Faculty Senate Meeting

November 30, 1999

 

Present: M. Hanna, N. Rolnick, K. Fortun, K. Jansen, J. McLaughlin, A. Desrochers, J. Norsworthy, P. Hajela, M. Hanna, R. Parsons, R. Leifer, P. Quinn, J. Haddock, A. Van Epps, P. Boyce, R. Diwan, S. Anderson-Gold

 

Absent: S. Derby, A. Kapila

 

Guests: G. Gabriele [attending for D. Daves], C. Breneman, D. Di Tursi [President of Grad Council], B. Carlson

 

Agenda

Approval of Minutes - November 14, 1999

Proposal for Coordination of Faculty Senate Response to the Rensselaer Plan

Discussion of Class Scheduling Proposal

 

Approval of Minutes - November 14, 1999

M. Hanna:We need to switch the agenda around to put the P&R [Planning and Resources] Committee first.Can we approve the revised agenda? [approved] Can we approve the Minutes for 11-16? [Approved]

 

Proposal for Coordination of Faculty Senate Response to the Rensselaer Plan

Regarding the Rensselaer Plan: An email was sent around explaining that the P&R Committee and the Executive Committee couldnít come to agreement, so the Executive Committee has decided that we need to appoint an ad hoc committee to represent the faculty.

 

P. Quinn:What was in disagreement?At the last meeting, we left it that the letter needed a more positive opening.

 

J. McLaughlin: The committee is not objecting to an improvement of tone.The objection is over charge.The committee feels very strongly that the constitutions should be adhered to.

 

J. Norsworthy: Is this a new plan or program?Is it obvious Ė according to the Constitution Ė what the role of the P&R Committee must be?

 

J. McLaughlin: Certainly, itís a new program.

 

P. Hajela: My understanding is that this draft of the Plan is going to be very wide brushstrokes.Specifics will come later.

 

S. Anderson-Gold:Does that make it inappropriate to ask for a response?I took it to be the case that the P&R Committee was quite open to the possibility of a different approach Ė a different tone.They didnít reject the letter the Executive Committee proposed.

 

R. Parson: Everyone came back very negatively Ė because we didnít challenge the President to give us a response.

 

S. Anderson-Gold: Why is it inappropriate to ask for a response?

 

A. Desrochers: I think itís inappropriate.As a common courtesy, you donít demand a response by a certain date.Itís antagonistic.Thereís already a fence up.

 

As the letter is now written, it is very positive.It says that the faculty are ready to go Ė we even want to go earlier than was planned for.

 

S. Anderson-Gold: Couldnít a request for a response just be added to the letter as now written?

 

A. Desrochers:If we send in a good piece of work, weíll get a response.

 

S. Anderson-Gold: Clearly, we have a different perception of what is antagonistic and of what can be expected from what we present later.

 

J. McLaughlin: It sounds to me as though Sharon is calling for something that might be a reasonable compromise.The letter as currently written, with a request for a response.

 

A. Desrochers: Youíre asking for a response to something that hasnít even been generated yet.

 

M. Hanna: We have an opportunity to go forward without being antagonistic.

 

J. McLaughlin: I donít think anyone is trying to be antagonistic.

 

R. Leifer: Letís take a step back.Whatí the point of this letter?

 

M. Hanna: This letter is a response to the Senate vote suggesting that the letter be rewritten.

 

S. Anderson-Gold: I think it comes from a different kind of sensitivity.We want to be direct.You want to be sensitive.And arenít being very reflective about it.We have distance.Executive Committees have an extraordinary tendency to develop over sensitivity to the administration.

 

R. Leifer: I thought the motivation was to make sure that the President understood the role of the P&R in the Institute.

 

A. Desrochers: Which is why I like the letter.It says what the Faculty Senate will do.

 

R. Leifer: I donít think weíre in disagreement.This letter lays out the process through which the faculty will respond.

 

I donít think this is so much about sensitivity as a matter of the role we will play in the planning and review process.I donít understand why there is an ad hoc committee.If the P&R Committee is willing to do the work, they should do it.

 

R. Parsons: The P&R Committee has rejected our proposal to go ahead with the work.

 

S. Anderson-Gold: Has the P&R Committee rejected the idea of doing the work?There seems to be different opinions here.

 

C. Breneman: I think I saw this as iteration toward getting a draft we could use.The P&R Committee hasnít rejected the idea of doing the work.

 

G. Gabriele: I want to go back to the purpose of the letter.The letter can say that any changes that come out of the Plan will have to be approved by constitutional processes.

 

This letter also tells the President something you donít need to ask her Ė that faculty are free to organize a response to the plan and should do so.And their commentary should be taken into account when the time comes.

 

N. Rolnick: I agree with Gary.

 

S. Anderson-Gold: There are two charges Ė that the committee be involved in planning, and in resources.Two different sentences, two different charges.

 

G. Gabriele: Defined with different levels of detail.

 

N. Rolnick: Presuming that we canít go back to September, and weíre in the middle of the planning process, what else would the committee like to do?

 

C. Breneman: The P&R Committee would like to organize the faculty response to the Rensselaer Plan.

 

P. Quinn: I think weíre at the verge of losing a very glorious opportunity.And Iím alarmed by the level of nit-picking on language that is emerging.

 

Meanwhile, the charge might not apply to this first stage of the plan, while it explicitly applies to new programs.

 

Therefore the explicit charge of the committee does not apply.But it is a planning committee, which means they should be involved.But it must be negotiated.

 

It seems to me that the P&R Committee should back down.You had no grounds to resign, as I see it.But you have a great obligation to represent the faculty.That means, Iím sure, responding very forcefully to the first draft of the Plan.

 

And therefore, the Senate should charge the Planning and Resources committee to be a little more responsible in pursuing its charge.

 

R. Leifer: I want to put a different spin on this.Letís just say that President Jackson, being new to Rensselaer, doesnít quite know how we do things here.So the letter can tell her.It can say that in anticipation of the forthcoming report, the faculty Senate would like to outline how the faculty will respond to the planning process, and the role of the P&R Committee.What that does is inject the P&R Committee into the process in an explicit way.

 

Thatís an information letter Ė not asking for anything, just telling her what we are doing.

 

J. McLaughlin: I really donít understand the hesitancy about asking for a response.It seems like a way to set the response from this committee off from responses of individual faculty members.If we wait until later to make our response, we might lose the opportunity to have our points acted upon.

 

R. Leifer: What is the specified process for responding to the first draft of the Plan?

 

M. Hanna: President Jackson has asked for individual responses on the first draft of the plan.From individual people.What we have suggested is that the Faculty Senate organize a response.

 

R. Leifer: Is the P&R committee willing to do this?

 

J. McLaughlin: Yes.

 

J. Norsworthy: Youíre ready to go? Weíve already lost the first semester of participation.

 

J. McLaughlin: The P&R Committee has tried again and again to define a role Ė in accord with the Constitution.If weíve lost a semester, itís not the fault of the committee.

 

D. Di Tursi: Can I ask a question?Is anyone concerned that the response to the second draft Ė which is where I see the role of elected bodies Ė will be ignored?

 

R. Leifer: Yes. If we donít get in early, things do get codified.

 

M. Hanna: Which is why we wanted to appoint an ad hoc committee.

 

R. Parsons: How does the P&R Committee feel about the process weíve laid out?

 

J. McLaughlin:Itís fine.The request for a response has to go in at some point, perhaps later.

 

R. Leifer: I make a motion that the P&R committee coordinate the faculty response to the initial and later drafts of the Rensselaer Plan and report back to the Senate.Seconded.

 

J. Norsworthy: How you said it is perfect.

 

M. Hanna: Discussion?

 

P. Quinn: Iíd like to hear from Joyce [McLaughlin].

 

J. McLaughlin: I would like to make a friendly amendment that at the time of the Committeeís report, the Senate will again take up the question of asking for a response from the administration.

 

N. Rolnick: I am much less comfortable with the motion given the amendment.The motion is abstract enough as it is.I would rather vote on the schedule itself.

 

Motion from Richard, with friendly amendment from Joyce.Accepted by Richard.13 in favor, 3 abstentions.

 

Discussion of Class Scheduling Proposal

M. Hanna: Now we will hear from Gary [Gabriele] about the proposed scheduling changes.We are NOT trying to make a decision on this today.There will NOT be a vote.This is an opportunity to give Gary feedback on a preliminary proposal.

 

G. Gabriele: We really lost scheduling as a function when Banner came into play.Banner is a registration tool.Those of us who used to do registration could watch over it.No one has been watching for a while and there are things to fix.

 

THE NEED

-         Scheduling since the transition to 4x4 has had dramatically negative impacts on student life.

o       We ďlostĒ scheduling in transition to Banner.

-         ďLiberal Arts colleges figured something out a long time ago: Students learn more than we can teach them, which means that they need time to reflect.Ē

-         Current scheduling doesnít facilitate productive team work.

-         Current scheduling doesnít reflect how much we value the residential experience and the importance of creating an overall environment for learning.

 

BOUNDARY CONDITIONS

-         Limit proposed changes to 1000-4000 level courses given on Troy campus

-         Implement changes for the Fall 2000 semester

-         Put back some discipline in the process.

-         Make maximum use of available resources.

 

PROPOSED SCHEDULING CHANGES

-         an open time period at 4-6, M-F

o       No required academic activities

o       provide time for out-of-class academic activities

ß         Office hours, help sessions, student team meetings

o       provide time for department meetings, symposia

o       provide time for student activities

-         change scheduling pattern to M-W-F, M-Th, T-Th, T-F

o       Move current M-W, W-F to M-Th and T-F

o       Other patterns would be allowed as they are not but not without some review and approval

-         Institute a Scheduling Committee

o       Put some discipline in our process

o       Review draft CHS for conflicts, compliance with scheduling guidelines, and overall utilization of resources.

o       Meets early in scheduling cycle.

-         Schedule final exams by start of semester

o       Require identification of final exams at start of scheduling cycle

o       Produce an early Finals Schedule to allow for planning by faculty and students

-         Limit class length to 3 hrs. (exceptions available)

o       Require approval for class meetings longer than 3 hrs.

ß         Special Labs and design studios are expected exceptions

 

RECOMMENDATION

-         Faculty Senate seek input on the proposed changes

-         Act on proposed changes before 12/13 to allow Registrar time to implement.

 

G. Gabriele: There is under-utilization between 8-10 in mornings and on Fridays.And we have a lot of evening classes.I went through the data last night.Grad courses would not change the curve in significant ways.

 

M. Hanna: David Haviland did some research and found out that the problem was not corrected, even with a larger than usual freshmen class and the need for wired classrooms.

 

G. Gabriele: There are no mechanisms in place for creating discipline in what we do.Itís been discussed before Ė at least as far back as the calendar committee Mike was on.Mike and I met with Sharon Kunkel to get something in place for Fall 2000.We want to put some discipline back in the process.

 

N. Rolnick: What does it mean to put discipline back in the process?Isnít there another word you can use?I donít think people will respond well to ďdisciplineĒ.

 

G. Gabriele: Decisions must be made about any one course with other factors in mind.Now there is no systems thinking.

 

K.Fortun: Is it possible for individual faculty to get more systems level information?

 

G. Gabriele: Weíre working on it; Iíll talk about it in a moment.

 

D. Di Tursi: For the record, students wonít show up at 8am unless itís required.

 

G. Gabriele: Proposed scheduling changes.Iíll use the word discipline, since Neil knows what I mean now.

 

N. Rolnick: I still donít like the word.

 

G. Gabriele: What we need is a Scheduling Committee.

 

R. Leifer: Would that committee have control over allocation of space?Scheduling and room assignments are very closely connected.Now Kim Herkerdt does it herself, and take an incredible amount of abuse.

 

G. Gabriele: The committee would do the systems analysis.

 

The other two parts of the proposal are fairly easy.Scheduling final exams.We now do it much later than our competitors.Our students really canít plan.WE need to be able to tell them at the beginning of the semester.And a limit on class length to 3 hours, unless specially approved by the committee.

 

N. Rolnick: Why does this make sense?A four credit course canít meet for 4 hours?

 

M. Hanna: I think you need pedagogical reasons to ask students to sit still for 4 hours.

 

R. Diwan: I taught a class that went for 4 hours, but it was made up of two parts: two hours of theory and lecture in one room and another two hours of computer lab work in another room.

 

M. Hanna: Then that class could have been justified.

 

N. Rolnick: We teach a lot of classes that go for 4 hours.People go in an out of studios.

 

G. Gabriele: This isnít a high bar, just a bar.We need to be able to act on this by 12/13.

 

M. Hanna: Why by 12/13 if classes donít go in until February?

 

G. Gabriele: Because we need to give the schedulers time to adapt.

 

M. Hanna: I donít mean to denigrate the role of the scheduler but isnít giving time for feedback more important?

 

R. Norsworthy: In addition to someone who can do multicolor charts, it sounds as though you need the help of someone who can do linear programming.

 

G. Gabriele: We currently donít own any programming software.

 

A. Desrochers: There is software, written by the faculty.

 

R. Diwan: We have to think about how this is going to affect research output.Many people use Fridays for this.We need to think in terms of systems Ė many different systems.

 

D. Di Tursi: There isnít enough time.You guys canít contact the entire faculty; we canít contact all the students.

 

We conducted a survey, you know.Students really wanted few evening classes.Putting a free time block 4-6 would make it worse.

 

Moving classes to Friday but taking out Wednesday will correct the problem of students leaving on the weekend.But we wonít create MORE time slots Ė so again, not correcting the problem of being pushed into the evenings.

 

M. Hanna: One of the things the Executive Committee has suggested is that we take out evening classes, instead of the 4-6 block.

 

G. Gabriele: I disagree with Romesh that we need Fridays free to do research.Other universities donít have Fridays free and they do research.

 

C. Breneman: Speaking for those that have labs, this is going to be a big problem, unless they are automatic exemptions.We have to have 4 contiguous hours.

 

G. Gabriele: I think the 4 hour lab blocks are going to have to be thought about.But the 4-6 downtime isnít new.MIT and Carnegie Mellon do it, somehow.

 

N. Rolnick: I agree with a lot of this.But I also know that faculty in H&SS have the concerns expressed by Romesh Ė regarding the need for time to do research.But what I think needs to be stressed is that the days faculty members take off for research donít have to be coordinated Ė not everyone needs to be gone on the same day.We need to stress that we arenít expected to be here 5 days.And Iím serious in my critique of the word discipline.I think it will be heard as getting everyone to tow the line.

 

P. Hajela: I would like to take courses out of the evenings.Or at least not after 8pm.Itís not humane.Itís not civilized.You canít expect a student to go later than that and come back charged and ready to go the next morning.Also, there are some classes that tend to get pushed into the evenings Ė H&SS in particular.It makes a bad impression, as though these classes are second rate.

 

G. Gabriele: I agree.I donít know if itís possible to eliminate evenings.

 

J. Haddock: Iím concerned that you already know what you are doing and donít plan to listen to students and faculty.I know of places with irregular scheduling and it was a disaster.Students didnít know when the classes were; they missed the classes.Also, we can put aside 2 hours, but not every day.This is trivial, compared to American Airlines.We could solve this with a calculator.But an algorithm isnít going to solve this.Itís a policy matter.The policy has to drive the schedule.The scheduling process itself is relatively easy.

 

G. Gabriele: I appreciate your concern about feedback.

 

D. Di Tursi: I want to agree with what this gentleman just said.Itís policy, not scheduling.And students Ė and faculty Ė will say: ďthe administration is doing it again.Ē There hasnít been time for feedback.

 

G. Gabriele: I met with students a few weeks ago.RAs have the information.Dave Haviland is circulating it as part of student life.We arenít trying to keep this quiet.

 

S. Anderson-Gold: There is a connection to incentive-based budgeting.Courses have been pushed to accommodate where students are.Why canít we just work on the Friday problem, without introducing other constraints?

 

R. Leifer: Is it necessary to switch the entire campus over to this system or can we switch just a segment?

 

M. Hanna: Could you simulate last fallís schedule with all these constraints?

 

G. Gabriele: Technically, yes, but we wouldnít be able to see the impact of having a Scheduling Committee in place.

 

M. Hanna: I would like to suggest that we have more time.

 

G. Gabriele: My concern is getting schedulers in place.

M. Hanna: We need to adjourn.4:00

 

[Note a correction to the Faculty Senate Minutes of 10/5, submitted by Professor John Gowdy, Department of Economics.Gowdy reports that it is not correct that the Economics Department is opposed to Senate representation for clinical faculty; Diwan and Vitaliano oppose such representation; Gowdy, Duchin, Erickson, Heim and Onyeiwu ďfeel strongly that clinical faculty should be represented.ĒGowdy requested that this correction appear in the Senate Minutes.]

 

Prepared by K. Fortun