Faculty Senate Minutes

2/14/01

 

Present: P. Hajela, M. Hanna, K. Anderson, B. Peterson, L. Kammerer, S. Anderson-Gold, J. Erickson,

R. Leifer, L. Caporael, P. Boyce, G. Korenowski, B. Parson,

 

Absent:  S. Derby, M. Embrechts, C. Breneman, R. Gutmann, K. Craig, K. Fortun, A. Dyson, P. Quinn,

J. Mitchell, G. Belfort,

 

Guests:  M. Staniszewski, G. Gabriele

 

Original Minutes of 2/14/01

 

Agenda

Approval of the Minutes from the January 17, 2001 Meeting

Curriculum Committee Report – MaryAnn Staniszewski

Senate Representation for Clinical Faculty on Troy Campus – Linnda Caporael

Adjournment

 

Approval of the Minutes from the January 17, 2001 Meeting

President Prabhat Hajela called the meeting to order and asked for the approval of the Minutes from the January 17, 2001 Meeting.  The Minutes were unanimously approved.  He announced that that next scheduled Faculty Senate Meeting for February 28, 2001 will be a joint meeting with the Student Senate and will be in Sage 5711 from 3-5pm.  The meeting schedule for March 14, 2001is canceled due to spring break.  A meeting has been scheduled for March 7, 2001in CII 5003 from 3-5pm since going four weeks without a meeting was too long.

 

Curriculum Committee Report – MaryAnn Staniszewski

(see attached)

Prabhat asked if the writing requirement extends to graduate students or if it is primarily for the undergraduate students.  MaryAnn believes it is just for the undergraduates but the graduate issue as a requirement should be addressed.  She added that many students have scores that are acceptable, yet they can barely write a sentence.  Prabhat suggested that a formal writing program be in place so that if an advisor feels his/her student needs such a writing course, one is available.  Gary Gabriele, Dean of Undergraduate Education, stated that this type of course currently exists for the undergraduate students and that graduate students could certainly take them.  However, he is not sure if he would want to count those kinds of courses towards a degree requirement.  There is a pretty extensive array of different writing courses/communication courses that LLC offer.

 

Chair, Mike Hanna, asked if there would be a 6000 equivalent to technical and professional communication and whether there are or could there be one that is geared towards technical writing by a graduate student.  Gary Gabriele was not sure if there is one currently.  MaryAnn added that that would be a department question, unless LLC would be providing such a course.  Mike Hanna asked if LLC would provide such a course.  He agrees with Prabhat that if a graduate student is doing a technical paper, the academic advisor should be able to help to some extent, but sometimes it is more than just helping, it is actually rewriting the paper.

 

Gary stated that the discussion started with the question of whether there is a writing requirement at the graduate level.  The answer was No.  However the question of whether there should be an opportunity for a graduate student to take a writing course, the answer was yes.  A writing course already exists.  Graduate students can take this writing course and probably should if the academic advisor feels they need it.

 

Prabhat asked why there is no writing requirement for graduate students.  Gary responded that it is an issue that the curriculum committee should review.  The question is if a requirement were added for graduate students, where would it fall in terms of their graduate degree.  Secretary of the Faculty, Bob Parsons, said if a graduate student takes an undergraduate course, where does the credit fall in terms of their degree, it ends up being a credit they can not put towards their degree.  Gary said that leads to the issue of whether these kinds of credits should be counted towards degree completion.  That becomes perhaps a department issue or a graduate school issue.  One could argue those are the kinds of skills a student should come to graduate school with, so why should those credits be used towards a degree.  The graduate degree requirements are becoming a much broader issue, which have been being considered in the Curriculum Committee.  Actually this would be best served when a graduate Dean is in place to help organize this issue, and then bring it to the Curriculum Committee for review.

 

MaryAnn asked if there is any idea how long it is going to take before there is a graduate Dean.  Provost Peterson stated that as soon as the decision to hire a graduate Dean is finalized, a search will be initiated with hopes to have someone in place by Summer, and certainly by Fall.

 

Linnda stated that the writing and communication problem has come up year after year and her question is whether it is possible to resolve any of the issues without money and whether there is any new money.  Lastly, she asked what the Faculty Senate can do or what the Provost’s office does to actually make a difference in the communication problem.  Gary said he is first trying to see if he can better understand what the problem is.  He does not know where things stand at this point because he does not know what the communication problem is.  He wonders if it is any worse here than any place else or whether it is a real issue on this campus.  He had a discussion with J. Watt and he has promised him that his department would do a proposal on how to investigate the issue and then bring it forward to the faculty for feedback.  He thinks the first issue is to do an assessment on the most critical problems.  He funded an initial program by LLC to create what is being called the Virtual Writing Center.  This will try to create a program that will provide students help via the computer.  LLC has actually done some prototyping on that and it is being tested this semester.  There are many alternatives to solve this problem but before it is moved forward, he would like to know more about where the most problems lie.

 

Gerald Korenowski, Senator, asked if anyone has reviewed what has been done in the past and compared to what is being done now.  He suggests that the same procedure not be repeated twice.  Gary responded, no, and that they are aware of writing courses from the past, but they were not the solution.  What is being done now is talking to experts in the communication field and finding out what the communications issues are.  The feedback being received is that just a writing course is not enough.  They do not solve all the issues surrounding the required core communications problems.

 

MaryAnn said they are in the process of electing a committee, hopefully by the summer, to review the core.  In doing this past review of the core will be looked at as well as the issues discussed today.  She suggested that any Faculty Senate Member of other faculty or staff have comments, they should be emailed to her at stanim@rpi.edu as they welcome the feedback.  Basically all the issues voiced today will be addressed as part of the core curriculum review.  There are a lot of issues that demand a review; these include schools requirements, 4 X 4, and laptops.

 

Prabhat asked what the specific plans are for reviewing the core and if they have established the guidelines.  MaryAnn said the subject of reviewing the core has just been approached at the last meeting, so there are no specific plans or guidelines as of yet for conducting the review process.  Gary added that the Curriculum Committee has discussed how to format this process, and over the next part of the current semester a charge will be developed to review past documents and existing programs.  A decision will then be made on what the committee will undertake.  Once this has been accomplished, the question “What should no student leave RPI without?” should be able to be fundamentally answered.

 

Gerald Korenowski asked what kind of review is being planned on the impact of 4X4.  He stated that since the 4x4 was put into place it has been his experience that everybody has become more territorial about the number of credits for their curriculum because of restrictions placed on schools due to 4x4.  Gary responded that the Committee has not yet discussed how to look at what impact the 4x4 has had and how to measure it. 

 

Senate Representation for Clinical Faculty on Troy Campus – Linnda Caporael

Linnda Caporael distributed a review of the amendments brought forth at last meeting (see attached)

 

Senator Sharon Anderson-Gold said that we keep assuming that if Clinical faculty participates they fully participate, except for the P & T Committee.  She believes the reasoning is that Clinical faculty does not go through a tenure process so it is assumed that they do not understand the standards of tenure.  Given that Rensselaer might have a full professor who is a Clinical faculty member then it is not clear to her that they do not belong on the P & T Committee.  If they are going to fully participate, why not let them participate on the P & T Committee?

 

Richard Leifer asked if a librarian can participate in P & T, as they are part of the faculty.  Sharon asked if

librarians are full professors.   The Senate is looking at rank because the P & T Committee composition is

based on faculty rank.  Richard responded that Rensselaer has classes of faculty now (librarian, researchers,

archivist), who don't participate in P & T. There are instances where parts of the faculty are excluded from

some aspect of functions throughout the university.

 

Sharon said this has been done presumable because they do not understand the standard of evaluation that is needed.   People seem to feel that Clinical faculty should not be involved in the P & T.  Maybe there is a core reasoning for that, but it is not obvious by the way the Senate is going at this.  If they are to be called faculty, then they should fully participate and do all the things we do.  She asked why they should be excluded from P & T.

 

Senator Peter Boyce asked what the different interests of clinical faculty and tenure line faculty are.  Sharon

Thinks it is the commitment to the University.  It is a career commitment, a life long commitment.  Gerald

Said he is still not clear on where the term clinical faculty came from.  In the past, they were called

lecturers.  Prabhat said there are a few minor differences in definition of lecturer and clinical faculty.   Peer

 review is mandatory for clinical faculty by the regular tenure track faculty within the department, but for a

 lecturer it is recommended but not mandatory.  For a lecturer, the length of appointment is a term to an

 academic year, but the term is not spelled out for clinical faculty.

 

Richard said that when the experience base was connected with commitment for Hartford faculty, and traditional titles were put on those people, it did not work.  He thinks this is where the term clinical faculty came from.  It is in fact a long-term commitment, a commitment to the Institution, a commitment to all the goals except that their background does not usually make them interested in doing traditional academic research.

 

Sharon said the argument is not against hiring clinical faculty, instead trying to straighten out why they

should be included in the Faculty Senate.  Richard responded they should be included because they are part

of the Faculty.

 

Mike thought there would be less of a problem with this issue if there was only one category of clinical faculty, and that would be clinical professor.  That would give a person with the skills from the outside, which is recognized as an expert in their field, with the title clinical professor.  This as opposed to someone in his/her first job being called clinical professor, as they would not have the experience that should go with the title clinical. 

 

Linnda asked if the discussion should be held off until the description of clinical faculty is resolved.  Prabhat does not know how long it will take to come up with a definition.  He thinks some sort of representation should be given in the interim to clinical faculty on campus.

 

Peter Boyce, Senator, said that if there is approximately 20% of the faculty working full time on campus that are not represented he thinks something needs to be done about that.  He agrees there is a difference in a faculty with a long-term commitment and a faculty with a short-term contract.  He feels that amendment 2b is more appropriate representation then 2a.  He thinks it needs to be dealt with now.  By waiting until the committee’s work is done, it could be another two years that some faculty would go without representation.

 

Prabhat said that when the new definitions are in place the Senate will have to revisit the same arguments again as several titles could possibly be rolled into one title, creating a new title that is not listed as faculty in the Handbook.  It will then need to be decided whether they are part of the small "f" or the big "F" faculty.  Linnda agreed that these issues will have to be revisited but she feels when this happens, there will be more confidence in what the terms really mean.

 

J. Erickson believes that faculty are going to think that (2b) means if a clinical professor can now be on the Faculty Senate then that means they can be on the P & T committee. This is not correct and it leaves it up to the Senate to explain, especially the distinction between little "f" and big "F".   Mike Hanna said that P&T membership will probably always have to be explained.  Membership is strictly for full professor tenure track components of the faculty and someone who is not a full professor cannot be on the P & T committee.

 

Sharon Anderson-Gold made a motion that the Faculty Senate endorses Amendment #2b and that it should be taken to the general faculty.  Motion Passed: 5 in favor, 4 opposed, 1 abstaining

 

Richard Leifer made a motion for Amendment #2a that the Faculty Senate endorses this amendment and takes it to the general faculty.  Motion Failed: 3 in favor, 7 opposed

 

Sharon would argue that per the vote, the Faculty Senate has decided to take (2b) forward and has to get the ten signatures.  Richard Leifer disagrees.  He feels both amendments should go before the general faculty and let them decide on which amendment to adopt.   If the Faculty Senate picks one amendment by implication, it is saying the Faculty Senate supports this amendment. If both amendments are brought forward, the Faculty Senate is saying that there is a majority but there is also discussion on another option.  All Minutes are available for their review.  He suggested that they read the amendments and make their decision.  Provost Peterson told Richard that all he needs to do is get ten signatures and he could bring 2a forward as well which would then allow the faculty to review both and make the decision.

 

Linnda Caporael stated the Faculty Senate will take 2b to the faculty.  Richard Leifer will get ten votes and bring 2a to the general faculty as well.  Richard should prepare a position statement for 2a and Sharon Anderson-Gold should prepare a position statement for 2b. 

 

J. Erickson asked if the general faculty will have a chance to review and discuss the amendment before voting on it.  Prabhat responded that they would and that an explanation and implications of both amendments will be distributed to all faculty for their review before the meeting.  Provost Peterson added that all changes to the Constitution must be distributed at least 30 days in writing before the meeting.  Mike Hanna added that it might be a good idea to post the details of both amendments and arguments (pros & cons) on the Senate web page.

 

Prabhat concluded that the Senate, by vote, has a preference for 2b and a minority request to bring the second amendment 2a to the general faculty.

 

Linnda added two other amendments.  She wants to allow the voting to be done by electronic mail.  The motion passed, 10 in favor, 1 abstention.  She also made a motion for the purchasing of new policy and procedure book for the Senate.  President Hajela said the Senate will purchase a few copies of the book for reviewing before voting on the amendment.

 

Adjournment

Meeting was adjourned at 5:00 pm.