Faculty Senate Discusses CIOS Changes, Leaves of Absence

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The majority of the Faculty Senate’s Feb. 14 meeting was devoted to student-related matters and business, with several student guest speakers in attendance.

Two winners from the 2016 Three-Minute Thesis competition, Tesca Fitzgerald in interactive computing and Bharath Hebbe Madhusudhana in physics, shared their winning 180-second presentations for the group. 

Nagela Nukuna, undergraduate Student Government Association (SGA) president, and Lindsey Eidson, undergraduate SGA’s vice president for academic affairs, shared a presentation that proposed changes to the release of data from the Course Instructor Opinion Survey (CIOS). SGA would like to have CIOS data appended to the SGA-maintained Course Critique portal, which students use to review information about courses and instructors when registering for classes. They would also like to have qualitative comments from the surveys shared with faculty supervisors. 

Course Critique currently includes GPA distribution, class size, and instructor names. SGA would like to add averages from CIOS for the number of hours spent on a course, how prepared students were for the course, whether they felt the course’s activities facilitated learning, and whether they felt the course was effective. Nukuna and Eidson noted that several peer institutions already share this information with students and faculty supervisors, with some universities sharing even more data.  

Faculty voiced support and opposition, with concerns being focused on the imperfect nature of CIOS as an evaluation tool. The proposal, which SGA is pursuing in response to findings from the provost’s Task Force on the Learning Environment, will go to the Faculty Executive Board to determine how and whether it will move forward. Susan Cozzens, vice provost for Graduate Education and Faculty Development, noted that the Center for Teaching and Learning is supportive, but it would require a change to the Faculty Handbook.

President G.P. “Bud” Peterson made announcements about undergraduate application numbers (which topped 33,000 for the first time this year) and the current legislative session. Tech’s top priority this session is to secure funding for the LibraryNEXT project. Funding for the renewal project was included in Governor Nathan Deal’s recommended budget, which is currently moving through the legislative chambers.

Leslie Sharp, associate vice provost for Graduate Education and Faculty Development, encouraged faculty to complete the upcoming Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) survey if they receive it (more at left). Elena Garcia, research engineer in the Aerospace Systems Design Laboratory and nominations committee chair, also encouraged nominations for upcoming elections to Faculty Governance committees (more on Page 2). 

Among items proposed by the Institute Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (IUCC) was a new course code, SLS, for Serve-Learn-Sustain courses. Rhett Mayor, associate professor in manufacturing and IUCC chair, said the group discussed the code addition at great length before ultimately deciding it was the best course of action to designate the two existing SLS courses and future additions. A faculty committee will be established in the Center for Serve-Learn-Sustain to evaluate courses that request the SLS code, as a step prior to consideration by the provost’s Curriculum Committee and IUCC. The Institute Graduate Curriculum Committee presented a new certificate program from the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering for a certificate in biorobotics. 

The Student Regulations Committee presented an addition to the Institute’s Withdrawal from School and Readmission Policy that accommodates for leaves of absence. The new section addresses the needs of students who may have an interruption in enrollment due to circumstances beyond their control, such as military service. 

For complete meeting notes and presentations, visit


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