chancellor’s Office, Georgia Tech has made cuts of 8% so far, or a $22 million reduction from about a $400 million operating budget. 

Dr. Schuster said he met with the Governor’s office for coordination to prepare for the possibility that federal stimulus programs might include support for higher education infrastructure. 

He said the immediate challenge was the budget for fiscal year 2010.  The Governor had recommended full funding of the usual formula for units of the University System. 

He reported that the legislature had decided to split their session, with a later portion in June that would allow them to respond to developments from the federal government.  That would present the University System with some challenges because planning would have to be based on estimated budgets followed by adjustments when budgets became official at a much later date than usual.   

Through the rigors and uncertainties of this process, Georgia Tech would need to remain true to its core mission of education and research.  The hard won reputation of Georgia Tech would be the foundation for the future, but Dr. Schuster said that there would be opportunities also to enhance Tech’s reputation.

c.   Dr. Schuster explained that administration officials were working with the Chancellor’s Office to study future tuition options.  The Fixed-for-Four program would continue and constrain allowable tuition figures, he said.  However, other mechanisms to raise needed revenues would be explored.

d.   Dr. Schuster closed his remarks with thanks to Drs. Leon McGinnis and Larry Jacobs for their work on the task forces.  He said they had met some very complex questions involving not only organizational issues but also cultural ones.  He said he felt there were real opportunities for Georgia Tech to move to new levels of accomplishment.  He stated he was very interested in looking at the structural and cultural changes that a modification of the calendar would bring.  He felt the benefits would be widespread, so Tech would work very hard to understand and plan a calendar with trimesters.  He also commented on the idea of a faculty club or of a center for advanced studies.  Mark Allen, Andy Smith, and Dr. Schuster had been meeting recently with faculty members to ask: 1) What does the next level for Georgia Tech look like?  2) How does Tech get there?  He said he was not sure if a formal faculty club would be forthcoming but he valued such deep and creative discussion for what it could seed in ideas for new adventures. 

Dr. Schuster asked for questions:

Q.  How firm was the commitment to the Fixed-for-Four program in light of the fact that the University System now faces very dynamic budget challenges?  Ans. Dr. Schuster said a recent question posed to system presidents indicated that it was an unwelcome constraint.  He reported that Georgia Tech’s Student Government Association recently passed a resolution asking the BOR to reconsider this constraint in light of the economic conditions.  On the other hand, Dr. Schuster said there was considerable support around the state for the program for two reasons:  1) It helped families plan for college costs.  2) The threat of a step up in tuition after four years was believed to encourage timely completion of the degree.  There was a belief in that he said even though data do not support that the time limit has changed behavior.

Q. Are furloughs being considered for faculty of the University System?  Ans. Dr. Schuster said the subject came up in the legislative hearings on the day of this meeting.  A definite answer was not known and if furloughs should come to pass, they would be the result of decisions for the whole University System of Georgia.  However, the research universities have explained to legislators and others that they are different from other state agencies because they bring in a significant fraction of their support from sources other than the state. Thus a blanket furlough would be counterproductive because it would shut down work that others are willing to pay for.  During the present fiscal year Georgia Tech would receive about $250 million in support for teaching and research from the State of Georgia; on the other hand, the faculty would bring in another $500 million in research grants and contracts.  So for every dollar that would be saved by a furlough, two other dollars of revenue would be lost to the State.  Dr. Schuster expressed the hope that this realization would prevent furloughs from being imposed.

8.   The President thanked everyone for their attendance and adjourned the meeting at about 4:30 PM.


Respectfully submitted,


Ronald A. Bohlander
Secretary of the Faculty

April 7, 2009


Attachments to be included with archival copy of the minutes:


  1. Minutes of the Meeting of the Academic Senate and the General Faculty on November 18, 2008
  2. Task Force reports
    1. Interdisciplinarity presentation
    2. Interdisciplinarity full report
    3. Curriculum presentation
  3. Openings for nominations to Faculty Standing Committees
  4. Standing Committee Minutes