Faculty Senate Meeting

1/11/2000

 

Present: M. Hanna, P. Hajela, R. Parsons, A. Kapila, R. Leifer, K. Jansen, J. McLaughlin [FSPRC], K. Jansen, S. Anderson-Gold, N. Rolnick, A. Desrochers, K. Fortun, R. Diwan, P. Boyce, K. Craig [FSCC]

 

Absent: J. Norsworthy, S. Derby, J. Haddock, P. Quinn, A. Van Epps

 

Guests: M. Galbraith [Media Relations], G. Gabriele [for D. Daves], B. Degeneff, L. Peters, L. Caporael

 

Agenda

Discussion on Course Scheduling

Continued Discussion on the Rensselaer Plan

 

M. Hanna: There is a revision to the agenda.No minutes will be approved.We have two issues to deal with.The first is course scheduling; the second is the Rensselaer Plan.Gary [Gabriel] will start with a discussion of scheduling.

 

Discussion on Course Scheduling

G. Gabriele: What you have in the memo is two things: An overview of events leading to the guidelines and the guidelines, which are on page two.We did put together a Scheduling Committee and went through a couple of different models, integrating input from faculty.And I ask each of the committee members to draw out the implications for their Schools.

 

At this point, we are recommending that the proposals you have here be implemented for Fall 2000.The Committee did feel that there was a value in having a designated unscheduled time.We were able to do this on Tuesdays and Fridays.We did not go back and map classes onto classrooms.There just wasnít time.But we think it will work.There may be some exceptions.Some studios, for example.

 

This will allow time for academic and community activities.We have eliminated the T-Th option, moving instead to a M-Th and T-F option.The only thing we havenít finished tackling is final exams proposals.Just because of time limits.We still think we can have a workable plan for Fall 2000.Everyone seems to agree that we need to schedule exams as early as possible

 

L. Peters: In the FS Curriculum Committee, we talked about the need to reevaluate Ė to consider unforeseen consequences and negative impacts; to analyze what happened in the past.

 

G. Gabriele: There are plans for continual assessment.

 

M. Hanna: The FS Curriculum Committee did discuss the scheduling proposals at length.Linnda [Caporael], do you want to comment?

 

L. Caporael: We thought that the Scheduling Committee should be involved with more than what Gary has just described.It should be involved in policy, not just putting things into time slots.

 

And we were concerned about the haste.We [the Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee] did not endorse the proposal before us at the time.The lack of alternative models and lack of information on consequences made it impossible to tell what the impacts would be on the curriculum.

 

We also were concerned that this was a fait accompli.I donít know why we got involved at all.Itís already done.So I donít know what the role of the FS is at all, and certainly not the FS Curriculum Committee.Staff in H&SS, for example, already have these guidelines.This is a done deal.People are already in the process of implementing the proposals.

 

G. Gabriele: That isnít the case, and Iím sure Larry Kagan can explain what the situation is in H&SS.

 

L. Caporael: I think it has implications for the role of faculty governance in general.We are asked to get involved in issues, even thought he decisions have already been made.

 

B. Parsons: I think we need to remember that we are the oneís that initiated these changes.WE are the ones who went to the administration and asked them to do something.Now that they are making proposals for change, I think we should not complain.

 

K. Craig: Was this every addressed as a broader problem?Yes, we have the problem of the 4-day week.Scheduling is a problem.But there is a bigger issue.Why do students want to leave on Fridays?The campus isnít an appealing place.Scheduling wonít fix this.

 

B. Parsons: The Student Senate told us they were just leaving.The campus canít be appealing to people who arenít here.

 

G. Gabriele: Itís not just the Friday problem, though that is part of it.The bigger problem is trying to squeeze too much Ė trying to fit too much into too little time and space.

 

S. Anderson-Gold: The students themselves Ė at least the ones that are very involved Ė perceive a crisis.But there is a bigger problem.70 some-odd % of students donít want to be here at all.The basic issue is a cultural one.Yes, these proposals were well received by the student leadership, but this doesnít necessarily represent the students as a whole.Particularly not on this issue.

 

M. Hanna: During GM week last year, the students did conduct a poll.Which did, of course, suffer from selectivity issues.But there was widespread recognition that we needed to change something.

 

Our students want freedom but, on the other hand, they also want structure.We need to help them shape habits that will be consonant with the way the rest of the world works.

 

R. Leifer: What is the process of approving this?Will the Student Senate have a chance to debate on this and vote?

 

G. Gabriele: The students might not ought to have a vote.Itís our curriculum.

 

R. Leifer: This is an issue that came from our discussion with students; it seems, in the spirit of collegiality, we should offer it up to the student leadership and ask them what they think.

 

G. Gabriele: I did meet with two student leaders last week, but I asked them not to discuss it yet with their Senate Ė because we hadnít yet discussed it here.

 

A. Desrochers: I donít see why you need anything more than the Scheduling Committee, and whatís #4 on the memo.

 

I also think we need to recognize broader problems.It's the Saturday night stay-over for professional meetings.†† I think this has dramatically affected what faculty can do.So many faculty are simply going to say that they have obligations on Fridays that they canít change.

 

N. Rolnick: There are quite a few courses that donít fit this schema.What will the exemption process be?

 

G. Gabriele: It will go with the schedule and will be approved along with the approvals for courses that do fit into the slots.

 

N. Rolnick: This helps.Also, #5 seems oblique.We have 4 credit courses, yet donít have 4-hour time slots.

 

M. Hanna: The reasons to have longer class times may not be educational reasons.

 

K. Jansen: A clarification of #4.Just day patterns, or also hour patterns?Is there an attempt to push courses throughout the day?

 

G. Gabriele: The day spread is our main focus.There is not clear consensus on how to spread the hours.

 

P. Hajela: Was there any simulation done to test whether this will work?

 

G. Gabriele: The day spread is our main focus.There is not clear consensus on how to spread the hours.

 

P. Hajela: Was there any simulation done to test whether this will work?

 

G. Gabriele: We did a first cut simulation.We moved the current M-W distribution to M-Th, and likewise the T-Th to T-F.

 

J. McLaughlin: Has a simulation been done that simply starts at 9:00?

 

S. Kunkel: We talked about it yesterday and how we would lose a slot and it would cut into food services.

 

A. Desrochers: Then have 6-8.

 

J. McLaughlin: Iím not sure why we canít go back to basically a 9-5 schedule.We used to do it.

 

N. Rolnick: Sounds like it could work.

 

J. McLaughlin: Could we do a simulation?

 

N. Rolnick: You wouldnít loose a slot.

 

A. Desrochers: You would gain back the first slot, which is now effectively lost.We shouldnít schedule around food services Ė thatís backwards.

 

G. Gabriele: The 9:00 slot just came up yesterday, so we havenít had a chance to study it.

 

A. Desrochers: Just based on the people in this room, it sounds like a good idea.

 

K. Craig: You do gain the slot back.Getting children off to school. Inclement weather. There are many reasons we donít schedule an 8:00 class.Youíre just afraid you wonít get here on time.

 

M. Hanna:We need to move on.

 

G. Gabriele: Sharon, is it okay if we seek a final approval for this in two weeks?

 

S. Kunkel: Fine.

 

M. Hanna: And input can be sought from students.Can we take a straw vote?Is anyone really against having a scheduling committee? [no] Is anyone really against the down time? [no]

 

Continued Discussion on the Rensselaer Plan

M. Hanna: We need to hear from Joyce on the Rensselaer Plan.

 

J. McLaughlin: Our committee has met a few times, and has met twice with members of the Senate.I personally am strongly in favor of the Plan.What I want to bring to the discussion here are the concerns that we have heard from the faculty at large, from the Faculty Senate, and from members of the Planning and Resources Committee.

 

I can divide the information weíre getting back into two areas: The first relates to the two primary research areas.The second is whether there are other areas that are potentially so hot as to be necessary in the Plan.A third area, much less discussed, regards education and our role in K-12 education in particular.

 

There seems to be fairly widespread discomfort by people who have read the Plan.Itís difficult to express this to you.What Iíve decided is that what they are asking for is a competitive analysis.

 

Iíve found the SWOT method useful to think about this: S= Strength, W= Weakness, O= Opportunities, T= Threat.I can put all responses in these three categories.There is, for example, around biotech, a conception that we donít have a base to build from.Maybe there is, but we havenít heard why.

 

What are our strengths? Faculty are mostly comfortable with the concept that we have a good base in Information Technology.Faculty believe it is harder for us to argue that we have sufficient strength in Biotechnology on which to build.They would like more justification in this area.

 

What are our weaknesses? The Plan does not speak to this.An articulation of this would give more perspective on what is needed to build in the targeted areas.In particular, is there a pool of professionals that we could realistically draw from to bring in new researchers to Rensselaer in the targeted areas?Is the investment in these areas at other universities so large as to make it very difficult for us to compete?

 

Who are our competitors? Who are the other universities that are currently strong in the targeted areas or are currently building in the targeted areas?

 

What are the opportunities? The importance of Information Technology and Biotechnology is well articulated in the Plan.Are there other opportunities that we can articulate? For example, where are we likely to get the needed new professionals? How many are there in the current pool? Can we bring new researchers here at a cost we can afford?Are there other areas that should be mentioned e.g. nanotechnology?

 

What are the threats? There are tow main things here.Faculty are concerned about how they fit in.If they see that they have a strong research program, will they be able to continue it? We could lose really good people.

 

Second, if the pool of professionals in these areas is really very small, itís going to take a lot of money to bring them here.Then what happens to the resource pool?We could create a two-tier system Ė and a morale problem.

 

N. Rolnick: Is there a way to figure out what the feedback process will be? This draft of the plan is really what she said in her inaugural address.She already told us this.I thought she was looking for new areas.I donít see any.Are the reports submitted by RealCom reflected in the Plan?

 

P. Hajela: We will be submitting a report on this by Jan 31.

 

L. Peters: We will go back through our notes and crosscheck.

 

S. Anderson-Gold: Are your issues the same as Joyceís [McLaughlinís] issues?

 

L. Peters:There are two sets of people we are hearing from Ė alumni and faculty.From faculty, RealCom does seem to be hearing the same things.

 

Let me comment more on the process.On January 31, the last individual responses will be accepted.Then group responses will be sought. My sense is that there will be considerable change over the course of the spring.

 

P. Hajela: There are some reality checks being bought to the plan writersí attention. UCSF, for example, just spent $3 or $4 billion on biotech.Can we compete?

 

L Peters: Another thing that struck me from last night was that the plan was somewhat vanilla. Any school could have written it.It doesnít build on our existing strengths.

 

M. Hanna: We need to work toward greater comfort levels for people.

 

P. Boyce: I thought what Joyce said was a pretty good summary. But I think its important to think about why there is not much response Ė because the Plan is vanilla.Thereís either nothing to respond to, or it cuts people out so early that they donít think they should bother. They are already out of it.

 

B. Degeneff: Whatís missing is recognition and appreciation of where faculty is. The administration needs to recognize what the faculty here contributes.


A.  Desrochers: Some people have said this is a way to get rid of faculty.

 

J. McLaughlin: What do people need to hear to think better about this?

 
A. Desrochers: I heard this guy Ė who had been the President of Ohio State and someplace else- say that the job of the administration was to enable the faculty. I think thatís right.

 
A. Kapila: Are there mechanisms for responding to peopleís questions?

 

P. Hajela: There are mechanisms. Doyle has said that someone in the Cabinet will prepare a response to all the questions.

 

K. Fortun: Is the definition of priority areas really open? IT, for example, seems to be becoming more narrowly defined.

 

G. Gabriele: Yes, itís open.There was a Deanís meeting at which additional areas were suggested and discussed.People do have to say what they think should be priorities. They have to do their part.

 

K. Fortun: Its odd to be expected to defend very broad areas as priorities, like social science. Shouldnít it be obvious that a worldclass university has to have strong research in the social sciences?

 

R. Leifer: What about the portfolio assessments? Have they been incorporated?

 

P. Hajela: If we are talking about new resources, I think we can think of the creation of a biotech area as a very noble thing. Bus as soon as every hire has to be justified in terms of IT and BT, there will be a problem.Support for existing excellence will start to be chipped away.And thatís where I draw the line.

 

G. Gabriele:The only thing Iíve heard about resources is that they have to reflect what is in the performance plan for a particular unit.

 

K. Jansen: People are worried that existing program will be cut.

 

N. Rolnick: Maybe we can ask for some sense of what will happen to programs that are successful Ė whether education or research.Is it just a matter of going to meetings and saying ďplease include meĒ?

 

M. Hanna: Iíve heard the statement that if youíre doing what you are doing well, youíll keep doing it.But work outside the priority areas wonít be given institutional support.Itís a difficult balancing act.

 

L. Peters: I think we need to ask the President to come to a Senate meeting.

 

J. McLaughlin: I think that we should ask the President to come talk with us, though I havenít discussed this with my committee.

 

G. Gabriele: We need to remember that there is another way to think about this. We need to get on board with the idea that we want to go with and make a plan.We do have to do IT and BT in some way.The other areas havenít been identified.I think people are saying ďconvince us.Ē Itís going to take more details.

 

P. Hajela: Raising the discomfort level is not all bad- it goes with raising the bar.

 

M. Hanna: We will invite the President to a meeting.

 

Motion to adjourn. 4:00

 

Prepared by K. Fortun, Recording Secretary.

 

 

Attached memo on Scheduling from FSCC