February 19, 2008
I write to apprise you of the progress we have made on the faculty governance review process we launched last fall. I have just received the reports of the committees that have been exploring different aspects of the faculty governance question. Let me begin by expressing my gratitude to the members of these committees for their hard work.
I wish to thank and commend them publicly for their efforts.
You will recall that, through a shared governance process, the Faculty Governance Review Committee was established to serve as an independent body to review and benchmark best faculty governance practices of selected peer universities. Over the past several months this committee, chaired by Dr. Jacob Fish, has visited some leading universities and examined their university governance strategies, and has reviewed the literature of higher education associations to provide independent advice to the President and the Board of Trustees as we consider the most efficacious form of faculty governance for Rensselaer.
In addition, I asked Provost Robert Palazzo to work with Professor of Arts Larry Kagan to fashion a joint effort to work together on revisions of the Faculty Senate Constitution and the Faculty Handbook, in order to bring these documents into conformance with the Institute’s Bylaws and the Board of Trustees definition of the faculty.
During this phase of faculty governance review, clinical faculty representatives have met with the Provost and the Vice President for Human Resources to discuss issues raised by the clinical faculty. We continue our analysis of the role of clinical faculty, and a review of compensation, benefits, appointment and promotion processes, teaching loads, and opportunities for involvement in academic programming and faculty governance in the departments and programs in which they are appointed. Updates on progress by the Provost regarding these meetings, as well as more general meetings with clinical
faculty in Troy and Hartford, have been encouraging, suggesting continued frank and healthy dialogue.
These committees have worked diligently over the past few months to produce their respective reports. I now am in the process of reviewing the material, before transmittal to the Board of Trustees. I will share information with the general faculty, once the Board of Trustees has reviewed and given its initial assessment of the respective committees’ reports. In March, I intend to convene a meeting of the active tenured and tenure-track faculty to discuss the outcomes of these efforts, as we move forward as a community to resolve current issues and to strengthen faculty governance at Rensselaer.
I look forward to the ensuing discussion and continued constructive engagement among the Rensselaer faculty and administration.
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