04-06-2012 Faculty Senate Minutes


Faculty Senate Meeting

April 6, 2012

Present: Isom Herron, Les Gerhardt, Paul Keblinski, Atsushi Akera, Wayne Bequette, David Bell, Chip Kilduff, Jose Holguin-Veras, Prabhat Hajela, Lois Peters, Bob Parsons, Michael Century, Jeanne Keefe, Michael Oatman, Chang Ryu.

Meeting opens at 2:05pm by Isom Herron.


1. Approval of Minutes from March 21 Senate Meeting

Prof. Herron asks for approval of minutes. Prof Akera moves to approve minutes. Prof Kilduff seconds. All in favor. Minutes approved.


2. Statement of the general directions by the President of the Senate

Prof. Herron asks that the Senate continues to provide input on priorities for Senate. Discusses recent experience at the Center for Cognition, Communication and Culture in my statement.– a desire for what can be achieved at Rensselaer. Discusses the recent general faculty meeting and the outcome of that meeting, which culminated with several important points raised for the faculty Senate to address.


3. Discussion of the Senate priorities based on the input from the General Faculty Meeting

Prof Gerhardt briefly summarizes the General Faculty Meeting


a) Comparative evaluation of curriculum and teaching methodologies including interdisciplinary and globalization

Combination of several points raised at the meeting including reintroduction of languages, what students are learning, how they are being taught and how the faculty teach. Namely wholesale review of overall curriculum, admissions. Almost all-inclusive. Prof Century asked what form the Executive Committee sees this review taking. Prof Holguin-Veras answers that it would have to be several steps 1) agree on the issues 2) decide how to review them. Prof Gerhardt responds that there are standing committees and/or ad-hoc committees that can address some of these issues.


b) Analysis of the graduate program

Prof Gerhardt states that while the initial discussion at the General Faculty meeting was about a possibility of having a graduate school, it is a larger issue of addressing the overall graduate curriculum.


c) Faculty development and retention

Prof Holguin-Veras states that the Senate feels that faculty development needs revamping. This is an area that there is a possibility for finding common ground with the administration.


d) Review of the Faculty Handbook

Prof Holguin-Veras discusses that reworking the Faculty Handbook is an important topic for all. Prof Akera states that annual review of the Handbook is the responsibility of the Secretary, but he feels that it still needs to be decided what the scope of the work is, whether the Secretary can handle the review, or whether a committee needs to be formed.




e) Assessment of the staff support

Prof Akera discusses the concern from the General Faculty meeting that staff attrition may be affecting faculty departments.



f) Other issues

Prof Keblinski raises the issue of computational facilities and infrastructure as a concern raised at the General faculty meeting. Prof Gerhardt responds that this falls under both the staff support issue and the curriculum overhaul/interdisciplinary issue.


Prof Herron asks if anyone has any questions or additional issues to raise.


-          Prof Peters attended a recent campaign event, in which it was stated that faculty input and participation would be critical. Prof Peters feels this is an opportunity for the Faculty Senate to be involved. Prof Herron asks how the Senate can be involved. Prof Peters answered that she sees the involvement in 2 ways: 1) facilitate faculty led-initiatives 2) initiate involvement in the campaign. Prof Gerhardt agrees that there is an opportunity for faculty to share in responsibility in raising the money.

-          Prof Oatman hopes that the Senate provides a critical assessment first, before Senate undertakes any of the initiatives.

-          Prof Bell asks if there is any kind of role in assessing the effectiveness of Digital Measures. Provost Hajela states that there are 2 pieces to Digital Measures 1) teaching evaluations 2) learning and outcomes. Prof Bell answers that his question is more to the teaching evaluations. Provost Hajela responds that the evaluation piece is able to be manipulated and can be changed. Provost Hajela answered that the Senate is best able to evaluate and make recommendations.

-          Prof Bell also asks what the faculty role is in admissions and what part the faculty plays in the admissions procedure. At one time there was more active role by faculty and now it appears to be more centralized (primarily undergraduate admissions), regarding specific requirements for students. Prof Bell would like each of the schools to have a much greater role in defining what the requirements for admissions. Prof Ryu states that graduate admissions procedures are different, in that there is a closer association between schools and the graduate education office. Provost Hajela responds that he feels the faculty key role in the admissions process is with the yield. Prof Akera states that the faculty need to be able to understand the admissions process and challenges facing the admission office. Provost Hajela states that having various Vice Presidents and Deans speak at the faculty meetings would be beneficial to understanding the numerous processes.

-          Prof Century raises the question of how Rensselaer faculty relate to EMPAC. Primarily, it is viewed as a venue and not as a collaborative process. Alignment between teaching, learning, research and EMPAC. Prof Holguin-Veras agrees that this might be an issue of great interest to the faculty as a whole.

-          Prof Ryu states that a greater understanding of export control for faculty is critical. He would like someone to come to a Faculty Senate meeting to discuss. A general discussion of export control and government regulation takes place. Prof Keblinski states that perhaps the issue the Faculty Senate addresses is if the scope of the export control process is appropriate and how does it compare with those at other universities.

-          Prof Bequette states that the development of young faculty is important, but it also seems that even though Rensselaer has hired a lot of faculty, more were lost. Prof Herron responds that a report was done by Dr. Debbie Kaminski and could invite her to a meeting to discuss her findings. Prof Holguin-Veras states that development and retention are intertwined.

-          Prof Parsons states that Rensselaer needs to use their retired faculty more and having a representative is a good step.

-          Ms. Keefe states that the issue of staff support and curriculum development are important – they need to be able to anticipate the direction of curriculum.

-          Prof Kilduff states that the evaluation of curriculum and how to define the value added. Prof Peters states that the real value added is leveraging the curriculum to make it applicable to the students for both in and out of classroom experiences.

-          Prof Akera asks Provost to speak regarding the Senate’s desire to have administration bring issues to them. Provost states that his issues align very closely with the issues already raised by the Senate and the general faculty.

-          Prof Century states that some of the most important connections made are those made by informal social connections and suggests that the Senate look into creating some social network. Provost Hajela states that faculty should look into creating a Faculty Club again. This all relates to the issue of culture.

-          Prof Akera brings up an issue original brought forward in the Executive Committee on whether it is appropriate for the Senate to take on, for example, sustainability. Senate needs to deliberate on this.

-          Prof Bell addressed the issue of meeting time and that Wednesdays do not work. Prof Akera states that finding a meeting time that is conflict free will be very difficult.



Senate discusses how best to organize and prioritize the list of issues and concerns. Executive Committee discussed at its last meeting whether any issues should or could be addressed before the end of the semester. There was also a discussion at the Executive Committee that if there were any quick issues that could be addressed before the end of the semester to demonstrate the legitimacy of the Faculty Senate. Some ideas include: 1) printed faculty directory 2) printed faculty catalog 3) updated means for faculty to communicate via email 4) reviewing Conflict of Interest Disclosure requirements. Provost Hajela discusses the overall ramifications of COI. Prof Peters also suggests that a short term-goal be alignment with Rensselaer Club/Faculty Club. Prof Holguin-Veras believes that there are many big topics to address, and focusing on the smaller ones may not be the right approach.


4. New business

- Prof Bequette states that Chris VerWys has resigned his position as at-large committee meeting from the Curriculum Committee. Curriculum Committee has decided not to fill the position until the fall.

- Prof Akera announces that the Planning and Resources Committee, the Executive Committee and the Provost will be meeting next week.


Prof Akera motions to adjourn. All were in favor. Meeting adjourned at 3:21.