05-13-2015 Faculty Senate Minutes

Faculty Senate       

Meeting Minutes

May 13, 2015


Les Gerhardt, Lois Peters, Christopher Bystroff, Jennifer Monger, Antoinette Maniatty, Provost- Prabhat Hajela, Frank Wright, Diana Borca-Tasciuc, Vincent Meunier, Atsushi Akera, Chulsung Bae, Dan Lewis, Ernesto Gutierrez-Miravete (via Skype), Alexandra Rempel, Audrey Bennett, John Tichy, Deborah Kaminski

Next meeting:

September 9, 2015 :Library - Fischbach Room

The following people were not present but sent their regrets:  Jose Holguin-Veras, Murali Chari, Jonas Braasch, Ekaterina Haskins, Wayne Bequette, David Isaacson

1) Welcome by the President of the Senate

Meeting opens at 3:08pm. Professor Gerhardt welcomes the group.  He thanks all the senators for their service.  The senate was re-instituted three years ago, it has been a positive experience with many achievements along the way.  He thanked the administration who has been accessible and available to the senate and its requests.  It is important for people to be as committed and active as they have been.   Professor Gerhardt reminded the group that the senate meetings are not private meetings; they are open to the Rensselaer Community to attend if they wish. 


2) Approval of the Minutes – March 2015

Professor Meunier motions, Professor Borca-Tasciuc seconds. All in favor. So moved.


3) Election Results and Introduction of new members

Senate elections were held and the results are listed below.  The newly elected members were invited to this meeting.  Thank you to Professor Maniatty and the other members of the election committee.  Overall participation in voting was 28%, with some schools achieving 40-50% participation while others were around 20%.  Some indicated that this may be due to the fact that every open position except one was running unopposed. It was noted that this was an exceptional year because of the number of vacancies to be filled.  It is because of that, the pool of candidates were stretched to fill those positions.  This generated some discussion as to why the faculty are generally not involved/interested in governance.  Some thoughts were that they don’t see anything happening or a lot of new ideas popping up.  Professor Gerhardt commented that in general, there needs to be much more involvement from the faculty.  


Senate Executive Committee                             Term

Chair of Faculty         David Isaacson                 Spring 2016

President                    Antoinette Maniatty           Spring 2016

Vice President           John Tichy                        Spring 2016

Secretary of Faculty                  Lois Peters                         Spring 2016

Secretary of Senate                   Atsushi Akera                                     Spring 2016

Recording Secretary    Amir Hirsa                                       Spring 2016



School/Constituency     Representative             Term (2-yr terms)

Engineering             Diana Borca-Tasciuc          Spring 2016

Engineering             Daniel Lewis                                        Spring 2017

Science                 Christopher Bystroff             Spring 2016

Science                 Chulsung Bae                        Spring 2017

HASS                      Ekaterina Haskins                 Spring 2017

HASS                      Audrey Bennett                      Spring 2016

Architecture                            Jonas Braasch                      Spring 2016

Management                          Murali Chari                                           Spring 2017


Lecturers and Professors of Practice

Troy                        Frank Wright                         Spring 2017

Hartford                  Ernesto Gutierrez-Miravete   Spring 2017


Retirees                  Deborah Kaminski                 Spring 2017


Librarian/Archivists  Jen Monger                        Spring 2016


Faculty Senate Committees:


Curriculum Committee

School                  Representative                                  Term (3-yr terms)

Engineering          Wayne Bequette                     Spring 2018

Science                 Bruce Piper                              Spring 2017

HASS                    Brett Fajen                                Spring 2017

Architecture           Chris Perry                                             Spring 2018

Management         Hao Zhao                                                Spring 2016

At Large                June Deery                               Spring 2016

At Large                Wayne Roberge                      Spring 2018


Promotion and Tenure Committee

School                  Representative                                   Term (3-yr terms)

Engineering          Mark Shephard                      Spring 2018

Science                 Peter Kramer                                            Spring 2017

HASS                    Michael Century                       Spring 2016

Architecture           Anna Dyson                                           Spring 2018

Management         Bill Francis                              Spring 2016

At Large                Linda McGown                        Spring 2016

At Large                Terry Blanchet                                         Spring 2017


Student Elected

Representative      TBA                                         Spring 2018


Planning and Resource Committee

School                  Representative                                    Term (3-yr terms)

Engineering          Paul Schoch                                           Spring 2017

Science                Gregor Kovacic                                       Spring 2018

HASS                   Ken Simons                               Spring 2017

Architecture          Alexandra Rempel                  Spring 2018

Management        Dorit Nevo                                Spring 2017


4) Old Business

The Faculty Senate Curriculum committee report was read.  It was also noted that the Committee on Honors submitted a report as well. Both are attached as separate documents.


a)     Status of the Faculty Handbook Review:  The handbook revisions were reviewed by legal and some changes were requested.  The Provost did not agree with some of the changes, made his corrections and sent them back to legal for comments.  Legal accepted those revisions with some minor edits and currently the Provost is reviewing them.  He will be ready to meet with the Senate Executive Committee next week.  It was suggested for continuity sake, to keep the members of the Handbook Committee in on this discussion.  The new senate Executive Council (EC) will schedule a meeting for next week with the Provost to review the changes. 


1)     ACTION ITEM: Professor Maniatty will get a meeting with the Provost to review the handbook revisions within the next two weeks.


b)    Status of Digital Measures evaluations of TA’s:  Professor Peters spoke to Professor Dunn and provided him with the pilot questions that had been done in the school of HASS.  It was decided previously that the Office of Graduate Education would spearhead the program.  The process for the review will be part of the faculty evaluation forms in digital measures or a separate form/process.  He was not able to produce a set of template questions in time for this semester’s evaluation period.  Professor Bystroff said that some faculty commented to him that Digital Measures is obtuse and inflexible. People disagreed and said that the software is useful and perhaps it’s a lack of training on the part of those individuals.  The Provost indicated that there were several training sessions were held and relatively few people attended. 


2)     ACTION ITEM: The Provost will work with Professor Dunn to obtain a set of action plan dates going forward. 


c)     Eulogies:  As a way to inform the schools and HR on the policy of regarding Biographies and Eulogies that was approved at the February 2015 Senate meeting, it was suggested that the Provost send a memo to the Dean’s and HR.  Since the Provost had to leave this meeting early, Professor Akera will contact him regarding this matter. The role of overseer is the Assistant Institute Archivist-Jen Monger. 


3)     ACTION ITEM: Professor Akera will contact Provost regarding the Biographies and Eulogies policy and the notifying/enforcing the policy within the schools. 


d)    Spring Faculty Meeting Summary:  Professor Bystroff spoke.  Faculty attendance was an issue with a total of roughly thirteen people in attendance.  The agenda was published and the format with self-selected speakers to present only generated one speaker - Professor Bystroff himself.  There was discussion around what the best way to publicize the General Faculty meetings was: Morning mail, create a senate bulletin board at the Union, create a Rensselaer Senate Facebook page.  The marketing of the meetings was a part of the discussion: how to bring the people to the event in the first place.  A suggestion was that although social media does make people aware of events, it may be just another avenue of distraction for faculty who are already pressed for time.  If something is important to someone, they usually invest the time to attend.  We should find a way to show how the meeting is important to them.  Also mentioned that people attend events to meet with colleagues who they may not normally see.  The social aspect with a ‘mixer’ type event would draw more people in.  Years ago, fifty to sixty people would be in attendance at these meetings.  It was decided that the EC should decide what the larger issues we as a group should be looking for the coming year that could bring engagement from the faculty. 


5) New Business

Moving Forward: Professor Gerhardt was recognized for his innumerable contributions to the Institute in various capacities, all his various roles in the Faculty Executive Committee, as a Department Head, a Dean, a Professor, as the chair of the Office of Graduate Programs, just to name a few.  The group unanimously congratulated and thanked Professor Gerhardt.  He wanted to thank Professor Holguin-Veras for all his work with the Senate especially for his adopted role as Meeting Timekeeper.  He closed his comments with saying that we have to try and engage the faculty in governance.  There have been great progress in this area especially in the last few years.  The administration has been very supportive and have had open lines of communication with the Senate.  He offered his wishes for a successful term to the new officers.   


Professor Wright motions to adjourn. Seconded by Professor Peters.  All in favor. So moved.  Adjourned at 4:43pm.



Action Items Summary


1.     ACTION ITEM: Professor Maniatty will get a meeting with the Provost to review the handbook revisions within the next two weeks.   


2.     ACTION ITEM: Professor Peters will ask Stan Dunn to create the draft questions and also if the process for the review will be part of the faculty evaluation forms in digital measures or a separate form/process.


3.     ACTION ITEM: Professor Akera will contact Provost regarding the Biographies and Eulogies policy and the notifying/enforcing the policy within the schools.