GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
Meeting of March 12, 2002
Held in the Poole Board Room of the Wardlaw Building
Members Present: Abdel-Khalik (ME); Allen (Arch); Boyd (Stu Servcs); Hall (Bio); Henry (OSP); Jayaraman (Mgt); Kahn (CEE); Marr (Psy); Swank (GTRI); Wardi (ECE); Welch (GTRI); Clough (Pres.); Alexander (Staff Rep); Kavanaugh (U. Stu.); Thomas (SoF).
Members Absent: Estes (EDI); Mark (CoC); McGuire (LCC); Richards (GTRI); Chameau (Provost); Childress (G. Stu):
Visitors: Bob McMath (Provost Office); April Brown (Pres. Ofc.)
1. Said Abdel Khalik, Chair, opened the meeting at 3:05 pm and invited the President to comment on recent events.
2. Clough first discussed State budgetary matters. The supplemental budget is not yet finished and is now in conference committee. Work on the 2003 continuing budget has just started. The proposed average salary increase has decreased slightly to 3.25 percent (from 3.5 percent). A further $80M must still come out of the 2003 budget to deal with anticipated shortfalls. This will lead to a further 1 percent cut in the University System budget or an overall cut of 6 percent. There will also be cuts in the following year because taxation income lags economic recovery. We are in better shape than many other states; in North Carolina there is to be a 7.5 percent budget cut this year followed by a cut of 10 percent in the following year.
Tuition is going up in many places. Private Institutions have seen their endowments decline due to stock market changes. Public Institutions are facing budget cuts due to declining taxation revenue. Both types of Institutions are considering tuition increases. At Tech we will next year have the second stage of the planned increase in out-of-state tuition that will raise an additional $4.0M. Research income is projected to exceed last year’s record. Tech’s endowment has held up well. On campus budget hearings will start shortly.
We hear that NSF Career Awards to Tech are believed to number 13 and not all decisions have been made. Last year’s total was 13 and we led the nation.
At the Federal level a result of the end of the cold war has been a reduction in research funding for Engineering and the Sciences. Congress decided to reverse the decline in overall research funding but did this through large increases in the NIH budget. Now the situation is out of balance and there are moves to change the distribution. John Marburger, the President’s Science Advisor, will be the speaker at both Commencements.
There is a move towards academic reform in the NCAA. A final vote will be taken in the Fall and the result will be to lift standards in some institutions.
The President was asked whether he saw any programmatic impact of the budget cuts. He responded that this was not yet clear. With a budget that is 90 percent personal services there must be some impact on personnel levels. The actual cut at Tech might be in the region of 2.5 percent. While there is a general 6 percent cut in overall budgets the increase in enrollments at Tech should justify an addition to the appropriation.
In response to a question Clough stated that he did not foresee an increase in tuition costs. Of the $775M total budget some $40M comes from tuition. This is core funding and is very important to continuing activities. Research funding accounts for $325M of the total budget and this is highly focused. Payments by in-state students are supposed to be 25 percent of total program costs. Out-of-State students are supposed to pay full program costs. The value of a Georgia Tech degree might justify charging an additional premium. A danger of increasing tuition is that it might price some people out of Tech. We need economic diversity and must increase resources for financial aid.
3. It was moved that the Minutes of the February 12th meeting of the Executive Board be approved as posted. This was agreed without dissent.
4. The Chair opened a discussion on the proposed “Policy on Religious Observances”. April Brown explained that the document discussed at an earlier meeting had been revised somewhat; the new version is attached to the agenda for the meeting (and to these minutes– see below). The time period for students to notify faculty of a possible conflict has been altered and the dates of major observances added. It has also incorporated feedback from the Graduate Committee.
Brown was asked about the process for adding dates. She stated that input to the list could be accepted at any time. Thomas read comments sent to him. The Graduate Committee questions whether this is a real problem requiring solution; they also suggest that a policy of allowing students to drop assignments provides flexibility to accommodate religious observances. The Registrar feels that the idea is noble in principle but impossible to implement. Brown replied that there are already a few cases a year where students are denied consideration of an absence related to religious observances; on one occasion the faculty member stated that he would have given consideration to the matter if Tech had a stated policy. The dropping of assignments is designed to reduce the impact of poor grades; to require that a student take a drop for a religious observance represents a penalty. Overall the policy would need to be implemented with reasonableness on all sides.
McMath commented that the few cases arising each year could have been avoided if the Faculty member was aware of dates. Marr stated that presumably the School Calendar would need to have such information included; Brown agreed. Young stated that the actual number of students with problems in this area was more like 10 to 15 a year and most were dealt with by the Dean of Students. Kavanaugh commented that there were probably many more cases where students were penalized but they just accept the result.
Wardi stated that we should not specify particular dates since this acts to exclude religious groups. Perhaps there should be a committee to deal with disagreements on interpretation of the policy. Swank suggested that the names of religious days be removed from the policy and that there be some kind of escalation mechanism for dealing with conflicts; conflicts ought to be resolved at the school level but if not should be referred to a committee. Thomas commented that the “Student Grievance and Appeal Committee” would seem to be an appropriate body. Welch suggested that the responsibility for implementing the policy be placed on the student. Brown replied that the policy states that the student is responsible for notifying the faculty as soon as possible. Kavanaugh asked whether there is a proposal to also include National Holidays; Brown said no.
The Chair proposed that Brown modify the policy to accommodate comments, particularly removing the lists of specific days. Then the proposed policy would be circulated to all relevant committees for comment. There was no dissent to this suggestion.
5. The Chair asked McMath to comment on possible follow-up to the discussion on “Grading Policy” which occurred at the Feb 5th GFA/AS meeting. McMath said that the debate had been valuable and had evolved into a discussion of grading and learning. National surveys show that grade inflation has occurred in the last 15 years with the most severe examples being at the Ivy League Universities. It has occurred also at Tech but simultaneously there were increases in SAT scores and other measures of ability. The discussion had involved possible models of change and highlighted the use of the grading activity as part of the teaching process.
Marr stated that grading had two functions. One to encourage people to learn and the second an evaluative function. He would like to see a group lay out the questions involved, such as what is grade inflation, why does it occur and how does it vary with major. Also an examination of the implications.
The Chair stated that we needed to examine how to build on the discussion. McMath said that there were already a number of faculty groups looking at the matter. Wardi, speaking as liaison to the Student Academic and Financial Affairs Committee, said that this group would like to take over administration of the discussion and that it would be better to involve an existing Standing Committee rather than to create a new body. There was some discussion as to what the specific charge might be. The Chair suggested that he form a small group to review the matter, work out a charge and refer the matter to the Committee for further consideration. This was agreed without dissent.
There was further discussion on whether Tech’s grades were in fact lower than comparable institutions, how the grades related to SAT, whether units pressure faculty to grade according to certain levels and the suggestion of using the “Assessment Seminar” as a vehicle for further faculty discussion.
6. The Chair opened a discussion for finding a replacement person to serve as “Secretary of the Faculty” after Thomas retires. Since Abdel Khalik has been nominated for the position he requested Gisele Welch to chair this part of the meeting and he removed himself from the meeting. Welch asked whether there were any further suggestions or comments. Hall asked whether any additional suggested names would be accepted at that meeting; it was agreed that this could be permitted. It was moved that the name of Said Abdel Khalik be proposed to the General Faculty Assembly for approval as Secretary at its April 23rd meeting, and that names of any further candidates be requested at that meeting before a vote is taken. This was agreed without dissent.
7. Chair asked for approval of the proposed Agenda for the April 23rd meeting of the Academic Senate (outlined in the agenda for this meeting). The meeting will need to be simultaneously designated as a “Called Meeting of the General Faculty” in order to deal with proposed changes to the Statutes. It has been suggested that there be an interim report to the faculty from the “Committee on Academic Misconduct”. Karen Young confirmed that the committee would be ready to present a report at that time. Clough suggested that there he should present a review of the final budgetary decisions for the year; this could be incorporated in the preliminary remarks. The outline agenda was approved without dissent.
8. Said Abdel Khalik called on Karen Young to discuss the question of replacement faculty on the Student Honor Committee. Young stated that the legal department had now confirmed that the Statutory provision for replacement of absent members of Standing Committees was appropriate and applicable to this committee. It had been suggested that a small phrase be added to make it quite clear that replacements were acceptable for this committee; the Statutes Committee were now working on this matter.
Young commented on the Honor Code violations related to Introductory Courses in the College of Computing; there are currently 187 cases. It should be remembered that these are spread over 10 assignments in two courses taken by 1600 students. As of March 1 her office had dealt with 134 cases. Of these, 17 had been exonerated, 109 accepted responsibility, 4 were found to be inaccurate, and 4 had been referred to the Student Honor Committee. Decisions on punishment range from reprimand to Probation. One person is deemed potentially “suspendable” on the grounds they might have “set-up” another student. The review of these cases had involved 443 hours of extra work in the form of overtime, volunteers and temporary help.
Swank asked for confirmation that these cases are all identified by the CoC Automated Search Program. Young confirmed this and said the CoC had decided to forward all cases to the Dean of Students, together, at the end of the term. She was asked whether the remaining cases would be dealt with in the present academic year; she stated that effort on this matter is being reduced. The Chair questioned whether considerations could be uniform when many different people were involved in the review. Young stated that the other personnel assembled the information and that she handled all decisions. Wardi asked why there were so many cases. Young responded that students feel stressed; they had often left the assignment to the last moment and then found it impossible to get assistance from Faculty. Many of this particular set of students had delayed taking this course and were now very close to graduation. . The CoC is now reviewing the process of the course and will change how it is taught. Chapel Hill and Univ. of Georgia. also report that Computer Science Courses give rise to the bulk of their cheating accusations. Welch said that students inform her that faculty are not available to assist and they point out that there are only a limited number of ways of carrying out simple projects. Wardi commented that the students are given very clear instructions on what is permitted. In Computer Science the writing of programs is the main test of performance, and this must be carried out individually by students.
9. The Chair called for any other business. There being none he closed the meeting at 4:20 pm.
Edward W. Thomas
Secretary of the Faculty
March 15, 2002
(1) Copy of the Agenda (Attached only to archival copy of minutes)
(2) Proposed Policy on Religious Observances (version of 12 March 2002)
Policy on Religious Observances
It has always been the policy of the Institute to permit students and faculty to take part in those major observances set aside by their religious faith. These include but are not limited to the following:
Rosh Hashanah (Jewish)
Yom Kippur (Jewish)
Birth of Baha’u’llah (Baha’i)
It is the responsibility of those students who wish to be absent for religious reasons to notify faculty members as soon as possible after the beginning of the semester and no later than two weeks prior to the observance as to their intention to miss a particular class session. Students will be responsible for making up work that is missed as a result of absence/s. It is the responsibility of the faculty to ensure that student requests are reviewed with sensitivity and that no student is penalized as a result of this type of absenteeism. It is also the responsibility of those faculty members who wish to be absent to notify their school chairs and make arrangements to have their classes covered.