Meeting of September 25, 2012

Held in the Poole Board Room of the Wardlaw Building



Members Present:        Bohlander (Secretary of the Faculty, GTRI), Butera (Vice-Chair, ECE), Gamble (CoA-Arch.), Kirka (Grad. Student), Kirkman (Public Policy), Mordel (U’Grad. Student), Neu (Chair, ME), Tavares (EVPR’s Office), Turner (Business), Tyson (Chemistry), White (CoC), Williams (USGFC Rep., ECE), Wood (ECE), Zakir (Radiation Safety)


Members Absent:        Bras (Provost), Coleman (GTRI-ELSYS), Cunefare (ME), Downing (EII), Eckert (GTRI-ATAS), Lyon (Chemistry), Peterson (President), Vuchatu (GTRI-ESD), Weissburg (Biology), Wozniak (GTRC)


Guests:                        Balsam (Chair, Statutes), Cozzens (VP Grad. Ed. & Fac. Affairs), Herazy (Provost’s Office), Pikowsky (Registrar), Potts (VP Underg. Ed.), Reini (Dir. Compliance & Policy Mgt.)


1.      Prof. Rick Neu (Chair) opened the meeting at 3:05 P.M.

2.      Prof. Neu directed the Board’s attention to the Minutes of the August 28, 2012 Executive Board meeting (Attachment #1). These were approved unanimously.

3.      The Chair next called on Dr. Susan Cozzens, Vice-Provost for Graduate Education and Faculty Affairs, to comment on matters of interest to the Georgia Tech community:

a)      Dr. Cozzens reported on the latest enrollment statistics for the fall term:

·         Total enrollment 21,557

·         Undergraduate students totaled 14,527

·         Largest ever freshman class– 3,047 students
A highly qualified class with average SAT 1394 and average GPA 3.89

·         Most diverse freshman class

o 38% increase in minorities

o Most women, representing 35% of the class

·         9.5% of undergraduates are international students

·         Graduate student enrollment was 7,030

b)      The Provost held a town hall concerning online education initiatives on September 13, 2012. 

c)      Georgia Tech’s family weekend on September 21-22 was attended by about 2,400 people.  A new feature was attendance by a significant number of families of international students.

d)     The Georgia Tech Advisory Board would be meeting in a few weeks and would focus their recommendations on how to create a world-class innovation ecosystem.

e)      This year was the 100th anniversary of Georgia Tech’s Co-Op Program.  Over 50,000 students have gone through this program, making this the nation’s largest voluntary co-op program.  Over 5,000 students were currently involved in some form.  Forty percent were offered permanents jobs by their co-op employers and eighty percent said the co-op experience was helpful in lining up employment after graduation.

f)       This year was also the 100th anniversary of the College of Business, which was recently renamed the Ernest Scheller, Jr., College of Business.  The $50 million donated by Mr. Scheller was the largest gift in Georgia Tech history.

3.      Prof. Neu called on Ms. Reta Pikowsky, Registrar, to review the processes to support commencement exercises in each term of an academic year.  She reminded the Board that Georgia Tech awards degrees three times each year, in December, May, and August.  It has been the practice for the Registrar to come to the Academic Senate meeting in November and April and to make a motion to award degrees to those candidates on a list prepared by the Registrar and checked thoroughly in the Registrar’s Office and with the Colleges.  In this way, the faculty has approved a list of candidates based on the assurances of the Registrar even though the list has not been published to them.  Prior to 2012, for the degrees awarded in August, degrees were simply awarded as an administrative action without a vote of the faculty.  In August 2012, the Registrar contacted the Secretary of the Faculty and he posed an electronic ballot question to the Executive Board in which the Board made an affirmation of the degree list on behalf of the Academic Senate.   Ms. Pikowsky said that the Registrar’s Office recently reviewed and updated their procedures and wanted to find out if the Executive Board was in agreement with the procedures in use during 2012 and was prepared for them to continue going forward. 

Ms. Pikowsky affirmed that degrees were actually awarded in August even though Georgia Tech had decided to no longer have a commencement ceremony in August.  Students earning degrees in August had the option to participate in the December commencement. 

Ms. Pikowsky asked the Executive Board whether the current process was acceptable for seeking faculty endorsement of graduation lists on the basis of the Registrar’s assurances.  Some discussion and Q&A ensued:

Q.  What did other universities do about this?  Ans. Ms. Pikowsky said that at other places where she had served as Registrar, she did not go to the faculty for an endorsement.  The different colleges within these universities provided oversight on behalf of the faculty.

Q.  Was there a University System of Georgia (USG) policy or State requirement to do what Georgia Tech has been doing?  Ans. No such policy had been found.  However, Ms. Pikowsky said she found it meaningful to affirm to the faculty each term that care had been taken in arriving at the list of degrees to be awarded.  It felt then that the faculty was involved in the act of awarding the degrees.

Q. Was it possible to make a list available to the faculty? Ans.  It would be possible in principle, but it would have to be on a password controlled website because student names and information had to be treated as confidential.  Now any faculty member with a question could also check with their College for the information about their candidates for graduation, because the Colleges would have their list, or a query could be sent to the Registrar. 

Q. Was our current process just a rubber stamp?  Ans.  From discussion in the Board meeting, the consensus was that it wasn’t.  If there was a known problem or trust was eroding in the process, these matters could be raised.  Affirming the trust status each term was meaningful. 

A clear consensus was reached to continue the current practices of a) having the Registrar carefully check degree lists with the Colleges; b) asking the Academic Senate in fall and spring to affirm the graduation lists based on appropriate assurances; and c) asking the Executive Board to do the affirmation in the summer on behalf of the Senate.  It was also agreed that the Registrar should inform the Academic Senate in the spring about the process to be followed for the August degrees.

Some further discussion ensued concerning commencement arrangements.  It was asked if there were concerns about discontinuing the August commencement ceremonies, a move taken to save money.  Dr. Cozzens noted that each ceremony cost about the same but far fewer students were served in August.  She recognized that some degree programs were designed to complete in August and suggested that those programs could organize their own small-scale commencement ceremonies.  Mr. Mordel, President of the Undergraduate Student Body, noted that the greatest disappointment probably occurred in the first year since some students could have made plans on the assumption a commencement would be held in the summer.  For future years, students could plan knowing the new plans. 

Mr. Mordel said there was a greater concern about the limits being placed on guest tickets for future commencement ceremonies.  Commencements would be held in the new McCamish Pavilion from now on.  Students were hearing that there would be a limit of three guest tickets per graduate, and that number was felt to be too small to accommodate typical numbers of family members who wanted to be on hand for this important occasion.  Concern was also expressed at the recent Family Weekend.  Board members expressed enthusiasm for the move to the McCamish Pavilion because it would be good to do commencements on home turf and expenses would be reduced, but concern remained about capacity.  It was recognized that more than three tickets might become available to those who needed them, but at the time of this meeting it was understood that only three were guaranteed. 

A question was raised about when the person selected as Distinguished Faculty Member of the Year would speak at graduation.  This had traditionally been at the summer commencement.  Ms. Jennifer Herazy promised to look into this question. 

4.      Prof. Neu called on Ms. Mia Reini, Director of Compliance and Policy Management, and Dr. Ron Bohlander, Secretary of the Faculty, to report on progress in creating a central Policy Library for Georgia Tech.  Ms. Reini and Dr. Bohlander presented their report with the aid of the material in Attachment #2.  Ms. Reini began by explaining that the faculty had been ahead of the game in having a defined process for development and approval of policy in its Faculty Handbook.  The project reported at this meeting was in part to bring that same discipline to policy developed by the administration.  In 2010, a Georgia Tech “Masters Series Executive Development Program” team developed a report on Policy Governance @Tech. The report included interviews with 38 policy stakeholders at Georgia Tech, detailed external benchmarking with seven peer institutions, and examination of communications methods used by other institutions. From this research, the Georgia Tech team developed several recommendations contained in the Policy Governance @Tech report. These recommendations were taken up by a new Institute Policy Task Force. 

In 2011, President Peterson asked the Executive Vice President, Secretary of the Faculty, and Vice President for Legal Affairs and Risk Management to constitute an Institute Policy Task Force to develop an overall Institute policy governance framework for Georgia Tech.  The Institute Policy Task Force was made up of faculty, administrators, and a student representative. Ms. Jeanne Balsam and Dr. Ron Bohlander served on the Task Force for the faculty due to their roles as Statutes Chair and Secretary.  Mr. Eran Mordel represented the students.

This Task Force then made an inventory of the current Institute policies; arranged to create an online, searchable Policy Library to serve as an authoritative source for all Institute policies; and developed a common policy development and life cycle process through which Institute policies would be formulated, vetted, approved, adopted, published, communicated, maintained, reviewed, and updated.  The latter amounted to a Georgia Tech Policy on Institute Policies.

Ms. Reini and Dr. Bohlander showed the Board the home page of the new online Policy Library which had major sections for

·         The Faculty Handbook,

·         Student regulations,

·         Administration policies,

·         Personnel policies,

·         Research support policies,

·         A link to Board of Regents policies, and

·         Other institute-wide policies

Some of site’s salient features were:

·         User friendly, one-stop shop

·         Fully searchable

·         A standard format in each section

·         Areas for “Policies up for Comment,” “Recently Updated Policies,” and “Policy Announcements”

·         Resources for Policy owners to use in developing new policies, or updating existing policies

Ms. Reini and Dr. Bohlander explained the different kinds of policy, the importance of harmony between the policies, and the value of all stakeholders having transparency in the processes used to develop and maintain policy.  Dr. Bohlander assured the Board that there would be essentially no change in the faculty processes for managing the Faculty Handbook and the student regulations for which faculty were responsible.  There would be enhanced consultation though between the various centers of policy making on campus.  Dr. Bohlander commented on efforts that would be made to refine and further harmonize policies once the Policy Library was in place.  When the Policy Library “went live” it would include the Faculty Handbook as found in the August 2012 edition.  He called attention to the work of the Statutes Committee, led by Ms. Jeanne Balsam, to create a revised format Faculty Handbook that would be easier to use and understand. The faculty should begin to review this proposed edition in November 2012.

Ms. Reini used slides 9 and 10 to show a new format that would be followed for administration policies.  She concluded by providing a link to the Policy Library under development. 

Q.  Will the provisions for cross-comment on new policies all be passive, like publishing drafts on a website and hoping someone saw it?  Ans. There would be a combination.  Announcements of new draft policies would be posted for comment on the Policy Library website.  Other channels of announcement would be utilized, such as the Daily Digest email.  A new Policy Library Steering Committee would also ask for directed inquiries to stakeholders identified in the policy development process.  This would be facilitated by the fact that the Policy Library Steering Committee (which would take over from the Institute Policy Task Force) would have wide representation.  Each new policy would also be required to have a formal communications plan for disseminating the new policy.  Dr. Bohlander observed that faculty members developing proposed policy changes  would need to involve stakeholders during development so consideration of proposals was not delayed.

Q. Would this process also be applicable to Health and Safety Committees around campus?  Ans. No, such policies would be departmental policies and the Policy Library was only intended to deal with policies that impact people across campus.

Q.  Would entities like the Georgia Tech Foundation and the Georgia Tech Athletic Association have their policies in the Policy Library?   Ans. No, affiliated organizations would not be included generally.  It was possible though that the scope of the Policy Library could evolve and expand over time. 

Q.  What was the long term plan for maintenance and sustainment?  Ans. There were three aspects of long term maintenance.  1) The website itself was built on Drupal (just like the website) by the team at GTRI responsible for WebWISE, with collaboration from OIT and the Office of Communications and Marketing.  This team was experienced in making and supporting websites that provide policy manuals and such expertise would also be engaged for the long term.  2) The maintenance of content of the Policy Library would be looked after by the Policy Library Steering Committee which was going to be responsible for conducting reviews of policy, receiving requests for policy changes, and for routing action on policies to the correct organizations for development.  The Steering Committee would not set policy but would be a clearinghouse that would make sure policies were maintained and that any policy conflicts or gaps were addressed.  [As of the time of writing these minutes, the Steering Committee has been formed with the same people as served on the Institute Policy Task Force.]  3) There would be support in the Office of the Vice-President for Legal Affairs and Risk Management.  Ms. Reini would continue to be involved in a coordinating capacity, and a new Policy Specialist position would be filled to help as a policy librarian.

Q. Was there going to be a place in the Policy Library where all definitions of terms used in the Library would be gathered.  Ans.  Yes, there was a Master Policy Glossary under Policy Resources, though it was not very far along yet.  This would contain terms intended to be used consistently across multiple sections of the Library. 

Q.  When would the Policy Library at be made available officially?  Ans.  It was hoped it would be made available starting October 15. [As it turned out, the opening was delayed to October 29, 2012 to provide more time to resolve some technical difficulties and to communicate with the campus about this initiative.]

6.   Prof. Neu asked Dr. Bohlander to continue and provide a brief look ahead at issues likely to come up in the year ahead.  Dr. Bohlander covered the topics listed in Attachment #3.  In summary:

·         Open Access for faculty publications had been briefed to the Executive Board in the spring.  Town hall meetings had been held September 12 & 24 and one was coming up October 10 (4 p.m.) in TSRB 175.  A recommended new policy would likely come to the faculty for formal consideration of adoption at the November faculty meeting.

·         Also briefed last spring was an initiative to develop a Revised Process for Academic Program Reviews.  This has been studied by a task force involving all the colleges and would likely come to the faculty in November for consideration for adoption.

·         Work had been done by the ADVANCE Program and others to recommend improvements in Georgia Tech’s Reappointment, Promotion, and Tenure processes.  Such recommendations could come to the Statutes Committee and then the faculty for consideration this year.

·         As mentioned above, the Statutes Committee planned to bring a revised format Faculty Handbook to the faculty for their approval starting in November.  Ms. Balsam noted that the draft new Faculty Handbook would be visible on its own website by November.

·         Other sections of the Faculty Handbook would become due for amendment, in part due to reviews prompted by policy comparisons within the Policy Library. 

·         Provost Bras had asked Dr. Susan Cozzens to lead a Task Force preparing recommendations for revisions in the definition of General Faculty at Georgia Tech.  She hoped to reach conclusions and enter into discussions with the Executive Board and the faculty around the beginning of 2013. 

·         The faculty has supported the development of ways for Georgia Tech’s staff to have more input into governance at Georgia Tech.  While the faculty would not lead the formation of something like a staff council, the faculty wanted to support the staff, and such a development could positively impact some faculty processes.

·         Some faculty members had indicated a wish to promote a less restrictive policy for undocumented immigrants in the University System of Georgia.  How to address this question had been under discussion for a while and was not yet clear at the time of this meeting. 

7.   Dr. Bohlander then presented a proposed agenda for the first faculty meeting of the 2012-13 academic year in Attachment #4.   This meeting on October 23, 2012 of the General Faculty, General Faculty Assembly, and Academic Senate would hear a briefing on the new Policy Library as well as all the annual reports and pending minutes from the faculty’s fifteen standing committees.  Dr. Bohlander moved for approval of the proposed agenda.  The motion was seconded and approved unanimously.

8.      Prof. Neu asked for reports from committee liaisons and the USG FC representative.  Dr. Bohlander reported that new liaison assignments had not yet gone out to the committee chairs as there were other committee assignments from students that had not been completed; he planned to cover everything as soon as these were all wrapped up.  He indicated he would provide the information to the committees and then liaisons should follow up with a contact.  Highlights that could be reported included:

Dr. Cam Tyson reported that the Institute Undergraduate Curriculum Committee was considering the formation of a subcommittee to help academic units better understand how to meet requirements for course attributes in certain kinds of courses.

Prof. Doug Williams reported that the University System of Georgia Faculty Council (USGFC) was trying to schedule its fall meeting on October 27 and was working out details before that would be firm.  He also said he would be letting them know that Prof. Neu was chairing the Executive Board so that Prof. Neu could be included in the USGFC’s email distribution. 

9.  Prof. Neu asked if there was any further business and, hearing none, adjourned the meeting at about 4:30 p.m.

Submitted by Ronald A Bohlander, Secretary

November 4, 2012


1)      Minutes of the August 28, 2012 Executive Board meeting

2)      Report on progress in creating a central Policy Library for Georgia Tech

3)   Brief look-ahead to issues that may come to the faculty in 2012-13

4)   Proposed agenda for the meeting of the General Faculty, General Faculty Assembly, and Academic Senate on October 23, 2012.