FACULTY SENATE COMMUNICATIONS
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.
Faculty Senate President