GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

MEETING OF THE GENERAL FACULTY, GENERAL FACULTY ASSEMBLY, AND ACADEMIC SENATE

 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010, 3:00 pm

Student Center Theater

 

MINUTES

 

 

1.      President Bud Peterson opened the meeting at 3:00 P.M. and offered the following comments on matters of interest to the Georgia Tech community:

a)   On Feb. 9, the House Appropriations Higher Education Sub-Committee met to develop budget recommendations that were subsequently amended on Feb. 16 by the full committee.  Dr. Peterson said that many of the details were still in flux because the budget would not be settled until the General Assembly voted.  However, the administration believed that they had plans in place that could accommodate budget reductions unless significantly deeper cuts arose in upcoming deliberations.  He noted that February state revenue reports could have a significant impact on final budgets.

b)   The Provost search continued.  Dean Steve Salbu was chairing the search and has asked for additional nominations.  The R. William Funk & Associates search firm was supporting the effort.

The searches for new deans for Ivan Allen College and the College of Computing were also progressing well.

2.      The President asked for approval of the minutes of the meeting of November 17, 2009, a meeting of the Academic Senate.  He 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.   Dr. Peterson called on Ms. JulieAnne Williamson (Asst. Vice-President for Administration & Finance) to tell the faculty about recent changes in the organization of Administration and Finance.  She presented the material found in Attachment #2.  Concerning the organizational chart on slide 7, Ms. Williamson explained that a search was being conducted to fill the vacancy in Senior Vice President of Administration and Finance.  She explained some of the new offices under administration and finance per the slides following this chart. 

Q. Why did Affiliated Organizations report to the Associate Vice-President for Institute Risk Management? Ans.  Ms. Williamson explained that these organizations (like the Georgia Tech Foundation, the Alumni Association and the Georgia Tech Athletic Association) managed themselves but the relationships were possible areas for risk management.  There was also a legal interface between Georgia Tech and its affiliates, and so the Office of Legal Affairs under the same Assoc. VP was an important part of the interface.

Q. Why was Environmental Health and Safety under Facilities instead of being under Institute Risk Management?  Ans. Ms. Williamson explained that indeed environmental health and safety issues were important in risk management, but when such topics were focused under risk management there was a tendency for them to be addressed in an enforcement mode rather than in a proactive problem solving mode.  It was believed that Georgia Tech would make more progress in these important areas by identifying and implementing best practices from the outset.  This function would also have an important voice at the table in risk management.  President Peterson said that he expected this organization to accomplish more uniform attention to important areas such as the safety of fume hoods.

Q. What were the problems that led to the realignment of Administration & Finance?  Ans. Ms. Williamson said the old structure was the result of fifteen years’ accumulated functions all reporting directly to the Executive Vice-President for Administration and Finance.  The driving objectives in the change were to make the organization more responsive and to create better teamwork within related functions.  It was not to correct specific problems but to create a more capable organization.  President Peterson said the changes were important steps toward the directions coming out of the Institute-wide strategic planning process that was under way. 

4.   The President called on Dr. Kirk Bowman (Vice-Chair of the Georgia Tech Executive Board and Co-Chair of the Nominations Committee) to talk about upcoming elections to faculty standing committees.  Dr. Bowman began by saying that he was a professor that specialized in Latin America and his last book was on electoral fraud and military coups, so it was with some irony that he and Monique Tavares were now co-chairs of the faculty Nominations Committee.  Dr. Bowman presented the chart in Attachment #3 showing the committees for which new members would be elected.  Those for which the Nominations Committee had too few nominations were highlighted in red.  Dr. Bowman noted that strong and effective faculty committees were essential to the vitality of Georgia Tech as a learning community because, through these committees, faculty sought to improve things essential to their ability to do a good job at the Institute.  He asked that faculty contact Monique Tavares or him very soon with further offers to serve or with nominations of colleagues.

5.   Dr. Peterson explained that Georgia Tech’s Executive Board had discussed at its last meeting the development by the Georgia Assembly of legislation to permit concealed carry of weapons on campus, something which was now prohibited by law.  The Board decided that an open discussion of this issue would be held at this faculty meeting. He therefore called on Mr. Robert Pikowsky, JD, Chair of the faculty’s Security & Welfare Committee to lead this discussion.  Mr. Pikowsky opened with a PowerPoint presentation (Attachment #4a) covering some background on this issue and thanked Mr. Dene Sheheane, Director of Government Relations for help with this.  [Mr. Pikowsky also provided the faculty with a handout given in Attachment #4b.] He explained that Mr. Sheheane was needed at the capitol and thus could not be with the faculty for this discussion.  In his presentation, he highlighted the principal differences between existing law and proposed legislation (HB 615 and SB 308).  While the proposed legislation would lift the prohibition of concealed weapons on and near campuses, licenses to carry would not be issued to anyone under 21 years old (nor to felons or those who had been hospitalized with mental illness).  Mr. Pikowsky noted that this summary was assembled on short notice so only dealt with a high-level view of the principal features of the proposed legislation.

Mr. Pikowsky called on Ms. Teresa Crocker, Director of Security and Police at Georgia Tech for comment.  Chief Crocker stated that she did not feel the proposed legislation would be good for the campus.  She said experience showed that students carrying guns did not reduce violence on campus.  Instances of self-defense use were very rare.  She said the number one law enforcement problem on college campuses was theft of property.  So she anticipated that guns left in backpacks and cars would be stolen, leading in turn to more weapons in the hands of criminals.  She cited concern about the potential mixture of alcohol and gun use as a risk area and also the potential role of guns in suicides.  Chief Crocker also noted that students carrying weapons greatly complicated police responses to any gunfire incident on campus.  Training focused their attention on the source of gunfire as the source of the problem, but if multiple shooters were involved some of which were responding in self defense, then police actions were greatly complicated.  Finally, she foresaw the potential for gun accidents if students were carrying guns.  Chief Crocker asked for questions:

Q. Were there other weapons (besides guns) that students could carry for self defense? Ans. Pepper spray.

Q. What fraction of students was under 21 years of age and thus not allowed to carry guns in any case? Ans. About two-thirds.

Q. What about faculty carrying weapons? Ans. The proposed law was not about college campuses or about students in particular. It provided a general permission for concealed carry with only a few exempted venues such as courthouses.  So faculty or anyone including visitors could carry guns on campus if the legislation was adopted.  This permission was not just for handguns but for any legal weapon including shotguns or rifles.

Q. What was being done to reduce fear from armed assault in the area around campus? Ans. Focused efforts were underway to deal with the types of incidents that have recently been in the news, but Chief Crocker observed that fluctuations in activity were a normal feature of crime statistics.

Mr. Pikowsky called on Ms. Alina Staskevicius, president of the undergraduate student body, to present some views from students.  She said the views she would provide were her own personal views.  She recently had the opportunity to testify before a Georgia General Assembly subcommittee on HB 615 and told them she was personally against the bill as written.   She believed that bringing guns into a campus was inappropriate because the campus was a place where tensions and emotions ran high.  She felt that a campus should be a place where controversial issues were discussed safely.  There should be no worries that someone might object to views presented and make threats with guns. Ms. Staskevicius reported that a resolution opposing HB 615 was pending for consideration by undergraduates of the Student Government Association.

Ms. Linda Harley, president of the graduate student body, stated that the graduate students of the Student Government Association had already passed a resolution opposing HB 615.  The feeling was that the bill would increase risk to the safety of students on campus.

Mr. Pikowsky and President Peterson asked for further questions:

Q. In the summary of the proposed legislation, there was a statement that this legislation would not interfere with a property owner’s ability to prohibit someone from coming on their property with a weapon.  Did that mean that a university could make its own rule that there be no guns on campus? Ans. That provision applied only to private property owners and it would not enable a state university such as Georgia Tech to make such a rule.  This provision also applied to pre-existing rights to prohibit.  State universities had not previously made such rules because state law already prohibited weapons on campuses.  Thus, neither Georgia Tech nor the Board of Regents would be able to restrict concealed carry of weapons on campus.

Professor George Riley made a motion to adopt the following resolution:

The Georgia Tech faculty is vehemently opposed to House Bill 615.

The motion was seconded.  President Peterson encouraged those who had a different opinion than this motion to be sure to speak up in discussion. 

Q. Were there any modifications to HB 615 that would make it acceptable? Ans. The President observed that this was an opportunity for the faculty to consider whether they wanted to continue with the resolution as stated or wanted to make a philosophical statement about the acceptability of guns on campus carried by any persons other than licensed police officers and the like.  Dr. Riley said that he personally had a philosophical objection but felt it was better to oppose the proposed legislation.

Q. Did the current law allow unconcealed carry of weapons on campus? Ans. Chief Crocker said, no. Weapons were not allowed under any circumstances on campus or within 1000 feet.  President Peterson explained that one of the reasons the new law was proposed was that the thousand foot buffer around the campus was not widely understood or easily enforced.  Many were probably already in violation of the current law.

Q. Would it be possible for members of the Georgia Tech community to receive special training and be granted special authorization to carry concealed weapons, so that persons who might threaten the campus would know there were people embedded in the community who could stop them?  This would be analogous to the air marshall program.  Ans. The President said his strong views against guns on campus were somewhat well known.  When interviewed recently by the press, he was asked if allowing concealed carry on campus would make it safer, and he said absolutely not.  He said a few students might have appropriate training but most did not and the legislation did not discriminate.  Mr. Pikowsky and Chief Crocker observed that in the State of Georgia there was no required training associated with application for and receipt of a concealed carry permit.

The question was called and the above motion passed unanimously.

Q. What was Georgia Tech doing to express its opinion on this legislation? Ans. Georgia Tech’s student leaders, Ms. Staskevicius and Ms. Harley, have held discussions with other student leaders.  The Board of Regents (BoR) issued a unanimous resolution to the Georgia Assembly opposing HB 615.  The Presidents of all institutions under the BoR have signed a letter in opposition to the legislation.  The President said he had spoken forcefully in opposition and had spoken to both the House and Senate sponsors of the legislation.  He continued to meet with legislators and Regents about why this proposed change in the law is a bad idea.  He said he appreciated the opinions of the faculty and students in support of this course of action.

Q. Was it possible to pass a Georgia Tech rule now that there could be no guns on campus such that this rule would be grandfathered in if the new law passed? Ans. The President said he did not have any indication such a campus rule would hold up if the legislation passed in its present form.

Q. What could members of the Georgia Tech community do to oppose this legislation?  Ans. One could write one’s representatives in the General Assembly and make one’s position known, either for or against.

6.   President Peterson noted that there were minutes of the Faculty Benefits Committee [dated 9/28/09, & 10/26/09] and of the Welfare & Security Committee [dated 9/8/09, 10/13/09, & 11/11/09] that needed approval.  There were no action items to approve.  A motion to approve the minutes passed without dissent.

7.   The President then called on representatives of Standing Committees of the Academic Faculty to present minutes of recent meetings and any action items requiring approval.  In most cases the representatives followed closely the reports in the committees’ files on the faculty governance website noted in Attachment #5 below and so this text need not be repeated here.   The following is an outline of the material presented showing the representatives that appeared to make the presentation. 

a)   Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (Prof. George Riley): 12/15/09, 1/5/10, 1/12/10, 1/26/10, 2/9/10
Action Items. From 1/12: Management – allow two Mgt/ME cross-listed courses to count as electives for BS in Mgt and for Engineering & Mgt Minor; LCC – degree modifications to BS in Computational Media to require CS 1332 instead of having one of the free electives, and a minor mod to the Women, Science, & Technology minor to add an Econ course to the list approved electives; EAS – 5 new courses, change in core elective list for BS in EAS, and addition of Geophysics Track to Minor in EAS; Modern Languages – 23 new courses, 9 courses deactivated, new degree in BS in Applied Languages and Intercultural Studies (BSALIS). From 2/9: Chemistry – 2 new courses and a process for handling transfer credits; Biology – 1 new course.
For Information: New Guidelines approved for Special Topics Courses:

·         It is encouraged (but not required) to offer new courses as Special Topics courses twice before applying for status as a New Course with a permanent course number.

·         If an application is made for a New Course and it has not been given as a Special Topics course first, an explanation should be given in the application paperwork.

·         It is recommended that a given course be given no more than three times as a Special Topics course before applying for status as a New Course with a permanent course number.

·         The appearance of the student record and effects on degree auditing should be considered in the use of Special Topics courses for satisfying degree requirements.

All minutes and action items were approved without dissent.

b)   Graduate Curriculum Committee (Prof. Julie Babensee):   1/14/10, 2/11/10
Action Items. From 1/14: EAS – 5 new courses; HTS – 9 new courses, 4 deactivated, and creation of a History Track & a Sociology Track in the MS in History and Sociology of Technology and Science degree; Biology – 1 new course.  From 2/11: Public Policy – 1 new course, 1 deactivated; Management –an exception made to pass/fail policy to allow 4 credit hours of pass/fail.
For Information: New Guidelines approved for Special Topics Courses:

·         It is encouraged (but not required) to offer new courses as Special Topics courses at least once before applying for status as a New Course with a permanent course number.

·         If an application is made for a New Course and it has not been given as a Special Topics course first, an explanation should be given in the application paperwork.

·         It is recommended that a given course be given no more than three times (or twice if that is the preference of the college) as a Special Topics course before applying for status as a New Course with a permanent course number.

·         The appearance of the student record and effects on degree auditing should be considered in the use of Special Topics courses for satisfying degree requirements.

·         Schedulers should record secondary titles in Banner.

All minutes and action items were approved without dissent.

8.   The President called on Dr. Anselm (Andy) Griffin, Chair of the School of Polymer, Textile, and Fiber Engineering (PTFE) to present a plan to merge his school with the School of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE).  He presented the material in Attachment #6.  Dr. Griffin explained at the outset that this proposed merger was the result of a natural evolution of PTFE.  It was formed as a department of Textile Engineering in the 1890s but in more recent times has had more and more emphasis on polymer engineering.  The time had come to recognize and take advantage of the complementary nature of this school’s offerings with those of MSE which has concentrated on metals and ceramics.  The full range of soft and hard materials would then be covered in the new school of MSE.  He reported that the faculties of both schools have been supportive of this merger.  He stated that the planned start of the merged school was July 1, 2010.

Q. Would this merger lead to new degree requirements and the like?  Ans.  Current students and the next class of entering students would be enrolled in degree programs corresponding to the legacy degrees in PTFE and MSE.  This would likely be discontinued in a year or two and be replaced by a new degree in Materials Science and Engineering.  Probably a polymer and fiber track would be offered as an optional concentration.

President Peterson stated that the planned merger of these two schools was an administrative matter and that faculty input was welcome toward making this a success.  When subsequent changes in degrees were needed in the future, however, the faculty would have to review and approve such changes before they could be implemented.

9.   Hearing no further business, Dr. Peterson adjourned the meeting at about 4:40 PM.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Ronald A. Bohlander
Secretary of the Faculty

April 24, 2010

 

Attachments to be included with archival copy of the minutes:

 

  1. Minutes of the Meeting of the Academic Senate November 17, 2009.
  2. Description of organizational changes in Administration and Finance
  3. Request for nominees for faculty committees
  4. Discussion of proposed state legislation to change rules concerning carrying guns on campus
    1. Presentation of background
    2. Handout on background
  5. Minutes of Standing Committees
  6. Presentation of a planned merger of the Schools of Materials Science and Engineering and Polymer, Textile, and Fiber Engineering