Faculty Senate Meeting

September 7, 1999

 

Present: S. Anderson-Gold, P. Hajela, J. Norsworthy, K. Fortun, M. Rea, S. Derby, K. Jansen, J. McLaughlin, J. Napolitano, R. Diwan, N. Rolnick, R. Leifer, J. Haddock, R. Parsons, M. Hanna

 

Absent: P. Boyce, A. Kapila, P. Quinn, L. Winner, K. Craig

 

Guests: G. Gabriele

 

Agenda

Welcome to New Members

Approval of the Minutes of April 27, 1999

Update on Search Committees

Invitation to Meet with Hartford Faculty- Issues and Suggestions for Discussion

 

Welcome to New Members

President Hanna called the meeting to order and welcomed new Senate members as well as introduced returning Senate members.

 

Approval of the Minutes of April 27, 1999

The Minutes were passes unanimously.

 

Update on Search Committees

President Hanna said the Dean of Engineering is in place and will arrive on campus in November.  The Provost Search committee will be reconstituted before the inauguration.  The Vice President for Research will be searched for internally.  The President is now considering two candidates put forward by the search committee for Vice President of Human Resources.   Senator Mark Rea stated that the search committee for the Vice President of Research has been reconstituted.  Senator Neil Rolnick asked why a Vice President instead of a Provost.  Mike Hanna said that this vice president reports to the Provost and is unsure whether he/she is a member of the cabinet.  He added that the title vice president has a better outside recognition than vice provost.  [Discussion]

 

President Hanna said the search committee for the Vice President for Human Resources met over the summer.  It came down to a short list of two candidates who have been present to President Jackson.  Both are from pharmaceutical companies.  This is a move up for Human Resources, since previously it was a Director.  The approach and caliber is different.  The person coming into this will be expected to be a change agent rather than just someone who handles pensions.

 

Senator Richard Leifer asked why the Faculty Senate was not invited to interview the Human Resources candidates.  Joyce McLaughlin said that she and Mike Hanna were on the committee.  Mike said he was there as President of the Faculty Senate to represent the Senate and not as a member of the biology department.  Joyce said the new Vice President will be responsible in helping to restructure and reorganize departments.  Richard stated that there are many implications for faculty.

 

Richard Leifer said that typically, Human Resources does staffing, retention, benefits, looking at retirement systems and making decisions about insurance carriers.  Those are traditional roles and everyone interacts with those systems.  And there are many things they are not doing.  There is no management training here- for staff or for department chairs.  Our chairs are usually the best technical people, not necessarily the best management people.  It depends on how they [Human Resource Directors] view their role; narrowly or widely.  They can become organization change agents.

 

Senator Sharon Anderson-Gold said that it is a big change and that traditionally, chairs are those who carry the values of an academic group.  Richard Leifer added that that is why the position is important.  Romesh Diwan asked if a one line statement that the faculty are concerned can be issues.  Mark Rea said that Richard [Leifer] made a lot of good points, but it is a two-edged sword.  On one hand, department chairs need to be managers, but they also need to represent faculty.  The separation between faculty and administrative functions has its upside and its downside.  Joyce McLaughlin said that in a large organization, a VP for Human Resources rarely decides who manager will be, but Richard disagreed.  President Hanna thinks that the Senate needs more clarification on the job has been defined.  He will also address with the administration how this person is going to interact with the Provost.

 

Discussion turned to the search for a Dean of Science.  It was confirmed that Doyle [Daves] permanently stepped down as Dean of Science.  [Discussion]  Mark Rea asked how the Vice President of Research will impact the faculty functionally.  Mike Hanna said his or her role is to help identify the appropriate superstructure and substructure, and to encourage research.  Mark Rea asked if this is a development officer.  Richard Leifer said that the big problem is that when the research dollars come into RPI, RPI is ˝ to 1/3 below where it should be.  Mark said that is they have initiated an internal search that they must have a job description available.  Mike said he has not seen any documentation.  John Norsworthy added that usually a committee is charged to find a candidate for a particular job.  Mark Rea asked how will it be determined whether a person is qualified if it is not know what they will have to do.  Senator Kenneth Jansen said that some reason is needed for making it an internal search. [Discussion, formally off the record.]

 

Sharon Anderson-Gold asked if it is a development officer, with a role like Dean Button or Lester Gerhardt.  Mark Rea asked whether it was a search among faculty.  John Norsworthy said that the trend at NSF and elsewhere is for multidisciplinary, multi-institution research and he does not think there is someone who can go after that.  Vice President Prabhat Hajela does not think this is Dr. Jackson’s idea.  He thinks she is responding to something already on campus.  At the trustee’s dinner last spring, one of the break-out groups emphasized the importance of such a position.

 

Gary Gabriele said that every large research university has a Vice President for Research and that their responsibilities include many things such as bringing disparate groups on campus together to respond to what is going on in the research market.  There is a lot of stuff going on now that could use some more organization.  If research is going to be a key part of what is done at RPI, an organization structure to facilitate this is needed.

 

Mark Rea said he heard the position will be filled in 60 days.  Kim Fortun asked if it was clear what role the Senate will have in the evaluation process.  Mike Hanna said no, but the lines of communication are still being determined.

 

Mark Rea stated that it is a small act of faith that RPI knows what they are doing with traditional positions, but it is not so with the new positions.  President Hanna said that what role the Senate will have at various levels is unclear.  He said President Jackson was apparently surprised that the Faculty Senate had not interviewed candidates for President prior to the most recent.  John Norsworthy asked if the Senate has a role in hiring Vice Presidents.  President Hanna said not usually but the list of Vice Presidents is finite, and two will be added.

 

Kim Fortun asked if there is an organizational chart for Rensselaer that could be put on the Faculty Senate webpage showing, for example, who votes where.  Mike said a lot needs to be clarified.   For example, Jack [Wilson] as Provost, just had one vote – alongside the other Vice Presidents.  Prabhat added that effectively he [Wilson, as Provost] was the same as a Vice President- a structurally similar position.

 

Invitation to Meet with Hartford Faculty- Issues and Suggestions for Discussion

President Hanna said that last year the many interlocking issues concerning governance and the status of clinical faculty were recognized.  Governance with respect to off-campus branches of RPI was one part of this.  Ultimately the issue regards who represents the faculty on the Faculty Senate.  He contacted Jim McKim, but he did not want to be the contact since he was chair of Computer Science.  Now Mike is relying on Heidi Ellis who is a clinical faculty member.  He is now trying to schedule a time for the Senate to visit Hartford.  It will not yet be a fact-finding mission rather just to get to know what the issues are.  The Senate has been invited during the week of September 27 to October 3.  Mike said he has told Heidi some of the things the Senate is interested in or have questions about such as how the faculty on the Troy campus can interact with distance-facutly.  And there are other issues related to clinical faculty in general; their contract and the impact on curriculum.  He still needs to get figures and future plans for clinical faculty from the new administration.

 

Kim Fortun asked what role the Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee plays in the Hartford curriculum.  Richard Leifer said that Hartford is treated as another department, within the School of Management and that Hartford participates in the Management curriculum committee.  Bob Parsons said that before the merger, a committee was sent there to look at books, curriculum, faculty, etc.  While it might not have been a great way of evaluation, there was a mechanism to oversee quality.  Prabhat said he does not understand to what extent they have merged.  He asked if hiring at Hartford is subject to he same processes as Troy, and if courses at Hartford are the same.  He said that it is related to their role on the Faculty Senate and if the faculty at Hartford are not hired by tenured faculty, it implicates their status.

 

Kim Fortun said that as she understands the handbook, hiring is in the hands of tenured faculty.  She then asked that if Hartford does not have any tenured faculty, who does the hiring.  Richard said that is comes back to governance.  Sharon said if there are academic units that are all clinical faculty, then faculty within those units can not do the hiring.  Neil Rolnick said that it makes the issues very different than on the Troy campus.  Mark Rea said that if they function as departments, within schools, there is some quality control and there is consistency with departments.  Ultimately the dean does quality assurance in all schools.

 

[Discussion: Should Deans be allowed to nominate someone to the Senate- including a clinical faculty member?]

 

Mike Hanna said it is the job of the Election Committee to present a slate.  The Dean could nominate someone.  At the Faculty Meeting in the spring, nominations usually come from the floor.  Mark Rea said that if the Deans are charged with quality assurance, which they are and he thinks they should be, then the Senate has a basis for making decisions.  Kim said not necessarily and that faculty often chair curriculum committees which forward approved curriculum to the Dean.  Theoretically, curriculum not approved by the faculty does not make it to the Dean.

 

Sharon asked whether Hartford should be represented as an independent entity or as part of a department.  Mark said he was trying to form a based for decision making regarding clinical faculty.  If the Dean is charged clearly with quality assurance, then that could be the basis of decision-making.  Neil Rolnick’s recollection of last year is that there were concerns about clinical faculty being represented on the Senate because it could skew the balance of tenure-track vs. non tenure-track, and could ultimately work against the tenure system.  There was also a concern about disparity with how research faculty are handled.  [Discussion].

 

President Hanna said he was waiting to see if the new administration had a position on clinical faculty.  Mark Rea asked if it was correct to assume that there is no urgency in making the decision, although the faculty in Troy do not feel the urgency that is felt by Hartford.  Mike said his discussion with Heidi suggests there is some urgency.  John Norsworthy said that representation issues are crucial and huge, and there is something concrete which is the issue of courses.  Mike said he can not get the same answer on the matter of course consistency.  Regarding Computer Science, Mike said it is his understanding that there are 6 courses in Computer Science taught at the Hartford campus that were grandfathered in.  Those courses were reviewed by members of the Computer Science department at Rensselaer.  John said he is more worried about the courses that are titled the same but may be different.   He feels it is related to hiring issues and who teaches the courses.  The description of the course is the same, but it may be taught differently.

 

A motion was made to table the discussion.  President Hanna suggested that a better discussion could be had after the President’s long range plan is revealed.  Joyce McLaughlin said she believes more information is needed in order to have additional discussion.  Each person is describing a different procedure for hiring and retaining clinical faculty.  This seems to be true in each department as well as at Hartford.  She suggests that before it is discussed again, data is gathered to determine what the practice for clinical contracts is, what the terms of the contracts are and what the usual total number of years of employment for clinical faculty are.  She suggests that with that data at hand, an informed and substantive discussion can be had.

 

Mike Hanna said he spoke to Doyle and he said this discussion was a little premature. [Discussion:  Need to confirm that Hartford does its own hiring – i.e. hiring is not done by tenured faculty.]  Mike said the issue came through the Executive Committee.  Sharon Anderson-Gold said that the relationship between the different kinds of units needs to be thought through.  If clinicals ran alongside other faculty, she thinks that by and large, clinical would not tend to get elected.  If Hartford sees this as a way to get representation, they need their own position.  Generic right-to-run will not do them any good.  They could stand for election in a variety of positions, but if they have specific issues, that is the wrong form of representation.

 

Mark Rea made a motion to table the decision on clinical faculty until after the have heard the President’s long range plan.  Motion passed.  Adjourned.