03-19-2014 Faculty Senate Minutes

Faculty Senate

Meeting Minutes

March 19, 2014



Present: Jose Holguin-Veras, Prabhat Hajela-Provost, Isom Herron, Lois Peters, Pawel Keblinski, Chip Kilduff, Vincent Meunier, Frank Wright, Murali Chari, Jeanne Keefe, Ekaterina Haskins, Antoinette Maniatty, David Bell, Wayne Bequette, Stan Dunn, Larry Hardy-Director of HR, Will Fahey-HR Manger of Professional Development.

Next meeting:    5/7/14   3:30pm-5pm  Library Fishbach Room 

1) Welcome by the President – Jose Holguin-Veras

Meeting opens at 8:17am. Professor Holguin-Veras welcomes the group.   

2) Approval of the Minutes – February 12, 2014

Professor Wright motions, Professor Keblinski seconds. All in favor. So moved.

3) Review Action Items

1)     Invite Joyce McLaughlin – committee chair- to the next Executive Faculty Senate meeting.

Status: Professor McLaughlin was not able to attend this meeting but wants to meet with the Senate Executive Committee.

Action Item:  Professor Herron will invite her to the next EC mtg.

2)     Professor Holguin-Veras and Professor Gerhardt to meet with Stan Dunn to discuss implementing items from the Graduate Review Committee Report.

Status: They have met and have invited Stan to this meeting to discuss.

3)     Professor Peters will contact the schools and ask for the EC to be invited to departmental or School-level meetings to provide a report on Senate activities.

Status: Professor Peters is still waiting to hear back from some departments.  Architecture will not be meeting again until the fall. 

Action Item:  Professor Peters will follow-up with the school Deans to extend an invitation the EC for their departmental meetings.

4)     The Executive Committee will schedule times to try and meet with the Provost on the Faculty Handbook.

Status: Still open. Working with Cindy Novak to schedule several sessions on the Provost’s calendar.

Action Item:  Professor Peters will continue to work with Cindy to schedule time to review.

5)     Professor Peters will compile a master list of topics to be submitted to the faculty to vote for spring semester Faculty Development forums.

Status: Completed and sent to Professor Ryu and Professor Belfort. Will send to Senate members for their input and afterward will be sent to faculty-all list.

Action Item:  Professor Peters will send master list to Senate members for their input. Afterward, send to Professor Holguin-Veras.

6)     Start discussion on Mentorship initiative - Add this item to the May meeting agenda.

7)     Professor Chari will send out an email to the senators to try and identify faculty members who may have best practices to share.

Status: Completed.  Did get information that Lally and HASS do not have any existing process/system in their schools.  Still awaiting response from the Dept. of Chemistry and MANE has a formal system in place.  Gathering information on what we currently do and also identify how we might improve upon it.

Action Item:  Professor Chari will send note to school Deans and Department heads asking them for their department practices.

8)     Professor Peters will speak with HR on getting information beforehand when it comes to faculty items of concern.

Status: Completed, Professor Peters met with HR and also invited the Director to this meeting to discuss concerns.

4) Standing Committee Reports – skipped because of meeting time constraints

5) Faculty Development, Retention and Responsibility

a)     Provost-Faculty Senate Cooperation: Faculty Development Initiative-Topics for the future forums, this spring and beyond – It was suggested by the Provost to have the blended learning forum in conjunction with the Teaching and Learning Symposium which is being held during Grand Marshal week-April 7th-11th 2014.

Action Item:  Professor Peters will work on setting up the Blended Learning Forum as suggested above.

b)     Cooperation with Office of Graduate Education (OGE) – Stan Dunn spoke. He has had discussions with Professor Holguin-Veras and more recently, with the Senate Executive Council.  Discussions were centered on ways the faculty could be more engaged with graduate student advising. The faculty run the graduate programs but the Graduate Office maintains the standards. There are two areas where additional focus needs to be given.  They are the Thesis Dissertation Preparation and participation in professional development activities. 

  Regarding the Dissertation Preparation, the Dissertation handbook specifies the various requirements that have to be fulfilled and the Graduate office runs workshops called Submission Savvy, to assist but not everyone attends and not everyone is aware of the requirements. In the end, there is frustration on the part of the student which is not what anyone wants.  The second issue focuses around academic integrity with respect to appropriate citations and references. There are a small number of students each semester who fail to attribute material to the author of the work, and some who fabricate results.  These issues impact our institution and reputation.  A larger group of students are not given enough direction regarding citations.

   It was suggested by Professor Holguin-Veras, that we focus on educating the students to avoid the situations from happening. That we can then measure the results and show tangible improvement. Professor Holguin-Veras further suggested that a recent online course he enrolled in called the City program, was very helpful and is an example of a course that could be considered a requirement.  Stan said that at Candidacy time, there is a requirement that the students must have completed but it was suggested that it should be moved up sooner in the process, perhaps at Qualifying Exams. The main thought here is that the students could benefit from more academic advising with specific focus on these issues in order to better prepare the students. 

  Professor Chari mentioned that the TA training that the Graduate office offered was very informative and well run.  Jeanne Keefe mentioned that the Library has a Writing Center whose job is to assist the students with issues like this.  Currently, in the beginning of September each year, the Architecture graduate students are required to participate in a seminar to assist them with these issues. 

Action Item:  Jeanne Keefe will send the EC details on what services/forums they currently work on it the Library Services group.

c)     Cooperation with ALAC & OGE: Faculty Involvement with Advising – Professor Gerhardt spoke.  There is a lot of cooperation between the Advising Learning Center (ALAC) and the Provost office as well as the Office of Grad Education to help the graduate students.  They are looking for ways to engage more with the faculty and faculty senate.  Dennis has submitted various steps to take going forward to engage more faculty in the future.  This will make the faculty more sensitive to the issues facing the students.  Another meeting will be held to move forward with the recommendations.

d)     Cooperation with Human Resources – Both Larry Hardy- Director of HR and Will Fahey- Manger of Professional Development were present to discuss this topic. Will Fahey spoke and said that HR has purchased software and training that can assist with items of interest regarding professional development.  He mentioned that based on the needs of the group, process focused programs can be built as well.  In the past, they have worked with the VP Research office to work on making the grant process understandable.  For all components, from identification, preparation through research administration-basically assisting with knowledge management.  HR is available and has offered to assist the faculty in any way that they can.  It was mentioned that they could assist in setting up webinars, videos and other delivery mechanisms that might work for our needs.  It was suggested that HR provide a list to the Faculty senate of what is currently available in terms of courses and services and that the FS will deliver that information to the faculty community as a whole. As was discussed in the last meeting, the working group for this is Professor Peters, Professor Ryu and Professor Belfort.

e)     Institute Wide Mentorship Program – Since this was covered under item 5b above, this discussion item has been addressed. 

f)      Awards Survey – In the interest of time, this was not covered.

6) Cooperation with the Student Senate

Professor Gerhardt spoke.  He has met with the Grand Marshal, Chuck Carletta, as well as the student senate. There has been feedback from the students on a few items for improvement.  One is that they have requested that the syllabus for classes be linked to the catalog.  Another item is excused absences: these are currently done through the Deans office.  The students would like to see them done through the class professor and the Dean would only be approached if there were any items requiring escalation.  Regarding the student survey, there was some confusion by the students on the definition of tenure and teaching effectiveness.  They were using the words synonymously.  Professor Gerhardt will review the surveys for definitions/completeness going forward.  Overall, the sharing of information between the student senate and the faculty senate has been well received and it is great step in continuing to connect with the students.  Professor Gerhardt also mentioned that whenever the faculty can engage with the students, it is an extension on mentoring and is a positive experience for everyone involved. 

7) Elections

Professor Gerhardt spoke and said that they are going through the process now.  Elections will be held during GM week and very soon we will be soliciting nominations from the faculty and the campus as a whole.  Professor Gerhardt will be meeting with Professor Ryu this coming week.  Professor Gerhardt will be working to promote the various positions that are opening up for this year.  They are also looking at the delivery mechanism for the actual voting.  Even though dot CIO has been very helpful and accommodating in the past, they require a few weeks lead time to get the voting structure in place.  It is being discussed to consider voting monkey as a possible delivery tool for this year’s elections, although no decision has yet been made. There are some questions about security in using a tool that resides outside/off our servers for these elections.

8) Handbook Status

Since there is an action item open above in Section 3.4, this has no new status.

9) Old Business

A.     The concern over the decrease in Tuition Reimbursement benefits for Rensselaer courses was made at the last meeting.  It was expanded upon with the discussion of Reimbursement for employee dependents as well.  Professor Bequette noted that over the last five years, the Rensselaer reimbursement benefit has gone from 100% to 75% and asked what the rationale was in determining the benefit percentage each year.  Mr.  Hardy explained that Rensselaer always wants to stay competitive with the market.  They compare the benefit packages of what other colleges and institutions are providing. There are some colleges that provide 100% and some provide benefits as low as 50% like Stanford.  Others mentioned were Cornell: 60%, Northwestern: 40%, Johns Hopkins: 60% as well as MIT: 100% and Carnegie Melon: 100%.  There are studies that the department does to gather this data as well as information regarding items that make up the total benefits package provided to Rensselaer employees. Overall, the benefits package here is considered competitive and that there is a waiver application for people that qualify for Tuition Reimbursement that is available through Human Resources.

10) New Business

- Professor Herron asked the senate for topics to discuss for the upcoming General Faculty meeting on April 8th.  Topics so far are Graduate Ed concerns discussed above, HR support as discussed above, the Faculty Development Initiative- Professor Peters will compile the list and send to Professor Herron, Discuss the elections that will be happening that week.

Action Item:  Professor Peters will send the list of proposed Faculty Development initiatives to Professor Herron.

11) Action Items Summary

1)     ACTION ITEM:  Professor Herron will invite Joyce McLaughlin to the next Executive Faculty Senate meeting.

2)     ACTION ITEM:  Professor Peters will follow-up with the school Deans to extend an invitation the EC for their departmental meetings.

3)     ACTION ITEM:  Professor Peters will continue to work with Cindy Novak to schedule times for the Provost to review the Faculty Handbook.

4)     ACTION ITEM: Professor Peters will compile a master list of Faculty Development forum topics to send to Senate members for their input. Afterward, send to Professor Holguin-Veras.

5)     ACTION ITEM: Professor Chari will send note to school Deans and Department heads asking them for their department best practices.

6)     ACTION ITEM:  Professor Peters will work on setting up the Blended Learning Forum.

7)     ACTION ITEM:  Jeanne Keefe will send the EC details on what services/forums they currently work on it the Library Services group.

8)     ACTION ITEM:  Professor Peters will send the list of proposed Faculty Development initiatives to Professor Herron.

Professor Wright motions to adjourn. Seconded by Professor Peters.  All in favor. So moved.  Adjourned at 9:44am.