12-11-2013 Faculty Senate Minutes

Faculty Senate

Meeting Minutes

December 11, 2013


Vincent Meunier, Frank Wright, Jose Holguin-Veras, Les Gerhardt, Isom Heron, Lois Peters, Ekaterina Haskins, Antoinette Maniatty, Murali Chari, Chang Ryu, Pawel Keblinski.

Next meeting:

2/12/14   8:15-9:45am  Library Fishbach Room



1) Welcome by the President – Jose Holguin-Veras

Meeting opens at 3:40pm. Jose Holguin Veras welcomes the group and reviewed the semester’s activities. 


2) Approval of the Minutes – October 30, 2013


Professor Wright motions, Professor Meunier seconds. All in favor. So moved.


3) Review Action Items

  1. Provost to submit specific language on Institute Policy to the Faculty Senate Executive Committee. So far have not received the information from the Provost.
    1. Action item: Professor Peters will send a reminder email to the Provost.  


  1. Professor Kilduff will complete the master document of the Handbook and submit to the Executive council for discussion. Professor Holguin-Veras reports that the Master document of Handbook is complete.


  1. Professor Peters will publish an email to faculty informing them of the Faculty Development Initiative and include a status. Professor Peters reports that this is done, and copies of the presentations were sent as well.


  1. Professor Gerhardt will work on terms of appointments for the Planning and Resources Committee.
    1. Action item: Professor Gerhardt will work with Professor Duquette on this and report back.


  1. Professor Keblinski will obtain reports from standing committees in preparation for the General Faculty meeting in November. Prof Keblinski will be late. Will ask for an update when he arrives.


  1. The Executive Council will add an item to their agenda to discuss the Committee on Honors and how to promote faculty for external honors. The Executive Committee has not met on this as they have been focused solely on the faculty Handbook.
    1. Action item: The Executive Committee will meet on this


  1. Professor Holguin-Veras and Professor Gerhardt will meet with Stan Dunn and discuss implementing action items from Graduate Review Committee report. Prof Holguin-Veras reports that spoke with Stan Dunn and he is extremely busy this semester. Therefore, they will meet with him early in 2014 to discuss.
    1. Action item: Professor Holguin-Veras and Professor Gerhardt to meet with Stan Dunn to discuss implementing items from the Graduate Review Committee Report.


4) Update on the Faculty Handbook Revisions

The process for revision was summarized. Basically, two Committees were created and key faculty members were contacted and asked to provide input. Two rounds of requests were made to faculty for input. 160 individual comments were received, which translated to approximately 400 changes. There were quite a range of comments that were then classified into a few different categories – a) the comment was adopted, b) no action, c) other comments were so important (P&T for example) that would need to be handled in a different iteration. Once all the comments are in and interpreted and categorized correctly, the next step is to meet with the Provost. There was a discussion about how to best to open the conversation up to the general faculty. The first step is show the Provost the document as it stands now. Most likely, more changes will be suggested. Once the comments are received from the Provost then the Faculty Senate should come together again to review the document. There was a suggestions that the document should be submitted to Human Resources as early in the process as possible.


5) Status: Provost- Faculty Senate Development Initiative


Professor Peters reviewed the two faculty development seminars that were held this semester. One was on research at Rensselaer and the other was on the P&T process. She reported that the P&T session was well attended. She also reviewed some potential ideas for the Spring and has asked for further input for other seminars in the Spring. Suggestions include: Immersive environment/blended teaching, innovation in teaching, resources on campus. There was a suggestion to alternate the credit order of sponsorship between Senate and Provost Office. 


6) Standing Committee Reports

Curriculum: Reported that the last meeting of the semester will be on December 18 and will soon have schedule for spring 2014.

Promotion and Tenure: Professor Herron reported that Professor Mark Shephard (chair) indicated that the P&T Committee had completed its work for the semester. Professor Herron asked that it be noted that notifications to the candidates be sent out as soon as possible after the upcoming Board of Trustees meeting.


Planning and Resources: No report


Faculty Committee on Honors: No report. Professor Herron announced that the Trustees Celebration of Faculty Achievement is tomorrow beginning at 3:30.



7) Faculty Senate Elections

Professor Holguin-Veras asked the Senate for what they see has priorities for next year.

  • There was a suggestion to be cognizant of the timing of meetings.
  • Faculty Senate should have a standing agenda line at School level meetings.
  • Suggestion to identify a few small specific things that are wrong and fix them right away (i.e. small changes within Concur to make it easier for faculty to navigate).



8) Old Business

Discussion about the Senate’s role in bringing forward matters of concern:

  •  Senate represents the concerns of the faculty. It is the responsibility of the Faculty Senate to bring forth the issues, without promise of action. It is not within the purview of the Senate to take action on every item, but it is their responsibility to bring forward all issues and concerns.


Discussion about faculty involvement and engagement:

  •  Overall question of whether governance really matters.
  • The Senate has often talked about bringing someone from the outside with visibility, someone to discuss governance. Professor Keblinski suggested that the Senate take action and bring this speaker to a meeting - there might be more engagement if there was someone with external visibility there.  
  • It was suggested that at the next General Faculty meeting that a specific list of changes to the Handbook be made available. More people might attend if the topic was something directly relevant to faculty.


There was a question of how to best answer the question about the redefinition of faculty to newer faculty so that pessimism is not passed down to them:

  • Discuss the past, but emphasize the future. There is now an opportunity for governance, so faculty should take full advantage of it.
  • Definition of faculty is already defined in Constitution.


How to encourage new faculty, or all faculty, to be actively involved:

  •  As an example of how things can work, the Senate made Faculty Development and Retention their top priority. They brought forth their ideas to the Provost and he supported the initiatives. This is a good example of the new process working well.


9) New Business

New business item brought forward regarding the tuition benefit. There was concern that the benefit keeps decreasing, without notification.


  • The Faculty Senate should be involved in the conversation when these changes are being discussed prior to implementation. The erosion of the benefit over time is the concern – will there be any benefit left? This benefit is no longer attractive for new faculty.
  •  The Faculty Senate should be the facilitator of communication between faculty and the administration. Specifically would like to address tuition benefit changes. It was suggested that Curtis Powell be invited to a meeting.  
  • Arbitrariness in decision making appears to be the problem. An example was the change in course load that adjuncts can teach.
  • Faculty Handbook states that faculty should be informed about major changes. Faculty Senate would like to be involved in any major changes.  


10) Action Items Summary

  1. ACTION ITEM:  Professor Peters will send a reminder email to the Provost to submit specific language on Institute Policy to the Faculty Senate Executive Committee.


  1. ACTION ITEM:  Professor Gerhardt will talk to Professor David Duquette about terms of appointments for the Planning and Resources committee. 


  1. ACTION ITEM:  The Executive Committee will meet about the Committee on Honors and how to promote faculty for external honors


  1. ACTION ITEM:  Professor Holguin-Veras and Professor Gerhardt to meet with Stan Dunn to discuss implementing items from the Graduate Review Committee Report.


  1. ACTION ITEM:  The Executive Committee will ask the School’s to be invited to departmental or School-level meetings to provide a report on Senate activities.


  1. ACTION ITEM:  The Executive Committee will meet with the Provost on the Faculty Handbook.


Professor Keblinski motions to adjourn. Seconded by Professor Meunier.  All in favor.  So moved.  Adjourned at 5:00pm