Faculty Senate Communications Vol 4 No. 1 (November 2016)

Alhussein Abouzeid, Vice-President |John Tichy, President | Antoinette Maniatty, Chair of Faculty Jeffrey Durgee, Recording Secretary | Amir Hirsa, Secretary of Senate | Atsushi Akera, Secretary of Faculty


Faculty Senate Communication, Vol 4 No. 1
November 2016

To the Rensselaer Faculty and Community,

We, the Faculty Senate (FS), intend to continue the tradition of corresponding with you once each term.  In general, the Fall term communication (this document) will describe our ongoing and planned activities for the current year, and the spring communication will outline our accomplishments.  You were last sent a correspondence on May 16, 2016 describing our activities of academic year 2015 – 2016. See http://facultysenate.rpi.edu/ A General Faculty Meeting was held in the Biotech Auditorium on October 26 at 9 AM.  Frankly, the attendance was poor, administrators of various portfolios outnumbering at-large faculty.  Although we had other items on the agenda, discussions by and with President Jackson took up the entire time allotted.  The President spoke extensively, answered questions in the auditorium, and stayed for another 30 minutes for informal conversations in the lobby.  At that time, the President proposed a dinner meeting with herself, the Provost and the FS Executive Committee (FSEC), which we are trying to set up. Being optimistic, we hope a period of improved communication and relations will be ushered in.

As further incremental evidence of a new era of improved relations, the FSEC meets monthly with the Provost, and we engage in frank discussions.  The President of the FS appears to be now routinely invited to the biannual Board of Trustees (BoT) Student Life Committee meeting.  Contrast this with the previous total absence of contact between faculty and the BoT.  We hope to expand such participation to other BoT committee meetings.

Since the May communication, the BoT has approved the new Faculty Handbook, which can be downloaded at http://www.rpi.edu/dept/facsen/Faculty_Handbook_August2016.pdf

We intend for this to be a living document, evaluated and amended annually as needed.  Please communicate any problems or issues to us.

My personal goals for this academic year are modest.  In the long run (say, five years) I hope that we can restore meaningful shared governance to levels commensurate with its former stature at Rensselaer, and to levels commensurate with faculty governance at similar institutions. There are reputable studies concluding that significant shared governance is a necessary condition for a world-class university.  To this end, for this year, I hope we can take incremental steps and tackle projects with impact but attainable objectives. In this spirit, we are working on the following initiatives

      Performing Summer Arch oversight through a special committee

       Establishing an Ombuds office, again through a special committee

       Developing a faculty role in addressing fiscal challenges

       Evaluating administrative offices whose work impacts faculty activities

       Working with and supporting the Student Senate

We realize that high levels of skepticism and apathy must be overcome, and we ask your help and participation in doing so.



John Tichy
on behalf of the Faculty Senate