Eleven senior faculty members, representing the five schools of Rensselaer, have been appointed to a committee that will review the university’s faculty governance system. The Faculty Governance Review Committee, announced by Provost Robert Palazzo in a letter to the faculty Sept. 21, will be chaired by Jacob Fish, the Rosalind and John J. Redfern Jr. ’33 Professor of Engineering.
The committee is composed of two members nominated by the faculty of each school. It includes eight full professors and three associate professors. Two committee representatives, including the chair, were members of the 2006-07 Faculty Senate.
The group will examine and clarify the role of faculty in academic governance, working in consultation with relevant members of the administration and the tenured and tenure-track faculty. The committee will propose a plan for faculty governance conforming to the definition of faculty established by the Board of Trustees, and taking into consideration the perspectives of all tenured and tenure-track faculty and instructional staff. After the conclusion of the review, the committee will recommend a process to transition to the modified faculty governance system. Its report is expected in December.
“With a world-class Biotechnology Center, the preparation of an Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center where technology merges with arts, and now the opening of the world’s most powerful university-based supercomputing center, Rensselaer is entering the ranks of elite technological research universities,” Fish said. “As such, we have to understand the faculty governance systems in other great institutions whose ranks we are entering and revise our faculty governance structure accordingly. Despite occasionally harsh rhetoric, I believe the Rensselaer faculty and administration have a common goal of advancing Rensselaer as an influential technological research university and making it an enjoyable and sought-after place to be. I am optimistic that we will get there.”
“I am grateful to these distinguished leaders of the Rensselaer academic community for accepting this crucial task,” President Shirley Ann Jackson said. “We have undertaken this review to enable us to put into place a faculty governance structure that will strengthen and clarify the role of active tenured and tenure-track faculty in contributing to the further development of Rensselaer as a technological research university of rapidly growing stature and influence. I am sure the committee members will familiarize themselves with the university’s bylaws and with national benchmarking data on faculty governance, and will reach out to their faculty colleagues at Rensselaer and at other institutions, and to the Institute administration.”
“The committee represents a balanced and distinguished group of teacher-scholars who have generously agreed to serve Rensselaer during a challenging period of change,” Palazzo said. “As the chief academic officer of the Institute, I am indebted to the members of this committee for rallying to serve Rensselaer at this important time in the history of the Institute.”
The process for faculty governance review was launched in August in recognition of the pace and scale of change that has occurred at Rensselaer over the last eight years. During that time the Institute has evolved rapidly as a national research university, demanding clarity with regard to the leadership and advisory roles of the tenured and tenure-track faculty.
Palazzo noted that through the establishment of the review committee, and its recognition by the president and the Board of Trustees, the tenured and tenure-track faculty “have the greatest opportunity to influence the structure and future of faculty governance at Rensselaer.”
“The Faculty Governance Review Committee is encouraged to seek broad input from the tenured and tenure-track faculty as a whole, including those who have served and led the Faculty Senate in the past, contingent faculty, Institute administrators, the provost, and the president,” Palazzo said. “While there is still much work to be done during the transitional faculty governance period, this committee, working with the faculty of Rensselaer, and through appropriate outside input as well, will chart a new course as we seek to resolve issues that have compromised faculty governance.”
A transitional faculty governance system was made necessary, during this review, by a Faculty Senate vote rejecting a Board of Trustees request that the Senate constitution be modified to recognize the Board’s definition of the faculty as active tenured and tenure-track faculty, and a later Senate election that allowed voting by members of the community not conforming to the Board’s definition. The transitional governance system preserves all aspects of faculty governance except the Faculty Senate, which has been suspended during the review period.
The members of the Faculty Governance Review Committee are:
School of Architecture
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Lally School of Management & Technology
School of Engineering
School of Science
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