Faculty Senate Meeting
February 13, 2013
Members Present: Isom Herron, Les Gerhardt, Chip Kilduff, Jose Holguin-Veras, Pawel Keblinski, Atsushi Akera, Michael Century, Chang Ryu, John Gowdy, Wayne Bequette, Frank Wright, Bob Parsons, Prabhat Hajela, Lois Peters, Jeanne Keefe, Antoinette Maniatty
President Herron opens meeting at 8:32am.
1. Approval of minutes from December 12, 2012.
Professor Herron asks if there are any questions re the minutes. Professor Century wanted to correct the incorrect reference to a Cultural Master’s program which should be correctly the co-Terminal Master’s Program. Also, Professor Peters disagrees with the comment in the minutes that the masters programs are not considered serious because the Lally Program is considered serious. Professor Century makes a motion to approve the minutes, Professor Keblinski seconds. All in favor. So moved.
2. President’s Communication:
Professor Herron stated that this time last year they had re-instituted the Faculty Senate and the Executive and standing committees have been active. On January 23rd they met with Curtis Powell who supported the need for the Faculty Handbook to be revised as had been established by the Faculty Senate. In consultation with the Provost, the Executive Committee will improve the lines of faculty communication via email with a new open list serve to be shortly announced, as well as the improved website and possible senate sponsored lectures as well. Going forward, there may be an address made by President Jackson in this Series.
3. Faculty Handbook Revision:
Professor Atsushi said the Dean of Students had a routine change and those changes needed to be reflected in the Faculty handbook as well. The Faculty Handbook has not been changed in the last five years. They have developed a process for changes moving forward. In addition to Professor Akera and Professor Kilduff, they need three full Professor members of the faculty to work together and be responsible to make revisions to the Faculty Handbook. Any changes require approval from the Senate. Any matters of importance need to be brought before the general faculty. There will be a need to call a second general faculty meeting to share those changes. Professor Herron stated that the intention is that this will be done by this semester.
Professor Peters noted that there is a handbook revision report by the previous Faculty Handbook Revision Committee who has worked on grievances and they have come up with suggestions they might look at. Professor Akera said they will ask Professor Koretz who served as head of that committee for their suggestions. Professor Holguin-Veras said that their suggestions should be factored in. Professor Gerhardt stated that they are looking at having the major stakeholders – Vice President Curtis Powell, the Provost as well as Professor Akera and Professor Koretz as integral for their input with an aim for completion at the end of this semester. They are still trying to get a main chair for this committee. They have several people willing to serve as members on the committee as well as in a consultant role. Professor Gerhardt stated that they are looking at a Feb 15th date for the buy- in from primary stakeholders.
4. Upcoming Elections:
Professor Holguin-Veras reported that in last Executive Committee meeting the process for elections was discussed. They would appoint a committee with ideally, one member from each school, and they are responsible for the nominations to fill the vacancies. They recommended that they ask current senators to consider staying on longer. The main reason being that continuity needs to be maintained following the 5 year hiatus without any governance and Senate, and because there are a number of initiatives underway and they want to make it beneficial to move forward on those initiatives for completion as quickly as possible. The current rotation percentage is ½ for the senate and 1/3 of the executive committee. Professor Akera mentioned the rotation was set for committees not the senate. He agreed that to keep the momentum, and for consistency and continuity, that they be asked to stay on. The Provost said that would cause a problem with the whole senate being new one year from now. Professor Holguin-Veras said he didn’t expect everyone to stay on. Bob Parsons asked how the retiree position would be filled. Professor Holguin-Veras said the election committee needs to find out who wants to stay on first. Professor Herron recommended that the committee should be contacting individuals and asking them if they are willing to continue. Professor Akera requested a vote be taken on the matter. The Provost stated no vote is required since the individuals who are interested are going up for re-election as per the process in place. All agreed.
Professor Akera stated that Elections are GM week. Professor Holguin-Veras will need to send a note to invite the senators to reply as to who is interested in staying on. Professor Holguin-Veras asked for volunteers at the meeting, and Professor Peters (Lally), Professor Century (HASS), Professor Keblinski (Engineering) and Professor Ryu (Science) volunteered.
5) Lines of Communication:
Professor Akera explained they want to clear up how and what we communicate. They met with Vice President Curtis Powell and the Provost. Professor Holguin-Veras reported that we need to define a policy of what faculty should be communicating. Professor Gerhardt stated that they already have a faculty-all list which is being updated and corrected. The lines of communication are wide open and are there to be utilized. Professor Wright suggested that there be a transparency and list meetings on the Website, i.e. Senate committee met with HR, Met with Provost, versus being recorded just in the minutes. Professor Akera met with faculty administration and believes we should give substantive matters to faculty. Committee reports should be reviewed by Senate and published to community. Provost Hajela mentions that the Faculty-All list is being revamped and repopulated. Professor Peters suggested we should reach out to the faculty who were hired during the Senate turmoil. Professor Holguin-Veras agreed but also stated the Senate should also reach out to engage new faculty as well. The Provost suggested that it should be done as part of the new faculty orientation to reach new hires. A new faculty list to be used for all faculty communications should be available by month’s end. This will be formally announced with a cover memo to all.
6) Senate Sponsored Lectures:
Professor Holguin-Veras brought up asking external speakers to campus but also internal speakers as well. We have outstanding speakers here on campus that is invited to speak at other universities and companies. Professor Century agrees but the initial point was to get an outside voice on institute policy. He mentioned that EMPAC has an underutilized internal lecturer program that would be great vehicle to use. Professor Century reported that March 2nd is the Rensselaer Club and Senate co-sponsored event “Musicale” which starts at 7pm.
Action Item: Professor Akera to send a note to all Faculty re the Musicale event.
7) Committee Reports:
Provost Committee on Diversity- Will be meeting soon. Professor Holguin-Veras states that they will have a speaker come from the University of Michigan to speak on diversity and the interviewing process for candidates. Professor Holguin-Veras discusses process undertaken by committee and reviews some strategies used by other institutions.
Graduate Review Committee- Professor Maniatty provided report. Started writing document and are converging towards recommendations to be completed in next month. Items that will be addressed are Graduate student support, recruitment, diversity, placement and opportunities for distinction. Where we are now, our strengths and weaknesses and recommendations for strengthening the graduate recruitment program. They recognize that each school will have a different path. Professor Akera asked if there is a process that is standardized across all schools and asked if they can complete a draft before next senate meeting. Professor Gerhardt asked if there was any feedback when we moved from 90 credit hr PHD program to 72 Credit hr PHD program. Also asks what is the attitude towards PHD students. Here there is a tendency to treat them as extended students versus extended faculty. Asked if the committee has looked at that aspect. The Provost said the attitudes are centered in respect for individuals as individuals. Professor Holguin-Veras said it might be a good idea for the office of the Provost to look into this and is it a more isolated issue or pervasive? We need to focus on this as a faculty as well as being aware of unintended bias. Perhaps Professor Dunn should be invited to make a presentation to the Senate about what is being done to support graduate students..
Curriculum Committee- Professor Bequette provided report. They need to replace two members of the committee and will be working that out in next few weeks. Professor Deery has filled at-large open position. She will have to go up for election during this current election cycle.
Faculty Development & Retention – Professor Holguin-Veras gave the update. They are in the process of producing a report. Benchmarking is not possible because of resources. They will produce a report that will outline the process. They have completed about 80% and they will be inviting the faculty to present it to them and get their feedback. Professor Akera wanted to know when they can have a draft. Professor Holguin-Veras said they will have a first draft by the March meeting and afterward present it to the faculty for their feedback.
Action Item: Professor Holguin-Veras will have draft report to present at March Senate meeting.
8. Rescheduling March Faculty Senate Meeting:
Professor Herron stated that the meeting is currently scheduled during Spring Break and since there are conflict, it was decided that it be moved from March 13th to March 20th at 8:30am. The April General Faculty meeting had to be re-scheduled because of a conflict Professor Gerhardt had. It is now scheduled for April 2nd. Professor Keblinski suggested the meeting time be moved earlier to enable more people to attend. It was decided to hold the meeting from 3:30-5pm and verify the CBIS room is still available.
Action Item: Professor Akera to verify availability for 3:30-5 or obtain a new room
9) Old Business:
Professor Keblinksi wanted to discuss the cost of education and wanted to know the current cost structure etc. There wasn’t time at today’s meeting but it is extremely important and needs to be addressed by the senate. Professor Holguin-Veras suggested inviting VP Gregg to a meeting. The Provost offered to present something at the next Senate meeting. Professor Akera asked Professor Wright to provide him a list of issues he has re the topic.
10. New Business:
Professor Maniatty was approached by a faculty member regarding the information Rensselaer requests on Conflict of Interest statement. The faculty member feels it is more than what the law requires and feels it is an invasion of privacy. Professor Akera stated the Senate Committee as looked that this issue before and it was decided that it is not out of line with what institutions have to ascertain. The Provost mentions that if anyone has any specific question that they shouldn’t hesitate to contact HR.
Professor Akera makes a motion to adjourn. Professor Holguin-Veras seconds. All in favor. So moved.
Meeting adjourned at 10:03am.