03-09-2016 Minutes - Faculty Senate Meeting

Faculty Senate       

Meeting Minutes

March 9, 2016


Atsushi Akera, Audrey Bennett, Diana Borca-Tasciuc, Chulsung Bae, Jonas Braasch, Chris Bystroff, Murali Chari, Joel Giedt, Ernesto Gutierrez-Miravete (via Skype), Provost- Prabhat Hajela, Katya Haskins, Amir Hirsa,  Dan Lewis, Antoinette Maniatty, Mark Mistur, Lois Peters, Alexandra Rempel, Wayne Roberge, John Tichy, Frank Wright

Next meeting:

May 12, 2016: 12pm-2pm, Library Fischbach Room

The following people were not present but sent their regrets: Jen Monger.

 1) Welcome from the President

·         Meeting opens at 8:20am.


2) Approval of the Minutes

·         February 10, 2016 Senate Minutes: It was asked that there be clarification and include the first initial of her first name when referring to Professor Borca-Tasciuc.  Also to include Professor Chari as sending his regrets.  Professor Wright motions to approve with minutes with the new changes, Professor Akera seconds. All in favor. So moved.


3) Old Business/Review of Action Items from February Meeting

a)     Institute Core Curriculum Implementation Committee – Update from Professor Mistur: 

·         The committee consists of representatives from each school as well as Student life.

·         Recommendations were made from a Core Curriculum Committee report submitted in December 2014.

·         The Committee’s goal is based on the recently adopted Institute’s overarching outcomes, corresponding to principles outlined in the Rensselaer 2024 Plan.  To update core requirements so that it prepares Rensselaer students for success and leadership in the contemporary world.  Calling for socially aware, public spirited leaders with a scientific and technological perspective.  Looking to produce “educated persons”, striving in addition to define and support students’ achievement of “the Rensselaer distinction” in relation to 21st century challenges.

·         The committee worked to do the following:

o    Deepen students’ awareness of global challenges and the consequences of actions.

o    Deepen students’ sense of purpose and responsibility.

o    Deepen the connection between faculty, disciplines and courses across campus, highlighting the relevance of both HASS and STEM to “the Rensselaer distinction.”

o    Strengthen scientific and technological perspective with a greater sense of relevance.

·         Expands definition of core from those common courses to those common experiences and specific outcomes that will define a Rensselaer Education.

·         In specific terms, it includes courses in HASS and Science as well as some links (like the CI requirement) to programs and extra-/co-curricular activities.


·         Maintaining the 24/20 credit core in HASS

·         Eliminating the Humanities/SS distinction as dated model

·         Adding first year Inquiry / Exposure course requirement (most of which will be HASS CI)

·         Requiring HASS CI in Year 1 – as equipping students for later studies

·         Increasing the HASS depth requirement to 3 courses – feeds easily into HASS minors



·         Maintaining the 24/20 credit core in Science including 8 Math credits

·         Communicating clearly that Math and Science (scientific and technological perspective) are key to Rensselaer experience and should be relative to each program

·         Encourage departments to work together with Math/Science to develop the most appropriate courses for each discipline

·         Under Discussion is a 2-part Data Intensive requirement – Part one includes preapproved math/science courses that include a unit on Data Analysis - seeking of "awareness and understanding" achievement levels – Part two (Like the CI), nested within each program involves data access and analysis as it pertains to (is relevant to) that discipline – achieving a level of "ability".

BEYOND HASS AND SCIENCE (in programs and extra/co-curricular)

·         Support a summer reading program–as a community undertaking required of incoming undergrads–Community of Learners (build awareness of Global Challenges–consequences).

·         A part 2 CI requirement.

·         A tethered (requires reflection) away experience (externship) – International, Community Engagement or in Industry (Recommending Grand Challenges Studio) 

·         A Collaborative experience.

·         An Interdisciplinary experience.

·         A Hands-On Experience – all to be determined by Programs, light lifts for most but a distinguishing characteristic of a Rensselaer Ed.

·         A Leadership / Civic engagement experience.

·         A Culminating Experience / thesis.

·         Also discussing RAC – Rensselaer After Class – prescribed number (manageable) of cultural and academic events – support vibrant discourse.

·         The committee is working on a draft report.

·         They plan to submit the draft report to the faculty Senate Core Curriculum Committee by April.


b)     Update: Ad Hoc committee on Reviewing Summer Arch – Senator Committee Members: Professors Bystroff, Bennett and Peters.

·         An email was sent to the faculty-all list asking people to attend a discussion to be held on March 30th @ 2pm. Date was later changed to April 13th.

·         Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education, Linda Schadler, will be there to answer questions.

·         The faculty is encouraged to come but if they are not able to attend, to submit questions for discussion.

·         Two long responses were received from the email that was sent out. That information will be passed along for discussion and FAQ’s.


c)     Update: Ad Hoc committee on Establishing Ombuds Office for Faculty - Professor Braasch spoke:

·         The committee had created a questionnaire to be submitted to aspirant institutions.

·         The questionnaire has been vetted with Dennis Gornic, Associate Dean of Graduate Education and Graduate Ombudsman. 

·         It was discussed that they should contact HR beforehand to get them on board.

·         This new position will need to have authority behind it to be effective.


d)     Update: Assessing Teaching Effectiveness - Professor Lewis spoke:

·         Primarily, Digital Measures is by and large the tool that people use to gauge teaching effectiveness. 

·         Except in the case of appointments, peer evaluations are not performed.

·         It was decided that this group should be an ad hoc committee to collect best practices and provide recommendations.

·         It was noted that there is colloquium on Teaching and Learning but it is not institutionalized.

·         It was mentioned that the traditional model of classroom teaching will change with the Core Curriculum changes. 

·         The Provost mentioned that there is a Teaching and Learning Center (T&LC) on campus in the Library and it is a staging area for faculty to share ideas and is run by the Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education, Linda Schadler.

·         The Advisory board to the Teaching Colloquium has a rotating board with membership from each school.  It helps with sharing current teaching practices, feedback on practices.

·         It was suggested that department heads should ask their faculty what their teaching approaches are.

·         Some comments were that getting a benchmark would be good; getting a report on excellence in teaching would also be beneficial.

·         It was mentioned that much of the time, students want to prepare for/study for the tests to optimize their grade. 

·         Additional discussion comments were:

o    The tools/methods provided are not being utilized.

o    We do not understand the best practices at other institutions.

o    Promotion and Tenure is tied to research, not teaching effectiveness

o    The T&LC is not required, there needs to be a buy in from professors.

·         It was decided that a broad study be done and that the outcome be a set of department guidelines.

·         This could provide an opportunity for training.








e)     Memorial Booklet – Professor Akera spoke:

·         The 2013-2014 hardcopy memorial booklet was found and will be sent to Archives.  The pdf version is on the Senate website.

·         Since this policy is new to the schools, it will take a while for this information to come in going forward. 

·         Jen Monger has reached out to department heads for biographies, Jenn Brock from the Provost office, has offered to assist her.

·         Service will be held Wednesday March 30th, 11am-12:30pm @Chapel and Cultural Center.

·         The Provost office recently sent a note to all department heads informing them of the policy.

·         It was suggested that requests for biographies and eulogies go out on a different cycle; makes sense to request biographies in June and/or September around the time of retirements; while eulogies can be collected in early spring in preparation for the memorial booklet.

·         It was discussed that HR should have a list of all of the faculty who passed (current faculty and retirees) and to reach out to them to get names of individuals to be included.

·         The Senate would prefer that the memorial booklet be published each year vs. every two years since it would be too long of a timeframe to recognize a faculty member who has passed.

·         Because the service that the Rensselaer Pillars host in March recognizes both staff and faculty, a question was raised about distributing the memorial booklet, which lists only faculty, should be distributed at the event.

·         It was decided that the Senate will plan on holding a memorial at a Senate meeting each year for faculty and distributing the booklet at this time.


f)      Planning and Resources Committee Update - Professor Maniatty spoke: Nothing to report.


g)     Handbook Update, Stipend, Middle States, Carnegie Classification- The Provost spoke:

·         Handbook: a few items had to be changed before going to the President for her approval. 

·         Middle States: The report has been completed and will be shipped out this week to the Middle States Review Committee. The committee will be coming to campus April 24-26th.

·         Sabbaticals: One semester and two semester sabbaticals are officially allowed.  

·         Carnegie Research-from a 1 to 2 Classification: at a recent Deans and Department heads meeting, a summary presentation was given regarding this topic. It should be noted that this is a classification and not a ranking.  Stanford used to create these classifications in the past but has been done this year by Indiana. 

·         The change is a result of the way they categorize non R&D expenditures and how they accounted for them.  You are categorized in the radius of the circle you fall into, although they do not share any information on how they determine the radius.

·         We are way above in terms of Science and Engineering expenditures but we didn’t do so well in the non S&E expenditures. 

·         It lists Rensselaer in the top quarter of the R2 category.

·         Although our total research expenditures are three times as what we had before, we haven’t gone down in any of the numbers, this is a classification situation. 

·         It was mentioned that the Faculty would like to understand this better and perhaps the Provost could present it at the April 2016 General Faculty Meeting.


4) New Business

a)     Election Committee & Upcoming Elections – Professor Tichy spoke:

·         As Chair of the Faculty, Professor Tichy will chair the elections.

·         He has asked for help from all the senators in recruiting nominees for the elections.

·         The Vice President position is up for nominations and it would be good to have a non-engineering school representative to help balance out the FS Executive Committee.


b)     General Faculty Meeting

·         Will be held Tuesday April 12, 4-6pm 


c)     Faculty Senate Representative at Student Senate Meetings

·         Professor Maniatty attended the March 2nd meeting.

·         The Student Senate is in preparations for the upcoming Student elections.

·         Held 1st Wednesdays of each month at 7pm @Shellnut Gallery, Union.

·         Need volunteer for April 6th meeting.


d)     Other New Business – Meeting ran over-no time to address this topic.


Professor Akera motions to adjourn. Seconded by Professor Wright.  All in favor. So moved.  Adjourned at 10:03am.


(Approved at 5/12/16 Senate meeting)