Faculty Senate Meeting

September 24, 1996


Present: Abbott, M., Brunski, J., Canier, C., Carlson, B., Desrochers, Haddock, J., Hanna, M., Harrison, T., Judd, G., Kalsher, Racicot, B., Scott, F., Wallace, W.


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


Issues Before the Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee

M. Hanna presented an overview of the activities being undertaken by the Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee and then proceeded to describe several specific issues, summarized below:


Guidelines for writing intensive courses have been established, but it is necessary to develop guidelines at the departmental level.  Departments will decide which courses are designated as “writing intensive.”  Designated courses will be reviewed by the Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee.  There was some question whether writing intensive courses alone are sufficient to instill in students the ability to communicate effectively.  Additional ways of accomplishing this goal may need to be considered.


Last year the committee reviewed about 279 course changes (e.g., adding/deleting courses from the curriculum, name changes, changing some aspect of courses, etc.).  A possible way to reduce the workload is to leave some decision-making within each school’s curriculum committee.  The Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee will then review these decisions as a means of quality control.


M. Hanna described a number of logistical issues stemming from the change to the 4x4 format.  For example, it is not clear how transfer credits will count.


Currently there are no limits on the number of times students can repeat a course.  The absence of a clear policy has created a number of logistical problems (e.g., students repeating a course remain in them until they discover they cannot change their grade; they then drop the course at the drop deadline.)


There is no policy set up to handle these problems.  Committee feels that it can best be addressed at the school and departmental levels.  There is a need to eliminate obvious duplication.


The purpose of the resolution is to install more flexibility in the core.  Procedurally, individual departments will submit course substitution requests, which will in turn, be reviewed and approved/disapproved by the Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee.  The faculty senate voted to distribute the following resolution to the faculty for their input and to vote on the resolution at the October 8 faculty senate meeting.



The basic core requirement remains at 24 credits of Humanities and Social Sciences and 24 credits of Science and Engineering Science.  Any school or department may replace 4 credits of the Humanities and Social Science core requirement and/or 4 credits of the Science and Engineering core requirement by a substitute(s) approved by the Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee.


Update of the “Banner Project”

S. Kunkel provided a detailed update of the Banner Project, an ambitious project designed to streamline a number of functions, including admissions and financial aid, housing and graduate admissions, student registration, and student billing.  This system is already in use at many other institutions and has the capacity to be extended to other functions, a well.  This $5.2 million project is slated to be completed in 2.75 years.  The project is characterized by a number of design process teams that each has both student and faculty representation.  The committees report to G. Judd and D. Haviland.


The tentative time frames for completing and implementing various components of the Banner system are aggressive:  Admissions & Financial Aid will be online by Spring 1997, Housing and Graduate Admissions by Fall 1997, Registration via Banner will occur Fall 1997 (for the Spring 1998 semester), and Student Billing will be online by Spring 1998.


Senators asked whether the Banner System would eliminate face-to-face contact.  S. Kunkel noted that the system has this potential, but indicated that decisions regarding how to implement the technology rest on members of the Rensselaer community.  She added that members of the various implementation process teams are currently addressing this and related issues. 


G. Judd mentioned that these issues have been thought of; the purpose is to eliminate unnecessary contact, where desirable, but not to eliminate all contact.  There was agreement that many of these issues need to be worked through.  These problems aren’t just administrative in nature, but also need to be considered by faculty.


Senators raised the issue of costs associated with extending the use of Banner System for additional purposes.  How much does each of the “pieces” cost?  Senators asked for assurance that BANNER is a “mature” product and will not end up being a catastrophe. (e.g., FAIMS).


S. Kunkel and M. Abbot indicated that the agreement with the vendor insures that faculty will have ample opportunities to provide feedback.


New Business

B. Carlson raised the problem of thefts from academic buildings at Rensselaer.  He indicted that it may be important for the faculty senate to address this issue.


A. Desrochers mentioned that E. Knowles is scheduled to discuss this in the context of the changing nature of the Rensselaer campus culture at a future Faculty Senate Meeting.


A. Desrochers called for the meeting to end.

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.