Faculty Senate Meeting

October 22, 1996


Present: J. Brunski, C. Canier, B. Carlson, A. Desrochers, R, Franklin, M. Goldberg, J. Haddock, G. Handelman, T. Harrison, G. Judd, M. Kalsher, J. Newell, B. Racicot, E. Rogers, A. Wallace


Abstracted Minutes distributed; for detailed minutes, contact the Faculty Senate office or archives.



L. Peters will replace L. Kagan on the faculty senate during the Fall 1996 semester.


Professor A. Kapila has agreed to chair the Faculty Academic Board during the next calendar year (January through December 1997).  The Faculty Senate Executive Committee will be part of that board.


Professor Cheng Hsu is on the Faculty Senate Planning and Resources Committee and has also agreed to serve on the President’s Campus Planning Committee.


The Changing Nature of the Student Body at Rensselaer

Eddie Knowles, Dean of Students

More students are working on and off campus; 24% have non-work study jobs on campus.  Approximately 43% of undergraduates have jobs on campus.  Many are working 20-30 hours off campus—this practice may be creating potential academic problems (e.g., fatigue, grades, etc.).  This trend also means that students have less time for other student-related activities.


Knowles noted a reduced sense of community and declining respect for others, as evidenced by: a lack of ethics and increasing numbers of cases involving the irresponsible use of technology (e.g., some of our students have been involved in illegal activities on the internet).  A slight decrease is evident in the number of cases involving sexual harassment/discrimination.


The Dean of Students Office (DOSO) is seeing a dramatic increase in cases requiring judicial action.  These problems are most evident among freshmen; the occurrence of student-related problems decline as students get older.  Cheating represents a small percentage of the cases reported to DOSO although it is suspected that much cheating goes unreported.  Knowles asked the group to be vigilant in spotting academic dishonesty.  He emphasized that per faculty senate request, DOSO is no longer involved in cases involving academic dishonesty.  Students and faculty can obtain the policy governing academic dishonesty from G. Judd’s office.  Adjudication of cases involving academic dishonesty is the faculty’s responsibility. 


So far this semester, seventy-seven people have been referred to DOSO for judicial infractions; this represents a significant percentage of the previous entire year’s numbers.  He feels that this is not a good sign.  The majority of cases are resolved within DOSO, although this necessitates a tremendous amount of paperwork because of risk management issues.  An important goal of DOSO staff is to insure students’ rights and that appropriate process if followed in all cases.


Knowles presented prevalence data regarding the issues dealt with by DOSO staff: alcohol-related problems are most prevalent, followed by theft, vandalism, fire-safety, and physical assault.  He described how various factors (e.g., declining enrollments, increasing numbers of women and under-represented minorities) are leading to potential problems.  He also noted that today’s students are used to “getting what they want quickly.”  This fact makes it difficult to motivate students to sustain commitment to hard work, which in turn, leads to students dropping courses, are at least, not attending classes.


Recommendations to Faculty:

-          Provide students with early and sustained feedback about their class performance.  Faculty should not assume that they know how they are doing.

-          Continue efforts to increase faculty interaction and mentoring.

-          Collaborate with student life staff as partners; feels that faculty should take a greater role in resolving problems and potential problems.

-          Become more familiar with the dynamics of student behaviors.

-          Enforce academic dishonesty policies.  He added that it is disconcerting to students who work hard to find out that other students get away with cheating.

-          Celebrate student success; more positive reinforcement is needed.


The Status of Graduate Education and Research at Rensselaer – Gary Judd, Dean of the Faculty and Gail Gere, Director, Graduate Academic & Enrollment Services

G. Judd described the responsibilities of the Rensselaer’s graduate school organization.  In addition to ensuring the quality of graduate programs, the organization also has responsibility for assigning teaching assistantships, administering the institute-wide fellowship program and performing targeted graduate student recruitment.  He noted that each department has primary responsibility for making admission and financial aid decisions.


G. Gere presented graphs depicting enrollment trends based on data from 1987-1996.  She noted that Management has made significant gains during the past several years.  These gains should remain stable.  Declining enrollments in engineering and physical sciences have been somewhat more severe than the national average.  Some possible reasons include: (1) PhD job availability appears to be shrinking; (2) research funds to support doctoral students are shrinking; and (3) there is a decline in the number of international student applicants.


Rensselaer is becoming more diversified; this has helped the Institute’s enrollment picture and has served as a buffer against declines in other areas.  Aggressive recruiting efforts have increased the percentage of women and minority students.  Gere added that the quality of international students at Rensselaer is very high.


G. Judd indicated that it may be time to reassess our doctoral programs.  Asked whether our current model is appropriate to the ‘90s?  He added that our graduate education is becoming increasingly global; this trend may help explain the recent growth in Management (e.g., the China program.)


G. Judd described new Rensselaer Initiatives, including: professional masters degree programs; the affiliation with Hartford Graduate Center; expansion of the RSVP program to Mexico and Luxembourg, the China Program; growth in the Executive MBA program; and enactment of dual degrees.  Dual degrees are in place, although few students are currently taking advantage of this opportunity.  He also discussed the need to identify strategic areas of research on which to focus.  Focus groups will be conducted to set priorities for areas in which we can have a major impact.


Adjournment at 4:00pm


*Please note that the minutes of Faculty Senate meetings were distributed in a condensed format at the time.  The change in reporting format was adopted to reduce costs, while increasing readability.  Detailed minutes of each meeting can be obtained by contacting the Faculty Senate office or by contacting Institute archives.