Faculty Senate Communications v1 n2 (May 2012)

v1, n2 – May   2012
Special Issue; Annual Senate President’s Report

Isom Herron, President | José Holguín–Veras, Vice President | Les Gerhardt, Chair of Faculty | Pawel Keblinski, Recording Secretary | Chip Kilduff, Secretary | Atsushi Akera, Secretary of Faculty

12 May 2012

To the Rensselaer Faculty and Rensselaer Community,

This has been an exhilarating semester as we have moved to reconstitute the Faculty Senate here at Rensselaer. The process began with the faculty and Board of Trustees approval of a new constitution last December. This was followed by our inaugural General Faculty meeting, held on March 28th, where we collected faculty views regarding major issues of importance to the faculty. Drawing on this input, the Faculty Senate met on April 6th and 11th to create a rank-ordered list of priorities for the forthcoming (AY12-13) academic year. Specifically, the Senate decided to undertake the following projects as assigned to the standing and ad hoc committees of the Senate as described below:

  • Ad Hoc Committee on Faculty      Development and Retention (Jose Holguin-Veras [Engineering], chair).      By an overwhelming vote, the Senate determined that the closely      intertwined issues of faculty development and retention is the single most      important area where faculty deliberation and involvement could add      materially to the strength of our institution. Our charge to this      committee includes 1) Benchmarking peer and aspirant institutions for      their faculty development programs and practices; 2) Work with the      administration to conduct a survey on faculty retention; 3) Speak with key      members of the administration, both at the institute and school level, to      gain a proper understanding of the issue; 4) Provide an overall assessment      of the faculty development and retention problem; and 5) Organize a series      of activities the faculty Senate feels are appropriate and have an impact      on faculty development. Additional members of the committee include      Kristin Bennett (Science), Kim Fortun (HASS), Bill Francis (Management),      and Linda McGown (Science).
  • Ad Hoc Committee on Review of Graduate      Programs (Antoinette Maniatty [Engineering], chair). The Senate has      also decided to convene a new ad hoc committee to review our graduate      programs. The charge to this committee consists of identifying the      principal strengths, weaknesses, and needs of our graduate programs in      collaboration with the Office of Graduate Education; identifying and      reporting on issues related to diversity within our graduate programs; and      formulating policy recommendations for consideration by the Senate. Additional      members of the committee include Nancy Campbell (HASS), Stanley Dunn (Dean      of Graduate Education), Jeffrey Durgee (Management), Ted Krueger      (Architecture), Robert Parsons (Retiree), and John Schroeder (Science).
  • Planning & Resources Committee (David      Duquette [Engineering], chair). Under the new constitution, the Planning      & Resources Committee will take a proactive stance in identifying new      strategic initiatives for the institution, especially those that can help      energize the faculty around new interdisciplinary areas of inquiry. The      committee also plans on annually soliciting faculty proposals for      cross-school initiatives that can be integrated directly into the Provost’s      Performance Plan. The Senate also hopes to contribute to future revisions      of the Rensselaer Plan through this committee. Additional faculty      representatives to this standing committee consist of John Gowdy (HASS),      Michael Oatman (Architecture), Gina O’Connor (Management), and Peter      Persans (Science). They will be joined in this effort by senior members of      the administration
  • Review of Undergraduate Curricula and      Teaching Methods. It has been at least two decades since the      Rensselaer engaged in a major review and overhaul of its curriculum.      Current changes in higher education demand that Rensselaer remain at the forefront      of innovations in undergraduate education, and the Senate believes that a      general review of our undergraduate programs, including curricula, teaching      methods, assessment, and faculty development, is essential. Based on      consultation with the Senate Curriculum Committee, it is the intent of the      Senate to convene an ad hoc committee with broad representation from      across the institute. To be established by the start of the Fall semester,      this ad hoc committee will report to the Senate Curriculum Committee and will      coordinate its work with other committees and institute offices that are      working to improve specific aspects of our undergraduate program.

We can also assure the faculty that the Senate is aware of other developments on campus, and that these have been duly considered on the floor of the Senate. As is our tradition, Senate meetings remain open to the entire Rensselaer community, and we encourage you to reach out to us, join us in our meetings, and follow our work through our published minutes.

All of us on the Senate and its Executive Committee have been working tremendously hard to get the Senate up and running, and organizing and inaugurating the various initiatives described above. In keeping with this activity, it is our duty to ensure that everyone remains informed about our actions. These communications, and our forthcoming website (with constitution, meeting schedule, minutes, etc…) will supplement the semi-annual general faculty meetings in achieving this goal.

On behalf of the entire Faculty Senate, I would like to say that we have truly enjoyed the challenging work this semester, and look forward to the productive year ahead.


Isom Herron

Faculty Senate President