Faculty Senate Communications Vol 1 No. 6 (July 2013)

FACULTY SENATE COMMUNICATIONS

Vol. 1, No. 6

July 2013

 

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

10 July 2013

 

To the Rensselaer Faculty and Rensselaer Community,

On behalf of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee and the entire Faculty Senate, I want to greet you warmly at the end of an extremely eventful year and wish you the very best in the summer season! In this issue of Faculty Senate Communications, we summarize election results; you will find the full Faculty Senate Roster at the end of this communication. We also recap the Spring General Faculty Meeting, review the progress of our Standing and Ad Hoc committees, and perhaps most importantly, present eulogies for our colleagues who passed away this year.  As always, please feel free to reach out to any Senator to convey your thoughts and ideas.

Sincerely,

Jose Holguin-Veras

Faculty Senate President

 

1. Election Results

Faculty Senate Elections were held electronically via OPINIO between 9 am April 24th and 5 pm April 25th, 2013. Turnout was quite good, and the results were accepted by the Faculty Senate at the May 8, 2013 meeting. They are as follows:

 

Executive Committee

• President                                         Jose Holguin-Veras

• Vice President                               Les Gerhardt

• Recording Secretary                    Lois Peters

 

Faculty Senate

• ENG                                                   Antoinette Maniatty

• SCI                                                      Chang Ryu

• HASS                                                  Ekaterina Haskins

• Lally                                                    Murali Chari

 

Standing Committees

Curriculum Committee

• ENG                                                   Wayne Bequette

• Lally                                                    Hao Zhao

• At Large                                            June Deery (HASS)

Promotion & Tenure Committee

• HASS                                                  Michael Century

• Lally                                                    Bill Francis

• At Large                                            Joe Chow (ENG)

Planning & Resources Committee

• ARCH                                                 Michael Oatman

• Lally                                                    Chris McDermott

Faculty Committee on Honors

• ARCH                                                 Russ Leslie

• Lally                                                    Bill Francis

 

2. The Spring General Faculty meeting.

The Spring General Faculty meeting was held on April 2, 2013.  Professor Gerhardt opened the meeting by welcoming everyone, and then provided a brief updated on some of the activities that the Faculty Senate has been working on over the academic year.

  • Review of Senate activities
    • Ad hoc committees
      • Faculty Handbook Draft committee, chaired by Professor Angel Garcia (members: Professors Curt Breneman, Faye Duchin, Michael O’Rourke)
      • Faculty Handbook Review committee, chaired by Professor Robert Linhardt (members: Professors Ricardo Dobry and Peter Fox)
        • Input from faculty and other major stakeholders was requested (Provost, VP Research, VP Human Resources, Dean of Students, Interim Faculty Handbook Committee)
        • Meetings of these committees have been taking place.  Following completion of the draft report, a general faculty meeting will be scheduled to allow the faculty an opportunity to review the revisions.  The faculty senate, by a majority vote, must approve the revisions followed by submission to the Provost, President and Board of Trustees for final approval
      • Ad-hoc Committee on Faculty Development and Retention (FDR) , chaired by Professor Jose Holguin Veras
        • Report draft prepared
        • Campus wide meeting planned
      • Ad-hoc Committee on Review of Graduate Committee, chaired by Professor Antoinette Maniatty
        • Report in preparation
    • Faculty Senate Elections scheduled for April 24
    • Faculty-All e-mail list up and running (as of 2/26/2013) to allow faculty to communicate together easily through one address.  Also, a separate e-mail list for retired faculty has also been established. Faculty can elect to have their name removed, however, faculty are encouraged to use the list to assure they do not miss important information being shared through this line of communication.
    • Meetings between Faculty Senate Executive Committee with Provost, HR, President, Cabinet have occurred and will continue into the future.
    • Colloquium on Teaching & Learning April 10
      • Topic:  changing landscape of higher education – emphasis on MOOCs
      • Chair of Faculty (Lester Gerhardt) was active participant
    • End of year newsletter will now include eulogies for faculty who have passed away in the past year

Professor Gerhardt then introduced the Provost, Professor Prabhat Hajela, to present the Provost’s report on various aspects of academic affairs.   This presentation is available on the faculty senate web site <http://facultysenate.rpi.edu/>.

3. Ad Hoc Committees   

In the Spring of 2012, the Faculty Senate constituted three ad hoc committees to study, respectively, the health of our Graduate Programs; Faculty Development and Retention; and Undergraduate Curricula and Teaching Methods. Work by the Committee on Undergraduate Curricula and Teaching Methods is on-going.  The Committee on Faculty Development and Retention has submitted a draft report that is under review by the Senate.  We are pleased to report that the first of these committees, the Ad Hoc Committee on Graduate Programs, has completed its work.

The views and the major findings of the committee are as follows:

  • We should regard doctoral education as an investment in the training of the next generation of scholars and in the reputation of the institute.
  • A fully comprehensive graduate program has to have a complementary professional master’s program.
  • While there are many aspects of our graduate programs that are strong, we are not currently on track to achieve the goals set out in the new Rensselaer Plan 2012-2024 in terms of one of its key goals, namely a significant growth in the number of PhDs we award annually.

The committee identifies five areas, a) Graduate Student Support, b) Recruitment, c) Diversity, d) Placement and Alumni Relations, and e) “Opportunities for Distinction,” where specific actions may help us achieve our PhD production targets. Their specific recommendations, in summary, are that:

Graduate Student Support

  • Tuition cost-share be determined on a sliding scale depending on the level at which the grant is capped by the sponsor.
  • All doctoral students be provided an opportunity for a supervised teaching experience in order to make them competitive on the academic job market.

Recruitment

  • The intellectual efforts and contributions of our graduate students be fully recognized and publicized through targeted changes in the activities of Strategic Communications; Enrollment Management; Institute Advancement; and Student Services.
  • Provide faculty with the resources, training, and the expectations necessary for them to serve as effective recruiters.
  • Require each school and department to develop a graduate recruitment and admissions plan (which contain four specified components). Have specific enrollment targets that are paired to graduate student support.
  • Have the Office of Graduate Admissions advise each department about the structure and content of their website in order to support student recruitment.

Diversity

  • Provide competitive funding, with continued attention to student diversity, in terms of stipend dollar amounts and the terms of multi-year offers.
  • Ensure, through proper training, that diversity planning is an integral part of graduate student recruitment in each school and department.
  • Continue to expand the opportunities for underrepresented undergraduate students to participate in research via programs such as REU an NSF LSAMP.
  • Develop stronger relationships with professional organizations and faculty at colleges serving underrepresented groups.
  • Develop programs to train all graduate advisors and dissertation/thesis committee members on best practices for inclusiveness.

Placement and Alumni Relations

  • Develop a system for tracking the placement data of our doctoral and master’s students, with substantial responsibilities assigned to all GPDs.
  • Provide students destined for academic jobs with an opportunity to develop a teaching portfolio and to learn about proposal writing.
  • Provide students seeking non-academic careers with opportunities to learn about career options and to support their professional development in their chosen career (this as an OGE and Career & Professional Development Center joint effort).

Opportunities for Distinction

  • Increase and improve the visibility of inter- and multidisciplinary PhD programs, with specific emphasis on marketing strategies and new descriptive media.

While many of the above recommendations require resources and direct action by the administration, the committee also points to the following as areas for direct action by the faculty:

  • Educate
ourselves
in
best
practices
for
recruitment
and
admissions,
and
take
an
active
 role
in
recruitment,

  • Work
with
our
departments
and
schools
to
develop
graduate
student
recruitment
and admissions
plans
that
incorporate
diversity
planning,
  • Learn
about
resources
available
for
helping
our
graduate
students,
especially
those
from underrepresented
groups,
to
apply
for
external
fellowships,

  • Create
opportunities
for
underrepresented
undergraduate
students
to
participate
inresearch,

  • Develop
relationships
with
faculty
at
colleges
and
branches
of
professional
organizations serving
underrepresented
groups,

  • Participate
in
graduate
student
mentoring
programs,
such
as
the
Preparing
Future
Faculty
Program,
to
teach
our
graduate
students
seeking
an
academic
career
what
it
takes
to
fully
participate
as
a
faculty
member,
and


  • Provide
guidance
that
takes
into
account
student
aspirations, considering
the
bigger picture
for
our
students,their
careers,
and
ultimately
Rensselaer.


The Senate will be taking up this last set of recommendations when it reconvenes next fall, even as the Senate Executive Committee works with the administration to ensure that the broader recommendations of the Committee receive active consideration. The committee’s full report is attached to this Communications, and is also available on the Senate <http://facultysenate.rpi.edu/>.

The Ad Hoc Committee on Faculty Development and Retention has also delivered a draft report to the Senate for discussion and feedback, and will be submitting the final version of their report over the summer. The Ad Hoc Committee on Undergraduate Curricula and Teaching Methods will scale up its activities during the coming academic year.

4. Standing Committees

Promotion and Tenure

Professor Shephard reported.  The Committee reviewed 5 cases in the Fall, 4 for Associate with Tenure and 1 for full Professor. Of the five cases,  2 were in Science,  2 in Engineering and 1in HASS.  In the Spring, the Committee reviewed 15 total cases, 7 for Associate with Tenure and 8 for promotion to full Professor.  Of the 15 cases, 2 were in Science, 7 were in Engineering, 3 were in HASS, and 2 were in Management as well as 2-3 new hires.

Curriculum committee

The Curriculum Committee met 13 times over the 2012-2013 academic year. The following is a summary of the Committee activities:

  • Reviewed and approved 61 course changes
  • Reviewed and approved 85 new courses
  • Reviewed and approved 21 course deletions
  • Reviewed and approved 31 curriculum or degree template changes for majors, minors or concentrations
  • Reviewed and approved 4 new minors 

Other activities:

  • Developed some standard language for learning outcomes for new courses. It will be incorporated into the FSCC standard course submission templates.
  • Provided feedback to the Student Senate on their survey of the J-Term and Core curriculum courses.

Committee on Honors

Professor McLaughlin reported that the Committee on Honors awarded the following:

  • William H. Wiley 1866 Distinguished Faculty Award
    • William Wallace, Industrial and Systems Engineering
  • James M. Tien ’66 Early Career Award
    • Matthew Oehlschlaeger, Mechanical, Aerospace and Nuclear Engineering
  • Jerome Fishbach ’38 Travel Award
    • Wayne Bequette, Chemical and Biological Engineering

Professor McLaughlin urged departments to nominate deserving faculty.

 

5. Faculty Handbook Revision

The Handbook Draft Committee is nearly completed with the Draft revisions for the Handbook.  Once completed, they will finish their Draft and submit it to the Handbook Review Committee.  This committee will in turn review the document and provide their recommendations to the Faculty Senate Executive Committee.  The Executive Committee will work with the Administration to refine any language as necessary to make sure that the document, once approved, will not require any additional changes for Administrative approval.  The Handbook Draft Committee decided that its role is not to draft new policy at this time, but rather to bring policy into alignment with current practice. 

 

6. Eulogies

Elmar R. Altwicker, Chemical and Biological Engineering

Paul M. DeRusso, Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering

Norbert Hepfinger, Chemistry

Jack W. Hollingsworth, Mathematics

J. Lawrence Katz, Biomedical Engineering

Thornton Stuart Lauber, Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering

Robert L. Spilker, Biomedical Engineering

Norman Stoloff, Materials Science and Engineering Department

Bernard Wunderlich, Chemistry

 

Elmar R. Altwicker

Chemical and Biological Engineering

Prof. Elmar Altwicker was born in Germany. He obtained his grade and high-school diploma in August 1948 in Landshut, Germany. He immigrated to the US, obtained BS in Chemistry from University of Dayton (Ohio) in 1952, and PhD in Chemistry from Ohio State University in 1957.  Elmar was a postdoctoral fellow at University of Vermont for a brief period, before he joined the chemical industry leading to a very successful career as a research chemist, project leader, and group leader for over a decade – 1957-1962 (American Cyanamid Company), 1963-1965, Princeton Chemical Research, 1966-1968, UOP.  Recognizing that full time fundamental research was his calling, Elmar made a move to academia joining as an Associate Professor what was then the department of Bio-Environmental Engineering at Rensselaer in 1968.  Elmar was promoted to Full Professor in 1975 in the Department of Chemical & Environmental Engineering at Rensselaer. He served a successful and fulfilling career as a Professor of Chemical Engineering for over 25 years, and was very active as an emeritus professor, writing papers, and thinking of new research ideas!

Through his outstanding research, Elmar established himself as an internationally known expert in the broad area of environmental remediation. He published over 75 papers, was a frequent reviewer for top journals in the environmental remediation area as well as for funding agencies including National Science Foundation and the EPA. His specific expertize focused on pollutants dioxins and furans and their removal using novel chemical engineering processes.  Elmar was passionate about his research, was an excellent mentor to his students, and took immense pride in the success of his students.

Elmar’s colleagues and friends – Georges Belfort, Arthur Fontijn, Howard Littman, Peter Wayner, Steven Cramer, and others – in the department remember him as a thoughtful and extremely kind colleague, excellent tennis player, and an avid follower of German soccer. For many years, Georges Belfort, Arthur Fontijn, Peter Wayner, and Edmund Brown (Physics Dept.) were members with Elmar of various tennis groups.  He enjoyed skiing with Arthur Fontijn, Peter Wayner, and Edmund Brown (Physics Dept.).  Arthur Fontijn and Elmar together taught classes in Atmospheric Chemistry, Air Pollution, and Combustion. Arthur and Elmar hiked the Adirondacks, where Elmar had a project on measurement of acid rain.  Elmar’s students remember him as a patient mentor and the best advisor they could have ever asked for.

Submitted by:

Shekhar Garde

Professor and Head, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering

 


 

Paul M. DeRusso

Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering

Paul DeRusso arrived at Rensselaer as an undergraduate in 1949, earning his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1953. He remained here to complete his master's degree in 1955. After earning his Sc.D. at M.I.T., he returned to Rensselaer as a faculty member in 1959.

Professor DeRusso rose from assistant professor to professor in just five years. In 1967 he became head of the Systems Engineering Division, the forerunner of the current Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering (ECSE) Department, formed in 1975.  He helped established the graduate and undergraduate degree programs in computer and systems engineering.

In 1974, School of Engineering Dean George Ansell appointed Professor DeRusso as Associate Dean of Engineering for Curriculum, beginning a 19-year period during which he made many of his significant contributions to the Institute. Many of the reforms he led or helped lead have kept our engineering program at the forefront of engineering education. Included in his accomplishments were leading the integration of computer graphics into the undergraduate engineering curriculum, and establishing the Institute Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory course sequence. He also helped revise the Pre-Engineering Program. Paul retired as Associate Dean of Engineering in 1993 after a distinguished 34-year career at Rensselaer. His work in administration at the School of Engineering included two terms as Acting Dean.

In addition to helping steer development of excellent programs for undergraduate and graduate students, Professor DeRusso extended his efforts outside the Institute to help generate interest among high school students to study engineering and technology. He founded the PREFACE Summer Program, which still exists today. This unique two-week summer residential program is designed for talented 11th- and 12th-grade high school students who have expressed interest in engineering and other technological professions.

Among his many other achievements, Professor DeRusso was the principal author of the book State Variables for Engineers, along with colleagues Professors C. Close and R. Roy. Although the second book published in the field, it was the first to achieve widespread use at engineering schools in the U.S. and abroad for decades to come. He authored numerous other technical publications, and was the first to analyze the performance limitations of automatic control systems that incorporated a digital computer.

Professor DeRusso was a Fellow of both the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and the American Society of Engineering Education, and a Professional Engineer. He was co-recipient of the 1987 LEAD University Award from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. In 1990 he received the William H. Wiley Distinguished Faculty Award. He was the 1986 recipient of the Office of Minority Student Affairs Distinguished Service Award, and two years later, the same organization presented him with the Martin Luther King, Jr., Award. He was elected as an honorary member of Phalanx at Rensselaer in 1983.

He passed away at the age of 81.

Professor DeRusso was loved, admired, and respected by his students, co-workers, fellow members of faculty, and his colleagues in administration. Indeed, many current members of our community worked with Professor DeRusso.

With fond recollections of Paul, John Kolb '79, Vice President for Information Services and Technology and Chief Information Officer, said, "Paul was a quiet person of great strength and integrity. He was a consummate engineer who could focus well, and get the people around him to do likewise, to solve problems. He would then move on to the next set of challenges. I know there were many folks that would turn to Paul to cut to the heart of an issue, and that he would provide sage advice as to the technological, humanistic, and cultural/political considerations as a path forward was planned.  He really was a steady-handed leader, who was a mentor to many of us who were fortunate enough to have worked with him."

According to Professor Lester Gerhardt, one of several Professors hired by Paul, "He was above all a mentor who put the needs of others above his own. His thousands of students were the beneficiaries of his knowledge and teaching; his many colleagues were the beneficiaries of his intellect and friendship; and all of the multi-generational Rensselaer family benefitted from his caring. He will be missed by many but forgotten by no one."

Submitted by:

Lester Gerhardt

Professor, Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering

 


 

Norbert Hepfinger

Chemistry

Rensselaer laments the loss of long-time faculty member Professor Norbert F. Hepfinger, whose passing on Dec. 29, 2012, marked the final chapter in a long illness. Norb joined Rensselaer in 1966 as faculty member in the Department of Chemistry, where he served until 1994, for many of those years as Associate Chair. While a faculty member, Norb taught organic chemistry to undergraduates and graduate students, and in his later years was a major force in re-designing the General Chemistry program to meet changing approaches to instructional delivery. His focus was always on the welfare of our students and how the Chemistry department could best respond to their needs.  A native of Erie, Pennsylvania, he was a graduate of Gannon College and received his Ph.D. from The University of Pittsburgh followed by post-doctoral studies at Northwestern University, where he specialized in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy. Prior to that he flew carrier aircraft in the Korean war.  His interests included scuba diving, and he very much enjoyed spending his time at his cottage on Taconic Lake in Grafton, where he was president of the Taconic Lake Association. One cannot remember Norb without also remembering his wife of 57 years, Lois, and his family, a daughter, four sons and his grandchildren of whom he was very proud.

Submitted by:

R. A. Bailey

Professor and Associate Head

Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology

 


 

Jack W. Hollingsworth

Mathematics

Jack was born and raised in Kansas, and he earned a B.S. in Engineering Physics and a B.A. in Mathematics at the University of Kansas.  After serving in the military during World War II, Jack received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mathematics at the University of Wisconsin, the latter degree earned in 1954.  Jack moved to Schenectady that same year to take a position at G.E., before coming to Rensselaer in 1957.  Jack was a professor in the Math Department and the Director of the Computing Lab.  He left Rensselaer in 1979 to take a faculty position at RIT where he retired in 1996.

Personal recollections are shared by Bill Boyce: I have fond memories of Jack.  He came to RPI at the same time that Dick DiPrima and I did in 1957.  He established the computing facility at RPI, originally located, I believe, in Mason Laboratory (long since demolished).  Later it moved to the ground floor of Amos Eaton and eventually to its present location.  Besides managing the Computer Lab, he also developed and taught RPI's first courses on programming.  In addition he created some useful self-paced modules on programming that students or faculty could use to improve their skills.  During the 60s and 70s other faculty came on board to support the accelerating growth of computing and computer science, but It was Jack who got RPI off the ground in this field and for that I believe that he deserves immense credit.  He was always more interested in teaching than in running a computing facility, so I believe he was happy when the time came for someone else to take over the management of the Lab, which had become a full-time responsibility.  Jack was a congenial and thoughtful colleague and I was sorry when he decided to leave us and go to RIT.

Submitted by:

Donald Schwendeman,

Professor and Head, Department of Mathematics

 

William E. Boyce

Edward P. Hamilton Professor Emeritus

Department of Mathematics


 

J. Lawrence Katz

Biomedical Engineering

J. Lawrence Katz, the first Director of the Center for Biomedical Engineering at RPI, died last February 18, at the age of 86.  A graduate of Brooklyn Poly in 1957, Larry joined the Rensselaer faculty that year as an Assistant Professor of Physics.  He was an expert in crystallography, and rose to become Professor of Physics in 1967.  He developed an interest in the biological applications of his expertise, and became Director of the Laboratory of Crystallographic Biophysics in 1964.  In 1974, the School of Engineering was reorganized.  George Ansell became Dean, and asked Larry to become Chairman of the newly-formed Center for Biomedical Engineering.   One of his first acts a Chairman was to hire me as an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, bringing the size of the faculty up to three.  Later hires grew the faculty to about 9 by 1983, when the Center became a full-fledged Department.   Larry remained Chairman until 1986.  After leaving RPI, he became a Visiting Professor in England and France, and then was appointed Dean of Engineering at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland in 1989.  In 2002 he moved on to become a Distinguished Research Professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.  It seems a sad irony that a scholar of the properties of bone and hard tissue would be struck down by a bone marrow disease.

I remember Larry as a vigorous, aggressive man with a diversity of interests and a genuine regard for the role of science in the world.  He was very active professionally as a reviewer of proposals and manuscripts, as a guest speaker and an articulate advocate for Biomedical Engineering at the dawn of that discipline.   He seemed always to have the big picture in mind, sometimes giving less attention to the details.  Beyond his professional life, he also performed as a folk singer, and was active in political causes.  He had a genuine concern for his fellow citizens, and struggled with personnel decisions that were hurtful. 

Biomedical Engineering in its early years was focused mainly on organ-level and whole animal studies and development.  The basic science underlying it was not extensive.  This meant that the field needed a strong input from clinical practice, and a strong orientation toward basic science, and less on abstract engineering.  Although Larry was running an engineering department, he did it as a scientist, and that served well. I think Larry never lost his sense of identity as a scientist.

Submitted by:

Jonathan Newell

Professor Emeritus of Biomedical Engineering

 

 

Thornton Stuart Lauber

Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering

Thornton Stuart Lauber, 88, passed away quietly Saturday, August 4, at his home in Glenville, where he had lived since 1970. Stu was born January 5, 1924, in Cornwall, Ontario, to Thornton Woodburn Lauber and Gertrude Lillian (Hirst) Lauber. At the time, his parents were living in Schenectady, but his mother had returned to her family's home in Canada for his birth. He entered the United States at the age of 1 month and grew up in Amsterdam, NY, the oldest of three brothers.

After his father died in an accident, he and his brothers were raised by their mother. It was the height of the Great Depression, and money was in short supply. He remembered his mother working at a Boy Scout camp so that her sons could spend summers there. After graduating from high school, Stu studied electrical engineering at Cornell University, where he washed dishes in one of the women's dorms to earn money to supplement his scholarship. After leaving Cornell in 1944, he volunteered for military service and spent two years in the US Army. He graduated from Officer Candidate School with, he claimed, the second most demerits in the history of the school and was stationed in Panama as a lieutenant in the Signal Corps. After his discharge, when he applied for veterans benefits, he learned that, because of a paperwork error by his mother, he was not considered a US citizen. He encountered bureaucratic difficulties and was considering a move to Australia when a family friend intervened and he was at last recognized as a citizen.

Stu began working as an engineer at General Electric in Pittsfield, MA in 1951, where he met many lifelong friends, one of them Lois Pearson, his wife of 56 years. He later moved to GE in Philadelphia and earned a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania. In 1969, he began teaching at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, becoming the SB Crary professor of engineering in 1970. He was a constant reader, and his interests were broad, including history, poetry, science, religion, and novels by favorite authors. When his children were young, Stu introduced them to tent camping and a love of nature, especially ocean beaches. He enjoyed good wine and loved bird watching. He was a lifelong Democrat and a fervent believer in social justice. Stu is survived by his wife; his three children, Judith M. Lauber (Charles Laun), Pamela J. Lauber (Steve D. Simon), and Bruce Lauber (Andrea Lachance); by his four grandchildren, Sara, Matt, Ned, and Maggie; and by several nieces and nephews. Stu was predeceased by a daughter, Mary Alane Lauber, in 1984; and by his two brothers, Robert and John.

Submitted by:

Robert Degeneff

Professor, Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering

 


 

Robert L. Spilker

Biomedical Engineering

Colleagues at Rensselaer remember Dr. Robert Leonard Spilker, as a great friend and colleague, who passed away on October 9, 2012 following a four-year battle with cancer.  Bob Spilker, as he was known around campus, brought several faculty and students into the Rensselaer family.  This not only includes his wife Jan (who to this day plays several volunteer roles), his three children, Janel, Ryan, Jana and their eventual spouses (all of whom are Rensselaer alums) but several faculty in the Biomedical Engineering Department. 

Colleagues remember Bob’s smiling face and positive outlook that affected everyone around him.  During his morning rounds on the 7th floor with a large cup of coffee or sometime the coffee pot filled with water, Bob would say little things to make your day.

Bob received his PhD from MIT and was himself recruited to Rensselaer as a faculty in Mechanical Engineering in 1984 from the University of Illinois at Chicago.  From 1994 to 2004 he served as the Department Head of Biomedical Engineering and oversaw the transition of the department from a bioinstrumentation to biomechanics and eventually to tissue engineering emphasis.  His own research in computational modeling of biological materials was exemplary.  At a time when commercial packages lagged behind, Bob’s finite element codes incorporated all features essential for modeling hydrated biological soft tissues. Bob had a profound influence on a large number of students who pursued research under his mentorship or in collaboration at other institutions.  He was an early adoptor of studio model – pioneered at Rensselaer and through browser-based modules he helped integrate mathematics in science and engineering curricula.

Bob was very much of a family man and loved his wife and family dearly.  He took strong interest in others.  He is remembered by colleagues as a humble man who put others’ interests in front of him.  These qualities, his radiant personality and a John Denver look made Bob a loved and well-respected man.  Perhaps the best description of the way in which Bob lived his life is summarized in this poem by his 10-year old grand-daughter Jyne Cathryn Dunbar:

If I were ten times better than I am

I would not be as good as him;

As kind, as funny

He was smart

A good sport

He loved to laugh

He loved to learn

He loved to teach

If you listened to him, he was unimportant

It was always someone else

But he was really the main exhibit

The person everyone wanted to see

The man I would love to talk to

Just one more time

Submitted by:

Deepak Vashishth

Professor and Head, Biomedical Engineering

 

 

Norman Stoloff

Materials Science and Engineering Department.

Norman Stoloff was a consummate scholar, having spent more than 30 years on the faculty of the Materials Science and Engineering Department.  After obtaining a Ph.D. at Columbia and spending several years at the Ford Scientific Laboratories he was invited to join the faculty at RPI.  He was the thesis supervisor of more than 30 graduate students, published more than 200 scientific papers, and received numerous professional honors, including a Fulbright Award to spend some time at Cambridge University, and membership in Tau Beta Pi and Sigma Xi.  He was a Fellow of the American Society for Materials and receive a number of awards from ASM and AIME. He was the editor or co-editor of an unbelievable 13 journals, books, and conference proceedings.  Professor Stoloff was among only a handful of scientists who understood liquid metal embrittlement, was also among the most influential proponents of the use of intermetallic compounds for elevated temperature applications, and published extensively in the area of the mechanical properties of gas turbine alloys.

After retiring from RPI Professor Stoloff remained highly active in the profession, organizing scientific conferences for the Engineering Foundation and accepting visiting positions at DOE’s Northwest Pacific Laboratories and L’Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne.  He also indulged in his hobbies of collecting maps and antiques, and hiking in the Adirondacks.  Norm will be remembered by his students and colleagues for his dry wit, his devotion to science and engineering, his strong sense of responsibility, and his devotion to his family and to the nation.  Professor Stoloff leaves behind his wife Helen, four children, and two grandchildren.

Submitted by:

D. J. Duquette

Profesor, Materials Science and Engineering


 

 

Bernard Wunderlich

Chemistry

Rensselaer regrets the passing of former faculty member Bernard Wunderlich on August 16, 2012. Bernie was a professor in the Department of Chemistry at Rensselaer from 1963 until 1988, when he moved to the University of Tennessee where he was appointed as a Distinguished Scientist at both the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He retired in 2001. Prior to Rensselaer, he served as instructor in Chemistry at Cornell University after receiving his Ph.D. from Northwestern. At Rensselaer, he taught undergraduate and graduate students in polymer chemistry, with many of his former students going on to important careers in polymer science. In his scientific career Professor Wunderlich focused primarily on the thermal analysis of polymers and was responsible for significant advances in understanding polymer structure. While at Rensselaer he developed an on-line instructional program on the topic that was one of the earliest of such programs.  He authored ten books and 575 scientific publications. His books on Macromolecular Physics have been widely read and translated into many different languages.  A native of Germany, he escaped from East Germany and came to the United States in 1954, as he describes in his autobiography," A Science Career against all Odds", published in 2010. While his wife of 58 years, Heidi, described herself as second to Chemistry, Bernie took great pleasure in his family, which included his son Brent and daughter Caryn. He enjoyed photography, traveling, and tending to his garden. He was also an avid collector of ancient coins and fine wines and was a generous and convivial host to many friends at his home in Wynantskill

Submitted by:

R. A. Bailey

Professor and Associate Head

Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology

 

Roster

Faculty Senate (AY 2013-2014)

Please feel free to contact any of the Senators and Senate committee members with your thoughts and ideas.

The Officers of the Faculty Senate

  • Chair of Faculty: Isom Herron
  • President:  Jose Holguin-Veras
  • Vice President: Lester Gerhardt
  • Secretary of Faculty: Chip Kilduff
  • Secretary of Senate: Paul (Pawel) Keblinski
  • Recording Secretary of Senate: Lois Peters

Members of the Faculty Senate

  • Engineering:   George Belfort; Antoinette Maniatty
  • School of Science: Vincent Meunier; Chang Ryu
  • HASS: Ektarina Haskins; Igor Vamos
  • Architecture: David Bell
  • Management: Murali Chari
  • Troy Lecturers & Professors of Practice: Frank Wright
  • Hartford Lecturers & Professors of Practice: Robert Albright; Tom Triscari (shared position)
  • Librarians/Archivists: Jeanne Keefe
  • Retirees: Vacant                                            
  • Provost or designee: Prabhat Hajela

Chairs of Standing Committees

  • Curriculum: Wayne Bequette (SoE); George Plopper (SoS), co-Chairs
  • Promotion & Tenure: Mark Shephard (SoE), Chair
  • Planning & Resources: David Duquette (SoE), Chair
  • Faculty Committee on Honors: Joyce McLaughlin (SoS), Chair

Chair of Ad Hoc Committees

  • Faculty Development & Retention: Jose Holguin-Veras (SoE), Chair
  • Review of Graduate Programs: Antoinette Maniatty (SoE), Chair
  • UG Curriculum & Teaching Methodology: Lester Gerhardt, Chair

You may find individual email addresses at the Rensselaer directory: http://rpinfo.rpi.edu/directories.html