Faculty Senate Meeting

3/7/2000

 

Present: R. Leifer, M. Hanna, R. Parsons, P. Hajela, S. Anderson-Gold, K. Fortun, S. Derby, J. McLaughlin [P&R], N. Rolnick, A. Van Epps, P. Quinn, K. Jansen, Kevin Craig [FSCC], Alan Desrochers

 

Absent: R. Diwan, A. Kapila, J. Norsworthy, P. Boyce, J. Haddock

 

Guests: S. Jackson, C. McIntyre, Bruce Nauman, L. Peters, S. Sanderson, G. Gabriele, B. Degeneff

Agenda

Approval of Minutes from the 2/22/2000 Meeting

Changes to Promotion and Tenure Committee

Open Discussion with President Jackson Ė The Rensselaer Plan and Other Issues

New Business

 

Approval of the Minutes from 2/22/2000 Meeting

M. Hanna: The Minutes have been circulated.Do I have a motion to pass the Minutes?Motion to approve: B. Degeneff.Second: P. Hajela.Passed.Unanimously.

 

Changes to Promotion and Tenure Committee

The President should be on her way to arrive at 12:30.Weíll now deal with miscellaneous business.

Wally Croner has agreed to complete M. Reaís term on the P&T Committee.I ask for a motion from the floor to accept this appointment.So moved: P. Hajela. Second: P. Quinn. Discussion?

 

J. McLaughlin: Weíre still missing two people on the Planning & Resources Committee. Would this be a good time to discuss this?

 

S. Anderson-Gold: We need to have the discussion about the Planning and Resources Committee, but the decisions regarding P&T need to be made immediately.

 

UNANIMOUS DECISION TO GO OFF TH RECORD: 12:15

 

RETURN TO RECORD: 12:20


 Open Discussion with President Jackson Ė The Rensselaer Plan and Other Issues

M. Hanna: Welcome to Dr. Jackson.We look forward to this discussion as a broader take on many of the issues focused on during the Structured Review of the Rensselaer Plan with the Faculty Senate last week.

 

S. Jackson: We have received good input from the Structured Reviews regarding changes of working in particular, without losing the essential focus.

 

And the Board has voiced strong support for the Plan.At a recent retreat, we focused on the issues that under gird the plan: Where research has been historically in the United States and globally.Where research is today.What forces and factors are shaping research in this country and in the world.The relationship between teaching and research.We discussed the way research and teaching is part of an educational continuum at a research university.

 

The Board also discussed how technology can be used to meet students where they are, to facilitate learning, as well as to free up faculty time.And we discussed BT and IT.The Board again voiced their support for these priorities.

 

Members of the Washing Advisory Group were present; and the former president of MIT who used to be chair of the Board, spoke to us.

 

Overall, we discussed where we are in the planning process and the work and role of the various task forces now at work.Where are we at overall?Itís hard to say.Itís a big process.Iíve certainly learned a lot about Rensselaer; about where we need to be going and about what it is going to take to get there.

 

M. Hanna: Dr. Jackson will now take questions.

 

B. Parsons: We have heard about a series of committees to be put together to move us to the next stage.Art Sanderson, as I understand, is providing some of the leadership.Can you tell us more about these committees?

 

S. Jackson: I have asked for two internal panels to address BT and IT, which will work with the Washington Advisory Group.Art Sanderson is providing the leadership and I donít know exactly where he is in the process of forming the committees.

 

L. Peters: The Washington Advisory Board has played an important role in the planning process.Can you tell us what their view is of Rensselaer and whether it has changed over the last few months?

 

S. Jackson: The Washington Advisory Board has helped us put ourselves in comparative perspective and how we must progress relative to comparative reference points.The National Research Councilís rating of departments and programs provides such reference points, for example.

 

Itís clear we have a strong School of Engineering; itís also clear that we need to strengthen the other schools if we are going to be a research university.And to do this, we must strengthen revenues and endowment.

 

N. Rolnick: It became clear in my reading of the plan and in the discussion last week, that much of the direction is going to come from the performance plans.Could you comment on how the performance plans are going to be put together and evaluated?

 

S. Jackson: I am in the process of developing a template with the help of the Cabinet.Once developed, the template will be discussed with the Deans.The template will provide a series of questions that everyone must address, so that the performance plans can be evaluated.

 

Iím a great believer in creating a series of questions that everyone can answer, questions that can drive the process rather than laying out beforehand standards that are expected to be complied with.

 

I like to think of it as a process of modularization, rather than prioritization.Issues like deferred maintenance, for example.We canít deal with deferred maintenance in one move, but we can slice and dice it, put a timeline on it and resource load pieces of it, pieces that we can achieve.

 

Weíre going to have to do a forced march through the set of questions.Modularization rather than prioritization and not without discussion.

 

There will be priorities, but crosscutting.Some things we can do now within the existing operating budget.Other things will require targeted fundraising.In the end, the goal is develop a capital campaign to cover all that we want to do.

 

S. Derby: Can you give us a sense of what the pace will be?

 

S. Jackson: Weíre going to need a lot of resources.A constellation of hires, for example is $6 million, really $8.5 million.

 

S. Derby: What kind of time frame for hiring new faculty, for example?Whatís the earliestÖ not to hold you to it?

 

S. Jackson: Yes, you will.Iím not going to fall for this.I know what you are up to. [laughter]

 

But, if we have flexibility in the operating budget, it could begin as early as next fall.But, de facto, it will be at least calendar year 2001 before we are ready to go.

 

This is not an absolute statement.Kim, write that down.

 

The performance plans have to drive the resource allocations.The performance plans will be the driver.

 

K. Fortun: President Jackson, you should know that as always when the Senate has guest presentations, you will have the opportunity to edit and add clarification to the Minutes before they are approved and circulated.

 

B. Nauman: I would like to comment on the Planís stress on innovation in pedagogy and technology and interactive learning in particular.The point I want to make is that we need metrics to assess this rather than just assume that it is working because we have been recognized externally.

 

S. Jackson: We will strengthen statements in the Plan about assessments Ė all around, for teaching, as well as other activities.The bar is going to be moved to a higher level.

 

M. Hanna: Since Kevin Craig is here, Iíll put him on the spot and ask where we are in developing a way to evaluate first year students.The Senate has discussed the need for this with the FSCC.

 

G. Gabriele:Iíve started the work.When I came into the role I now have, in October, I asked Brad Lister to develop a survey of the first year experience on laptops.

 

K. Craig:The FSCC has also discussed the need to take initiative on this.I think there is broad agreement that students today donít know the fundamentals like they did five years ago.

 

S. Jackson: We canít work on the problem on an anecdotal basis, which I know you agree with.And we need to focus on outcomes Ė on how we can use technology to get us somewhere.We canít assume that the technology itself is the answer.

 

K. Craig: I just think we need to be careful about being driven by the market, though I realize that technology-intensive education is where the market is going.

 

P. Hajela: Some of the anecdotal comments you hear are because we have fewer credits under the 4x4 system.

 

B. Nauman: 4x4. That was an innovation. [laughter]

 

S. Jackson: Iíve given you the opportunity to change that, with the change to a 5-day week.

 

B. Nauman: Are you not wedded to 4x4?

 

S. Jackson:Iím going to tell you a story about a movie, one of the very few Iíve been able to see in the last five years.The Marshall is trying to catch a fugitive accused of killing his wife.The fugitive wonít give himself up, and keeps insisting that he did NOT kill his wife.The Marshallís response is very straightforward: he tells the fugitive, ďI donít care if you killed your wife.ĒWhether the fugitive killed his wife is a separate issue than whether the fugitive will allow himself to be apprehended.

 

The point is that the Marshall had a certain outcome to accomplish: he had to arrest the fugitive.Likewise, I want outcomes here, 4x4, or some other way.We are going to get certain outcomes, using technology to help us get there.But where we go will not be determined by the technology; our arrival will be judged against the outcome we have defined.Your job is to get us there.In any way you can.

 

Outcomes are the basis on which Iíll judge everything.Iím an outcomes person.

 

M. Hanna: There are a number of people in interim positions, many exemplary people, so my question is structural, not personal.What is happening with these positions?

 

S. Jackson: Doyle [Daves] is retiring.We will hire a provost.Iím confident that the position for Dean of Science will be filled.It is undecided if we will do a search for the VP of Advancement.If so, Haviland will certainly be a finalist.

 

M. Hanna: The Dean of the Graduate School was split off from the VP of Research.What has happened there?

 

G. Gabriele: For now, Bill Jennings is taking care of things. The new provost will need to decide how to fill the position.

 

S. Jackson: This position will wait, since we expect the provost decision to be complete fairly shortly.

 

R. Leifer: The Plan discusses organizational realignments.Can you elaborate on what this will involve?

 

S. Jackson:These, too, will be driven by the performance plans.

 

R. Leifer: These performance plans will address individual units, but organizational realignments are about new relationships between units.

 

S. Jackson:The performance plans will be focused on individual units, but there relationship to other units will be part of what is addressed. Ultimately, the Cabinet will play a role in issues of organizational realignment, and perhaps consultants.

 

N. Rolnick: I donít have a clear picture of the relationship between the performance plans and departmental budgets.

 

S. Jackson: Your budget has to support your strategic objectives.But you will prioritize activities, not goals.There will be an effect on how discretionary funds can be used.

 

N. Rolnick: The biggest part of a departmental budget is faculty salary.How is this part of the performance plans/

 

S. Jackson: Weíre not talking about getting rid of people that are here, though the tenure and promotion standards are going to get tougher.We will expect productivity across the spectrum of the educational enterprise.

 

S. Sanderson: What is the process through which standards for tenure and promotion will be changed?

 

L. Peters: Raising the bar on promotion and tenure, which Iím very much in favor of, will it happen immediately?

 

S. Jackson: No, but soon.

 

P. Quinn: What role does the idea of critical mass play in the thinking that is guiding the Plan, within particular units, in particular?Within the Schools of Architecture and Management, for example, we donít have the luxury of breadth that the School of Engineering has, which makes it difficult when we are ranked alongside department and Schools elsewhere.

 

S. Jackson: Each School and Department should be able to answer a key question: what is your intellectual core?The answer can be exemplary in its definition and performance, regardless of size.

 

Iím not looking to eliminate any Schools at Rensselaer.Moribund programs? Yes.Iíve said that since my inaugural address.

 

S. Anderson-Gold: You spoke of raising standards. Does this mean that a personís contribution to BT and IT will become part of the evaluation process?

 

S. Jackson: No.Research excellence will be the metric.

 

S. Sanderson: I have a rather specific question about the strategies smaller schools can use to attract top academic leadership.There are hundreds of deanships open all over the country.Do you have ideas about our own recruiting?

 

S. Jackson: This, of course, relates to how Rensselaer is perceived by outsiders.

 

K. Fortun: What have you learned so far about how outsiders perceive Rensselaer?

 

S. Jackson:Iíve heard five kinds of things: 1) People havenít heard of Rensselaer at all, and I have to say that weíre rather like MIT or Carnegie Mellon.This happens nationally, as well as internationally.2) People think Rensselaer has great teachers and undergraduates, but no researchers and graduate students. 3) People think that Rensselaer is just an engineering school. 4) People think of Rensselaer as a troubled institution. 5) People are hesitant about Troy.

 

The last thing, hesitancy about Troy, is easy to fix.We just have to get people here.Itís a beautiful place.We could be sitting in the middle of New Haven.Then we would have a problem.

 

The other things Iíve mentioned are all addressed in the Rensselaer Plan, so the Plan itself should help us show people that Rensselaer is becoming a different kind of place.

 

P. Quinn: Weíre going to need as much leadership in the public relations machine as in the deanís offices.

 

S. Jackson:I have a couple of responses.First, we do need to do a better job at marketing: showing people where we are strongÖ in research and in entrepreneurship.David Haviland will be working on this.Weíll also be working on the recruitment side.This is part of the job of the new Dean of Enrollment Management.Currently, our corporate outreach is largely regional.It needs to be broader.

 

S. Sanderson: A problem for the School of Management is that we arenít in a vibrant economic area, an advantage that most vibrant management schools have.Hartford is better positioned, in this regard.Can you explain how you see Hartford?

 

S. Jackson: Among other things, I envision very high level certificate programs Ė which is not only going to require corporate outreach but also a fundamental restructuring of what Hartford looks like.We need to tear up the map and draw a new one, from scratch.We need to consider what it really means to create such high level programs.What will it entail, fundamentally?

 

M. Hanna: President Jackson, do you have questions for us?

 

S. Jackson: This has been a good meeting; we should do this more often.Communication is key to what we need to accomplish.

 

As some of you know, I have been called an elitist.I like to think that this is because I have set my sights for Rensselaer very high.Weíve aimed high, this is true.And it may be that we cannot reach the starts we aspire to.But at least weíll get to the treetops.Weíll move forward and up.

 

Rensselaer is a very good institution.Weíre going to make it great.And I believe we can, which means that I think the people at Rensselaer are up to the task.I wouldnít be here if I thought otherwise.

 

Weíre going to push hard. Itís not to hurt people, but to push Rensselaer to a new level.

 

And weíre going to open ourselves up to outsiders, and their critiques.We canít be afraid to do this.

 

I sometimes get impatient when we get hung up on process. I want us to stay focused on outcomes.But I will let you define how we get there.Iíll drive the process, but not the specifics.If there are things decided upon, Iíll tell you up front.And Iíll let you know the boundary conditions.But I need you to invent, initiate and run with the performance.

 

In the end, the entire secret of the game is to stay ahead of the curve.To define excellence, then benchmark it.

 

You should think of this as an opportunity, not as a time to be afraid.I canít change what happened before; I donít own it.I want to look forward, not backwards.People have voiced concern about whether we can afford to compete.We cannot afford not to compete.

 

Iím aiming for the stars, knowing that we may only get to the treetops.But at least weíll get somewhere.You canít have absolute guarantees, unless you donít try at all.

 

I want you to work with me. I want to work with you.And I need you to believe that we can pull this off.If you canít believe we can do this, I canít ask outsiders to believe.

 

M. Hanna: Thank you, Dr. Jackson. We appreciate your coming today.It has been a very good meeting.

 

[Brief discussion in which people indicated that they thought the meeting with President Jackson was very successful and that continued communication should be a high priority.Many also said that they particularly appreciated the opportunity to share President Jacksonís enthusiasm for what Rensselaer is becoming.]

 
New Business

M. Hanna: We now need to return to our earlier discussion about the P&T and P&R Committees.

 

For P&R, we are now missing a representative from Engineering; those on the committee now are all members in at large positions.We do have a replacement from Architecture.We are also missing someone from H&SS.

 

P. Hajela: Can we go back to the last slate?

 

M. Hanna:All those elected last year were for at large.Randy would have two more years; H&SS would have two more years. [Correction: the H&SS position has one more year.]

 

J. McLaughlin: I would caution against someone without tenure, just because they need to have had some experience at Rensselaer.

 

A. Desrochers: Can we just wait until the election and then elect someone for the year? We have begun to over-rely on appointments.

 

M. Hanna: We could just leave it open for the rest of the semester.

 

J. McLaughlin: Iíll take an opposing view.There isnít much difference in appointing people and having them run unopposed.

 

L. Peters: There is going to be a lot of decision-making and analysis in the next six weeks.Then there wonít be any further work until the end of the summer.So I think we should go ahead and appoint people to P&R as soon as possible.

 

J. McLaughlin: I would prefer that people are re-appointed as soon as possible.

 

M. Hanna:This would not be interim; they have to serve out the term of the people they replace.Both P&R appointments would run through spring 2001.

 

It seems that the P&R committee feels strongly that people should be reappointed.So Iíll work on this.

 

Now we need to return to the issues regarding the P&T committee.

 

UNANIMOUS DECISION TO GO OFF THE RECORD: 3:45

 

RETURN TO THE RECORD: 3:55

 

M. Hanna: Iíd like to call the question regarding W. Cronerís appointment to the P&T.All in favor.No abstentions.

 

Last item of business: What is appropriate regarding the H&SS position on P&T.?

 

P. Quinn: I move that we defer acting on the H&SS representative to the P&T committee until the next election. Second: Alan Desrochers. Passed, unanimously.

 

M. Hanna: Letís adjourn.4:00

 

Prepared by K. Fortun, Recording Secretary