09-14-2016 Minutes-Faculty Senate Meeting

Faculty Senate       

Meeting Minutes

September 14, 2016


Alhussein Abouzeid, Atsushi Akera, Chulsung Bae, June Deery, Jeff Durgee, Omar El Shafee,  Maria Espinosa-writer@The Polytechnic, Joel Giedt, Tamar Gordon, Provost- Prabhat Hajela, Katya Haskins, Amir Hirsa, Debbie Kaminski, Antoinette Maniatty, Jenifer Monger, Rahmi Ozisik, Spencer Scott-Graduate Student Council Rep, John Tichy, Frank Wright.

Next meeting:

October 26, 2016 9:00am – CBIS Auditorium

The following people were not present but sent their regrets: Shawn Lawson and Murali Chari.

1) Welcome from the FS President

·         Professor Tichy spoke.  He is honored to serve as President and looks forward to a very productive year.  Under the leadership of Professor Maniatty, last year was a very productive year and he thanks her and the senators for their service. His goal for this year are that the Faculty Senate be viewed by the faculty as a relevant, important and powerful group.  This doesn’t happen overnight and believes that by chipping away and working on projects that over the course of several years, the faculty will view the Senate as a powerful and prestigious group on campus that they will want to be a part of. He stated that the Faculty Senate Executive Committee welcomes ideas from the campus as a whole as well as ideas from senators themselves.  He would like to focus the senate work this year on ideas that impact the faculty.


2) Welcome from the Provost

·         Professor Hajela, the Provost, spoke.  It has been a pleasure working with the Faculty Senate. A lot of progress has been made on a number of fronts. The first pilot for Summer Arch will be next year, 2017.  A number of parents have commented positively regarding the program.  This will require a number of resources and we have hired more faculty, including adjuncts, Lecturers and Tenure/Tenure track faculty members. This year’s incoming class is the largest class Rensselaer has had with over 1,600 freshman students as well a good number of Masters and Ph.D. level students.  We have moved up to number 39 on the U.S. News and World Report ranking this year.  The Provost commented that he would like to focus on student success and what we can do as faculty, to focus on retaining students.  Our first year retention is 94-95% and we have been graduating students at ~85%.  Would like to look at the factors that influence the departure of students that leave between their sophomore and junior year.   


3) Approval of the Minutes

·         Meeting opens at 8:23am.  Professor Akera motions to approve the minutes from 5/12/16 with the 2 minor typographical errors previously submitted via email.  Seconded by Professor Lewis.  All in favor. So moved.


4) Introduce members, welcome new members

·         All meeting attendees introduced themselves. Attendees are listed above


5) Approve new Committee Appointments (Honors-N. Koratkar, Standing-S. Lawson)

·         Professor Wright motions to approve the nominations. Seconded by Professor Hirsa.  All in favor. So moved.


6) Election for Architecture School Representative for Planning & Resources Committee

·         There is a vacancy for the School of Architecture slot in this important committee and Professor Russ Leslie has agreed to put his name on the ballot.  A staff member (an impartial, non-faculty member) in the school of Architecture will work with the Faculty Senate Vice President (who is responsible for Elections) to run an Architecture school election to fill this position.  Professor Maniatty will assist Professor Abouzeid in this task.  


1.  ACTION ITEM:  Professor Maniatty will assist Professor Abouzeid in working with the School of Architecture to organize the election for the vacancy on the Planning & Resources committee.


7) Report from Student Senate Visitor

·         Spencer Scott, Graduate Student Council Representative, spoke.  There has been a recent grad student Union movement among private institutions across the country but there is no interest among the RPI graduate students on this front.

·         The Student Senate is happy with the involvement regarding the student union initiatives that have been happening and their collaboration with the Administration at Rensselaer.


8) Report on visit to Student Senate

·         Professor Akera spoke.  The Student Senate meets every week but once a month, a Faculty Senate Executive Committee member has volunteered to attend one of the meetings.  These meetings are open to all faculty Senate members who would like to attend, not just the EC.

·         Items discussed that were the most relevant to the faculty were that they are aware of the core curriculum reform and the OGE survey-the OGE representative was interested in getting a copy of the survey.  This was given to Spencer Scott on September 13.

·         A note was sent in the past day or so from V.P. for Student Life, Dr. Frank E. Ross III regarding the postings for the student Union.  There was some discussion in this meeting about the wording of the note and the interpretation that some students see this issue as ‘empire building’ by the administration.  Spencer Scott informed the senate that Paul Ilori, the Grand Marshall, was meeting with Dr. Ross this week.  Both the GM and the President of the Union have appreciated the support of the Faculty Senate regarding this issue.  Professor Tichy will speak with the president of the Union Re this issue.  The Faculty Senate agreed that if there is any action that needs to be taken on this matter to support the students in the coming days/weeks, they will do so.


        2. ACTION ITEM:  Professor Tichy will speak with the president of the Union Re the Union job postings.


9) Old Business

a)  Faculty Handbook Update – Professor Maniatty spoke. The Board of Trustee minutes have not yet been posted and until that has happened, the handbook cannot be officially approved.  The President’s office will inform the Provost once this has happened and he will send a note to the FSEC and to the faculty.


3. ACTION ITEM:  The Provost will let the FSEC and faculty know once the handbook has been officially



Since this is a living document, any changes or suggestions for revisions should be addressed to Professor Akera as part of his role as Secretary of the Faculty.  The handbook changes recently submitted were larger in scope due to the new Faculty Senate Constitution in 2013 and major changes in non-tenure faculty titles, and as such, needed a major review.  The last time the handbook underwent major review was in 2006.  Ammendments will be made on an annual basis going forward once they have been reviewed and approved.


b)  Committee Report – Professor Tichy spoke. Professor Radke was unable to attend this meeting so he will be invited to attend the November meeting. 


4. ACTION ITEM:  Professor Tichy will invite Professor Radke to the November Faculty Senate meeting.            


10) New Business

a)     Summer Arch Review Committee – Professor Durgee spoke.  The committee will be meeting on September 21st.  Any recommendations from this committee will be funneled through the Faculty Senate who will then send to the administration.  The charge was read and is as follows:


Suggested Charge by FSEC – Committee should in large part set its own oversight parameters

·         Hold open forums in Spring 2017 and Fall 2017, before and after the first Pilot Summer Arch

·         Was the participation rate adequate?

·         Hold open forums in Spring 2018 and Fall 2018, before and after second Pilot Summer Arch

·         Evaluate the effectiveness of the Summer Arch traditional curriculum

·         Are courses adequately covered by quality faculty? – In many cases the fifth semester is students’ first exposure to disciplinary courses.  Can material be covered 12 weeks?

·         Was the experiential learning component of summer meaningful?

·         Evaluate the effectiveness of the away semester experience

·         Did all students who chose to participate find appropriate internships/coops?  Survey of students?

·         Was the experiential learning component of the open semester significant?

·         Collect ideas of successful models and programs.  Learn from Pilot Experience.


There was group discussion on this topic. It was brought up that Federal aid for students only pays for 2 semesters per year. Additional discussion revolved around the experience that Summer Arch offered, students who could explore an experience away from campus and that could include an immersive research experience.  A mandate from Middle States is that we must assess program Institutional effectiveness, learning outcome effectiveness. Josie Seddon, who is a Student Learning Assessment Specialist, will be leaving Rensselaer, but the office of Institutional Research would be who to work with. It was brought regarding surveys that any one sent out would have to go through the IRB.


b)     Office of Graduate Education Survey – Professor Maniatty spoke.  A draft survey was distributed at this meeting to review and get input.  There was considerable discussion on whether to add another question that would ask if the survey taker if they were a Graduate Program Director (GPD).  Another suggestion was made that a question be asked about what school the respondent is from.  Even though the survey was to be sent to all faculty for input, one person felt they could not answer the survey questions unless they were the ones working closely with the Office of Graduate Education (OGE).  Spencer Scott commented that as a member of the Graduate Student Council (GSC), he thinks the survey is a good idea and the GSC has been happy with the open dialog they have had with the OGE and Dean Dunn.  There was a lengthy discussion on the differing viewpoints regarding asking additional question/s or leaving the respondent to add any more information they want to in the general ‘Comments’ section.  It was mentioned that the GPDs have had issues working with the OGE/Dean and the survey could have brought these issues to light.  It was suggested that the FSEC speak offline to discuss further.  A final suggestion was to add a question to the survey that asked ‘How often do you deal with the OGE?’


5. ACTION ITEM:  Professor Maniatty will discuss possible changes to OGE Survey with FSEC.


c)     Proposal for Ombuds Office – Professor Tichy spoke.  Professors Mike Fortun, Deb Kaminski and Jonas Braasch did an outstanding job of investigating and presenting their findings at the May 2016 FS meeting.  It was decided that the Faculty Senate would like the committee to continue to investigate and provide a recommendation to the Senate on this topic. Professor Kaminski will speak with Professors Braasch and Fortun and work with Dennis Gornic, Associate Dean for Graduate Education, to formulate a proposal to be presented at the next meeting.


    6.   ACTION ITEM:  Professor Kaminski will invite Professor Mike Fortun and Professor Braasch to the

         next Senate meeting to discuss proposal for an Ombuds office.



Professor Akera motions to adjourn. Seconded by Professor Wright.  All in favor. So moved.  Adjourned at 9:51am.