Stanford Report Online

Stanford Report, October 18, 2000
Minutes from the Oct. 12 Faculty Senate meeting

Report No. 2


At its meeting on Thursday, October 12, 2000, the Senate of the Academic Council heard reports and took the following actions:

1. By unanimous voice vote, as recommended by the Senate Committee on Committees, approved a revision of the charge to the Academic Council Committee on Research, adding a postdoctoral scholar as a twelfth regular member of the committee.

2. Accepted the 1999/2000 Annual Report of the Committee on Research, thanking Professor Umran Inan (Electrical Engineering) for his leadership as past chair.

3. As recommended by the Committee on Research, and by undivided voice vote, approved a change in policy title from "Secrecy in Research" to "Openness in Research."

4. As recommended by the Committee on Undergraduate Studies, and by unanimous voice vote, amended SenD#4636 (Guidelines for the Certification of General Education Requirements) and SenD#4544 (General Education Requirements) to specify that Area One courses not be allowed to satisfy other areas of the General Education Requirements.

5. As recommended by the Committee on Undergraduate Studies, and by unanimous voice vote, amended SenD#4694 (Proposal from C-US, Area One Requirement: Introduction to the Humanities) to specify that small group discussion leaders who are not members of the Academic Council are to be lecturers with doctorates appointed for one-year terms, with the possibility of two additional one-year extensions upon satisfactory performance.


Academic Secretary to the University


Call to Order

Senate Chair Brad Osgood called the meeting to order at 3:16 p.m. There were 38 voting members, 9 ex-officio members, and several guests in attendance.

Approval of Minutes

The minutes of the September 28, 2000 meeting of Senate XXXIII (SenD#5129) were approved as submitted.

Report from the Senate Steering Committee

The Chair reminded everyone of President Hennessy's inauguration the following week, and of the cancellation of most classes from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. He urged Senate members to join him in the academic procession, noting that he would be "in his baby blue gown from Michigan, if I get it back from the cleaners." Osgood highlighted some future Senate agenda items, including reports on October 26th on undergraduate advising and on the Campaign for Undergraduate Education and on November 9th on faculty housing programs. He said that all three topics had been suggested by Senate members, and urged those who had not done so at the previous meeting to identify potential topics of interest on the yellow sheets at their desks. The Chair advised that there was no report from the Committee on Committees.

Reports from the President and the Provost

President Hennessy said that he had no report. Professor Polhemus (English) voiced questions about "the dish project," on behalf of numerous concerned colleagues. He asked the President how much money was being spent on "asphalt, fencing, guards, and little cars;" whether the real point of the project was to protect the university from some kind of legal jeopardy, since ecology and conservation seemed to be hurt rather than helped; and what could be done in future to avoid this kind of failure in prioritizing "that overbudgets for secondary, nonacademic activities with the effect of sapping the university's main educational and research functions."

The President, with facts and figures in hand, first provided background information on "the dish." He said that for many years access to the area had been restricted to Stanford faculty, staff and students, by permit only. In the late 1980s the University had opened the dish to the broader community establishing three primary regulations: users to stay on marked trails, all dogs to be kept on leash, and the area to close at sunset. All of these rules were broken on a regular basis, Hennessy stated, with the result that by 1998 there were twice as many ad hoc trails as marked ones, many of the former at slope levels that would never be allowed in public parks, wildlife had been driven out by unleashed dogs, and the area was "quite truly a mess, an environmental disaster." Once opened to the public, Stanford also had an obligation to patrol the dish area, he advised, but had until recently assigned only a half-time person. During nine days in August, the dish had 9,000 visitors, double the number of people who visited Palo Alto's Foothills Park in the entire month of August, he revealed. Mentioning a related issue, Hennessy stated that Stanford believes it will need to create new habitat in an attempt to preserve the tiger salamander, a candidate for listing as an endangered species. "Putting this all together, the University decided to try to come up with a plan that would restore and preserve the environment in the dish area," the President said.

Hennessy summarized the costs of the project as follows: overall budget of $4-5 million; including $225,000 in startup costs; $600,000 in one-year operating costs (primarily for patrolling, which he hoped to reduce in future once new usage patterns were in place); $3 million in capital costs (gates, fences, paving, stabilizing hillsides); and $550,000 per year for conservation measures, to be overseen by faculty, staff, and a postdoc in the Center for Conservation Biology. He added that an increase in vehicle use in the area is only temporary, and reminded people that a new reservoir had also been built recently in the area to provide fire protection in the event of a natural disaster.

"So, where are we going? Long term, we are trying to establish a management policy for the dish that acknowledges the fact that this area has become an asset used not just by members of the Stanford community, but by many other members of the broader community," Hennessy stated. The University will continue environmental restoration at the dish, including planting more trees and trying to create an environment that will restore local fauna to the area. After just one month without dogs, a frequent hiker reported spotting a fox for the first time in 15 years, he commented. Operating an open space area carries with it certain costs, which Stanford will try to minimize, the President concluded.

Professor Efron (Statistics) reiterated Polhemus's concern about the enormous amount of money that appears to be spent on physical improvement of the campus, given the shortage of funds the faculty keeps being told about in Humanities and Sciences. The President reminded everyone of the difference between one-time expenditures such as plant improvements and base budget commitments such as hiring a faculty member. He also explained that campus infrastructure projects are funded through a tax on each Stanford construction project. But because of dramatic increases in construction costs, more funds were being collected than seemed appropriate for campus beautification and infrastructure projects, and he said that the tax was being reduced. Professors Satz (Philosophy) and Markus (Psychology) asked why the monies collected in this way couldn't be earmarked instead for important academic projects. Hennessy indicated that under a new General Use Permit, the University anticipates the need to redesign the taxing system to ensure that ancillary costs of development, e.g., traffic mitigation, are associated with each capital project and do not come from the core academic budget.

Professor Greely (Law) asked the President if there had been any response to his very useful proposal to Palo Alto concerning land for the Jewish Community Center. Hennessy reported that the response had been remarkably good. He explained that the University had made its offer contingent upon approval of an acceptable General Use Permit because the site offered for the JCC is presently zoned for housing and would have to be reclaimed for Stanford housing if the campus housing proposed under the GUP could not be built.

Finally, there were no more questions for the President, who joked, "Well, Brad, it looks like we can have much shorter presentations at Senate and just go straight to the questions."

Provost Etchemendy reported briefly on the status of the search for a new Dean of the School of Medicine. The search committee, "very ably chaired by Steve Galli" has provided an alphabetically ordered list of recommended candidates, both internal and external, he said. The President, the Vice President for Medical Affairs, and the Provost are now discussing these very strong candidates in order to come to a final decision.

Revision of the Charge to the Committee on Research (SenD#5128)

Osgood reminded everyone that the Senate's Committee on Committees has responsibility for writing, and revising, the charges to the Academic Council Committees. He asked CoC Chair Lipsick to present a recommended change to the charge to the Committee on Research (C-Res). Lipsick explained that CoC was recommending that a postdoctoral scholar be added as a twelfth regular member of C-Res. He said that this suggestion had come originally from postdocs themselves, who are roughly 1,400 in number and desire representation within University governance. Participation on C-Res seemed to be a good idea to the Provost's Office and to CoC, he advised. There were no questions. By unanimous voice vote, the Senate approved the amended charge to the Committee on Research.

1999/2000 Annual Report from the Committee on Research (SenD#5120)

The Senate Chair welcomed current Committee on Research Chair Professor David Leith (SLAC) as well as some committee members. He conveyed the regrets of past C-Res Chair Umran Inan (Electrical Engineering), who could not present the report due to schedule conflicts, thanking him for his energetic leadership.

Leith summarized the work of C-Res during 1999/2000, noting that they had met nine times including one required public meeting. The primary work undertaken by the committee, he said, included:

c reviewed and recommended a course of action for a proposed relationship between the Stanford Office of Technology Licensing (OTL) and an outside entity to improve technology transfer where technologies might not otherwise be successfully licensed;

c initiated discussions with the Learning Technologies Board on issues related to the appropriate use of educational technology, and policy issues stemming from new ventures in distance learning;

c participated in discussions on changes in export controls (International Traffic in Arms Regulation, ITAR) as those affect basic satellite-based research at Stanford and threaten an open research environment;

c reviewed the status of and applauded increased support of undergraduate research opportunities;

c discussed the problems associated with the use of proprietary information in research projects, and reaffirmed Stanford's policy restricting delays in publication;

c reaffirmed the content of the Secrecy in Research policy, and recommended to the Faculty Senate that the policy be renamed (per Senate action item to follow the annual report).

Leith identified three main topics likely to occupy C-Res attention during 2000/01:

c further consideration of the ITAR regulations, their negative effect on a large non-U.S. community of researchers, how to work within this law, and encouragement of nation-wide efforts to modify the law;

c discussion of potential conflict of interest and conflict of commitment situations for individual faculty members and for universities involved in using new technologies for distance education, as well as discussion of related questions of ownership of new forms of expression;

c exploration of appropriate responses to increased federal compliance requirements, e.g., NIH-mandated training on protection of human subjects, and concern about increases in faculty time consumed in administering research.

Leith advised that C-Res would attempt to develop white papers covering the first two topics, and would share them with the Senate Steering Committee during the year. He also said that they had also just put up a committee web page where interested parties could follow their work ( "This seems a full agenda, and we don't look for other material, but of course stand ready to deal with whatever matters under our purview turn up or are referred to us," Leith concluded.

Vice Provost and Dean of Research Charles Kruger thanked C-Res Chair Inan and the prior year's committee members for their thoughtful and effective work. "The Committee on Research, to my mind, is a model for academic governance and the involvement of the faculty in important matters," he stated, encouraging faculty members to consider serving on C-Res if they had not done so. Professor Pate-Cornell (Management Sciences and Engineering) asked for guidance concerning a project that might be under the ITAR regulations. Leith reiterated the requirement that the university apply for an export control license if any individuals involved in the project are non-U.S. citizens. Kruger also offered to help her resolve specific issues as the principal investigator.

Professor Brauman (Chemistry) suggested that since the University's policies on openness in research are very clear, the faculty should not feel bound by ITAR regulations. "What are they going to do, throw you in jail?" he asked. Kruger affirmed that Stanford had turned down one research grant as a result of these unacceptable agency requirements. Responding to a question from Professor Roth (Mechanical Engineering), Kruger also advised that no exceptions are being made to the policy prohibiting secret dissertations by graduate students.

Professor Schatzberg (Psychiatry) indicated that some faculty members in his department are concerned about the University's royalty-sharing formula. He suggested that a larger percentage might be returned to the faculty in clinical departments, who are responsible for raising the bulk of their own salaries. Vice Provost Kruger clarified that the specific distribution arrangements from technology licensing had not been a topic for C-Res. Kruger and President Hennessy explained that the current arrangement ensures that the faculty inventor receives a one-third share, but deans and department chairs can, and do, make whatever arrangements they believe are appropriate for the other two-thirds. Kruger stated that he did not think it was a good idea for the President and Provost to try to legislate different arrangements within each of the seven schools.

Professor Taylor (Economics) urged the University to develop policy guidance for the faculty on the use of new technologies in teaching and the implications for distance learning. He also asked whether this issue, concerned primarily with teaching, was the most natural topic for the Committee on Research. Provost Etchemendy agreed that a cluster of different issues and different expertise were involved, which would not be found in any single Academic Council committee. While C-Res has the history and expertise around conflict of interest and conflict of commitment, other expertise would also be needed, he said, which might be brought into C-Res, or perhaps an ad hoc body formed.

Osgood thanked Leith for his presentation and the committee for their good work. He accepted the 1999/2000 Annual Report of the Committee on Research, on behalf of the Senate.

Proposed Policy Name Change to "Openness in Research" (SenD#5121)

Committee on Research Chair Leith (SLAC) referred to the memo and copy of the Secrecy in Research Policy which Senate members had received in their agenda packets, advising that changing "secrecy" to "openness" in the title would better convey the intent of the policy and was quite straightforward. There was no discussion. The Senate approved the name change by unanimous voice vote. "Shouldn't that have been a secret ballot?" joked Professor Spiegel (Psychiatry).

Area One/Introduction to the Humanities Policy Clarifications (SenD#5127)

Osgood introduced Professor Hester Gelber, Chair of the Committee on Undergraduate Studies, to present two relatively minor policy changes to legislation governing the Introduction to the Humanities program. He welcomed new IHUM Director Professor Rob Robinson and Associate Director Cheri Ross as guests.

Gelber explained that the first recommendation was to specify that Area One (IHUM) courses not be allowed to satisfy other areas of the General Education Requirements, primarily because such double counting would create inequities of opportunity. The second recommendation, she said, was to specify that the IHUM discussion leaders, now called "lecturers with doctorates", would be appointed for one year, with the possibility of two one-year extensions upon satisfactory performance (rather than for a fixed three-year term, with the possibility of a fourth year).

Responding to a query from Professor Palumbo-Liu (Comparative Literature), Ross indicated that the criteria for renewal of the lecturers is effectiveness in the position, as evidenced through teaching evaluations and faculty input. Renewal is normally made after the first quarter's work, she said, though in three cases renewal was deferred until improvements were achieved. One person had not been renewed, she said, and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Bravman added that a few people had also chosen voluntarily to leave the program. Professor Saldivar (English), Bravman's predecessor, sought assurance that the proposed change to one-year appointments would not hamper the program's goal of assembling an ongoing pool of excellent teachers for this demanding course. Ross reassured him that about one-third of the 35 lecturers go on to very good placements each year, leaving about two-thirds to carry forward the program expertise. She also said that the proposed change was essentially conforming the legislation to practice, since annual reviews had been the norm. Professor Greely (Law) expressed puzzlement that IHUM would choose to give up the discretion to make an occasional fourth year appointment under special circumstances. Ross indicated that the best time for the lecturers to obtain tenure track positions was after the second year, with the third year still possible; a fourth year was not in their best interests, she said. Bravman and Professor Polhemus (English), Chair of the Area One Design Committee, underscored the intent to make this an excellent position for "hot young scholars" seeking academic careers, and to move away both from pre-doctoral graduate students and from a quasi-secondary faculty with long years of service. Bravman reported that the IHUM lecturers "are doing a phenomenal job and get rave reviews from students."

In reply to a question from Professor Cohen (Mathematics), Robinson said that scholarship was not expected as a part of the lecturers' paid positions, but that there were programs to encourage their scholarship, including a one-quarter sabbatical in the three-year period. Robinson and Ross reassured Senate members that one-year appointments would not affect the sabbatical program, nor would they have an adverse impact on recruitment. A national search had yielded 300 applicants for 12 positions the prior year, Ross said.

The two proposed policy clarifications, moved and seconded by the Committee on Undergraduate Studies, were approved by undivided voice vote, as follows:

SenD#4636 (Guidelines for the Certification of General Education Requirements) and SenD#4544 (General Education Requirements) are amended to specify that Area One courses not be allowed to satisfy other areas of the General Education Requirements.

SenD#4694 (Proposal from C-US, Area One Requirement: Introduction to the Humanities) is amended to specify that small group discussion leaders who are not members of the Academic Council are to be lecturers with doctorates appointed for one-year terms, with the possibility of two additional one-year extensions upon satisfactory performance.

Report on Axess 2000, New Academic Information System (SenD#5130)

Senate Chair Osgood turned the floor over to Roger Printup, "Registrar di tutti registrari" (also an elected Senate member), for a report on the new system for student and course records. Stanford seems to be more complicated that General Motors, Osgood remarked, "and you can't just go to Fry's to buy a package that will take care of this, even if you wait in line long enough."

Printup began by assuring the audience that he was not the Dan Quayle of registrars, and that "Axess" was meant to be a play on the Stanford axe and to convey the notion of access to information. The current mainframe system, installed in 1983 ("pre-Ice Age for a computer system") and developed in-house in a language called SPIRES, is difficult to maintain and to use, Printup said. A new system, based on up to date client-server technology, has been purchased from PeopleSoft. Installation began in March 2000, he stated, with various functions to be rolled out through December 2001, and additional capabilities to be phased in subsequently.

Printup explained that the system must support a number of very important functions:

c Undergraduate and graduate admissions ­ 100,000 inquiries and 27,000 applications per year

c Need-based financial aid and graduate financial support ­ over $250 million annually

c Academic records ­ course enrollments, grades, transcripts (40,000 mailed each year), diplomas, certifications, classroom scheduling, teaching evaluation

c Student financials ­ billing and payment of $300 million in tuition this year

c Student housing assignments ("the infamous draw")

c Internal and external reporting ­ e.g., to the government, for accreditation

c Links to other University systems ­ payroll, personnel, accounting, faculty affairs

In addition to a University-wide Systems Governance Group that reports to the Provost and the Chief Financial Officer, Printup said that the members of the Axess 2000 Advisory Group had been very helpful to him, noting that the group included a knowledgeable staff person "from the trenches" in each school. Printup noted that he had also given reports on the status of the Axess 2000 project to the three Academic Council committees on which he serves as an ex-officio member (C-AAA, C-GS, and C-US).

The Registrar described several new capabilities within Axess 2000. First, the faculty will have access via the Web to current quarter class lists, grades given in previous quarters, transcripts for their advisees, and entry and editing of grades each quarter. Of 53,000 course enrollments every quarter at Stanford, about 12,000 grades come in late or are changed, he lamented, "so now you'll be making those entries instead of me." Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Bravman warned that late submission of grades can have serious impacts on some students, whose unit total appears to drop below the minimum and causes them to be put on academic probation for this reason only. He also expressed some concern about the way the system will need to handle delegations and authentication, particularly for classes with hundreds of students where faculty members may now assign grades on an Excel spreadsheet but ask a TA or staff person to fill out the "bubble sheet." Printup agreed that authenticating grades is an absolute necessity and will be treated very seriously.

Other new capabilities, according to Printup, will include: tracking of requirements for majors and minors (which should be of great assistance to department administrators); a curriculum management system (common at other universities and providing niceties like a single title for the same course quarter after quarter); integration of billing, financial aid and records information into one system; a consolidation of now-separate classroom and event scheduling systems; and reduced reliance on shadow systems in schools and departments.

An important change that also becomes possible, Printup advised, is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Stanford's course enrollment system. Unexpected surges or drops in enrollments in particular courses have adverse impacts on classroom assignment, TA allocations, orders for books and similar preparations, he noted. Faculty members complain about this, and departments have devised a multitude of differing sign-up procedures to attempt to cope with popular classes. Printup also reminded everyone that Stanford policy provides for a two-week "shopping period" before students are required to submit their course selections. With only 10 weeks in a quarter, having to deal with organizational problems for even one or two class periods is very detrimental, Printup indicated. "The PeopleSoft system has a model for getting students into classes, which is based on early enrollment or preregistration systems that are common at virtually every other university in the country," he said. The goal is to provide each faculty member with a class list at the time of the first class meeting. The system allows the faculty member to set enrollment expectations, if any (size of class, restrictions as to majors/minors, prerequisites, etc.); for students it will check for class conflicts and repeated courses; it also allows for management of wait lists. Printup reaffirmed that the system will continue to allow for an add/drop (or "shopping") period at the beginning of the quarter, as established by Senate policy.

Printup concluded by thanking the departments and schools for tremendous cooperation so far in implementing the new system. Continued assistance will be needed, he said, in providing input to the project team regarding policies and processes; participation in testing to validate the system capabilities; participation in training; and support for fellow staff members engaged in the project. He also made a plea for flexibility in recognizing that the "how" of academic processes may need to change, and that there may be new and better ways of accomplishing Stanford's business.

Osgood opened the floor for discussion, joking that he would "restrict questions to people who had not recently received a letter from Roger placing them on academic probation." Professor Zoback (Geophysics) asked for and received assurance from Printup that the PeopleSoft system was already in use in other major universities (e.g., Minnesota, Michigan, Northwestern). Queried directly by his boss the Provost, Printup answered that the Axess 2000 project was costing $20 million. "That's a lot of dish projects," interjected the President. One way of looking at the investment, Printup ventured, is that most student systems will last about 20 years and during that time over $11 billion in today's dollars will go through the new Stanford system. "We have a very big responsibility, legally and otherwise, to do this right," he observed. Most of the cost is not the purchase of the software, but rather the people working on the project, Printup noted, with a lot of time being spent on accommodating Stanford's four different grading and admissions processes, and on transferring old data accurately to the new system. "I am determined to avoid the registrar's nightmare, which happened at Wisconsin," he said. "They weren't sure the old data was correct in the new system, so they were sending out transcripts with a note attached saying 'We're not sure if this is right.'" Provost Etchemendy also stressed that Stanford had to move to some new system because the existing NSI system could not be maintained. Bravman expressed the hope and the belief that some of the up-front costs would at least be offset by improvements in efficiency of operations. Professor Saldivar (English) emphasized the importance of the useful information that the new system will be able to provide to advisors who can then be more helpful to their students.

ASSU President Seth Newton asked the Registrar to explain how the early enrollment process would work and how it might affect the "shopping period." Printup said that he expected that students would not be required to enroll early, and that there would remain some period at the start of each quarter when courses could be added and dropped. C-AAA and/or C-US might want to review the specific deadlines, he suggested. The principal goal, he reiterated, is to allow the faculty to have a better idea of expected course enrollments and to plan accordingly, providing a better experience for the students. ASSU Representative-at-Large Dana Mulhauser asked if the new system would correct the notorious problems with the current Axess system which gets jammed at registration deadlines and which closes down at midnight "when most students are just gearing up." Printup replied that he expected those problems to be greatly ameliorated, in part because of the shift off of the mainframe computer. Policies could also be modified, he suggested, such as establishing a 6:00 a.m. Monday deadline instead of midnight Sunday. Printup also revealed that "Five thousand course enrollments are added after the study list deadline at the end of the second week," causing real concern among some members of the faculty. Senate Chair Osgood thanked "Roger the Registrar" for his informative report, and wished him "sweet dreams, no nightmares."

There being no new business, in spite of the Chair's encouragement, Osgood reminded Senate members to jot down potential discussion topics on their yellow sheets. Accepting a motion and a second, he declared the meeting adjourned at 5:02 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Susan W. Schofield

Academic Secretary to the University