General Faculty Meeting

October 30, 1997


Al Wallace opened the meeting at 3:00 and reviewed the actions of the Faculty Senate.  He noted that the Faculty-Trustees dinner is scheduled for December 4.


Alan Desrochers spoke of the positive review of Rensselaer in the latest Fisk Report on colleges and universities.  The report particularly notes the Institute’s Interactive Learning program, the studio courses and the emphasis on entrepreneurship in the Lally School.


Preface to the State of the Institute Address – President Pipes

In spite of our need to be efficient and cost-effective, our greatest opportunity lies in growth.  We have to grow.  Significant growth initiatives are already underway in such programs as the interactive learning program, the new campus-wide information system, the acquisition of the Hartford campus, and our initiatives in global learning.


These programs are made possible by the faculty.  The Institute’s drive toward greater prestige and distinction is a result of the work of all faculty although particular credit should be extended to:


·        Shyam Murarka, Toh Ming Lu, and Ron Gutmann for their work in forming the Center for Advanced Interconnect Science and Technology.

·        Gary Gabriele, Debbie Kaminski and Bill Jennings and the Engineering faculty for their work on the new engineering curriculum.

·        Bill Jennings and Edward Maby for creation of circuits and electronics studios.

·        Cheryl Geisler, Brian Lonsway, Don Millard, Mark Sheppard, Al Wallace, John Kolb and Jack Wilson for their work toward the $2.4 million Intel Technology grant.

·        David Porush, June Deery, Neil Rolnick, Cheryl Geisler and Branda Miller for the EMAC program.

·        Selmer Bringsjord, Mike Kalsher and others for the development of the new Minds and Machines program.

·        Mark Shephard for leading the team which obtained an $850,000 grant to improve our computer visualization capabilities.

·        Gene Simons and Shubu Xu for the ongoing development of the China program for the School of Management.

·        Sandra Nierzwicki Bauer and her team for the renewal and growth of the Darrin Fresh Water Institute.

·        Sandra Nierzwicki Bauer and the Biology Department for the development of the undergraduate bioinformatics program.

·        Bob Spilker for his leadership of the biomedical program, which was recently recognized as the top department in the country.

·        Brian Lonsway for development of the School of Architecture’s new design studio.

·        Les Rubenfeld for his pre-college initiative and obtaining the $50,000 Bell Atlantic grant.

·        Al Wallace, Alan Desrochers, Jon Newell, and Debbie Kaminski for providing their leadership on the Faculty Senate during this time.


The efforts of these people and other faculty are making a real difference.  We are now ranked in the top 50 colleges and universities in the U.S.  In the polls, we also have the 20th best graduate engineering program and the undergraduate tuition represents the 30th best value in the country.


Also, the freshman class is the largest in five years, largely attributable to the faculty outreach in recruiting.  Significantly, we had no summer “melt” of applicants this year.  Rensselaer appeared in over 1700 news items.


Rensselaer, an Agenda for Global Growth – President Pipes

We are in an era of global growth – and yet mature industries.  We need to understand opportunities around us and how to plan and focus, and leverage our strengths in terms of what the world needs.  We cannot rely on philanthropy and must find ways to generate new net revenue.  We need to strengthen our core in teaching and bring greater focus to research.  We need new business plans and new funding sources.  We especially need a strategy to pull all of this together and put it into action.


  • The signature identity and focus of integration that has been proposed is technological entrepreneurship.  This could be our identity to the world, our answer to what-we-are-best-in-the-world-at.  It speaks to our mission of applying technology and innovation to creating global prosperity.


  • How “technological entrepreneurship” is to be defined is to be left up to the faculty… just as the faculty defined and implemented interactive learning.


  • Technological entrepreneurship builds on Strategic Initiatives; it does not replace them.


  • Current focus areas are therefore:
    • Information Technology – We need curricula and scholarship here, new graduates and new knowledge
    • Interactive Learning – We’re not done yet, but have just begun
    • Global University – Unlike Boston schools and NY City schools, we have a limited market.  Potentially, we could reach all of China as well as 60,000 alumni


  • We can’t do this on our own but rather need partners and clients such as Hartford Graduate Center, China, and the GM program where we have over 900 students.  The money we make from short-term revenue providers can be used to fund longer term research and doctoral training.  Philanthropic sources are only for the long term.


  • We plan to invest $5 million over the next five years towards these programs.  We want to move quickly in the areas of greatest opportunity.  Approximately ½ will be invested in critical focus areas, the other in other priorities including strategic initiatives.  Ultimately, the $5 million will be matched by $10 million from outside sources.


In summary, this is a very exciting time for the Institute.  The Institute is strong, growing, and has great potential.  We have a significant opportunity to focus and strengthen the Rensselaer “brand name”.


L. Peters: There is a concern that partnerships often fail, and that we need careful planning and success criteria to be partners.


Pres. Pipes: Jack Wilson is heading a committee to develop how to be an effective partner, particularly with our first partners-to-be, American corporations.


B. Messler: Given so many cross-discipline activities, will the new unit-based budget system be a hindrance?


Pres. Pipes: Yes, but we can’t let it.  Now, we want to keep things simple and school-based.


?: Where in the world will we go?

Response: Anywhere although the greatest opportunities today appear to be in China… although also possibly eastern Europe.


S. Cozzens: Where is the goal of diversity in the priorities?


Pres. Pipes: Diversity and globalization are closely related.  Diversity is a major Institute commitment… and will always be a commitment.


H. Roy: Do we do any market research to assess the needs for programs of this type?


Pres. Pipes: EMAC was an example of a program for which the faculty simply felt thee was a strong need, although the Admissions Office also does research.  The China initiative was originally driven by requests from corporate America.


K. Connor: Attendance at this meeting is poor (about 40 people).  How will you promote the excitement and spirit of these initiatives?


Pres. Pipes: We have Rensserv, the Poly and the Review – although my greatest challenge is how to work on the problem.  I’ve had fireside chats with almost the entire faculty.


D. Ellison: What does the world “need” from us?  I can think clean water, (other examples of environmental services)… we can deliver.


Pres. Pipes: Our students will produce that.  We didn’t create the Brooklyn Bridge, our students did.  We deliver knowledge that affects things like that.


The Provost Search – Bruce Watson

Bruce listed the members of the committee and said that they were currently following up on nominations.  He reported that the committee has met with Deans, the Faculty Senate, students, chairs and directors across the Institute to solicit their wants and needs in this area.


Key criteria he noted that what they are using to drive the search include these:

·        A leader and advocate of the faculty

·        An accomplished scholar and experienced administrator

·        An effective communicator

·        A financial wizard



·        A broad, interdisciplinary viewpoint

·        A record of concern for students

·        Capability to make decisions

·        A commitment to diversity

·        A commitment to being provost


He also indicated that the Committee expects to submit candidates to the President early next year and said he would heed Prof. Medicus’ advice to “take warning signs seriously.”


Respectfully submitted:  Jeff Durgee