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Letter from Chairman Samuel F. Heffner, Jr ’56 to the Rensselaer Community

August 13, 2007

Re: Faculty Governance

On May 3, 2006, I sent, on behalf of the entire Board of Trustees, a letter to all of the members of our community expressing the views of our Board on the direction of Rensselaer under the leadership of our President, Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson. At that time, the Board exhorted everyone to participate in the obviously successful Renaissance at Rensselaer. In furtherance of the goal of elevating the profile of Rensselaer, the Board subsequently, at its December 2006 meeting, issued its definition of faculty at Rensselaer and expressed its desire that the faculty implement whatever processes and strategies were necessary to implement this directive of the Board.

The Board has received no notice from the Faculty Senate regarding what processes or changes it might propose for our consideration in this matter. Therefore, the Board has asked the President to initiate a process for such implementation and to report her recommended changes back to the Board. The President has delegated the initial part of this mission to the Provost who has, on August 7, 2007, shared with the tenured and tenure track faculty his proposed plan for commencing the dialogue. The President has approved the Provost's plan

The Board of Trustees has formally endorsed that plan and has approved the transitional governance structure proposed within it. It is the fervent hope of the Board of Trustees that each member of the faculty and each member of the instructional staff at Rensselaer will embrace this opportunity to engage in an open and thorough discussion regarding a long overdue examination of faculty shared governance at Rensselaer within the framework of the definition of faculty set forth by this Board in December of 2006

We have, in the last eight years, brought Rensselaer a long way toward becoming a world class university with global reach and global impact. Every week there is increasing evidence of the individual and collective achievements of our faculty and other members of our community in this regard. Considering the talent and professionalism of our faculty, they ought to be able to come together to meet the Board's objective, as well as to engage in the broader proposed review of faculty shared governance. This should be able to be accomplished within the next semester without personal rancor or counterproductive distraction. I remind the faculty and the entire instructional staff that this initiative is only in the launch phase. There are no foregone conclusions and all faculty and instructional staff are invited to help structure and participate in the discussion. But, the time is now.

Samuel F. Heffner, Jr ’56
Chairman of the Board of Trustees

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