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Stanford Report, October 8, 1997

Part II - Faculty Senate Minutes: 10/8/97

Part II - Faculty Senate minutes for October 2

1996/97 Annual Report of the Committee on Academic Appraisal and Achievement (SenD#4731)

Chair Conley reminded everyone that each Fall the annual reports of the seven Academic Council Committees are presented to Senate, either at a regular meeting or potentially in an Administrative Session every other year. She introduced David Lougee (School of Engineering), Spring Quarter 1996/97 Chair of C-AAA, to present his committee's annual report, noting that Chairs are told to expect that Senators will have read the full report.

Lougee noted that Professor Mason Yearian (Physics) had chaired C-AAA for the Fall and Winter Quarters the prior year. He reminded Senators that C-AAA is charged with formulating "policy concerning the evaluation, reporting, and special recognition of educational achievement by undergraduate and graduate students and faculty." He mentioned several routine committee activities during the course of the year, including advice to the Registrar on calculation of GPA [Grade Point Average] and expunging the term LGI [Letter Grade Indicator] from the Stanford lexicon; review of departmental designations of one- and two-unit courses as activity courses or academic courses; and several other matters.

Turning to three issues that C-AAA had brought before the Senate during 1996/97, Lougee reminded everyone that the policy on University Distinction had been revised to award that honor to students whose GPA places them within the top 15 percent of students within the University. The policy on Student Evaluation of Teaching was discussed twice by C-AAA with Senate, he said, first as a report on the adoption by Humanities and Sciences of a new form to evaluate teaching by faculty and teaching assistants, and then as the result of the Senate's request to consider revisions to the operative Senate legislation. Proposed revised legislation was withdrawn by the Chair, however, for further committee consideration of issues raised in Senate such as generalizing the language rather than linking it to the specific H&S form, confidentiality of data, and alternative evaluation mechanisms. C-AAA will bring proposed new legislation to Senate during Fall Quarter, Lougee advised.

The third C-AAA matter before Senate at the end of 1995/96 and in Spring Quarter 1996/97 concerned the status and training of teaching assistants, Lougee said. A subcommittee chaired by Professor Russell Fernald presented an interim report to Senate suggesting that current legislation may be adequate, but "legislation is easier than oversight." C-AAA expects to complete work on this matter and bring back to Senate at the end of Fall Quarter specific recommendations for ensuring that existing legislation is carried out, Lougee stated. He concluded by identifying several issues on C-AAA's agenda for the coming year, including pre-registration, the Student Information System, and improvements to the University transcript.

Professor Lindenberger (English) noted several drawbacks from the faculty point of view with Stanford's two-week "shopping period" and asked whether there is any evidence that a pre-registration system could help solve these problems. Professor Gelber (Religious Studies), 1997/98 Chair of C-AAA, said her committee hoped that allowing students to pre-register might provide more clarity about class size, noting that she did not believe this was the time to tinker further with the deadlines incorporated in the relatively new grading policy. H&S Dean Shoven expressed his opinion that pre-registration would go a long way toward eliminating the problem of courses that are so heavily oversubscribed that they get off to a bad start in classrooms that are too small and without enough books. Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Saldívar said that reducing the "shopping period" was not appropriate or necessary, but better management of course enrollment was an important goal.

Professor Parker (Graduate School of Business) expressed his surprise at seeing that the top "university" grade was an A+. Registrar Printup, put on the spot by the Chair, explained that the scheme Stanford has used for the past 20 to 30 years to calculate University distinction includes 4.3 points for the top grade of A+, noting that other universities grade this way as well. Professor McCall (Classics) indicated that perhaps faculty members such as himself who have long thought that 4.0 was flawless may need to be re-educated. In response to a question from Professor Camarillo (History), Printup said that the A+ grade is used only in calculations of GPA for undergraduate students. Professors Efron (Statistics) and Veinott (Engineering Economic Systems and Operations Research) defended the A+ grade as appropriate recognition for those few students who do exceptionally well. The question was raised as to whether a student has ever graduated from Stanford with a GPA higher than 4.0. Professor Stebbins (Geological and Environmental Sciences) stated that a student in Earth Sciences had graduated a few years ago with a 4.15 GPA which he believed was the highest ever at Stanford. Chair Conley encouraged C-AAA to investigate this issue further. She accepted the 1996/97 C-AAA annual report on behalf of the Senate and thanked the committee members for their hard work.

1996/97 Annual Report of the Committee on Libraries (SenD#4734)

Chair Conley welcomed Professor David Riggs (English), 1996/97 Chair of the Committee on Libraries, to present the committee's annual report. She noted that a dual presentation had been planned, with the C-Lib report to be followed by a presentation from the University Librarian. Riggs began by providing several updates concerning Socrates II, Stanford's new web-based library catalog, reporting that it would become a true "union catalog" when the records from Lane Medical Library and Jackson Library in the Graduate School of Business were incorporated "in a matter of weeks."

Riggs said that the Libraries' "enterprise development" activities had been supported by last year's Senate Steering Committee, and C-Lib had been asked by Mike Keller to function as a watchdog in this area. "We liked what we saw," he stated, "particularly with reference to HighWire Press. Anything that combines the advancement of learning and brings in revenue can't be all bad." C-Lib shares the hope that future enterprise development will be able to support a portion of the budget for library collections, Riggs noted. He added however that they believe there is no immense crisis in the library materials budget, though long-term stability needs to be addressed. "The committee is upbeat about the growth of our library collections," he indicated. Riggs said that the renovated Green West "will be a magnificent facility," expressing some concern from patrons about the extent to which Green's core collections are dispersed and would benefit from consolidation.

Commenting on the IRS program (Information Resource Specialists), he stated that "Anything you can say that will motivate the Provost to fund an expanded IRS program will be greatly appreciated." Riggs concluded by mentioning that the committee had reviewed and updated its charge, which was being sent through the Senate's Committee on Committees. Conley thanked Riggs and accepted the 1996/97 C-Lib annual report on behalf of the Senate. She asked that Senators hold their questions and comments until the end of Michael Keller's presentation.

Report from Michael Keller, University Librarian and Director of Academic Information Resources

Michael Keller preceded his presentation, "The State of Stanford's Libraries" (supported by slides), with a couple of observations. He noted that Stanford's combination of the Libraries with Academic Information Resources is unique among larger universities. He credited Professor Street (Civil and Environmental Engineering) with designing and building this strong organization, which he said he was happy to inherit. He also noted how important it is to understand that Stanford's is a relatively young research library collection, with serious building efforts begun only after World War II. Keller introduced several guests as important members of the Libraries staff including Karen Nagy, Jeff Pudewell, John Sack, Roberto Trujillo, Catherine Tierney, Assante Pizani, Jerry Persons, and Sarah Williamson.

Beginning his prepared remarks, Keller displayed and described what he called "basic facts" about the University's libraries. In addition to five Coordinate Libraries reporting separately to their Dean or Director (Law, Medicine, GSB, Hoover, and SLAC), there are 13 libraries within Stanford University Libraries/Academic Information Resources (SUL/AIR) operating about 700,000 square feet of space, he said. Divided into three large resource groups ­ Humanities & Area Studies, Social Science, Science & Engineering ­ SUL/AIR also includes the academic computing array and the "back of the house," he reported. Keller summarized the scope of each of these groups.

SUL/AIR employs a total of 363 full-time equivalent staff, he said. The consolidated budget forecast for fiscal year 1998 is $34.6 million, of which $19 million is salaries and benefits and $9.2 million is for the library materials budget, with funding predominantly from unrestricted funds ($27.5 million). Keller explained that after adding the relevant figures for the Coordinate Libraries, Stanford's investment in all libraries will be roughly $48.5 million with a total staff of about 562 FTE. The total size of the collection of books and "book-like objects," e.g., atlases, was 6.7 million items at the end of 1996, Keller stated. The total collection size of "other objects" (sound recordings, archival pieces, microfiches, and other small pieces) was 98.3 million items. Stanford's library collection is tenth in size among university libraries in the U.S., he reported.

Speaking next about the collections, Keller provided a breakdown of the SUL/AIR library materials budget by discipline: 27% Humanities & Area Studies, 13% Social Sciences, 41% Sciences & Engineering, and 18% Other. By genre, the breakout is 41% for monographs/books, 47% for serials, and 12% for digital/other, he said, pointing out that Stanford has a very lean serials budget compared to similar universities, which are closer to 60-65%. Keller showed a bar chart of the annual increases in the library materials budget for the previous five years (about $500-700,000 and 7% to 8% annually). While these have been "very generous budgets," he said that unfortunately the book industry had been running inflationary increases at least 5% greater than Stanford's budgets. Keller explained that about half of the 1997/98 budget increase was to be funded by Libraries "re-engineering savings," adding that he hopes the libraries materials budget can be supplemented in future through enterprise development income and possibly fund raising.

Keller identified several issues related to the library materials budget. Inflation in the book trade over the past 15 years has been running at twice the regular CPI, he said, with the most severe increases in science, technical and medical journals and recent severe increases in digital information costs including electronic editions of journals. The recent years' Stanford budget increases for library materials have been two to three times those for faculty salaries, Keller stated, meaning "that model is not sustainable." The basic problem, he indicated, is that publishers have been treating information as a commodity and for-profit publishers have been generating profits of up to 30%. Other marketplace issues include the fact that desktop publishing results in more titles available world-wide, though Stanford acquires fewer than two and one-half percent of all titles in a given year, and the dilemma that digital editions spur sales of more print editions.

Turning to cultural issues, Keller urged the faculty as a whole to consider several ideas carefully. First, he said that "it would be wonderful if you would give first refusal rights to your articles and books to scholarly society publishers, university presses, and 'responsible' publishers" whose price increases are small and whose success benefits universities directly. Second, "locally, we'd like you to be willing to participate in experiments that change your reading and research habits a bit," for example searching and browsing journals on-line, then perhaps printing needed articles off-line. Keller urged faculty support for Stanford Libraries' efforts, including HighWire Press, to shape the marketplace of academic information. Finally, he asked for cooperation in cancelling low-impact, high-cost journals, a particular problem in sciences, technology, and medicine. The Libraries could obtain individual articles for faculty as needed, but would save a lot of money by cancelling journals in this category.

Keller mentioned several internal re-engineering efforts over the past several years that are allowing Libraries resources to be redirected to more important areas such as the collections. He said these efforts include collecting and cataloging common items more efficiently (using computers); collecting and cataloging uncommon items more effectively (investing human resources there); training readers, especially undergraduates, to be more self-sufficient in basic research; providing readers with advanced reference and research services where subject specialists are most needed; and adopting and adapting information technology to support those efforts.

Keller advised that HighWire Press ( provides design, development, production and business services to scholarly and responsible publishers. Starting with a suggestion from Professor Simoni (Biological Sciences) at a Faculty Senate meeting that resulted in the first electronic edition of a major scientific journal, the Journal of Biological Chemistry, HighWire Press is now producing 18 on-line journals in the science, technology and medical area, and has 73 more in the queue. "This is John Sack's brilliant work," Keller said, remarking that "we get a million hits a week on these journal articles, sometimes a million hits a day." HighWire Press is also working with Stanford University Press on a model to publish monographs on-line, he stated, and has engaged an internet service company to provide a "global intranet" with dedicated wires around the world to avoid the "worldwide wait" and brownouts.

Describing HighWire Press as having both "church" and "state" missions, Keller said that the "church" mission was to create and disseminate knowledge. "Then you are a missionary," President Casper joked. "Maybe an evangelist or even a fundamentalist," Keller responded. The "state" mission, he said, is to contribute to marketplace "correction." Combining HighWire's impact with the cancellation of some of the low impact, high cost journals "will help others to think in these ways and get on with the revolution." HighWire is a self-sustaining enterprise, Keller said, which has become a standard setter. With tools like hypernavigation and toll-free links, it has been written that, "HighWire is changing the face of scholarly publishing."