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Stanford Report, May 6, 1998

Faculty Senate Minutes: April 30 meeting

Faculty Senate minutes



At its meeting of Thursday, April 30, 1998, the Senate of the Academic Council heard reports but took no actions.


Academic Secretary to the University


Call to Order

Chair Frances Conley called the April 30th meeting of Senate XXX to order at 3:22 p.m. There were 42 voting members, 10 ex-officio members, and several guests in attendance.

Approval of Minutes (SenD#4818)

The minutes of the April 16, 1998 meeting of the Senate were approved as submitted.

Memorial Resolutions (SenD#4814, 4816, 4819)

The Chair introduced Professor James Risser, Director of the Knight Fellows Program in the Department of Communication, on behalf of a committee consisting of himself and Professors Henry Breitrose and Marion Lewenstein, to present a memorial resolution in honor of Lyle M. Nelson. [The full text will be published in the Stanford Report of May 6, 1998] Following the resolution those present stood for the traditional moment of silence.

Lyle M. Nelson, the Thomas More Storke Professor of Communication Emeritus in the School of Humanities and Sciences, and Director Emeritus of the John S. Knight Fellowships for Professional Journalists, died of heart failure September 5, 1997, at the age of 79. Lyle came to Stanford in 1961 as Director of University Relations. He became a professor in the Department of Communication, served as its chair on two occasions, and nurtured a fledgling fellowships program for professional journalists, expanding it into today's Knight Fellowships program for journalists from the U. S. and abroad. The University honored him in 1984, two years before his retirement, with the Kenneth M. Cuthbertson Award for Exceptional Service to Stanford. Former journalism fellows have since honored him and his widow Corrine by establishing here at Stanford the Lyle and Corrine Nelson International Journalism Fellowship. Lyle's friends and admirers, in academia and journalism, in the U. S. and around the world, miss his dedication, drive, integrity, and humor. All of us cherish his memory.

Conley next recognized Electrical Engineering Professor James Gibbons to present a memorial resolution in honor of Ralph Judson Smith, on behalf of a committee consisting of Professors Robert Eustis (who was present), John Linvill, and himself. [The full text will be published in the Stanford Report of May 6, 1998.] The Senate recognized this resolution by standing for a moment of silence.

Ralph Judson Smith, Professor of Electrical Engineering in the School of Engineering, died in his 80th year on February 11, 1997, after a courageous and inspiring bout with cancer: inspiring because he showed the same analysis, good humor, and competitiveness during his illness that were characteristic of his entire life. Professor Smith was brought to the Stanford faculty in 1956 by Fred Terman to provide administrative leadership and to teach in and develop the undergraduate program for the department of Electrical Engineering. For two decades he was the implicit force that kept the department running smoothly. Professor Smith's first love was in writing clear, engaging textbooks for undergraduate engineering students, and therein lies his most enduring contribution to the profession. Hundreds of thousands of engineering students around the world knew Stanford only as the institutional home of Ralph Smith, and the image of Stanford which his books created brought great credit to all of us. We, his Stanford colleagues, were generously enriched by his good spirit and enthusiasm, his dedication to the improvement of every aspect of undergraduate education, his friendly competitiveness, and his unsparing service to our community.

The Chair introduced Professor Willard Fee, Department of Surgery, whose dog was barking loudly just outside Senate chambers, to present a memorial resolution in honor of Francis Blair Simmons, on behalf of a committee consisting of Professor Richard Goode and himself. [The full text will be published in the Stanford Report of May 6, 1998.] Those present stood for the traditional moment of silence.

Professor Francis Blair Simmons, Division of Otolaryngology, Department of Surgery in the School of Medicine, died of a heart attack at age 67 on February 13, 1998. Blair had been a member of the Stanford faculty for 36 years and made many seminal contributions to otolaryngology and head and neck surgery. Less than a month after joining the faculty, he was the first person in the U. S. to perform direct auditory nerve stimulation in a human. And then 22 months later, he was the first to implant a cochlear prosthesis in a human. For the next 25 years he dedicated much of his life to developing "the bionic ear." Blair also invented the automatic Crib-O-Gram, a clinical machine used to test hearing of newborn babies. He was the first Stanford recipient of the Javits Neuroscience Investigator award from the National Institutes of Health. Blair was an avid tennis player and kayaker who loved the outdoors, so it is perhaps fitting that his last day was spent at Heavenly Valley, skiing with his beloved wife, Shirley. His life was very full and satisfying, but much too short.

Report from the Senate Steering Committee

Chair Conley highlighted forthcoming agenda items including, on May 14, reports from the Provost and from a group of women faculty pertaining to the status of women faculty at Stanford and two undergraduate interdisciplinary program renewals. On May 28, there will be several graduate interdisciplinary program renewals, the Provost's Budget Report, and possibly a report from the Committee on Faculty and Staff Benefits concerning revision of the child tuition grant program. The Chair advised that CoC Chair Bob Street and his committee were still "in sleep mode" and had no report.

Report from the Provost

President Casper was away from campus. Provost Rice announced that the date for implementation of a revised child tuition grant program was being extended by one year; thus all faculty and staff hired through 9/1/99 will be grandfathered under the existing program. She said that the Committee on Faculty and Staff Benefits, under the excellent leadership of Bob Flanagan (Graduate School of Business), had been working to craft recommendations for adjustments that would keep the program budget-neutral for the University after the federal government's decision not to allow the program as part of the staff benefits pool. Because there are issues still to be resolved that should be discussed in Senate, Rice said that the Committee will report later in May. The extra year will ease some faculty recruitment worries, and is in response to quite a bit of prodding "including countless e-mails from Jeff Koseff," Rice quipped. Professor Koseff (Civil and Environmental Engineering) acknowledged that he was very pleased ­ noting however that his e-mails were not "countless."

Revisions to the Standing Rules of Procedure Governing the Filing and Appeal of Grievances (SenD#4810, 4803)

The Chair reminded everyone that at the prior meeting on April 16, Provost Rice and Advisory Board Chair Sheehan had presented a revised Statement on Academic Freedom, which the Senate had approved unanimously. At that time associated revisions to the Standing Rules of Procedure Governing the Filing and Appeal of Grievances were also discussed. Because Senate is allowed two meetings at which to veto those standing rules, Conley stated, they were placed on the day's agenda for that purpose. She noted that Senior University Counsel Tom Fenner and Senior Associate Provost Kathy Gillam were present and could answer questions, along with the Provost. There was no discussion and, when asked, no one chose to make a motion to veto the standing rules. Therefore, the Standing Rules of Procedure Governing the Filing and Appeal of Grievances was declared final as promulgated by President Casper and Advisory Board Chair Sheehan on April 9, 1998. The formerly separate set of rules for academic freedom grievances was also declared to be repealed. Conley thanked Fenner and Gillam for their hard work "on an unending task."

Report from the Senate Planning and Policy Board (SenD#4815)

The Chair provided a bit of history concerning the Planning and Policy Board (PPB), created by the Senate as a body charged as "a keeper of the faculty's vision and mission for the University, guiding their implementation, analyzing broad issues that require faculty attention, arranging means for addressing these issues, and setting priorities among them." The first PPB, authorized for three years, had reported to the Senate periodically and produced a major report in December 1995. After action on many of PPB1's recommendations, the Senate authorized and charged PPB2 for another three-year term, she advised. Conley recognized Professor David Kennedy (History), PPB Chair for two years, to present the board's annual report and to engage Senators in a dialogue about a draft proposal that had been distributed in advance. She said that it had been an honor, and an interesting and educational experience for her to serve on PPB, along with Senate colleagues Ann Arvin, David Freyberg, and Doug Osheroff. Other PPB members Tom Grey, John Perry, and Anne Krueger were present for the discussion; Gail Mahood and Laura Carstensen were not.

"If Weisberg [the presenter of the next Senate item] and I were prize fighters, which we no longer are, he tells me that I would be the undercard and he's the main event," Kennedy joked. He said that the PPB document before Senate describes a possible recommendation to institutionalize a long-range planning element in the University's culture and in individual faculty careers. PPB began its discussions of this matter after observing that Stanford has very imperfect systematic means either for individuals or for departments and schools to engage in planning for the future, and noting that both individual and institutional priorities can change over time. "A central premise of this document, therefore, is the recognition that faculty members' interests, needs, and priorities need not be, and probably in fact are not, the same at all career stages," Kennedy stated. An important implication of the document is to legitimate the changing emphases in and changing combination of research programs, teaching commitments, and service contributions that faculty members make. Indicating that some schools such as the Graduate School of Business and Earth Sciences already engage in faculty consultations like those proposed, Kennedy advised that an earlier draft document had been circulated to the members of the University Cabinet [primarily the school deans]. He stated that PPB was submitting the document for Senate discussion and comment, but not for formal action.

Professor Parker (Graduate School of Business) began the discussion by asking, "Is there anything controversial about this?" Amidst the ensuing laughter, Kennedy expressed reluctance to himself volunteer criticisms of the document. Professor Brauman (Chemistry) took up the challenge to "dredge up a little controversy" by suggesting that the document was a sneaky way to get post-tenure review on the table. Kennedy acknowledged that PPB had on occasion used that term in its discussions, but stressed that they had been careful to describe a process that does not have a retrospective review or evaluative character to it. "We are trying to promote a forward-looking, prospective consultation that facilitates changes in faculty members' interests, emphases, and priorities," he said, as distinct from the annual review process connected to salary setting. Brauman indicated that, notwithstanding his earlier comment, he was very positively disposed toward the proposal.

Professor McCall (Classics) expressed some perplexity as to how ambitious PPB intended to be with "this splendid set of incipient ideas." To illustrate the kind of issues he sees being raised, he posed a scenario related to salary-setting time, "the bottom line for all of us." Positing two opposing faculty profiles, McCall described on the one hand a full professor who is an excellent teacher, committed to university service, with a productive but not "hot shot" research profile, whose primary career ambition is to serve Stanford as well as possible for the rest of his or her academic career. In contrast, another full professor is an okay teacher who insists on teaching only Tuesday through Thursday and is hard to track down outside the classroom, does not live near campus, zealously avoids things like undergraduate advising, has a very good research profile, belongs to the kind of faculty element, widespread in the U. S., that plays outside offer games, and in this particular year has an outside offer. Evoking laughter, McCall said that he would bet a large amount of money, "I'd probably bet my salary ­ which is at least a large amount of my money," that in the current Stanford culture, a questionnaire to the entire faculty would result in a high percentage responding that the second hypothetical faculty member would receive a larger salary raise. However, "if the potential of this document were to be realized, the answer might be that they would both receive the same salary raise," McCall offered.

Kennedy responded that while there is nothing in the PPB document that links the proposed consultation to salary-setting, "there is at least the suggestion in it that we're trying to incline the system a little bit to recognize more ably than it now does those kinds of contributions to teaching and service that perhaps are less fully rewarded." PPB member Professor Perry (Philosophy) agreed that "the document has possibilities that aren't necessarily trumpeted." He said he thought both professors hypothesized by McCall deserve to be well compensated. Stanford has a special possibility of changing the perception of the relative importance of teaching at the great universities, Perry said. He quoted former President Kennedy as stating that the indirect cost scandal was "a corner that we just didn't see around," making the point that "there is another corner we can all see around" related to the importance of teaching within a university. "If you [McCall] see something that's sort of radical in what George [Parker] sees as a perfectly benign and uncontroversial document, then I think the PPB has done a great job," Perry commented.

Professor Heller (Biological Sciences) asked why the document appeared to be asymmetrical, describing incentives for exceptional teaching and service commitments but making less mention of people doing an exceptional job in research. Kennedy replied that while support for distinguished scholarship and research is perfectly consistent with PPB's recommendation and discussions, the document is inclined somewhat toward capturing unrealized teaching values. "I guess it was our working assumption that outstanding research performance is its own incentive and reward."

Responding to a question from Professor Kirst (Education), Kennedy explained that the concept of distinguished "university professorships" had not been much elaborated by PPB, but that "enhanced teaching commitments" might mean an increase in quantity of teaching or something like a senior person stepping back from advanced seminars and taking responsibility for introductory courses. Professor Beasley (Applied Physics) asked to what degree current perceptions of the university from outside played a role in PPB's thinking. A systematic report from the American Association of Higher Education detailing ways in which several state public systems have moved to formalize post-tenure reviews was quite helpful, Kennedy said. He noted that PPB took cognizance of a climate of public opinion that is increasingly dubious about the accountability of the tenure system.

Professor Paul Roberts (Civil and Environmental Engineering) questioned whether there really were a large number of tenured faculty who don't have the imagination or strength of character to change directions to make themselves more productive. Kennedy said PPB had not quantified this but believes that a certain fraction of the faculty would benefit from the proposed system, and that making it a universal procedure was justified. Roberts said that seemed silly to him, and offered the image of a Doonesbury cartoon with a mythical professor in some gender-neutral form like a feather, an intellectual lightweight who can't figure out what to do. Professor Baker (History) observed that the two goals ­ to have regular career reviews and to develop incentives for teaching ­ were not necessarily logically related. He asked whether there might not be less formal mechanisms for department chairs and deans to help some people with career changes; and suggested that incentives for teaching might be more direct, such as a competition for teaching innovation funds. Baker also proposed that a more flexible review period, say between five and seven years, would be better than specifying five years.

The Chair said she hoped that the school deans in attendance would comment on whether they would find the proposal a useful vehicle. Dean Hennessy said that the School of Engineering had been discussing something along the same lines, and that he believes there are a fair number of faculty members who could use this kind of prospective assistance in changing career directions. Medical School Dean Bauer said that he supports the document because it puts the philosophic stamp of the University on something that they are finding necessary in clinical departments because of economic pressures.

Professor Gumport (Education), saying she thought it was fabulous that department chairs should have a stronger role and be given better preparation for their duties, asked what PPB had in mind. Kennedy reminded everyone that a cluster of issues related to university governance, including the role of department chairs, had been identified as another of PPB's principal agenda items. "A little bit to our surprise, that item crept into this issue a bit . . . as we recognized that the dean or chair conducting the faculty career consultations will need a little broader sense of his or her mission and more resources in hand to accomplish that." This is another area that PPB intends to delve into in more detail in the next year, Kennedy advised. Provost Rice said she finds this to be one of the most important aspects of the PPB recommendation, explaining that she and the President had been working with Vice Provost Anne Fernald, Professor Gail Mahood, and a group of deans on better understanding the needs of chairs and developing ways to support and to train chairs. "The chairs really are the glue that holds this place together," Rice said. "They're the most important level of administration."

Professor Ridgeway (Sociology) stated that institutionalizing accountability for full professors needs to be done. In her opinion, regular timing of the consultations (as opposed to variable) is much fairer to all individuals and avoids the implication that, "Oh oh, something is wrong." She also stressed the need to "push our culture a little bit against the general stereotype that the most innovative research is done by the people who neglect their teaching the most." Commenting that she understood why McCall had offered the example he did, Ridgeway said she believes the stereotype does not capture the way people achieve excellence either in teaching or research, and that carefully handled review procedures might succeed in pushing against the stereotype.

"I think it's interesting how many of us read different things into this document," remarked Professor Jacobs (Oncology). She found one of its best features the notion of a "retread program" (meant in a very positive sense, she later clarified), and asked whether PPB had considered things like having a person at the Provost's or possibly school level who could give advice about opportunities not just for research or teaching but also for university service and community involvement, and like offering possible "retread grants." Kennedy emphasized that PPB was trying quite self-consciously not to propose something that would be primarily a problem-solving device, but instead to suggest an opportunity-creating device, aimed at amplifying certain institutional values. This is not a "dead wood detector," he joked. Jacobs suggested that it might be useful for PPB to find out how many faculty members feel that they could benefit from such consultations and possible funding to help them modify career directions. PPB member Professor Krueger (Economics) volunteered that PPB suspected that some people toward the later stages of their career might not want to mount a new research direction but might have lots of things still to say and enjoy teaching more than before, if both of those choices were equally valued. "One of our underlying questions was, why should your obligations ­ teaching, research, service ­ be the same throughout your career?" Krueger said.

Perry commented that faculty contributions might best be viewed as cyclical or rhythmic, in contrast to the stereotype that McCall had intentionally and eloquently put forth. "If a colleague comes out of the chair's office and says, 'Great news, I have a lesser teaching load for the next five years so I can do more research,' we would all offer congratulations. But if that same person comes out and says, 'Great news, I don't have to do as much research, but I get to teach an extra course,' how would we react? However, what the latter could really mean is, 'Great news, for the next five years I don't have to write as many research grant proposals, and I can use that time to talk to some of the brightest young minds ever assembled anywhere on earth about my ideas and the foundations of my studies.' We'd like to create a culture in which, in both cases, everyone would respond, 'Hey, that's a great opportunity,'" Perry indicated. PPB member Professor Grey (Law) indicated that the consultation mechanism doesn't target dead wood, but rather faculty members who have gotten into a rut ­ "we can all recognize that in ourselves once in a while" ­ and for whom it would be very helpful to be forced to articulate and discuss what they will be doing over the next five years. This type of self-examination is only a faint echo of what most people face in the external work environment, Grey remarked.

Earth Sciences Dean Orr argued that the proposal's real value lies in creating the opportunity to step back and look at where one stands in one's career and what might lie ahead. He said that they have initiated annual, one-on-one conversations between the dean and each faculty member, and that he finds them very helpful. "I don't see this as necessarily aimed at anybody 'running out of steam.' I think it's part of thinking effectively about how we do our business," Orr affirmed. Professor Koseff (Civil and Environmental Engineering) asked that PPB explore the relationship between the five-year review document and the annual salary setting process. In his opinion, the two should be linked in order to provide a truer assessment of what the person has accomplished in a given year, specifically in relation to the agreements reached about that person's five year plans.

Humanities and Sciences Dean Shoven reported that he finds the proposal extremely well-crafted and particularly likes the fact that it formalizes communications between the chair and the senior faculty. The prospective nature of the consultation means that it serves a different purpose than the annual faculty reports, he said, and he very much likes the way it strengthens the hand of the chair and suggests resources to facilitate career redirection. Shoven expressed agreement with Ridgeway that the reviews should be on a strictly regular time schedule, "not some people on a high frequency and some on a low frequency." Having become quite enamored with the proposal, and given his current position, not-quite-ex-Dean Shoven volunteered to be one of the first to meet with his chair and "figure out what I'm going to do for the next five years."

Professor Camarillo (History) said he thought the ideas were good but wondered if the vehicle makes sense. Rather than having heavily-burdened chairs doing these consultations, he suggested that for some departments, discussions with a group of senior colleagues might add value and serve to enhance the intellectual community of the department. As a parting shot, Camarillo said a "five-year psychological consultation" was what he and others really needed, "as the hair turns grey and the hearing and eyesight decline." On behalf of PPB, Chair Conley thanked Senators for a very fruitful and provocative discussion.

Annual Report on Professorial Gains and Losses (SenD#4807)

The Chair introduced the 1996/97 version of the statistical report on demographic changes in the professoriate, to be presented by Professor Bob Weisberg, Vice Provost for Faculty Relations. Conley reminded everyone that two related reports on the status of women faculty were scheduled for the next Senate meeting on May 14, thus urging Senators to focus their current attention and questions on issues other than gender. Weisberg declared that Professor Kennedy's earlier reference to his supposed boxing analogy was defamatory. "I said he was the text and I was the footnote," Weisberg quipped.

Weisberg said that his "report" only presents a set of data, but does not describe policy or give recommendations, though he would point to a few significant aspects of the data. Noting that the first four pages contain the University-wide data of most general interest, Weisberg drew attention to the ten-year comparison of professorial demographics. With a fairly stable faculty, few retirements, and infrequent billet expansion, it is not a good idea to focus on changes year-to-year, he advised. Though it appears that the size of the faculty has expanded over the past ten years, it really is relatively stable and some of the increase probably represents getting back into a hiring mode after billets were frozen for budgetary reasons, he said. Faculty increases in the EEOC ethnic categories might be described as "continuous but slight," "slow but steady," "steady but slow," he said, commenting that movement is in the right direction but not fast enough.

In order to increase the diversity of the faculty, the first thing to emphasize is that Stanford is a very decentralized university and hiring is done by the departments. The Provost's Office can and does induce, cajole, and provide incentives, Weisberg stated, and supplies statistical information and advice about availability pools. The so-called "pipeline problem" is a very, very serious constraint, but is not an absolute determinant, he said, and cannot be used as an excuse for not trying harder. He joked that one way to increase the diversification of the faculty would be simply to forbid all undergraduates to apply to Law School (perhaps Medical School and Business School too). Weisberg indicated that he works with schools and departments on "targets of opportunity," and that when very special opportunities present themselves the search waiver process allows the normal search and evaluation processes to be shortcut. Discussions with departments may involve the design of a search, increasing the breadth of the short list, and potential flexibility in the definition of the field. "To use the Provost's favorite martial metaphor," he said, "it's hand-to-hand combat. We're a small institution and we work very aggressively."

Weisberg explained that though the legal environment is complicated, it must be stressed that recent legal events in California, such as Proposition 209, do not constrain Stanford as a private institution. Stanford's practices are also not inconsistent with various amorphous and unresolved legal events around the country, he said. "In my more perversely whimsical moments, I look forward to the day when we are being so aggressive and so successful in these dimensions that our problem becomes a legal one," he remarked. After clarifying the definitions of "tenure line: tenured," "tenure line: not tenured," and "non tenure line," Weisberg emphasized the significance of the Medical Center Line (not tenure line). He said this was a growing component of the faculty, reflecting changes in medical schools nationally, and a component with continually large contributions to diversity. Weisberg concluded his report by reiterating Chair Conley's request to postpone gender-related questions until the May 14 meeting.

Provost Rice called attention to the fact that 60.76% of the Stanford faculty is tenured, a somewhat reduced number, because of the dilution effect of the MCL, compared to several years earlier when the figure was about 72%. People need to remember that with the ratio of tenured faculty this high, junior faculty hiring needs to be the norm, she said. Professor McCall (Classics) expressed his interpretation that there had not been modest, ten-year growth in the size of the overall Stanford faculty but rather significant growth in one school, with the Medical School accounting for 192 of the total increase of 199. The Provost and Engineering Dean Hennessy confirmed considerable volatility in the numbers from year to year. Professor Ridgeway agreed that departments have to work harder to improve the numbers of minority faculty members. She asked whether there are any implicit efforts to encourage departments to hire in certain areas, citing the example of Harvard's major moves in the social sciences and the humanities. Provost Rice challenged the faculty in disciplines with representation of minorities to give specific names to Weisberg, particularly now that Stanford is able to make some new hires at the senior and recently tenured levels. There are incentive funds for areas where minorities are underrepresented ­ which means "there is a null set where this would not work," Rice remarked. She also noted that some special efforts were underway around the African and Afro-American Studies Program as well as the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. Weisberg added that resources have never been a problem in the four years he has worked with departments and schools to facilitate appointments that would lend diversity to the faculty. This takes really hard work, he said, both to identify candidates and then to recruit and hire them, often because "these people are human beings with lives attached to other human beings." If the spouses were all computer programmers or managers, it would be a lot easier, he quipped. Conley thanked Weisberg for his report and conveyed the Senate's gratitude to Staff Associate for Faculty Affairs Jane Volk-Brew for her hard work compiling all the numbers.

Under the category of "new business," Conley wished Godspeed to Marisa Cigarroa, who had covered the Senate's foibles and successes for the Stanford Report, and was moving to the east coast. Following a motion and a second, the Chair declared the meeting adjourned at 4:55 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Susan W. Schofield

Academic Secretary to the University