Scope and Contents
This collection consists of materials related to the transition at Rice from small committees to a faculty senate for governance at the University. There are meeting minutes, including the initial decision by Faculty Council to initiate a process for changing the system of governance, as well as the work of the Governance Task Force May to September, 2004. Also included are reports of research on systems of governance at other institutions. There are records pertaining to decisions about the Promotion and Tenure and other committees. The collection includes the content of the website created to make the process known by the faculty at large as well as to provide a means of gathering comments from individuals who wanted to offer them.
Biographical / Historical
The system of faculty governance in place at Rice since 1971 was made up of two groups determined by election, the University Council and the Faculty Council. While some decision-making was done by vote in meetings of the entire faculty, the purposes of these two groups had become unclear—except that the main work of faculty members on University Council was to determine promotion and tenure decisions. Important changes in the University had taken place since 1971: the faculty had more than doubled, and the Jones School of Administration and the Shepherd School of Music had been added.
In the spring of 2002 Faculty Council undertook reviewing all aspects of faculty governance as then established. A subcommittee of Faculty Council, the Governance Committee, proposed that a three-year process be undertaken to recommend transition to a system with three objectives:” to improve the quality of faculty governance, to ensure that decisions were reached in a timely manner, and to provide reasonable procedures that all members of the University community could understand and follow.” Then-President Malcolm Gillis supported and underwrote the project.
The task undertaken in the first year of the process was to study faculty governance at Rice and at other schools to which Rice compares itself. In September 2003, the result of this work, an analytical survey of 33 schools, was presented to Faculty Council. It was found that schools with larger populations and incorporated professional schools operate through some form of representative governance, a faculty senate of some sort.
The work of the second year, 2003-2004, was to broaden discussion at Rice by inviting visitors with experience in faculty governance at other schools to speak in public Faculty Forums and in seminars with the Faculty Council. The final presentation in the series, in early April 2004, was a description by Brown University’s Professor John Savage, who had been chair of that school’s Task Force on Faculty Governance in 2002-2003. He presented the Brown model as pairing faculty and administrators as colleagues addressing the major issues of governance (academic, professional, budgetary, and ethical).
For the third year of the process, 2004-2005, Faculty Council appointed a Task Force on Faculty Governance to work over the summer and with the incoming administration of President David Leebron. A website was created to display relevant documents and report regularly on the work of the Task Force. It was also intended to provide a site for interactive communication with the faculty.
Working over the summer and through the fall, in November 2004 the Task Force brought a proposal for a faculty senate to Faculty Council. This proposal with minor changes was passed by Faculty Council in December. A meeting of the entire faculty was called for February 3, 2005, at which the first vote was to take place on replacing the then-current system of governance (Faculty Council and University Council). A text of the Task Force’s proposal was attached to the notice of the meeting sent to every faculty member. To be voted on at the same meeting was a proposal from Faculty Council to separate the Promotion and Tenure Committee from a faculty senate, if such were adopted.
The faculty present on February 3 voted in favor of implementing the proposal for a faculty senate. It was approved again on the required second vote.