04-11-2012 Faculty Senate Minutes


Faculty Senate Meeting

April 11, 2012


Present: Frank Wright, Paul Keblinski, Atsushi Akera, Bob Parsons, Jeanne Keefe, Stan Dunn (as official designee), Isom Herron, Michael Century, Georges Belfort, Chang Ryu, Vincent Meunier, John Gowdy, Jose Holguin-Veras, Chip Kilduff

Meeting opens at 2:00pm.  Those present take time to review minutes from last meeting.

1. Approve the minutes from April 6 Senate meeting

Prof Herron calls for acceptance of the minutes of April 6 meeting. Prof Holguin-Veras motions to accept. Prof Akera seconds. All in favor, minutes approved.

2. Statement by the President of the Senate

Prof Herron expresses desire for Faculty Senate to be a part of the great things happening at Rensselaer. He briefs the Senate on the outcome of the meeting with the Executive Committee, the Planning and Resources Committee and the Provost from last week. Prof Akera summarizes the meeting:

1. Engage in review and update of the Rensselaer Plan, especially integrating the 5 new signature thrusts. Further discussion needs to take place about exactly what the role will be

2. Constitution calls for Planning and Resources Committee to advance plans and initiatives to the Provost Office for inclusion into the Performance Plan

3. Discussion as to whether the Senate Executive Committee or Faculty Senate would charge the Planning and Resources Committee to have a proactive planning function. The Committee would also look at Institution as a whole, as well as other institutions and what things they are doing and make suggestions as to the viability of inclusion into new capital campaign. This would tie to what is happening in development office.

Prof Keblinski added that the Provost will possibly appoint 4 members of the administration to join in the Planning and Resources Committee. He added that a comment after the meeting was that sending lower level representatives to join the committee might not be useful and might detract from the planning function of the Committee.

The Planning and Resources Committee will meet and elect a chair, and then will ask the representatives from the administration to join them.

3. Further input from Senators on items for Senate consideration

Prof Herron asks for further input. Prof Wright adds that the faculty development item is most important to the Lally School specifically with 2 items: 1) research and trying to get proposals out, 2) assistance in the mechanism and methods of teaching. P&T is fairly well understood. He adds that competitors have faculty development under the Provost Office.

Prof Belfort adds that he agrees with most of the items and feels that they are important. Prof Belfort states that his concern is the lack of women representatives on the Senate. He questions whether there is a particular plan to encourage women to enter academia and support them. He provides examples of some things being done in Germany to assist women and suggests that Senate needs to be proactively supporting women. Second is that the graduate students are not as good as they should be and more should be done to elevate the graduate students. Third is whether the university cares about the employees, and if so shouldn’t they be worried about post-docs. The Senate should be concerned with these issues. Prof Holguin-Veras responds that there is a Faculty Diversity Committee.

4. Prioritization of the items for Senate consideration

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

b) Analysis of the graduate program

c) Faculty development and retention

d) Review of the Faculty Handbook

e) Assessment of the staff support

f) Faculty role in admissions (Architecture)

g) How do we relate to EMPAC

h) Role of Senate and the Faculty in the upcoming campaign

i) diversity

j) review and revision of the Rensselaer Plan

Prof Keblinski makes the suggestion that diversity be incorporated into item c (faculty development and retention).

Faculty Senate takes the time to individually prioritize the lists by selecting their top 2 or 3 items.

Prof Century asks if the Rensselaer Plan is really for the Faculty Senate to lead. Prof Akera answers that if there is something that anyone feels outside the scope of the Senate then that should be discussed now. Prof Wright asks about item d (review of the faculty Handbook) to the point that it is already in the Constitution for the Senate to address anyway. Prof Akera states that it is more about whether an ad hoc committee be formed to assist the Secretary of the Senate, even though it has to be done. Prof Wright suggests that the review of the Constitution be considered one of the items for the Senate to address, in addition to anything else that is voted on.

Results of prioritization:

Meunier – b, c (quality of graduate students)

Ryu – c, h, j (opportunity to work with the Rensselaer Plan and integrate with the campaign)

Gowdy – a, i, j (critical for Rensselaer to stay at forefront of teaching)

Dunn – c, h

Keblinski – c, h (point a is too overarching)

Akera – a, c, j (HASS is already talking about new curriculum so the time is opportune to do a more general review)

Herron – b,c,i (opportunity for Senate to address diversity)

Holguin-Veras – b,c,j (did not vote for diversity because he feels it is part of faculty development)

Kilduff –  a, c, e (to ensure relevancy in the future need to make sure faculty are as productive as possible and that good students come here)

Belfort – b, c, i (critical to bring in top people and then keep them here)

Wright – b, c, j

Century – a, c, j (with the understanding that diversity is included in c)

Parsons – a, b, c

Keefe – a, e, i

Prof Akera provides results:

A – 6

B – 6

C- 12

D – 0

E – 2

F – 0

G – 0

H – 3

I – 4

J – 6

Prof Akera asks which modes action can be taken on the items. One category is that there is already a committee in place. The second category is that an ad hoc committee can be formed. Finally, there may not be a committee mechanism that works or can be created but lends the Senate as a voice or support (for example the Faculty Diversity Committee). Prof Belfort feels this is not sufficient. Prof Akera states that the Senate can have its own policies about what to do.

In relation to item (C), as being the item with the highest level of support, Prof Herron asks if anyone has ideas as to how faculty development be implemented. Prof Wright suggests a competitive analysis, examine the needs at the Schools, examine what it means to be a faculty tomorrow, and the accreditation process. Prof Herron asks about creating a workshop. Prof Akera states that perhaps creating a committee to review the scope with the Executive Committee creating a charge to the committee. Prof Century adds that development of teaching ability is critical and asks Prof Akera how he sees it taking shape. Prof Keblinski suggests a mentoring program by collaborating with the Deans, and especially by having more seasoned faculty observe the teaching of young faculty.

Motion: Prof Akera motions that an ad hoc committee be created to deal with items B and C, that item A be assigned to the Curriculum Committee and that item J be assigned to the Planning and Resources Committee. Prof Belfort seconds motion. Prof Akera amends the motion with regard to item J in that the Senate authorize the Senate Executive Committee to begin the initial conversation with the Acting Provost to determine the parameters to the revisions of the Rensselaer Plan. This motion is also with the understanding that the Senate would prioritize C over B. All were in favor, none opposed. Motion passed.

Discussion: Discussion takes place regarding what the role of the Senate would be with the Rensselaer Plan. Prof Akera states that Provost Hajela has suggested that the Faculty Senate begin to take a look at the Plan. Prof Gowdy, as a member of the Planning and Resources Committee states that it is a large issue and will take some review. Prof Century asks what the scope is and the specific piece of the Rensselaer Plan the Senate will take on. Prof Keblinski suggests that a vote be taken on item c at this point, and decide on the other items later. Prof Wright argues that the other items came from the General faculty meeting and it would be a demonstration of response to the faculty. Prof Dunn comments that moving ahead with the Rensselaer Plan is a timely issue. He also states that addressing the graduate program is important.

Motion: Prof Wright motions to add a policy statement to all standing and ad hoc committees to report on metric of diversity as it impacts the charges. Prof Belfort seconds. All in favor, none opposed. Motion passed.

Discussion: Prof Keblinski would like to see a stronger statement on diversity. Prof Akera does not like the idea of creating 2 separate committees as it would create conflict, but perhaps asking the Provost to make the Faculty Diversity Committee a Faculty Senate committee.

5. New business

Prof Akera brings up a few items from the General Faculty meeting to be addressed:

1. the request that a printed copy of the Faculty directory be available

2. That a pdf of course catalog be available

Informal poll taken that all feel pdf availability of directory and catalog should be available.

Ms. Keefe adds that there used to be a website where minutes were posted and faculty directory was available and asks whether this can be reinstated. Prof Akera responds that the Faculty Senate Executive Committee has this as a priority.

Prof Herron adjourns meeting at 3:26pm.