GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
CALLED MEETING OF THE GENERAL FACULTY
MEETING OF THE ACADEMIC SENATE
ANNUAL MEETING OF THE ACADEMIC FACULTY
Tuesday, April 19, 2005, 3:00 pm
Student Center Theater
1. Dr. Robert McMath (Vice Provost) opened the meeting at 3:05 PM (in behalf of the President who is attending the Board of Regents meeting). He offered the following remarks on matters of interest to the Georgia Tech community:
a. The FY06 State budget for higher education has been approved. The budget includes full funding for the formula; we are pleased that the Legislature has continued to do so (despite recent discussions of discontinuing full formula funding). Unfortunately, the new money provided by formula funding will be offset by the cost of the “payroll shift” enacted last year.
b. The Board of Regents will decide on tuition levels at their meeting tomorrow; we expect an increase in the high single digits for research universities. Despite the recent tuition increases, our tuition is still near the bottom among our peer institutions.
c. Undergraduate admissions are on target; we expect to have 2400 new freshmen this fall, which is exactly on target (vs. a target of 2500 and an actual enrollment of 2600 last year). Graduate admissions are nearly the same as last year because of uncertainties regarding research funding for some units.
d. Commencement will be held on May 7 at the Georgia Dome (because of the large number of graduates); it will be a combined undergraduate/graduate ceremony. The speaker will be Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman.
Dr. McMath noted that this is the last Academic Senate meeting for our Registrar, Ms. Jo McIver, who will be retiring this year. Members applauded in appreciation of Ms. McIver’s outstanding service to Georgia Tech.
There were no questions for the Vice Provost.
2. Dr. McMath called for approval of the minutes of the February 1, 2005 meeting of the Academic Senate combined with Spring meeting of the General Faculty and General Faculty Assembly. He indicated that the minutes had been posted on the faculty governance website and that a link was provided from this meeting’s agenda. The minutes were approved without dissent. (See attachment #1 below for web site reference).
3. Dr. McMath called on Ms. Jo McIver (Registrar) to present the degree candidates for the Spring Commencement. She indicated that the names of the 2,496 degree candidates for the Spring 2005 commencement have been made available to the Academic Deans and Departments. It was moved that all candidates who complete their requirements by May 12th, 2005 be awarded their degrees. The motion passed without dissent.
4. Dr. McMath stated that last Fall, the General Faculty adopted a new policy which requires the person serving as the Faculty Athletics Representative to make an annual presentation to the Academic Senate on the state of Georgia Tech’s intercollegiate athletics program. He called on Professor George Nemhauser (ISyE), who serves in that capacity, to present the annual report. A copy of the slides used in the presentation is attached (see Attachment #2A below). Nemhauser first discussed the new NCAA Academic Progress Rate that the NCAA will be using to measure academic progress of student athletes. The virtue of this measure, in contrast to graduation rates, is that it is current and provides immediate feedback. Each scholarship student-athlete can earn two points each semester, one for eligibility and one for retention. A team must earn 92.5% of its possible points on average. Deviations from the target of 92.5% are permitted as a function of team size with smaller teams permitted to have larger deviations. All of Georgia Tech’s teams except baseball achieved or exceeded the 92.5% target (see table in Attachment #2B below). Baseball, however, with 90.7% was still within the allowable confidence limit. Beginning next year, teams that fail to meet the prescribed goals will be subject to penalties involving loss of scholarships. In subsequent years, more serious penalties will be imposed on Schools that are chronic offenders.
Nemhauser then reported that GT had discovered approximately 2 years ago that some student athletes who had failed to meet NCAA eligibility rules had played when ineligible. The GT certifying process had misunderstood an NCAA rule; it was determined that over a period of 5 years, 17 out of 864 athletes in 4 sports had participated when ineligible. Eight of these students have graduated from Georgia Tech. GT reported this to the NCAA and, working with the NCAA staff, has proposed appropriate penalties including loss of scholarships. The NCAA Infractions Committee is currently reviewing the case and its final resolution should be announced in May. In the meanwhile, Georgia Tech has taken measures to make sure that such a problem does not occur again. These include more training in NCAA courses for the academic advisors in Academic Services, a new head for Academic Services who has a wealth of professional experience in working with student athletes, more contact between the student athletes and advisors in the academic units, and a new Assistant Registrar to deal with certification of student athlete eligibility.
A question was asked as to whether the new NCAA Academic Progress requirements will put added pressure on student-athletes to maintain their eligibility, and will, as a result, put added pressure on the faculty and the Institute Curriculum Committee to maintain their grades. Nemhauser stated that it is perfectly legitimate for any student (athlete or not) to discuss his/her grade with the faculty member. However, it is inappropriate for a coach or an athletics administrator to contact a faculty member to discuss or attempt to modify a student-athlete’s grade. He stated that this matter has been made very clear to all coaches and that he is confident that such incidents will not occur. A question was asked regarding advisement of student-athletes and how past problems can be avoided. Nemhauser stated that a new head of Academic Services has been hired and will be joining GT sometime this summer. She has a wealth of experience, and we expect to see significant improvement in advisement of student-athletes. Additionally, like all other students, athletes should also avail themselves of the services offered by the academic units’ advisors. The Vice-Provost thanked Dr. Nemhauser for his presentation.
5. Dr. McMath called on Dr. Ron Bohlander, Chair of the Statutes Committee, to present the proposed changes in the Georgia Tech Faculty Handbook. A copy of the slides used in the presentation is attached (see Attachment #3 below). Bohlander stated that the Handbook format upgrade project was undertaken to correct the excessive section numbering depth in the current handbook, improve its appearance, and make the html version more easily readable. Additionally, the Statutes Committee has sought to improve the process by which handbook updates are made. The Committee has worked closely with the Vice-Provost’s Office, as well as OARS, and OIT. A content management platform has been adopted (RoboInfo developed by Macromedia). He provided web addresses for the current version of the Hnadbook (www.academic.gatech.edu/handbook/) and the new draft version (www.academic.gatech.edu/handbook_new/Official_Handbook_Revised_Numbering.htm). Examples of both the old and new handbook sections were shown. Among the features included in the new version are: (1) a Table of Contents which expand as one needs to drill down; (2) a numbering system with no more than three levels of outline numbering; (3) clear indication of which sections are in the Statutes or Bylaws, and which contain general institute policy; (4) hyperlinks to help in navigation to related material; and (5) an improved appearance consistent with Georgia Tech’s website standards. Areas in which work is still underway include: (1) downloadable full handbook in pdf format; (2) downsizing the html sections with added navigation aids between sections; (3) ability to perform a dedicated search (currently partially supported); (4) refinement of the Table of Contents format; and (5) inclusion of a glossary.
In addition to the format updates, the new version includes some changes in content. The introductory material included in sections 1. through 2.3 has been updated to remove facts that change rapidly or are presented elsewhere (e.g. list of institutions in the university system; list of chaired professors; etc.); readers are referred to the Georgia Tech Fact Book or the University System website, as appropriate. The Facilities section has been updated by Les Saunders (Director of Capital Planning & Space Management) to make it consistent with current positions and processes. The revised version also includes all revisions adopted by the faculty in 2004-05 (Conflict of Interest Policy, and Governance of Intercollegiate Athletics). A list of planned actions was presented. Bohlander stated that, if approved, the Handbook with its new format will be brought on line in May. He indicated that the Handbook contents will be reviewed in order to make them consistent with current policies contained in the Office of Human Resources Handbook, since some of the material in the faculty Handbook has become out-of-date (e.g. the sections dealing with sexual harassment and scholarly misconduct). The Statutes Committee will work with “owners” of the various handbook sections during the summer; necessary revisions will be brought to the faculty for approval in the fall.
A question was asked as to whether there is a way for readers to cross-reference old section numbers to those in the new numbering scheme. It was suggested that a copy of the current Handbook be archived so that a one-to-one correspondence between section numbers can be made. Bohlander stated that he will work with the Secretary of the Faculty to see how that can be accomplished. A question was asked as to whether there are any standard forms in use which refer to section numbers within the Faculty Handbook, and whether those references have been updated to reflect the new numbering scheme. Bohlander stated that the committee has not done so, however, he believes that there are very few forms that refer to specific sections in the Handbook. He indicated that until all such references are updated, the archival copy of the old Handbook to be retained can be used to cross-reference with the new Handbook. He encouraged users/issuers of such forms to pay attention to such references and let him know about them. A motion was made to approve the Faculty Handbook format changes, along with revisions in the introductory material (Section 1. through 2.3), and the Facilities section (47). The motion passed without dissent.
6. Dr. McMath called on Ms. Rosalind Meyers (Assoc. VP Aux. Services), and Mr. Jerry Maloney (General Manager, Bookstore) to present a report on the rising costs of textbooks. A copy of the slides used in the presentation is attached (see Attachment #4 below). Meyers stated that several months ago, the Board of Regents formed a Task Force consisting of representatives from several of the University System’s colleges and universities to study the issue of rising textbook costs. Today’s presentation will summarize the findings of that Task Force, and describe some of the actions taken by Barnes & Noble at Georgia Tech (B&N GT) Bookstore to address this issue. Maloney stated that textbook prices are escalating at a faster rate than other costs associated with a college education. He presented several “key facts” from the Task Force report. In 2003-04, student expenses for books and supplies were in the range of $745 to $843, which represents nearly 20% of the total college costs paid by students in Georgia. College bookstores earn an average of 22% gross margin on new textbooks (vs. a contractual value of 20% for B&N GT Bookstore), and 34.4% on used textbooks (slightly lower for B&N GT Bookstore). Used textbook sales represent a smaller share of the textbook market (11.6% to 23.1% of total bookstore sales), while new textbooks represent 37.7% to 58.9% of total bookstore sales; the corresponding figures for the B&N GT Bookstore are 24% and 33%, respectively. For every dollar spent on new textbooks, 78.6% is returned to the publisher (of which approximately 12 cents represents the author’s income); college bookstores receive 21.4%, part of which is used to pay personnel and operating costs. The net average income to college bookstores is nearly 4.1% (slightly lower for the B&N GT bookstore). Online sales account for a small portion (~2.2%) of the college textbook market (higher at GT because everyone is connected). Nearly 76% of textbook editions are changed every 3 to 4 years. Maloney stated that the Gross margin for the B&N GT Bookstore is fixed at 20%, and that 10 to 11% of total sales are returned to Georgia Tech in support of the Institute’s academic mission.
Among the options suggested in the Task Force report are: (1) encouraging standardization of textbooks for the core curriculum and a minimum length of time for use of textbook editions, where appropriate (GT has a good record in this area particularly for introductory courses such as Calculus and Chemistry); (2) encouraging faculty to submit textbook adoption information within an established deadline; (3) encouraging faculty to share all textbook adoption information with the campus bookstore; and (4) encouraging faculty to give students the option of acquiring “bundled textbooks” or purchasing the textbook alone. Maloney stated that the B&N GT Bookstore recognizes that textbooks represent a significant fraction of the students’ total college costs, and has, therefore, engaged in an initiative to lower the overall textbook expenditures of students by providing as many used textbooks for sale as possible. The students’ purchase price of used textbooks is 25% lower than the retail price of a new book. Providing maximum availability of used textbooks for sale at the start of the semester is affected by several key factors. Timely textbook adoption information from departments and faculty is the single most important factor in reducing students’ overall college textbook costs. For Fall 2005, the Bookstore requested that this information be provided by March 11, 2005. The reason for such an early deadline is the fact that the best source of used books is “student buyback” during finals week. Early textbook adoption information allows the Bookstore to pay more money to students for books that have been re-adopted for the following semester (50% of selling price). Early textbook adoption information also allows the Bookstore to compete successfully in the national used textbook wholesale market since it provides a longer period to shop for used textbooks, thereby increasing used book availability at the start of the next semester.
Maloney stated that there is strong correlation between early textbook adoption information and availability of used textbooks at the beginning of the next term, and that, with the help of GT faculty, encouraging results were demonstrated this past January. 92% of the textbook adoption information was provided to the Bookstore by the time payback started in December 2004, and that despite bad weather, the buyback level was 35% higher than that for December 2003. Used book purchases from wholesalers more than doubled from the year before. Used textbook sales for January 2005 were $419,659 (versus $210, 261 for January 2004 -- an increase of nearly 100%), which represents a $139,886 savings for the students over the cost of new textbooks. An added benefit of early textbook adoption information is that for classes where the information was provided to the Bookstore by the December 2004 deadline, the Bookstore was able to achieve a 99.6% textbook availability on the first day of Spring semester classes. Maloney stated that faculty help is needed in order to keep the momentum of used textbook savings going for next fall. He asked faculty to submit the summer and fall textbook adoption information to the Bookstore ASAP. He stated that at this time the Bookstore has about 80% of the information for the summer term and about 21% of the information for the Fall semester. Early availability of the information will increase the time to shop in the national used textbook wholesale market and will increase the yield. It also allows the Bookstore to return more money to the students during the payback period at the end of the Spring semester (finals week May 2 – 6, 2005). If the custom in the department is for faculty to place their textbook orders directly to the Bookstore, the textbook adoption information can be transmitted on line (www.bookstore.gatech.edu), by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), or by fax (404-894-2530). There is also a WORD textbook adoption form which can be e-mailed by the Bookstore to the faculty as an attachment; the completed form can be e-mailed to the Bookstore (email@example.com). If the custom in the department is to place the textbook information through a textbook coordinator, faculty should provide the information to the coordinator and encourage him/her to forward it to the bookstore ASAP. Faculty can check the textbooks listed for their classes online at www.bookstore.gatech.edu (select textbooks).
Maloney indicated that the B&N GT Bookstore allows students to purchase textbooks by using the Buzz Card, approved third-party billing (e.g. athletics department), and the OSCAR website (during the registration process). He stated that the B&N GT Bookstore is the only bookstore that returns over 10% of gross sales to the institute in support of the academic mission. He concluded by stating that the return in textbook investment through buyback at the end of the semester can significantly reduce the students’ net expenditure for textbooks in any given semester, and that the goal is to increase used textbook availability for Fall 2005 to $800,000 (versus $600,000 for Fall 2004).
A question was asked regarding the textbook adoption form, and whether it is available on online. Maloney indicated that it can be posted on line. A question was asked regarding BOR discussions on how frequently textbooks could be changed (at least for the core curriculum), and whether a decision has been made on that issue. Meyers stated that no such policy has been adopted, and, if adopted, there would be a great deal of resistance to it. The Chair thanked Ms. Meyers and Mr. Maloney for their presentation.
7. The Vice-Provost called on Chairs of three standing committees of the Academic Senate to introduce minutes from their respective committee meetings and action items therein. He indicated that these minutes were published on the faculty governance web site and that a link was provided from the formal agenda for this meeting (see Attachment #5 below for web site listing of minutes of all Standing Committees)
a. Scott Wills, Chair of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, indicated that there are five sets of minutes to be approved (01/10/05; 02/09/05; 02/23/05; 03/9&16/05; and 03/30/05). Additionally, there are four sets of minutes for the Study-Abroad Subcommittee (10/20/04; 11/01/04; 11/24/04; and 01/12/05). He indicated that the committee has heard 168 petitions and that two of the meeting minutes (02/23/05 and 03/30/05) include action items which require separate approval by the faculty (see list of action items in attachment #6 below). The action items include: Change in BS ChBE with the Biotechnology option; New Course in Physics (02/23/05); New Courses in ECE, CHEM, EAS, NS, ML, CHBE, CETL, LCC, ME, ECON, CS, and HTS; Changes to the Pre-Law Certificate and the Law, Science, and Technology Minor; A new Policy on the preparation and enrollment of Undergraduate Teaching Assistants; An Undergraduate Research Option; Changes to BS degrees in ME and CS; Degree changes to participate in the International Plan from AE, CE, EE, CmpE, ISyE, ARCH, CS, HTS, INTA, INTA-ECON, ML-INTA, GE-ML, MGT, and BIOL (03/30/05). He described the proposed policy on undergraduate teaching assistants developed by an ad hoc sub-committee (see Attachment #6 below). Several units on campus use undergraduate teaching assistants (UGTAs), and that the manner in which this activity was indicated on their transcripts was non-uniform. The proposed policy recommends that units employing UGTAs should establish a set of courses with standardized institute-wide titles for use by UGTAs (e.g. ME 2696, 2697, 4696, and 4697). The courses can be taken multiple times. Additionally, all students employed as UGTAs must take an undergraduate teaching assistant preparation course (CETL 2000) before or during their first term of service (course is to be taken only once). In circumstances where UGTAs complete complementary work which is graded for course credit (e.g. teaching portfolios, educational software development, etc.), this effort should be separately reflected in a special topics course as arranged with departmental faculty. A motion to approve the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee meeting minutes of 01/10/05, 02/09/05, 02/23/05, 03/9&16/05, and 03/30/05 (and the Study-Abroad Subcommittee minutes of 10/20/04, 11/01/04, 11/24/04, and 01/12/05), and all the action items therein passed without dissent..
b. Bill Green, Chair of the Graduate Curriculum Committee, indicated that there are two sets of minutes to be approved (02/24/05 and 04/05/05). He provided a list of action items contained in those minutes which require separate approval by the faculty (see attachment #7 below); these include: new ECE Course; and Clarification of policy on hour loads for graduate students (02/24/05); Changes in MS ARCH; and new Courses in ARCH and LCC (04/05/05). Detailed wording of the proposed revisions to the policy on hour loads for graduate students was presented (Attachment #7). He stated that the modification was intended to clarify the policy and does not reflect any material change in policy. A comment was made that while the current wording states that “the advisor and (emphasis added) school chair may approve the substitution of one course (up to 3 hours) on an audit basis..”, the new wording states “As an exception, the advisor or (emphasis added) school chair may allow up to 3 hours out of the 12 minimum to be taken on an audit basis..”. The change from “and” to “or” constitutes a material change in policy. Maureen Kilroy (Grad Studies) stated that she believes that this change is inadvertent. It was agreed to table this action item until the new wording for the policy is clarified. A motion to approve the Graduate Curriculum Committee minutes of 02/24/05 and 04/05/05 and the action items therein (except for the revised policy on hour loads for graduate students – item #5 in the minutes of February 24, 2005) passed without dissent.
c. Kent Barefield, Chair of the Student regulations Committee (SRC), indicated that there is one set of minutes to be approved (02/04/05), which includes one action item requiring separate approval by the faculty. The action item pertains to a Change in Section V of the Student Rules and Regulations, involving a new policy for “Grade Substitution,” (Section V.C; see attachment #8 below). Barefield stated that discussion of this issue began nearly two years ago. It was first considered by the Institute Undergraduate Curriculum Committee who formulated a draft policy and presented it to the Student Rules and Regulations Committee [Attachment #8 shows both the original draft prepared by the IUCC and the final policy submitted by the SRRC for faculty approval (bold font)]. The proposed policy stated that first-time freshmen who receive a grade of “D” or “F” in a course within the first two terms in residence are eligible to repeat the course and have the original grade excluded from the computation of academic average. Grade substitution may be used only once per course, with a maximum of two courses total. The course must be repeated at Georgia Tech within the student’s first four terms in residence (summer counts as a term in residence). The proposed policy includes a deadline for filing an application for grade substitution, and specifies how grades will appear on the student’s transcript, how the academic average will be computed, and how changes in academic standing resulting from the grade substitution will be addressed. Barefield stated that these implementation details are consistent with those contained in the original draft prepared by the IUCC, and that Registrar’s Office has examined them and found them to be workable. The proposed Policy states that a course is not eligible for grade substitution if the student was found guilty of academic misconduct in that course, and that the policy is not subject to exceptions and may not be petitioned to the IUCC.
The Registrar stated that as a part of the implementation procedure, her office will check to see if the student had been found guilty of academic misconduct for that course. Since faculty can now handle first offenses of academic misconduct, it is important that faculty report the outcome of such cases to the Dean of Students office. A question was asked as to how this policy compares to policies at other institutions. Barefield showed a list of institutions with grade substitution/forgiveness policies (see Attachment 8). The list includes many leading institutions, including Caltech, MIT, Stanford, UC-Berkeley, and Purdue. He indicated that some institutions have had such policies for a long time, while several others have implemented similar policies in the past 3 years. A question was asked regarding the impact of the proposed policy on HOPE scholarship eligibility. Barefield indicated that the proposed policy has no impact on the HOPE scholarship, and that the primary motivation for instituting such a policy is student retention. A question was asked as to the estimated impact of the policy on student retention rates. Barefield stated that the previous committee chair (Dr. Paul Benkesser) had commissioned a study of this issue, and that the Office of Institutional Research and Planning (Ms. Sandra Bramblett) has prepared a report which provides quantitative estimates of the impact of the proposed policy. A table showing academic dismissal/drop rates through the second year for freshman cohorts between 1999 and 2002. Nearly 5% of the students fall in that category; more than half of whom are dismissed after the first semester of the sophomore year. Barefield stated that the proposed policy can help those students. A table showing changes in grades for courses retaken by 2002 freshman; out of a total of 571 cases, nearly 35% changed their grade from a “D” or an “F” to a “C;” nearly 23% changed their grade from a “D” or an “F” to a “B,” and nearly 7% changed their grade from a “D” or an “F” to an “A.” Nearly 25% of the students who were dropped would improve their academic standing from “drop” to “probation” if they were to change their grade in one course from an “F” to a “C;” a higher fraction would improve their academic standing if the students were able to improve their grade from an “F” to a “B.” Barefield stated that some students had objected to the proposed policy because it will increase GPA. He stated that such concerns may be somewhat exaggerated since an increase of one quality point in a 122-credit hour curriculum increases GPA by only 0.008, and that in the extreme case of a change of grade from an “F” to an “A” in two 4-credit courses, the GPA would increase by a quarter point. He stated that out of the 217 students in the 2002 freshman class who had a cumulative GPA between 2.5 and 2.99, if one “D” were to be replaced by a “C,” nearly 22% would raise their cumulative GPA above 3.0 (see chart in Attachment #8). A question was asked as when the policy would take effect if it were to be approved. Barefield stated that the policy, if approved, will take effect starting with first-time freshman class entering in Fall 2005, and that no one will be “grandfathered.” He pointed out that transfer students do not qualify as first-time freshmen; however, students entering GT from high school with AP credits, joint enrollment credits, or international baccalaureate credits who may already be classified as “sophomores,” or in rare cases “juniors,” when they enter Georgia Tech, are still considered “first time freshman,” and would get the benefit of this policy. A question was asked regarding GTREP students who take classes at the partner institutions (Savannah State, Georgia Southern, and Armstrong Atlantic). McMath stated that we have no control over those students since they take all their courses during the first two years at the partner institutions (some of them may have similar policies). A question was asked as to whether we plan to collect follow-up data in the future to see how the plan may be working. Barefield indicated that such follow-up would be desirable. McMath stated that when we combine the proposed policy with other measures being taken we will likely see some improvement in student retention. Barefield stated that our graduation rates have increased to 72% (fist time ever to exceed 70%). A motion was made to approve the Student Rules and Regulations Committee minutes of 02/04/05, including the proposed Grade Substitution Policy (Section V.C. of the Rules and Regulations). The motion passed by a majority vote.
8. The Vice-Provost called for approval of the minutes of Standing Committees of the General Faculty which do not contain any action items, all of which have been posted on the web (see Attachment #5 below for web site listing of minutes of all Standing Committees)
a. Faculty Benefits: 11/22/04; 01/10/05; 02/14/05
b. Statutes: 12/09/04
c. Academic Services: 01/13/05; 02/03/05; 03/10/05
d. Welfare & Security: 12/06/04; 02/08/05
The Vice-Provost indicated that representatives of these committees are available to answer any questions. The minutes were approved without dissent.
9. The Vice-Provost called for any other business; hearing none, the meeting was adjourned at 4:30 PM.
Secretary of the Faculty
April 25, 2005
Attachments to be included with archival copy of the minutes:
A. February 1, 2005 meeting of the Academic Senate combined with Spring meeting of the General Faculty and General Faculty Assembly: http://www.facultysenate.gatech.edu/ASGFGFA2005-020105-Minuteswp.htm