Faculty Senate Minutes



Present: P. Hajela, B. Parson, K. Anderson, C. Breneman, B. Peterson, L. Kammerer, L. Caporael

S. Anderson-Gold, G. Belfort, S. Derby, M. Embrechts, J. Erickson, J. Mitchell, A. Dyson, R. Leifer,


Absent: M. Hanna, R. Gutmann, K. Craig, P. Boyce, G. Korenowski, K. Fortun, P. Quinn,


Guests:  S. Sanderson, G. Gabriele, P. Azriel


to Original Minutes of 11/28/00



Approval of the Minutes from the October 10, October 28 and November 7 Meetings

Senate Review of Administrators

Presentation of Performance Plan – Curt Breneman

Issues with Services of Some CIS Units - CIO John Kolb
Presentation on Performance Planning - CIO John Kolb



Approval of the Minutes from the October 10, October 28 and November 7 Meetings

President Prabhat Hajela called the meeting to order and asked for the approval of the Minutes from the October 10, October 28 and November 7 meetings.  The Minutes were unanimously approved.


Senate Review of Administrators

Steve Derby said that the copy that is being passed around does not include all the addendums, as they are too large.  If anyone would like them please contact Sue Miller and she will e-mail them.


Bob Parson, Secretary of the Faculty, is part of a committee that was formed to review this process.  The other committee members are Sharon Anderson-Gold and Curt Breneman. (see attached)


President Hajela said he understands that the Deans are being reviewed every five years and some Chairs every four years.  In the past, the Faculty Senate conducted the surveys.  He would like to propose, that the Faculty Senate overview the process.  There would be specific committees consisting of general faculty reporting to the Senate on the evaluations.  The committees could be made up from the Faculty Senate or from the general faculty. 


Bob Parsons would recommend that the initiative come from the Senate so that it would have some history that would continue.  Prabhat asked if he proposes that this be an elected committee from the schools, like the other standing committees.  Bob responded that he thinks it has to be kept in mind that each year a committee would be appointed, whether it is from the Senate or chosen from the faculty at large.  This would be an ad hoc committee rather than a formal elected committee. 


Senator Georges Belfort agrees that four years could make a difference to a department.  If someone is doing well it makes no difference if it is done frequently, but if someone is doing poorly, it is excellent to do it more frequently.  He believes all new hires understand the evaluation will be taking place.  He believes this should be open and everybody has to know, especially if a new Chairman is hired, they should know beforehand what the ground rules are.  He thinks four years is too long for a Chairman and recommends three years or less.


Bob said it was all he could dig up on what the Council used to do.


Senator Kurt Anderson asked if he thinks four years is too long even though it is written that it can be brought around sooner with a majority of the department.  Steve Derby said he would like to see it done every year so it is not a case of getting a majority to confront the Chairman.  Faculty has a review every year.  If it is a one-page form, it can be read and thought about and will take five minutes to complete.  If he were a Chairman, he would like to get the feedback every year, even if it was good.


Bob Parsons suspected that in the past it was not done as often because it was a lot of work to complete. But now with online systems he thinks it would be more feasible to do it more often.  Georges said the point that Kurt made is good, but to get a conflict situation up is not often easy to do, even if it is necessary to do.  He thinks that every year may be too much and set a lot of pressure.  He thinks it should be done more frequently than four years but less frequently than every year.


Bob Parsons said he hoped that most of the information would be along the lines of constructive criticism, rather then complaining all the time. It should give people a sense of how they are being perceived, so if there is a misunderstanding there may be a chance to correct it. 


Provost Peterson wanted to clarify the evaluation of the Deans.  The memo from B. Pipes that was referred to has been interpreted by him and the President as being the policy for evaluation of Deans.  It was sent as a formal memo to the President’s Cabinet from the President in March 1995.  The process involves the establishment of a committee.  The policy states an ad hoc committee would be formed to conduct a review and that committee is charged with the responsibility of gathering information from all sources they deem appropriate.  They would then prepare a report that is submitted to the Provost and President.  (this is the way the policy reads).  It is appointed by the President upon consultation with the Provost and the effort should include a study of the statement of goals and objectives of the school, interviews with Deans, assistant/associate Deans, department Chairs, with representatives of the faculty/ student/staff or anyone they may deem important.  On the slides, it was stated there is no formal process for faculty evaluation, but that is incorrect as this committee is the formal process for evaluating the Deans.


In terms of the timing, it was stated that it would rotate through.  He thinks an appropriate time after they start the positions should be determined.  Just rotating through Chairs and Deans does not make much sense because of the turnover, rather state that in two years (or four, etc) from the time they take over, would be appropriate.  He thinks the question that must be decided on is what the Senate is trying to accomplish with the review process.  Is the purpose to provide information to the President and Provost or to provide information to the Dean and department Chair or create a mechanism for faculty input?


Bob Parsons thinks the Senate is trying to provide a mechanism for the faculty to communicate with their Chairs.  The Provost did not want to give the Senate the impression that the Deans get evaluated every five years and that is it.  The formal process he described, outlined in the Pipes memo, is the formal process, which kicks in every five years.  The Provost and President evaluate each of the Deans annually, and their Deans evaluate each of the department Chairs annually.  It is a question of what is the formal process by which that happens.  This formal process for Deans only kicks-in every five years. 


Senator Richard Leifer said to think about industry where there is a 360° evaluation process,  and every year feedback on the performance is provided on all levels from the superior, from the subordinate and from the peers.  That is done on an annual basis.  The comment was made about things changing to have four years go by without getting a formal 360° evaluation.  It is a burden, but Rensselaer is going to be competitive in the market place, four years cannot be allowed to go by.


Bob Parsons said that one issue to consider is whether the Senate wants to get into this business and does the Senate think it is important to get into the business of evaluation process.  Linnda said what is needed is a more formal process, have a really outstanding web-based survey mechanism which can be used on an annual basis to get feedback that would help in the evaluation of Deans. 


Senator Sharon Anderson-Gold thinks it is important for the Faculty Senate to be involved in some manner, but it is just not all that clear yet in what manner.  Regarding the kind of process that Bob just described, some people may feel it could become very selective, even though some people have the charge to go out there and get that information, again it could at times be perceived as something that is occurring in a fairly narrow way.  She thinks the Faculty Senate faculty has the responsibility to take the initiative to gather up the information very broadly (they would be attempting to get every faculty member to give input) then if it does not achieve its purposes, certainly the faculty should be critical of the Senate.  Her interest in this is from interacting with some faculty.  They would like to see more faculty involvement in the process of evaluating.  If it is decided to do some evaluation but they will be completed by 5-6 people who are appointed by the President and given a charge to do their best, that is not going to generate the kind of broad base sense of legitimacy to the process.   She thinks the faculty need to be involved actively for reasons that pertain to the faculty position.


Prabhat thinks what motivated this process was that the faculty was trying to get faculty feedback into the Chairs so that could provide corrective actions at an early stage if something is not functioning. This way they could hear directly from the faculty.  That was the ideas that launched this whole search into a mechanism.  He thinks it is for the Senate to decide on how far to go with this process.  Georges thinks it is a win-win situation for everyone; the University, administration and the faculty.  He thinks it is important for the Faculty Senate to do this process and he supports the process.  He has had many faculty tell him they want to participate but don’t know how.


Bob Parsons said that the Faculty Senate is saying they would like a yearly process for evaluating or giving input for evaluating their Deans and Chairs.  Prabhat suggested that this information can be used by any committee that the Provost or President appoints in its own evaluation.  Georges believes that the Senate has to be very careful on how it is done as there will be information that cannot just be spread around to everyone.


Provost Peterson suggested the Faculty Senate separate the discussion between Deans and Chairs, as they are two very different things.  One way to get started on this might be to establish a committee and meet with the five Deans or a couple of the Deans.  He suggested that it be a meaningful and useful exercise.  Having some input from the Deans on what might be valuable to them in terms of their evaluation of the Chairs practically if it is to be made an annual process.  He does not believe they anticipate doing a formal review on an annual basis.  He suggested the Faculty Senate have a committee meet with the Deans to try to figure what would be useful from their perspective.  He thinks this is something that needs to be moved forward on with great care and great thought and would be well served to move (he was not trying to discourage the Faculty Senate) but to think very carefully about what the Senate is going to do, what instrument will be used, what information is trying to be gathered and what objective is trying to be accomplished. 


From Planning and Resources Committee Chair, Curt Breneman’s perspective, there are two processes being discussed:

- The formal process for evaluating (like a promotion but a promotion to stay in place)

This kind of process creates a high overhead, which should not be imposed on faculty yearly.  However, he likes the idea of having regular faculty input into some formalized way, so that people are made aware; both the person being evaluated and the person above them.  One thing he knows the Senate should avoid is to have the faculty valuate the Chairs, and the Chairs evaluate the Deans.


Bob Parsons asked if the Senate should propose setting up an ad hoc committee to develop a process to bring back to the Senate.  President Hajela said that what is needed is a definition of the process and then have it brought to the Senate for review.  He thought Bob did a good job of getting the initial information together.  Close attention needs to be paid on whether this committee is elected by the faculty on a yearly basis or two years or have it be something the Senate decides on.  He is not in favor of the Senate appointing a subset of its membership.  He would like to see the committee drawn from the faculty at large.


He asked Bob Parson if he would look into and develop a designate process that can be considered in a Spring Senate meeting.


Presentation of Performance Plan – Curt Breneman

President Hajela thanks him for the presentation and said he had identified a good set of points.  He asked him to write up a report that could be circulated to the entire Faculty Senate.  He officially accepted it and wants to make suggestions on how to continue so that faculty has future input into the process.


Issues with Services of Some CIS Units

Prabhat stated that the concern has been with the academic support services in regard to media support.  The system tends to be not cast in a role where it is supportive of the academic mission of the institute; rather it is set up like a business.  The relationship of the customer services that is available at the point of reference is not one that should exist on a university campus. 


Steve Derby thinks the current way of charging for use of the equipment, if it is not a formal class but it still is RPI related, people want a charge number.  (He was not talking about taking it home and using it for personal use)  Things that are on campus that are legitimate cannot be used without paying for it.  Between that and that the majority of our overhead projectors are of poor quality.  He thinks most of the equipment should be recycled.


John Kolb responded to Steve Derby’s comment and said there are issues about how much resources are being put into recycle management (overhead projectors, the new projectors).  One of the things he thinks have been achieved in the last few years is getting money to renovate some classrooms. What is not being done well is figuring out how to average this over time so that in four years things like classrooms and upgrading their technology or replacing the overhead projectors will be revisited.  The reason for charges on things other than classrooms is the wear and tear on the equipment.  The equipment needs to be replaced and there is a need to generate resources.


Steve Derby said that it makes no sense that a student has a PhD defense and he has to lie and say it is a class.  John Kolb agreed that it makes no sense.  He said a way to do this without lying needs to be figured out.  He stated there are a number of people go there for equipment for personal use.  His department is trying to figure out a way to designate between truly academic functions and those that are not.


Linnda Caporael commented on charging a $15.00 for a piece of equipment if adequate time before the function is not given.  John Kolb said that he was not aware of that until just recently and the Director in charge of that is out of town.  He said that as soon as they return he will be having a meeting on the matter.


Steve Derby said that regarding email service, he knows there are many delays on getting email out of the campus and receiving it.  During the day he may send something to someone on Roadrunner and but it he will not receive it back until 7:00 pm at night.  John Kolb said that it is not a server problem that it is the line; it is the network connection.  His understanding of the delays is they are in the servers along the way.  He does not know if the delays are on the server on campus, but he does not think the delay is more than a few minutes.


Linnda stated that if she has a problem with her lap top, she tries to contact the VCC help desk and cannot so she ends up waiting in line at lunch time trying to get it fixed and then she cannot be doing something else.  She suggested a faculty help desk/line.  P. Azreil said that any of the faculty who has a laptop through the faculty mobile computing program has T. Mahoney’s phone number and she will come to their office and help.  If a faculty member calls the help desk and they cannot help, they are to transfer that person to someone who can.  If this does not, he asked them to call him.


Presentation on Performance Planning - John Kolb

(see attached)



Meeting adjourned 4:00 p.m.