GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

MINUTES

ACADEMIC SENATE MEETING

Tuesday December 4, 2001, Student Center Theater

 

 

1.   The President opened the meeting at 3:05 pm and introduced Dan Papp, Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the Board of Regents.

Papp said since joining the Board of Regents he has discovered that there are differences between the real and perceived interests of the State. We are in the midst of a major transition as the new Chancellor starts on January 2. Meredith has experience of heading a network of three research universities in Alabama. Papp did not expect any significant changes to the system during the next 6 months. A recent problem of the last six months has been that some of the system campuses have attempted to expand their activities without full Board approval.

On October 1 the Governor required plans for a possible 2.5 percent  reduction in each campus budget. The Board also set up a committee to review possible reductions of system-wide initiatives. The result has been a requirement to implement the 2.5 percent reduction for each campus and to reduce strategic initiatives by varying amounts. MMR items (Maintenance Renovation and Repair) have been removed entirely from the budgets and they hope to refund this with bond money. The Governor would like to accelerate building plans since bond money is currently “cheap”.  For FY-2003 there is a plan for a 5 percent cut in base budgets although the actual cut might not be so severe. We are not suffering as badly as other states.

Tech and certain other institutions have many high-cost programs which the present funding formula does not properly take into account. We hope to revisit the funding formulae, probably after the next election. The Board also wishes to retain on each campus, the funds generated by Continuing Education activities; currently these are returned centrally to the system as a whole. When asked how Yamacraw would be effected by the cuts, Papp replied that this will move forward as planned but perhaps with a slowed down hiring rate. We have already made 63 hires out of the planned 85 total, so we are ahead of the profile. Research funding will move ahead. Clough commented that at Tech we are already a number of positions ahead  so a slow down only brings us back to the original plans. Papp stated that the big questions are not on Tech’s component but rather on the activities of the non-research Universities in the Yamacraw project.

A new strategic planning process was initiated last Spring. The guiding words are “A more educated Georgia”. A significant issue is “how good do we need to be?” The system has raised admission standards and this concerns many influential people. Can a typical Georgian still get in? In the 1990s the system has expanded from 195,000 students to 205,000 students while the Department of Technical Education has grown from 45,000 to 95,000 students in the same period.

Since the Semester conversion there has been a large drop in student registrations caused by a variety of reactions. Some programs have reduced the credit hours required for graduation; this alone has led to a drop of at least 5 percent in registrations. Many institutions have repackaged courses leading students to reduce the number of hours taken each term. The Board may be asking campuses to look again at admissions criteria.

Another major issue for the system is that the new “Office of Educational Accountability” will require for each institution a “report card”. This will include:

 

Retention Rate

Graduation Rate

Passage rate on an expanded Regent’s Exam

Passage rate on professional license examinations

 

Related to this is the need to agree on definitions of terms (e.g. what is the precise definition of a first-time freshman) and the need to develop verbal statements to explain the data. Review of the numbers, by themselves, has a potential for great dangers and they need explanation. The concept of accountability is being implemented nationwide

Papp was asked how this “report card” would be used. He replied that there was a danger that it might be used as the basis for funding decisions; he hopes use would be restricted to a review of trends. He was asked whether the economic impact of research was properly recognized. Papp replied that the Governor certainly appreciated this. The great danger was that others would see research as a “cash cow” which should be manipulated for the overall benefit of the commercial activities in the state.

Hughes asked about the role of Engineering Education in the State system. He noted that UGA has a stated goal of extending its Engineering offerings; some people in GTREP want a College of Engineering at Ga. Southern. The new Chancellor comes from a State where there are seven Institutions with Engineering programs. Papp replied that the attitude of Meredith to this matter was not known. Georgia Tech, however, plans for a maximum student body of 15,000, is almost at that figure and cannot further expand on-site traditional delivery. We need to review the needs of the state. Clough commented that the need of Engineers was higher than was projected five years ago. Either Tech expands programs into the State or else other institutions will take up the slack. In 1995, the number of students in the State who had SATs above 950 and indicated a desire for engineering education could all be accommodated by Tech and the GTREP program. While there may be demand from Industry for more Engineering graduates, we need to determine whether there are the potential students to fulfill that demand.

 

2.   The President commented further on budgets. Most of the 2.5 percent cut will be absorbed centrally. Budget hearing for the new  year will be delayed until March so there is better information on which decisions may be based. He does, however, anticipate some permanent budget cuts. We must also learn how to turn these things to our advantage. The tuition increases already planned will help somewhat to deal with the cut.

The provost pointed out that the overall Tech budget was around $700M and at any time there was a +/- $5M uncertainty in the total figure due to matters such as grant and contract funding. Even the good weather is important, to date we have saved a million dollars on utility bills. Small reductions will occur in each unit and these will be decided in January.

The President was asked to comment on the status of the search for a new Dean of Engineering. In reply he stated that the search committee will perform preliminary interviews this term and there will be a short list by January.

 

3.   The President called on the Registrar. She stated that the list of degree candidates had been circulated to all units. She moved that all students completing their degree requirements by noon Thursday  December 20 be awarded their degrees. This was agreed without dissent.

 

4.   The President called on Chairs of all Standing Committees of the Academic Faculty to give their annual reports for 2000-2001. (See footnotes for links to full written versions of reports)

(a) Hughes reported on the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee. It had 15 regular meetings and additional subcommittee meetings on petition requests. A new degree program in Biomedical Engineering was approved along with large numbers of new courses and program modifications. Modifications had been made to requirements for core areas B, C, and E. Subcommittees have reviewed general education at Tech, and how to handle study-abroad programs. They handled 885 student petitions of which 266 were requests for readmission (a change from respectively 760 and 330 in the previous year). The majority of these were handled administratively by the Registrar under delegated authority. Committee workload continues to be a major concern. As a result the committee has requested a change to the Statutes to increase the number of faculty on the committee.

(b) Peterson reported on the Graduate Committee. The full committee met 12 times and the petition subcommittee 5 times (reviewing 130 petitions). Forty-four new courses were approved, 19 courses were deactivated. A five-year MS-BS joint program was approved.

(c) Benkeser reported on the Student Regulations Committee. They have instituted a requirement that International Students purchase health insurance; instituted the mid-term grade system; changed the point of official contact with students (from mail box to e-mail); and made numerous changes to the Rules and Regulations.

(d) Usselman reported on the Academic and Financial Affairs Committee. He stated that many faculty might not of heard of this body and the members had attempted to rescue it from dormancy. It met 5 times. They have established a procedure for an annual review of areas of its responsibility and performed a study of centralized advising. They have asked the Executive Board to identify, for the committee, areas of concern that they should address.

(e) Brent Carter reported on the Student Activity Committee. They had approved 21 new charters and 4 amended constitutions; also they approved the budgets for the student activities programs.

(f) Cunefare reported on the Student Grievance and Appeal committee. They have considered more cases than ever before. Of the seven cases, three related to non-academic misconduct and four were a joint case of academic misconduct. All but one was denied.

(g) May reported on the Student Honor committee. There were four cases involving seven students. Six were found responsible and one found not responsible. There was a question as to whether the number of cases was increasing. May reported that there was indeed a substantial increase but most were being dealt with administratively by the Dean of Students and few came to the attention of the Committee.

(h) Realff reported on the Student Computer Ownership Committee. Their role was to define student hardware and software. They have added laptops as a hardware option but not made a significant change to software specifications. They performed a study of the costs to Tech of the Student Computer Ownership program (e.g. infrastructure, software site license costs, OIT’s support expenses).

 

5.  Clough stated that there were various additional administrative committees coming to the end of their tasks. A Committee on public safety, chaired by Wilcox, was about to finish their report. After the events of September 11 we had created a separate group to consider the handling of major emergencies; this group will also report shortly. Wilcox commented that on-campus crime this year is down by about 15 to 20 percent so that last years levels were perhaps a “spike”.

 

6.   President called on Paul Benkeser, Chair of the Student Regulations Committee, to introduce certain proposed changes to the Student Rules and Regulations.[ Note: see attachments for the detailed language of approved changes]

(a) A proposal to alter section VI. F. to state that change of majors by transfer students would be at the discretion of the major school. This was agreed without dissent.

(b) A proposal to change section XIII. D. so that the GPA for graduation would change from 1.95 to 2.00. Currently we show that a 2.00 is required for good standing but a 1.95 is required for graduation. McIver commented that this problem arose when we converted to Banner. Previously we had carried GPAs to only two significant figures. In practice, since the change, we have issued only 36 degrees with a GPA below 2.00. There was discussion as to when this would be made effective. Benkeser stated that the plan was to implement this next semester. Various members commented that perhaps this did not give enough notice to students. Sayle moved that the change be accepted for implementation in the summer of 2002. This was accepted without dissent.

(c) A proposal to change section VI. C. 2. to modify the GPA for good standing for sophomores from 1.90 to 1.80 and the GPA for good standing of juniors from 2.00 to 1.95. It was explained that this does not change the requirements for freshman or seniors and only makes the intermediate scale more gradual. The original numbers were generated for the quarter system where there were more opportunities to recover. Recovery is more difficult under the semester system. There was comment that this may send the wrong signals, it appears to reduce standards. McIver was asked to review the consequences of being below the GPA for “good standing”. She stated that in the first term there is a warning, the second term probation, and that only in the third term is there the consequence of dismissal. Review of the statistics for Spring 2000 shows that 112 sophomores and 96 juniors would have been impacted by a change; most of these would not have been faced with dismissal. She stated that this could, in practice, be implemented for the present term, Fall 2001. It was moved to adopt the change for implementation this Fall. This was passed without dissent.

(d) A proposal for a reformulated “Student Bill of Academic Rights” which is Section XXIII. of the Student Rules and Regulations. (Copy was attached to the agenda). Benkeser explained that there is already such a document in the Regulations and that this is a modification initiated at the request of the students; many of the changes are minor. He reviewed the proposed altered document in detail. There was discussion of the item numbered #6 which stated that the student should be informed in writing or by e-mail of any changes in syllabus. There was discussion of the difficulty of carrying this out and whether a change to a syllabus on a web site was a sufficient notification. It was moved that the words indicating the method of notification be removed so that the provision showed only that “students should be informed of any changes”. This passed without dissent. There was very extended discussion of an item #3 which is a new provision stating that students should receive an evaluation prior to withdrawal date. In response to a question Benkeser stated that even a graded homework would suffice. Various members discussed the difficulty of implementing this in laboratory courses where as much as half the course time is devoted to formulating the project without achieving anything that can be assessed. The problem lays not so much with the requirement but with the drop date being so early. Hughes pointed out that the requirement for an evaluation prior to drop date is separately stated in the Faculty Handbook and that this breaks no new ground. The item is a statement of expectations and there are no explicit penalties or remedies. It was moved that item #3 be deleted and that the proposal then be accepted with all subsequent items renumbered. This was accepted with a single dissenting vote.

 

7.   Chameau (replacing Clough who had departed for another appointment) asked McMath to present a proposal that the name of the “Department of Health and Performance Sciences” be changed to the “Department of Applied Physiology”. McMath commented that the department was in the past primarily a service department. It had now developed a robust research program in Physiology; there were plans for a Graduate program in the future. It was felt that the revised name better represented what the unit sought to contribute in the future. The Undergraduate and Graduate Curriculum Committees both approved the change. Retention of the word “Department” indicated that the decision today would not imply the start of degree programs; that might occur later. In response to a question, Gregor stated that the programs of the unit were different from those of Biology; overlap occurred only at the fringes and this was healthy. All units in the College of Sciences were in favor of the change. There was comment that the change might herald a future move to drop the PE and health-related courses. Gregor stated that there was no intention to drop courses such as HPS 1040 but they intended to place them on a more scientific basis. Activity-oriented classes had already been moved to optional programs. Chameau also stated that there was no intent to drop such courses and they were an important contribution of the College of Sciences. Andy Smith stated that all Schools of the Science College have a strong core instructional role and they will retain this role. It was moved that the change of name be implemented and this was approved without dissent.

 

8.   Chameau asked for approval of the minutes of the Academic Senate dated April 24, 2001. This was approved without dissent.

 

9.  Chameau called for any other business. There being none he closed the meeting at 5:35 pm.

 

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Respectfully Submitted

 

Edward W. Thomas

 

Secretary of the Faculty

December 5, 2001

 

Attachments to the Archival Copy of the Minutes.

(1) Agenda

(2) Attendance list.

(3) Student Rules and Regulations changes — texts of adopted versions.

[Also available at http://www.facultysenate.gatech.edu/usturegapproved.html]

 

Notes:

(1) All written annual reports are to be found with committee minutes at the site

http://www.facultysenate.gatech.edu/CommitteeMinutes00-01.html