Inside Rensselaer
Faculty Governance Review Under Way

The review of faculty governance at Rensselaer is under way, with the Faculty Governance Review Committee moving ahead on its analysis, a joint faculty-administration committee being formed to revise key faculty governance documents, and a committee of clinical faculty established to advise the administration on the role of the clinical faculty.

“These three groups will all make substantive contributions toward our goal of establishing a faculty governance approach that will enable us to realize our vision as a leading research university with global reach and global impact,” President Shirley Ann Jackson said. “The Board of Trustees and I are grateful to the leaders and members of these groups for lending their time, energy, and knowledge to this important task.”

As described in President Jackson’s Oct. 16 letter to the Rensselaer community, Provost Robert Palazzo and Professor of Arts Larry Kagan are joining together to co-chair a faculty committee that will review and revise the Faculty Senate constitution and the Faculty Handbook to bring them into conformance with Institute Bylaws and with the Board of Trustees’ December 2006 directive on the definition of the faculty. The membership of that committee will be announced in the near future.

Provost Palazzo has established a committee to advise the administration on the role of the clinical faculty. “Cognizant of the important contributions of our clinical faculty to our academic environment, the president has requested that Vice President for Human Resources Curtis Powell and I work together to a) review compensation of clinical faculty to ensure appropriate compensation, b) develop a clear statement of clinical faculty benefits, c) review faculty teaching loads to clarify expectations for clinical faculty teaching responsibilities, and d) review opportunities for involvement of clinical faculty members in academic programming and faculty governance,” he said. “I am grateful to the members of the committee who have agreed to serve in this important role. This is an outstanding list of dedicated clinical faculty who have devoted themselves to serving the academic mission of Rensselaer.”

Those serving on the Clinical Faculty Committee are listed below.

Jacob Fish, the Rosalind and John J. Redfern Chaired Professor of Engineering and chair of the Faculty Governance Review Committee, said the group has launched its work of benchmarking best faculty governance practices of selected peer universities.

The committee has initiated a literature survey, including a review of papers on faculty governance and governance committee reports from selected institutions,” Fish said. “We have also compiled statistics on private research universities with very high research activity, selected the list of universities to benchmark, and drafted a template for benchmarking.”

The committee was asked to explore effective university governance strategies at other universities, and to review publications of higher education associations and the Institute Bylaws, with a goal of producing templates for alternative forms of faculty governance, incorporating key lessons learned from its work.

“The administration strives for a process of effective faculty governance, without an adversarial relationship between the faculty and the administration,” Palazzo said. “This requires that different constituencies take responsibility for the parts of the Institute that fall under their purview and areas of expertise, and that roles and decision-making authorities are clarified. The faculty plays the key role in matters related to academic programs and the educational process, from curriculum and degree requirements to the initiation of hiring and promotion of faculty. The key role of the faculty in these areas will continue to be preserved throughout the review process and thereafter.”

As indicated in her Oct. 16 letter to the community, President Jackson will convene a meeting of the active tenured and tenure-track faculty to discuss the outcomes of the work of both the Faculty Governance Review Committee and the committee reviewing the faculty governance documents. Following that discussion, and any final revisions of the Faculty Senate constitution and Faculty Handbook that might become necessary, a vote of the tenured and tenure-track faculty will be conducted to approve modifications. The president will review the documents for conformance with Institute Bylaws and board directives and, once approved, will refer the work of both groups to the Board of Trustees for its consideration.

Clinical Faculty Committee:

Maya Kiehl, clinical associate professor, mathematical sciences; School of Science

John Maleyeff (Hartford), clinical professor and area coordination, Hartford Campus; Lally School of Management & Technology

Mark Steiner, clinical associate professor, director, core engineering; director, O.T. Swanson Multidisciplinary Design Lab; School of Engineering

Bram Van Heuveln, clinical assistant professor, cognitive science; Humanities and Social Sciences

Frank Wright, clinical assistant professor, director, undergraduate programs; Lally School of Management & Technology

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 1, Number 7, November 8, 2007
©2007 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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