Faculty Senate Meeting

December 3, 1996


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


Guests: B. Adams, S. Molloy, M. Galbraith


Announcements and Approval of Minutes

The Minutes of the October 29, 1996 General Faculty Meeting were unanimously approved.


Update from the Faculty Senate Planning & Resources Committee – Prof. Edwin Rogers

(Continuation of a discussion of RSVP financing from the previous meeting.)


E. Rogers continued his discussion of the Faculty Senate Planning & Resources Committee’s perspective on several issues related to RSVP, including faculty compensation and the incentive structure for individual departments.  RSVP generates significant revenue for the Institute by arranging performance incentives at several different levels.  Departments receive a sliding scale percentage (0-47%) of revenues based on RSVP registration for the course.  Faculty compensations and TA support will be assigned by the department from this income. The Institute will receive a sliding scale percentage (0-12%) of revenues.  RSVP will retain remaining revenues for marketing and operational expenses.  RSVP will assign 5% of all revenues for capital and R&D investments.  The incentive structure is designed to motivate departments to seek new outreach business through distance education as well as to make such education part of Rensselaer’s core business.


Concerns of the Faculty Senate Planning and Resources Committee concerning RSVP:

  • The disincentive for small enrollment courses could lead to missed opportunities for programs and courses with modest prospects but high intrinsic value relative to Rensselaer’s mission.
  • The potential for inequities which might be brought about by new departmental autonomy.


E. Rogers then summarized the following recommendations of the Faculty Senate Planning and Resource Committee:


Approve the RSVP financing program, subject to the following conditions:

  1. Use part of the income for departments to initiate new programs and degree programs under RSVP.
  2. Due to potential disparities between faculty teaching RSVP courses, the Faculty Senate Planning & Resources Committee would like the Dean of Continuing and Distance Education to monitor the situation for these possibilities.



A number of issues regarding RSVP were discussed, including ownership of the materials, the potential monies involved with RSVP, and how apportionment of RSVP $$ would fit into the new budgeting format.  B. Carlson expressed concern that the implementation plan presented at the last meeting was optimal.  Specifically, he wondered whether the current break of course size (14 students) was appropriate.  He suggested changing the enrollment boundaries to eliminate the possibility of creating artificial incentives/disincentives for course sized of 14-15.  He moved that we add this recommendation to the list of things to vote on at the meeting.  G. Judd pointed out that this is theoretically a problem, but probably not in practice.  The proposed changes, if approved, are slated to go into effect sometime during the Spring 1997 semester.


VOTE: 13 for, non against, no abstentions.


The MOTION carried.


Prestige versus Value Pricing

The discussion returned to the issue of tuition and the debate between prestige versus value pricing.  Rogers pointed out that last year, Rensselaer went to a modified prestige pricing structure.  Concern was to help, not hurt, upperclassmen.  The problem was that we suffered great attrition among upperclassmen.  Therefore, it is difficult to determine what the effect of this pricing experiment was.  Not clear why these students left.



The discussion centered primarily on information gathering.  Senators asked if we know why the students are leaving (e.g., are they flunking out?  Are they carrying too heavy course loads?  Are they not getting what they feel they need educationally?)  Some wondered how much attrition costs the Institute.  Various senators suggested a number of different avenues to pursue to get a handle on this problem, including looking to the Dean of Students exit interviews and D. Haviland.  It was suggested that D. Haviland be asked to discuss his perspective on this issue at a future Faculty Senate Meeting.