Faculty Senate minutes - February 19, 2009 meeting
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE ACADEMIC COUNCIL
Report No. 5
SUMMARY OF ACTIONS, FEB. 19
At its meeting on Thursday, February 19, 2009 the Forty-first Senate of the Academic Council heard reports..
REX L. JAMISON, M.D.
Academic Secretary to the University
Minutes, FEB. 19
I. Call to Order
Professor Karen Cook, Chair, called the meeting of the 41st Senate to order at 3:15 PM. In attendance were 31 voting members and 9 ex officio members.
II. Approval of Minutes - (SenD#6161)
The minutes of the January 22, 2009, meeting of Senate XLI were approved.
III. Action Calendar
There were no items on the Action Calendar.
IV. Standing Reports
A. Memorial Resolutions:
William A. Lyell (1930-2005) SenD#6175
Chair Cook welcomed Professor Chaofen Sun, to present a memorial statement in honor of his colleague William Lyell, Associate Professor of Chinese in the School of Humanities and Sciences.
William A. Lyell, Associate Professor of Chinese, died in Palo Alto on August 28, 2005 at the age of 75 of complications of cancer of the esophagus.
Professor Lyell, at Stanford for three decades, taught classes on Chinese literature and language and East Asian civilization. The author of six books, he was a recognized authority known worldwide for his work on such major modern Chinese writers as Lu Xun, Lao She and Mao Dun, and other contemporary writers. He brought to the department an enthusiasm for teaching and a commitment to his students that earned him the love and respect of those who studied with him. Both in his teaching and in his writings, he held himself to the highest standards and even to that level of perfection that characterized his linguistic abilities. This combined with his openness to experience and adventure without an ounce of guile or sense of self-interest made him such a rare individual.
Madame Chair, I have the honor, on behalf of a committee consisting of John C.Y. Wang, Albert E. Dien, and myself, to lay before the Senate of the Academic Council a resolution in memory of the late William A. Lyell, Associate Professor of Chinese in the Department of Asian Languages.
All present stood in silent tribute.
Chair Cook thanked Professors Sun, Wang and Dien.
The full text of the Memorial Resolution will be published in the Stanford Report, February 25th.
Holt Ashley (1923-2006) SenD#6176
Chair Cook welcomed Professor Brian Cantwell to present the next two memorial resolutions.
Holt Ashley, Professor Emeritus of Aeronautics and Astronautics and of Mechanical Engineering, whose methods changed the design of structures from wings to wind turbines, died May 9, 2006, of natural causes at his home in Woodside. He was 83. A memorial service was held for him on May 12, 2006, in Memorial Church.
Professor Ashley was born January 10, 1923, in San Francisco. Inspired by his father's example, who not only had served in World War I, but who reenlisted in World War II, he took leave from the California Institute of Technology where he was a sophomore to serve in World War II as a weather forecaster and reconnaissance officer flying over the North Atlantic and Europe. After earning his master's and doctoral degrees (1948 and 1951, respectively) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he rose through the ranks to become Associate Professor in 1954 and Professor in 1966 at MIT. In 1964 he founded the Department of Aeronautical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur. He returned to California in 1967 to join Stanford as a Professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Because of his personal wealth, he was able to take early retirement in 1989 in order to enable the Department to hire younger faculty, but continued on for the next decade and a half as an Emeritus Professor recalled to active duty, teaching classes without pay to share his pioneering knowledge in the field of aeroelasticity to which he had made world-renowned contributions with generations of Stanford students and future researchers and teachers continuing in the path he had blazed.
His many honors include the 2003 Daniel Guggenheim Medal, sponsored jointly by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the Society of Automotive Engineers, and the 2006 Reed Aeronautics Award of the AIAA, the highest award in aeronautics and astronautics. His work had been published in about 100 journal articles and 5 books.
Madame Chair, I have the honor, on behalf of a committee consisting of George S. Springer and myself, to lay before the Senate of the Academic Council a Resolution in memory of the late Holt Ashley, Professor Emeritus of Aeronautics and Astronautics in the School of Engineering. And just one final word, if you never saw Holt — if you had seen him, you would remember him. He was a remarkable person to see and to know, six foot, eight, and in his own words, looked a lot like Daddy Warbucks. [Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks is a fictional character from the comic strip Little Orphan Annie. The term has come to mean a generous donor to a person or cause.] And I think in this memorial, you'll see that in fact he was one of the most generous people on the faculty.
All present stood in silent tribute.
Chair Cook thanked Professors Cantwell and Springer.
The full text of the Memorial Resolution will be published in the Stanford Report, February 25th.
Donald Baganoff (1932-2004) SenD#6177
Professor Cantwell also presented the next resolution.
Donald Baganoff, Professor Emeritus of Aeronautics and Astronautics, died on December 17, 2004, at his home in Palo Alto. He suffered a severe stroke on November 19, 2004. Professor Baganoff was 72 when he died.
Professor Baganoff was born January 22, 1932, in Crystal City, Missouri. He received a bachelor's degree from Purdue University in 1957, a master's degree from Washington University in 1960, and a doctorate from the California Institute of Technology in 1964, where he remained as a research fellow until he left to join the Stanford faculty in 1965.
In addition to authoring many technical papers, he was voted the best teacher in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at least twice by the students.
He was deemed one of the foremost researchers in the world in the field of high-speed gas dynamics. He pioneered new computational algorithms to enable the simulation of rarified gas flows such as those that exist around the space shuttle during reentry. He made particularly significant contributions to the numerical modeling of fluid mechanics problems using a statistical approach in an innovative way.
Madame Chair, I have the honor, on behalf of a committee consisting of George S. Springer and myself, to lay before the Senate of the Academic Council a Resolution in memory of the late Donald Baganoff, Professor Emeritus of Aeronautics and Astronautics in the School of Engineering.
All present stood in silent tribute.
Chair Cook again thanked Professors Cantwell and Springer.
The full text of the Memorial Resolution will be published in the Stanford Report, February 25th.
B. Steering Committee
The Senate's next meeting date is March 5th. The agenda includes a report from Dean Philip Pizzo who will be joined by two colleagues to discuss activities in the medical school. March 5th is the final Senate meeting of Winter Quarter.
April 16th is the date for the first meeting in Spring Quarter. The agenda will include reports from the Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity, Pat Jones, on the status of women faculty and faculty gains and losses. The Vice Provost for Graduate Studies, Patricia Gumport, will report on graduate students and graduate programs.
On April 30th, Dean of Education Deborah Stipek will present a report on Kindergarten-through-Grade 12 issues. The meeting will be short, so following adjournment, Senators can attend the Annual Meeting of the Academic Council in Cubberley Auditorium. The agenda for that meeting will be announced soon.
C. Committee on Committees (CoC)
There was no report from the CoC.
D. President's Report
The President had three issues to bring to the Senate's attention:
First, plans for possible expansion of the number of students admitted to Stanford are on hold because of the economy, with the exception that work is continuing by a small group on ways to encourage faculty to serve as Resident Fellows, the number which has declined in recent years. The group is chaired by Deborah Golder, the head of Residential Education. The report will be posted on the web.
Second, with the Provost he announced a new award to recognize contributions to enhancing diversity throughout the university. There will be two awards, one to an individual and one to a campus unit (e.g. department).
Third, in response to a letter from several students worried about the effect of the passage of Proposition 8 by the state of California [restricting the definition of marriage to opposite-sex couples and prohibiting marriage between two people of the same sex] on the campus atmosphere for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. The President read the following statement:
"We are proud of Stanford's long-standing commitment to diversity and equality. We believe that our open climate and campus culture as well as policies of nondiscrimination are among our most important characteristics. Stanford's welcoming environment and support for the LGBT community will not be influenced by the political initiative. The university follows a practice of not taking positions on political initiatives except when there is a direct academic connection. Therefore, the university did not take a position on Proposition 8 in advance of the election.
"However, it is important to remember that we remain attentive to the needs of our students and any emerging concerns in the aftermath. We must each take responsibility for ensuring that all members of the Stanford community feel supported and that we uphold our values and principles of equality.
There were no questions for the President.
The Provost had no report but he offered to answer questions.
Professor Philippe Buc read a statement expressing concern for the consequences of budgetary cuts, focusing on a few issues.
First to counter the expected cuts in advising, he thought the faculty should "step up to the plate." He suggested reinstatement of the faculty advisors' authorization for student study lists, which would in effect require more contact between undergraduates—both those with a declared major and those undeclared—and faculty.
Second, faculty of all departments should be required to post its syllabi for courses well in advance of the quarter, to aid students in their selection of courses. As a compromise the syllabus might be limited to key assignments, exams, papers expected, and the book list. He called attention to a new California state law, which mandates that textbooks for a given course be announced months in advance to facilitate comparison shopping.
Third, he thought the incentives to get faculty to create new courses were a bad idea and should be discouraged, especially in this time of budget cuts. "Professors should profess without being bribed. The Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education should be supported if he tells the I-HUM faculty to forego some of this money." Professor Buc pointed out that, "It is the Teaching Fellows that grade exams and papers. I did not deserve that friendly $3,000 that I got this year for my teaching even though I gladly banked it for daycare….[Since the faculty] cannot be fired, it should be asked to increase its productivity for the university where the university now needs it, for the institution."
[ Laughter ]
Provost Etchemendy smiled and said, "Was there a question mark, Philippe?"
Chair Cook answered for Professor Buc, "Do you agree?"
President Hennessy interjected, "I wish we had written it."
Provost Etchemendy responded, "Yes, Philippe, you know I do agree with the sentiments expressed completely. The question is how to achieve that de facto…The budget-cutting process will [lower although not to]… zero the various kinds of incentives for teaching…I hope that…faculty do not, decide that they no longer want to teach I-HUM or they no longer want to advise...I would think less of any faculty member who felt that way.
"Some of the other issues [Professor Buc mentioned]…should be thought about very carefully, like reinstating the required advisor signature for enrollment. That's the sort of thing that I think C-USP [the Committee on Undergraduate Standards and Policy, of which Professor Buc is current Chair] would be the appropriate body to consider, because that's an academic policy…So I think you're absolutely right…We will be calling on faculty to do more and to be more flexible in what they teach, less inclined to insist on teaching what they want to teach, and more inclined to teach what the department and university needs to have taught."
Professor Steve Boxer switched to the stimulus bill just signed by President Barack Obama. He pointed out that the bill augurs a huge potential increase in the funding available for certain government agencies. He wanted to be certain whether this is the right moment to cut back in, for example, the sponsored projects office and other offices that are the conduit to outside funds, for fear Stanford won't be able to take advantage of that increase in funds.
Provost Etchemendy replied and, referring to the activities in the Sponsored Projects Office, stated that the need to make that whole process significantly more efficient was clear. A consultant had studied our practices compared to those of other universities. Although the plan was to improve the process, the office is a very hard one to hire the right people for and keep them.
He continued, "As far as the selectiveness of cuts…unfortunately, our projection of next year's finances and the following year's finances has gotten somewhat worse than when we initially started the budget process. We asked units to present a five percent, seven percent, and ten percent plan in context of a two-year 15 percent plan. Our projection now is somewhat worse. That is inevitably going to force more across-the-board cuts. We're going to have to be asking most units to make cuts in this coming year on the order of ten percent. And that will [lead to] a more across-the-board look.
"Within units, I can guarantee that it will not be across the board. The various deans and department unit heads are doing an extremely good job of thinking hard about their operation, thinking about ways to restructure, ways to improve what they do, ways to improve the unit. And I'm actually quite encouraged by that. I think that a lot of the things that are going to be a consequence of the budget-cutting will improve Stanford. [But] the bad part is that an average of a ten percent cut is a big cut for the university."
Professor Robert Simoni pointed out that some of the money that's becoming available [through] the NIH requires institutional commitment and support to be able to get it. "But if we're not able to be competitive for it because we don't have the institutional funds, we'll miss an opportunity…that won't come along again quite in this way."
Provost Etchemendy agreed. "…A lot of the funds that are coming are, in effect, one-time funds that [are to be spent] in the course of two years. That's fine for infrastructure, equipment purchases—things of that sort. It's not going to have a long-term effect, probably, on the overall level of research."
Dean Philip Pizzo commented, "I don't think any of us has a clear insight into exactly how the NIH funding is going to play out, but we know the amount [and] its allocation to various categories…Our plan is to put a number of resources in to try and capitalize on that [opportunity], recognizing that it's a one-time resource…that can be very good for the institution as well."
Provost Etchemendy agreed: "To the extent that the money is put into infrastructure, equipment grants, things of that sort, we are shovel-ready."
[ Laughter ]
There followed comments about holes in the ground and shovels being at the ready.
Professor Jonathan Berek raised the question about revising the formula according to which the endowment payout rate is determined, should the financial forecast get worse.
Provost Etchemendy responded, noting that the projected payout rate for next year is approximately 7.25 percent, based on the assumption that between now and November 2009, there's an increase in the endowment of roughly ten percent. If instead the endowment does not increase, the payout rate is going to be over eight percent—higher than it has ever been in the history of the university.
He continued, "Would we want to ask the trustees to increase that rate even more, to ten percent? I don't think it would be a responsible request to make. I don't think we would want to spend ten percent of the endowment in one year."
Chair Cook thanked Provost Etchemendy.
V. Other Reports
A. Report on Information Security Policy and Initiatives (SenD#6172)
At the last meeting, January 22, owing the time taken to hear about budget issues facing Stanford, the report on Information Security and Policy Initiatives was postponed until this meeting. Chair Cook welcomed and thanked Randy Livingston, Vice President for Business Affairs and Chief Financial Officer, for his willingness to return today to present his report.
Also in attendance were Susan Weinstein, Senior Director of Business Development and University Privacy Officer and Tina Darmohray, Chief Information Security Officer and William Clebsch, Executive Director of I.T. Services.
Mr. Livingston began by reminding everyone that the Information Security Task Force was formed last summer after a laptop was stolen that had current and former employee records on it.
"This was an awful incident about which the employee involved just feels horrible, as does the entire organization. That incident created a tremendous amount of anxiety.
"Fortunately, as, you know, we believed at the time that what happened was what typically happens with laptop thefts: the thief immediately erases the hard drive and pawns off the computer on eBay or Craig's List. And we are very pleased that, at least to date, there's no evidence that personal records were accessed or used, based on what we've been able to see in terms of credit histories of the individuals that were listed there. So that's positive.
"Nonetheless, we spent over a million dollars…mitigating that incident. And that's just the cost of sending out notices to 60,000 people and offering the credit services…to people for a year's time…Had that data actually been accessed and used, the costs would have been much higher.
"Equally importantly, it just has had a big impact on our reputation [and] the sense of confidence people have in us as an organization.
"The goals of the task force were to figure out why this occurred [and] what we can do to minimize the likelihood an incident of that sort will ever happen again. The challenge that we face is that people take laptops and other computer devices… everywhere. These devices are going to be stolen or lost or misplaced—and not just when they're left in a car or carried to a shop; unfortunately, we continue to have laptops and other devices stolen out of university offices periodically.
"The second challenge we have is that people in the course of business are going to have various kinds of sensitive data on their systems..."
Mr. Livingston described what he called "existing data classifications." There are three classifications:
Prohibited Data: Social Security No.; Credit Card No.; Financial Account No.; Driver's License No.; Health Insurance Policy ID No.
The Task Force recommends disallowance of storage of Prohibited Information on University-owned or personally-owned desktop or portable machines and devices.
"The things that are in that "prohibited" column…individuals are prohibited from having them on their personal system unless [they are given exceptions] — we will establish a data governance board to provide exceptions in very compelling cases.
Restricted Data: Protected Health information (PHI); Student records protected by FERPA [Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act] (allow unencrypted on local computer only as long as necessary but no longer than end of academic year); Research and other information covered by non-disclosure agreement.
"There's an intermediate class of data that we call 'restricted.' The most common is personal health information. That's information that, ideally, we would like prohibited because it is tightly regulated by legislation. If that information is released, we have to communicate to the holders and provide remediation for it. In practice, a number of the physicians, and other folks that work in the medical community, need this information for their everyday work. So we cannot practically put it in the 'prohibited' column. That's why we have [declared it] 'restricted'."
FERPA data—fundamentally, that includes student grades and everything having to do with students during their time at Stanford. We realize that in the course of managing grades, teaching courses, and so on, people are going to need some of that information there.
Confidential Data: Employment applications/personnel files; personal contact information not contained in a database; privileged attorney-client communications; Stanford university ID No.; internal memos and email; non-public reports; budgets; plans and financial information; non-public contracts.
"Confidential" is everything else in the sensitive class.
"The key recommendations are that prohibited information should never be on someone's system in any circumstance. In the case of restricted data, if it's necessary to have it on a system, we're mandating that those systems be encrypted with the exception of certain FERPA data for limited periods of time. As for confidential information, we strongly recommend encryption, although at this point we're not going to mandate it, at least until the encryption technology is more widely used and more widely accepted.
"E-mail is also a highly sensitive area. E-mail lasts on people's systems forever. It's very hard to get rid of old e-mails because of the way…they get stored and backed up. So we are going to…provide an easier-to-use, secured e-mail system…Our new e-mail system with the new e-mail servers does provide secure transmission from a Stanford user to another Stanford user, as long as they're both on a Zimbra server and not on one of the subsidiary servers like the provost has been known to use from time to time."
[ Laughter ]
Mr. Livingston resumed, "The other big problem is some of the third-party e-mail services…because a number of Teaching Assistants, for example, that are handling student data, [as well as] lots of students, and even some faculty, auto forward their Stanford e-mail to Gmail or Hotmail. To address that initially, when someone attempts to forward his or her e-mail, we plan to have a popup warning saying, 'If you're a TA, if you're handling student data, or if you're handling any confidential or prohibited data, you should not forward your e-mail, you have to be using a Stanford e-mail address." We don't have a mechanism to block them at this point, but that's something we'll work toward.
"In terms of technology currently available, the biggest impact for faculty is probably going to be the encryption technology, because many faculty, certainly in the medical school, handle personal health information. Virtually all of the faculty handle protected information. We are going to be rolling out a very good Whole Disk Encryption system. We've already piloted it with some faculty…and the registrar's office has been using it for the last couple of months. [Windows and Macintosh are expected by March; Linux product is in development.]
"…It's a little bit painful to install the first time, but once installed, it's pretty much invisible. And what it does is protect privileged information. If your laptop or your system is stolen, it prevents the thief from being able to access personal files that have the protected information.
"In terms of secure e-mail, we currently have a system, Voltage Secure Email, for messages going outside of Stanford which is somewhat clumsy. We're trying to make it easier to interface with standard e-mail clients [the term 'client' means a type of email, like Eudora or Outlook; it is not a server]. Right now, that's the best solution we have, but we are investigating alternative user use of secured e-mails, particularly when we have to send information outside the Stanford community."
Having finished his remarks, Mr. Livingston offered to answer questions.
Professor Buc commented, "It makes sense to push us and [our] students to go the Zimbra route. [Zimbra is a groupware product by a company owned by Yahoo. Its software consists of both client and server components, but see Mr. Livingston's remarks below.] But we have to make sure that it works. And it's had a few hiccups over the last six months, to the point that I was actually…going to transfer most of my business to my Yahoo account. A lot of students are doing that not simply because they like their Gmail, but because older versions of [Stanford] email were not perfect…So…you should push for the Zimbra people to clean up their act and we should have servers that can handle it…"
Professor Debra Satz stated that she disliked Zimbra and preferred Eudora. To switch to another system, "would be really a change in the culture here, which has been very decentralized."
Mr. Livingston replied that Zimbra is really the server software, which is transparent to anyone with a Stanford.edu e-mail address. The central e-mail service that almost everybody uses is now a Zimbra server. The client in this case could be Outlook, Web mail or Eudora, etc. Mr. Livingston said, "You're probably on Zimbra if you're using Eudora. [Don't] confuse the client that you're using with the server. Zimbra is 'client agnostic'…and the special thing about it…is it does encrypt over the wire. So it is reasonably secure."
Professor Andrew Fire was concerned that for a lot of the departmental programs, the clock cycles are going to be the major cost at some point. [In a computer, the clock cycle is the time between two adjacent pulses of the oscillator that sets the tempo of the computer processor. The number of these pulses per second is known as the clock speed, which is generally measured in MHz (megahertz, or millions of pulses per second) or GHz (gigahertz, or billions of pulses per second). The clock speed is determined by a quartz-crystal circuit, similar to those used in radio communications equipment. - Thanks to Ed Lee, Stanford Computer Systems Analyst.] The encryption rules need to be set up so that if something needs to be encrypted, it can be, but not every experiment that's done using a computer file needs to be encrypted. Professor Fire related discussions with the I.T. persons at the medical school that led to the suggestion "…that there might be an opt-out that faculty could sign saying this computer is not dealing with restricted information, and we need to run it at its full capacity and not have [interference by] these encryptions."
Mr. Livingston agreed, stating that was an issue to handle locally in the school. There was no mandate that even if a system has no restricted or prohibited information, it needs the encryption. But he added, "…at the same time, in testing so far, the overhead of encryption in terms of performance is very minor…In very computer-intensive sites, it might be visible."
Professor Laura Lazzeroni seconded Professor Buc's concern about bugs in any new system to be introduced. She related her experience with a new laptop computer. After installing antivirus software, she found that it didn't work properly. She emphasized the importance of thorough testing to make sure that the software and systems are adaptable to the noncentralized style characteristic of Stanford.
Mr. Livingston assured her that that was his intention.
Professor Hank Greely clarified that the definition "prohibited" information does not include our own personal social security numbers or those of our families.
Chair Cook thanked Mr. Livingston for his report.
[ Applause ]
B. Annual Report 2007/08: Committee on Undergraduate Standards and Policy (C-USP) (SenD#6133)
Chair Cook welcomed Professor Hester Gelber, Chair of last year's (2007-08) Committee on Undergraduate Standards and Policy, to present highlights from the annual report.
All members of the committee, last year and current, were invited to hear this report.
Chair Cook added, "As Hester's coming down, I think the Senate should thank her. She's chaired this committee for three consecutive years and it does a lot of work."
[ Applause ]
Professor Gelber thanked Chair Cook and began her remarks. "The main agenda item for C-USP last-year was the mandated ten-year review of Area One. The review had been scheduled when I-HUM (Introduction to the Humanities), was adopted in place of the Cultures, Ideas, and Values (CIV) program…to fulfill the goals of Area One. The timing [of the review] was determined by the desirability of having a periodic review rather than an upsurge in the faculty of severe discontent of the kind that had led from the shift from CIV to I-HUM…We spent a good part of the year in conversations with various invited guests and among ourselves about the role of Area One in its current iteration in the academic lives of our students.
"You heard the [C-USP] report last year. We determined that I-HUM serves an important function in helping students transition from high school to the university. It creates a common signature Stanford experience for our students. Following up on a major substudy I-HUM conducted the previous year, we requested of the Senate that the I-HUM program be allowed to engage in some experimentation with the structure of its courses.
"…Since there was no groundswell of major discontent [about I-HUM] requiring major changes, [we recommended] that the Area One program be kept in place and give I-HUM an opportunity to engage in some curricular experimentation.
"For this year that Professor Buc has taken over [as Chair of C-USP], we identified some areas that C-USP might find important to address [that] I passed on to him… We flagged the possible review of the program in Writing and Rhetoric. I understand that [Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, VPUE] John Bravman is going to give a report later to the Senate about that [program].
The Subcommittee on Exceptions to Academic Policy suggested C-USP should look at improving the ways to communicate the Honor Code and The Fundamental Standard to students (undergraduates and graduates).
This year will also be the first year that the Committee on Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation (CAPER) will report to C-USP about the activities of the Athletics Department. C-USP will now serve as a mechanism of governance and oversight and as a conduit for Athletics to bring items forward for Senate action if needed.
Professor Gelber listed a few other items on C-USP's agenda this year:
1. Changes in the Academic Calendar
2. A petition process for academic difficulty
3. Residential Education in conjunction with its new leader, Deborah Golder, at the appropriate time.
Professor Buc was invited by Professor Gelber and Chair Cook to comment on this year's agenda.
Professor Buc responded, "We're working on [moving] the beginning [day] of the winter, spring, and summer quarters…to a Monday, which is going to free some teaching time. Other items [besides those mentioned by Professor Gelber] include a discussion about electronic devices in the classroom, beginning an informal conversation about grade inflation, especially in the humanities. [In comparison] the engineers are harsher judges…[and] we're going to be looking at advising and [when] syllabi [need to be] placed online in time for students to make their choices and buy their books."
Professor Buc concluded by stating, "There is a big amount of continuity [between himself and Professor Gelber], of course, because we're two fellow medievalists."
Chair Cook understood his message: "This is a crusade."
Fellow medievalist Professor Gelber concurred, "This is a crusade."
Chair Cook invited VPUE John Bravman to comment.
Vice Provost Bravman said that his office will be focusing on advising. "Tom Black, our registrar, is going to bring forward a series of proposals that highlight that advising [includes] a much broader set of issues than we traditionally have thought about. Tom's got a number of great ideas about how to streamline and bring some sense to the academic calendar that go beyond the Monday start date that I think are very important for improving advising. I think Tom will give a major report about that next year.
"Advising means many different thing—like the academic calendar, making syllabi available to students—that allow us to do our job much better, despite the admitted burden that some of these [things] might be. There is a new California law that textbooks have to be named…months in advance [of the course start date]…The price of textbooks has become a major national educational issue…A typical calculus textbook today costs $150 on up. So the legislatures have gotten involved. These are some of the issues that have to be considered in an advising system."
Chair Cook opened the floor for discussion.
Professor Andrea Goldsmith commented on grade inflation issue. "I believe that there's a strong correlation between having teaching evaluations right before the end of the quarter and grade inflation, especially the way we do teaching evaluations—one question counts towards everything, promotions and tenure.. When I first came to Stanford, I was much tougher grader. I don't agree engineers [are tougher graders]. I think engineers grade much easier here than other places that I have taught and been a student, including across the Bay. I think that [grading] should be looked at, because faculty have no incentive to grade perhaps the way they should."
Professor Buc nodded, "I think the reason why this has to go through a committee and then the Senate is that [as a] junior faculty [member], when one arrives at Stanford, one fears that if one is a harsh grader, one is going to lose bodies and it's going to be a problem [when coming up for] tenure."
In summary, Professor Buc suggested - if the Senate were to establish a policy that deans be directed to inform the faculty…if a department notes that enrollment for a particular class declines because the teacher is reputed to be "…giving C's to students who don't know how to write papers or don't want to write papers...[that teacher] is not going to be penalized. No faculty member can start by [grading rigorously]; it's been very difficult to do that psychologically. Only the strongest-willed and nastiest faculty person dares do so."
A voice from the Senate, "A medievalist."
[ Laughter ]
Vice Provost Bravman recommended that some of that discussion should be scheduled for Executive Session. "Because there's some comparative data between Stanford and our peers that is interesting."
[ Laughter ]
Chair Cook thanked Professor Gelber.
[ Applause ]
Before turning to the last report, Chair Cook called the Senate's attention to three documents brought for Senate members by the Office of Judicial Affairs:
1. Tips to Faculty and Teaching Assistants to help avoid Honor Code Violations.
2. Memo to student on proper citation styles.
3. Sample form from
C. Annual Report 2007/08: Committee on Undergraduate Admission and Financial Aid (C-UAFA) (SenD#6129)
Chair Cook welcomed Professor Paul Switzer, who is in his second year as Chair of the Committee on Undergraduate Admission and Financial Aid (C-UAFA), to present the 2007-08 annual report.
Dean of Undergraduate Admission Rick Shaw was out of town. In attendance were Shawn Abbott, Associate Dean and Director of Undergraduate Admission and Karen Cooper, Director of Financial Aid.
Professor Switzer thanked Chair Cook and began his presentation.
"Since I took over as chair in September 2007, this [report] covers about a year and a half of activity, and is an update to the written report that was filed some time ago…I will describe our activities in fairly general terms which are appropriate for this public forum and omits details which are appropriate only for C-UAFA's own discussions. I hope you'll appreciate that distinction.
"C-UAFA meets monthly and receives regular updates on the activities of the office of undergraduate admission from Dean Rick Shaw and his staff. [I will focus on] some of the issues we've been tackling—some of the most important ones."
Common Application Form. "This is the second year Stanford is using the common application…As its name implies, it is an application form filled out online which is essentially the same as that used by many institutions nationally…There's an added section that's Stanford—specific. There was some concern about Stanford's entering into this mode of applications. But our peer institutions have joined us in doing this. There was also concern that the common application would give rise, in its first year of use, to a substantial increase in number of applicants, since it made it easier for people applying to apply to multiple schools at once. Applications increased by only 5% in 2008 over the previous year and another 20% this year. It did not significantly affect processing and evaluations, according to the admissions staff. Continued use of the common application will be discussed by C-UAFA further this year."
Financial Aid. "Substantial enhancements to the financial aid program were announced a little over a year ago. The current application cycle is probably the first to feel its full effects. Under the new program, parents with incomes of less than $100,000 will no longer pay tuition. Parents with incomes of less than $60,000 will not be expected to pay tuition or contribute to the costs of room, board and other expenses. Students will still be expected to contribute earnings from work during the summer and the academic year. And we eliminated the loan program. [The new program] was in our view a very generous financial package, a large step forward in making opportunities to attend Stanford available to a much larger group of people. Perhaps in response to this more generous financial aid program, there were 30,000 applicants to Stanford this year, an increase of 20% over the previous year, for the same number of places, which is about between 1500 and 1600.
"We expect that this enhanced financial aid will make not only our applicant pool look different, but possibly also our classes will look somewhat different. We'll be looking at that."
Alumni Interview Pilot Program. "Stanford, unlike many of its peer institutions, has not historically offered applicant interviews. With some reticence, C-UAFA reviewed and approved a pilot program for optional alumni interviews of applicants to the Stanford class of 2013. Interviews were offered to applicants from high schools in Atlanta, Denver, London, England, New York City, Philadelphia, and Portland, Oregon…Although we represented to these people that not having an interview would not put the applicant at a disadvantage, nevertheless, essentially all applicants took advantage of this option. [The applicants from these six cities represent] about five percent of all the applicants. So if we were to [extend this interview option universally] we'd have to multiply our efforts 20 fold. C-UAFA and the admissions staff will be evaluating the impact of the interview program both on the decisions and on the yields of admitted students. So this is something that we'll be looking at very carefully to see what effect the program has had."
Comparative Admit Rates and Yield Rates for Applicant Groups. Last year, about 2,400 students were admitted out of a pool of over 25,000 applicants. The admit rate overall was about 9 ½ percent. It will be considerably lower this year because of the increase in the number of applicants. C-UAFA compared admit rates among selected applicant groups…focusing on diversity, legacies, and early-action applicants.
Early Action. The Restrictive Early Action program is a program in which applicants apply for an early decision from Stanford. They are not bound to accept Stanford's offer…Some of our peer institutions have dropped this program, but we are continuing it. We were a little concerned when our peer institutions dropped their programs about the effect it might have on the applications to Stanford…but early applications seemed to be consistent with those of the previous years…This year, the number of early applicants has risen substantially…we have over 5,000 applicants for the early program. C-UAFA examined the comparative admit rate to early applicants vis-à-vis that of those who apply for regular admission."
Applicant Evaluation Criteria. "C-UAFA heard a report on numeric ratings, academic and non-academic, assigned by admissions staff to applicants. [It's important to note that] Stanford uses no mathematical formulae. Admit decisions are made by a committee. They are not based strictly on numeric ratings even though numeric ratings are assigned as part of the review process. Grouping applicants according to their rating scores has, however, been the basis for comparative admit rates as well as for assessments of comparative performance of Stanford matriculants."
Relating Performance at Stanford to Applicant Evaluations. "C-UAFA started again this year an effort to look at the performance of students who come to Stanford, and how they perform in relation to how they were perceived at the time they applied to Stanford. Is there some relationship with their performance and our earlier perception of them? The goal is to assess the degree to which performance (in statistical terms) is predictable at the time of application and which combinations of applicant ratings are the best predictors. Initially, these analyses have looked at the sophomore year performance measures for the class that was admitted in 2007."
Faculty Satisfaction Survey. "A short faculty satisfaction survey was distributed in April 2008. The purpose was to get a reading of how satisfied the faculty were in broad terms with the outcome of the admissions process. The survey asked for anonymous faculty opinions regarding the undergraduates whom they have taught. Response rate exceeded fifty percent of the 800 contacted faculty members. The survey results suggest generally favorable overall opinions…with more critical assessments coming from science and engineering faculty…Over 230 respondents provided written comments and suggestions that may be of help in discussion of admissions criteria."
Admitted Student Questionnaire. "The results of the survey of admitted applicants provided information to C-UAFA and to the Admission's office, that is potentially useful for recruitment and yield enhancement. Admittees are asked to score their impressions of Stanford and other institutions to which they have been accepted. For the admitted applicants in 2008, C-UAFA reviewed their evaluations of Stanford in comparison with their evaluations of Princeton, Harvard, Yale, and MIT. The response rate exceeded 80% percent for those choosing Stanford, and exceeded 60 percent for those not choosing Stanford. The survey suggests there is room for improvement with regard to Stanford's direct contact with applicants, including faculty contact. Some of you, I think, received a recent appeal from the dean of H & S to do more with regard to faculty contact with applicants."
Preferences in Admission. "For many years, Stanford has recognized certain preferences in admission, for example, legacy status, increased diversity in the student body, and first-generation college applicants. There are neither formulas nor quotas with regard to preferences in admission. C-UAFA is engaged in…evaluating such preferences and plans a fuller discussion of preferences but has taken no actions in this regard in the last few years."
The Charge to C-UAFA from the Academic Council. "Finally, the last item is a discussion of the charge to C-UAFA."
["The Committee on Undergraduate Admission and Financial Aid, subject to the Charter and Rules of the Senate shall establish the standards and policies by which applicants for admission and applicants for financial aid are to be selected, and shall assure itself that the University policies on undergraduate admission and financial aid are being executed."]
"The charge, which I will not read in full, is appended to the written version of this report. C-UAFA takes its charge seriously. Despite being a busy committee, nevertheless, it has not recently acted, in my view, on some of the fundamental tasks with which it has been charged regarding admission and financial aid policies and procedures. For example, C-UAFA was not directly consulted nor did it take a position on questions related to the restricted early action program, changes in financial aid, use of preferences in admissions, and proposed increases in class size. C-UAFA looks to the Senate for further guidance regarding the scope of its responsibilities and perhaps in updating the charge of the committee."
Chair Cook commented, "You can tell Paul is a statistician, I think. Thank you, Paul."
[ Applause ]
The discussion that followed focused on the Alumni Interview Program. It was vigorous discussion and switched back and forth from one aspect to another. The discussion will be summarized by topic.
1. Professor Eamonn Callan asked, "How can you judge its success?" Several different criteria for success were suggested:
a. Increase student interest in applying to Stanford (recruitment). Dean Rick Shaw, formerly Dean of Admissions at Yale, was quoted as saying he found it to be a recruiting tool. Others worried that a student might be put off by an interview. Professor Stephen Stedman said he came to Stanford because he was put off by an interview at Yale.
b. Provide additional information to the admissions committee (improve selection). Several commented it was well established that information gleaned from an interview was not necessarily useful; in fact it might be bad; and there was a lot of "noise." It was a function of the interviewer and the person interviewed. Professor Switzer said one way to test the effectiveness of the interview is that the applications are reviewed first without the interview and then re-reviewed with the interview. "We can see before and after the interview whether there was some change in the way that these applications were scored." Another point was that not all applicants are able to have an interview even if they wanted one (remote rural location, for example).
Provost Etchemendy said he was as skeptical as anybody about the value of the interview, for a number of reasons. "One is that [interviews] tend to swamp all other data because they are so salient to the interviewer [while] everything else, all the other information—if the interviewer is the decision-maker— gets swamped and thrown out.
"That's not the case here. What happens is—the people who are making the decision have, in addition to a very brief report from the interviewer, letters from the teachers, all of the scores, and so forth. The second reason I'm skeptical—as long as Steve [Stedman] is telling stories—I was not accepted to Stanford. At that time, it did have interviews. I've been convinced for many years it was because I disliked the interviewer and he clearly disliked me."
[ Laughter ]
Provost Etchemendy, after the laughter subsided, "Now, whether that's true or not, I don't know. There's no way to know."
Vice Provost Bravman interjected, "Actually, we dug up the file, John."
Professor Stedman guessed, "He really didn't like you."
Vice Provost Bravman said he gave the file to Randy Livingston to put it on his laptop. It is not clear what happened to that information.
[ Laughter ]
c. Increase alumni interest in the university. Interviewing applicants involves Stanford alumni with the university in a way they have not been previously involved. But given the low acceptance rate, was there a risk it might backfire? Professor Robert Dutton suggested instead of the one-on-one interview, "…having alumni outreach in specific places in which a bunch of people can come if they want and interact with people—that puts no pressure on the one-on-one interview, and it puts no pressure on the process. It's more about us being there with the alumni." In reply, President Hennessy and VPUE Bravman said that kind of alumni-applicant interaction is already going on in scores of cities with all kinds of outreach efforts.
There seemed to be a consensus that, as Professor Callan put it, "Making wise admission decisions and mobilizing our alumni to act in our behalf are rather different endeavors."
d. Increase the yield, the percentage of those students offered admission who decide to enroll in Stanford, rather than in another institution, like Harvard, Princeton, Yale or MIT. There was a consensus this should be the true goal of the Alumni Interview Program. Provost Etchemendy observed, "If we increased the yield rate, as opposed to the admit rate, that could have an effect on the quality of the students we have. Because who are the ones that are getting jointly admitted to Harvard, MIT, Yale, Princeton [as well as to Stanford]? The very cream of the crop. We want to get as many of those students as we can."
As President Hennessy put it, " If we really want to increase the yield—and the place where we lose [students], as the provost said, are the students that are admitted everywhere, who are the very best students, the top 30 or 40 percent of the students we admit—the best way to do it is to have significantly more faculty involvement, have the students contacted by faculty and have them talk to faculty, because those are the students who are looking for research opportunities and for independent study opportunities. The best way is to get lots more faculty engagement."
2. Professor Patricia Burchat and several others wanted to know if the interviewers were trained and if so, how. Associate Dean Abbott replied in the affirmative, noting that it was a little easier to train alumni in just six cities. It would be much more laborious to train an entire international network of alumni. "We had different admission officers go to the six cities. We conducted live training sessions [which] alumni, to be eligible to interview candidates, had to [attend] in order to participate…They were also provided with an interview handbook that [contains] about a hundred pages of materials and resources."
a. How does one do a successful interview? Dean Abbott replied, "There were guidelines…rules and regulations. There were simple interview questions we recommended, [and we advised against] allowing alumni to interview in homes, [instead] expecting that interviews were to be conducted on neutral territory. We can provide a copy of the handbook to the Senate committee so that you can see it for yourself."
b. Professor Anat Admati was concerned about the variability among interviewers. She called attention to the fact that "there are video interviews that the same people can make and that will equalize [the interview] across the entire globe by having a set of people interview to be sure it's uniform, as opposed to random interviewers adding a lot of noise to the process." Professor Laura Lazzeroni added that one should make sure the interviewers are representative people from diverse groups, especially those that might not be as well represented in alumni.
Chair Cook ended the discussion by saying, "That sounds like a good point to end on. Thank you, Paul."
[ Applause ]
VI. Unfinished Business
There was no unfinished business.
VII. New Business
There was no new business.
A motion to adjourn was moved and seconded. The Senate adjourned at 4:55 PM.
Rex L. Jamison, MD
Academic Secretary to the University