GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

MINUTES

ACADEMIC SENATE MEETING

December 5, 2000

Student Center Theater

 

1.   The President opened the meeting at 3:00 p.m. He mentioned that Senator Cleland would be the speaker at commencement. He then introduced the Chancellor, Stephen Portch, to give an address entitled "Visions for Research in the University System and the Role of Tech".

2.   The Chancellor commenced by stating that he wished to give the "big picture" of what we are trying to do in Georgia and specifically the roll of Tech. System wide SATs now exceed national averages for the first time. Preparation in High Schools is improving. HOPE scholarships are helping to keep the best students in the state. In 1984 only 23 percent of students with SATs in the range 1500 to 1600 went to the University System; now 76 percent of that group join the University System. The success of the Capital Campaign has demonstrated commitment to Tech by Alumni and Corporations. Tech’s research volume is excellent and confirms the strategic decision to move the focus of support as defense-related funding faced a decline. It is important that Tech commits itself to a State-wide mission. GTREP is a model of responsiveness to the needs of the State. The Board wishes all Institutions to be distinctive and not all things to all people. Tech was a beta-test site for the Technology Fee program. It was successful here and has now been expanded to all 34 Institutions. The management of Tech is strong and greatly improved from the early 1990s. State funding has been good until recently; but in the last year our salary scales have slipped from second in the South East to fifth. We now need a good year for funding.

Quality costs money. The current funding formula needs change since it does not reward quality. The Chancellor presented state-wide statistics comparing 1985 to the present. Quality of students has improved (SATs are up, percentage with satisfactory college preparation courses in high school is up), student numbers have increased. In contrast, faculty numbers are not much changed, and the percentage of the State budget devoted to higher education has declined. We do not produce the college graduate needed by the expanding economy of the State, we are 47th in the nation in terms of citizens entering college. We have, in the past few years, imported over 100,000 graduates from other states to service the expanding economy. This may not continue if the supplying states experience rapid increases in their own economies. We need to increase the fraction of the population going to college and for this the Governor’s K through 12 initiatives are essential. In recent years we have decreased the fraction of students undertaking remedial courses and are eliminating such activities. The fraction taking College Prep courses in high school is up and the retention rate is up.

Funding for the system is driven by numbers rather than quality. In 1990 there was an unusually large increase in new funds, $40M, linked to the large increases that year in the numbers of students. But these students were of poor quality (low SATs and a high fraction in remedial courses) and the retention to graduation was poor. We have benchmarked Tech against peer institutions. Tech is superior in most areas but is weak in retention and graduation rates. We need to understand the reasons for this and remedy the matter. This is a very important issue for Tech.

Research is in very good shape. The Chancellor expects that cooperation with other institutions will be very important in the future. Tech must form strategic partnerships. In particular Tech must embrace "Entrepreneurship with Integrity"; he suggested that the Senate should grapple with this issue. He commented that Maryland has just set up dorms for entrepreneurial students and expects that e-businesses will be conducted from such dorms.

The Chancellor stated that he did not see Technology as leading to the demise of the traditional University. Rather it will free up faculty time and allow them to develop new roles. He asked Tech to be a good system citizen. He particularly commended the program that allows Faculty of two-year institutions to work at Tech; programs of this type strengthen the whole system.

The Chancellor was asked whether the focus on the retention issue was driven by national rankings. He replied that this was not the case. We need to benchmark ourselves against similar institutions. In comparison with MIT and Stanford we have weaker retention rates.

The Chancellor was asked whether we need a formal sabbatical system. He replied that we needed to research ourselves to find out what factors were related to improved performance. For example, it has never been shown whether a large full-time complement of faculty members leads to a positive impact on retention— although we might all believe that should be so.

There was a comment that 50 percent of Tech’s student body was from out of state and that this contributes to our reputation as a truly national institution. If retention is improved, can we maintain this percentage? Portch responded that he would really like to see this percentage decline through the improvement of the students who apply from the State of Georgia. If indeed retention improves, then one would also need to reduce the size of the Freshman class and that might be a good thing.

President Clough concluded the discussion by thanking the Chancellor. He commented that Portch supports Tech as the sole place to do engineering in the Georgia State University System.

3.   The President called on the Registrar to present degree candidates. The Registrar moved that: "All degree candidates who satisfactorily complete their degree requirements by Tuesday, December 12th be awarded their degrees at Fall Commencement on December 16th." This was approved without dissent.

4.   The President Called on Leon McGinnis and Richard LeBlanc to introduce the report of the committee on Reappointment Promotion and Tenure Practices. McGinnis commented that the focus was on practices rather than procedures. The Committee was recommending first a set of changes to the Faculty handbook sections covering RPT (see attachment #2 for full details) These include:

-- A specification of a deadline for communicating to candidates the schedule for consideration of their case (Section 3.3.2.2.(c)).

-- A. specification of the outcomes of the review process (Section 3.3.2.2 (e))

-- Clarification of what happens if a 3rd year critical review involves reappointment with warning (Section 3.3.2.2(f))

-- A new paragraph to deal with leaves of absence (Section 3.3.2.2(h))

-- A specification of the feedback mechanism to the faculty person (Section 3.3.2.3))

-- A clarification of what happens if a faculty member does not meet deadlines (Section 3.3.3.4(b))

-- Some enhanced definition of creative contributions (Section 3.3.3.5)

-- As well as a number of grammatical and spelling corrections.

Joe Hughes asked whether the specification of outcomes (3.3.2.2.(e)) would require each level of review to arrive at one of the four specified outcomes; perhaps leading to four different options for checking on the cover sheet. McGinnis replied that in essence the four outcomes were already in use through the covering letters.

There was discussion of the timing involved when a third-year review results in a "Reappointment with Warning"; further critical review in a fourth year when a full review was to take place in the fifth year seems cumbersome. McGinnis replied that the committee had not really considered this.

There was a question as to why June 1st had been considered as a deadline (to notify faculty of the schedule) and that for some units this might seem rather late. McGinnis commented that this was the latest date; units could obviously do it earlier. A date much later than this would fall into the Summer term when many faculty are off campus.

Richard LeBlanc then introduced the "Best practices" document prepared by the committee (See attachment #3 for full details). He stated that there are wide variations between the practices of different units. The committee has collected together practices which seem to work well. Many young faculty do not know how the decisions are made and the general thrust of the document is to improve the openness of the process. The committee provides this document as something which they believe will help the process. It is not intended in any way to be a legislative document nor to represent mandatory practices.

5. The President then called on Chairs of Committees of the Academic Senate to report on their activities for the previous year.

(a) Joe Hughes reported on behalf of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee. There have been 14 regularly scheduled meetings, with additional petition subcommittee meetings. In addition to approval of curriculum and certificate proposals there were 760 student petitions including 330 requests for readmission. In five cases, students appeared in person to appeal the previous denial of a petition. The Committee also instituted the 7-week accelerated Summer term as an experiment in the Summer of 2000 only; this issue will be reviewed to develop a policy for future years.

(b) Nolan Hertel reported on behalf of the Graduate Curriculum Committee. This met nine times during the year and the petition review subcommittee met five times. Two new MS degrees were approved as well as two certificate and program conversions from quarter to semester systems. Other important matters included a new semester hour load policy for graduate students and changing of the maximum time allowed for the Ph.D. degree to seven years.

(c) Deborah Johnson reported on behalf of the Student Regulations Committee. They had recently changed the rules for total withdrawal from school to conform to Federal Rules regarding student support. They had initiated the use of e-mail as the official contact point with students; but there have been concerns about this matter and they were revisiting it. The bulk of their time has been devoted to a complete update of the Student Regulations for the Catalog and they expect to present this to the Faculty at the February meeting.

(d) Jo McIver reported that the Student Academic and Financial Affairs Committee had not met in the last year; all routine decisions relating to excused student absences were handled administratively. The committee was just now considering its role and was planning to be more active in the present year.

(e) Edward Thomas read the report of the Student Activities Committee (in the absence of M.F.Panetierre ). The committee had approved charters for 18 student organizations, revisions for one, referred five charters back for revisions and tabled four proposals. The Committee had also approved the SGA budget and discussed potential liability issues surrounding unchartered organizations.

(f) Roberto Leon reported that the Student Grievance and Appeal committee had reviewed two cases and denied both. They further recommend that in the case of judicial proceedings the student e-mail account should not be the official point of contact.

(g) Gary May reported that the Student Honor Committee met six times for six hearings. In four cases they found that the student was responsible for the matters of which they were accused and in two cases they were not responsible.

(h) Matthew Realff reported on behalf of the Student Computer Ownership Committee. They are responsible for defining Hardware and Software standards for entering students. The committee seeks guidance on whether major decisions should be brought to the Senate for approval.

6. The President called on Joe Hughes to introduce for approval minutes and action items from the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee.

(a) Hughes discussed the minutes dated July 12, July 19, Aug 2 and Aug 25 which have been posted and referenced in the call for the meeting. He moved for approval and this was agreed without dissent.

(b) Hughes separately introduced the proposal for a BS degree in Biomedical Engineering; this has been approved by the UCC on November 1 but the minutes have not yet been posted. Hughes described the degree program and moved for approval. This was granted without dissent.

(c) Hughes further moved approval of all other items on the November 1 and November 8 minutes of this committee which had been distributed at the door. This was agreed without dissent.

(d) Hughes further discussed at length the consideration of Tech’s compliance with the University System Core Requirements. While Tech has secured waivers of some of these requirements there are others where we are not in compliance; the problems are particularly in the areas of Humanities and Social Sciences. The UCC has the matter under current consideration, will circulate a proposed resolution to all schools in January and will bring the matter to this body in February.

7.   The President then called on Nolan Hertel to introduce for approval minutes and action items from the Graduate Curriculum Committee. Hertel moved approval of minutes dated August 2, September 7, October 12 and November14th. There was discussion of the proposal to increase the hours (to 12) that an undergraduate may take and count towards a Masters degree. Hertel stated that increasing numbers of students planned for a combined Bachelors and Masters program and the change allowed flexibility in the scheduling of the graduate courses. All the minutes were approved without dissent. 

8.   The President stated that he welcomed to the campus Richard Meyer who is the new Head of the Library. He further commented on a recent newspaper article that appeared to state that none of the students who entered Tech in 1993 as athletes in the football program had graduated. He stated that this was a class of six years ago which involved many "special admissions" and a generally low academic standard. Moreover the statistics gave an unfair picture since some students had transferred out of Tech in good standing and these were counted "not graduating". Much had been done since that date including the formation of an Academics Committee to advise the Athletic Board. Academic standards are now much improved.

9. The President closed the meeting and 4:50 p.m. 

Respectfully submitted

 

Edward W. Thomas

Secretary of the Faculty

December 6, 2000

 

Attachments to the archival Copy of the Minutes:

(1)   Agenda

(2)   (2) Degree Candidates Fall Semester 2000

(3)   Proposed changes to the procedures of the Faculty Handbook regarding RPT  (Also to be found at the web site:  http://www.facultysenate.gatech.edu/zrtpfachand.html

(4)   A document giving recommended (best) practices for RTP  (Also to be found at the web site: http://www.facultysenate.gatech.edu/zrtppractices.html

(5)   UCC minutes of November 1 and November 8 (Preliminary copies -- to be posted later at the web site http://www.facultysenate.gatech.edu/CommitteeMinutes00-01.html.