General Faculty Meeting
April 6, 2015
Meeting convened at 2:07pm
Welcome by Professor Jose Holguin-Veras, President of the Senate.
- Professor Holguin-Veras opened the meeting by welcoming the faculty.
Review of the Faculty Senate Accomplishments
- Continued process of increased engagement with provost, associate provost, academic deans, other admin; also bilateral meetings with student senate and participation in Middle States reaccreditation process
- Multi-year effort on revising facultyhandbook; begins with faculty committees; worked with provost to find common position; draft has been sent to HR and Legal department for review and comment
- Senate focus on faculty development and retention. Faculty Development Forums organized jointly by the Provost’s office and the Senate, other activities reported
- Second major focus was on graduate education. Ad Hoc Committee of FS formed, leading to a report with recommendations regarding grad student support, faculty involvement in recruitment, diversity, placement, alumni relations; process for TA evaluation approved by Senate; to be implemented Spring 2015; new Advising Forum piloted in Summer 2014; offered in March 2015. To be offered each semester in the future.
- Communication: Faculty-All list continues to be supported, and is in active use; retired faculty are able to retain their email address.
- Highlights of standing committee provided.
- New policy on eulogies and biographies. Annual publication to be issued in both electronic and hard copy.
- Questions and answers followed, with President of the Senate responding.
State of the Academic Enterprise, Questions and Answers
“Changing Landscape of Higher Education: The Rise of the New Polytechnic”
Provost Prabhat Hajela.
Landscape of Higher Education
- Higher education is responding to a variety of forces of change
- Continued increase in the segmentation of higher education
- Tenure remains a vanishing system; between 1975 and 2011, T&TT professoriate declined from 57% to 30% of all faculty, nationwide. (Currently 42.7% at doctoral institutions)
- US domination of global higher education market is eroding
- Intensifying public focus on affordability; debt (average $26,000; median $13,000; 67% indebted)
- Postsecondary education remains valuable long term investment; but capacity to pay higher prices tapped
- Other factors including government regulation
- Impact of technology: universities have responded by embracing more engaged pedagogies
- Demographic changes, especially majority minority population in US
The New Polytechnic
- Embodied in Rensselaer Plan 2024
- Student experience, pedagogic innovation, new learning paradigms, forward looking research
- New invisible college; self-organizing, emergent networks for knowledge. Agile, non-hierarchical
- “Message Map” provided that is responsive to these elements
- Areas of Emphasis
- Educational programs: review of core curriculum; new majors & concentrations; ART_X; Games & immersive learning environments; technology in education (online & blended)
- Faculty recruitment and development
- Research thrusts
- Student experience: CLASS; Flexible academic calendar
- Building diversity
- Reports were provided on each of these elements.
- The Faculty
- faculty development: pay equity & merit increases
- Diversity: 23.6% women; 6.3% underrepresented minorities
- pre- and post-doc programs to improve representation under consideration
- workload normalization
- continuing commitment to Tenure as an institution
- Student Experience
- Outstanding educational experience: pedagogic innovation plus lower student-faculty ratios (currently 15:1)
- Diversify student cohort
- Developmental opportunities including study abroad; research; internships
- Pathways to accelerated academic progress
- Flexibility of academic calendar
- pathways to accelerate academic progress
- Enhanced student-faculty interactions at critical phase of undergrad experience
- Room in academic schedule for all students to explore their passions
Closing remarks focused on need for Rensselaer to remain responsive to changing landscape of higher education.
Honoring Faculty: Retirees, Faculty Senate, and Senate Committee Members
- Senate honored the following retirees: Lester Gerhardt, David Goldenberg, Mark Goldberg, Larry Kagan, Victor Roytburd, Sheppard Salon
- Retiring members of the faculty senate were reported and recognized
- Our departed colleagues were recognized
Invitation for Faculty Comment
- Only one person from the audience spoke, Professor Chris Bystroff. His comments centered on divesting in fossil fuels. He suggested erecting a large solar panel at Rensselaer that would cost under $7 Million with the payback extending for 12 years.
- Professor Holguin-Veras suggested that the sprinkler systems at Rensselaer be programed to not operate during periods of rain.
Meeting adjourned 4:12pm.