Faculty Senate Meeting

April 11, 2001

Original Minutes of 4-11-2001
Present:  M. Hanna, P. Hajela, B. Parsons, S. Derby, K. Anderson, S. Anderson-Gold, L. Kammerer, B. Peterson,
L. Caporael, G. Belfort, P. Quinn

Absent: K. Fortun, A. Dyson, P. Quinn, R. Gutmann, K. Craig, C. Breneman, P. Boyce, G. Korenowski, M. Embrechts,
R. Leifer, J. Mitchell, J. Erickson,

Guests:  G. Gabriele, P. Parsons, G. Hughes, M. Stainsewski, P Azriel


Approval of Minutes
Discussion on Class Scheduling
Institute Sign Policy
Review of Administrators

Approval of Minutes

President Prabhat Hajela called the meeting to order. The Minutes from March 7 and March 28 were approved unanimously. The Minutes of February 28th have been approved by the Senate with pending approval of the Student Senate.

Discussion on Class Scheduling

Linnda Caporael asked for a representative from each of the schools to come and share their views and feedback on class scheduling:
                       P. Parsons  - Architecture
                       G. Hughes - Management
                       M. Stainsewski - Arts
                       P. Hajela -  Engineering

  Many issues on class scheduling have been voiced. The concerns that need to be addressed:
                   · Quality of Life issues
                   · Teaching
                   · Research

Mary Anne Stainsewsk, Professor, stated that universally, most of her colleagues dislike the new scheduling. They feel it is undermining their teaching, research, student quality of life, and in many cases, their own quality of life.
·  This scheduling limits their ability to give talks and attend conferences. The condensed scheduling allows more flexibility to achieve those things. Many are still doing this but they are missing class - which makes the classes suffer.
· The rigor with this scheduling is not there.  She always found that she needed a single block of time. With this scheduling she has found she needs to prove why she needed single block courses.  With this scheduling it is to difficult to get into any kind of rigor.  In terms of research, this type of scheduling undermines research.
 · Student's quality of life -The Mon., Tues, Thur. and Friday schedule leaves Wed. as a day without class, which allows for another night of partying.  Enhancement of intake of alcohol comes into play.

Peter Parsons, Professor, said that most schools have a number of adjunct faculty, which means commuting.  The typical faculty load in teaching is that they teach studios that are (4) hours long, three days a week, plus a typical four-credit course. What this means for a commuter is that they need to have all materials ready in advance of class and most want the noon time class slot. The implication of just this one decision is huge due to the number of adjunct faculty there are that want the twelve o'clock slot.  With the Mon, Thurs, and Tues., Friday schedule everyone wants the Mon, Thurs cycle and late enough so that they can get here in the morning instead of having to spend another day away from their families.  One of the problems with the noon time slot is they have to forego lunch, and then it puts pressure on the other faculty to teach the Tues, Thurs cycle which takes away their free day to do research and talks.

G Hughes:  I understand the compressing utilization advantages, and keeping students here on Friday, but this scheduling makes it extremely difficult to teach.

P. Hajela:  I maintain two homes and my family has grown to accept my schedule.  I haven't seen where the 4x4 schedule has impacted me in the ways it has other faculty members, with their research, and family life.  My research program requires me to be here five days a week, or I would not be able to manage research and my teaching duties.   Looking at it from the other side, I understand the problems faced by the faculty who are commuting.  In terms of doing research and traveling, you must learn to juggle your schedule to make it all fit. I would have to give credit to our students because whenever I've asked for an extra class to make up for the one which I have to miss, they have been more then willing to give it to me.  I see a problem with flexibility in the 4 X 4 scheduling but am still not sure what can be done or should be done to improve this situation?

L. Caporael:  I have a presentation from Alan Nadel that shows an alternative scheduling program to the 4X4 (see attached)

 M. Hanna:  The problem I see in this scheduling is if we have labs, or design studios, where do they fall in this scheduling system.

L. Caporael:  I think his idea was that you would be able to combine K & M or A & C, which would give you your combined lecture/lab.

R. Parson:  I am glad to see suggestions being made to improve the scheduling.  I think there are two problems that came together simultaneously - the 4 X 4 and the apportionment into two-hour blocks. I now have to jump two hours every time rather than being able to go one hour.  Courses are changing; many of our faculty are teaching two one hour lectures and one two hour studio which is hard due to the two hour block.   I would suggest we continue to study the issue of scheduling and try to make changes to allow for more flexibility.  I don't think this is a perfect situation at this time.

M. Hanna:  Do we have a mechanism in place with the 4 x 4 system for commuting faculty where they could ask for some flexibility?

R. Parson:  That is very difficulty to get.

G. Belfort: The real question is what is the difference between the previous schedule and the present schedule?  I teach on the Tues, Friday cycle and it really has not made much of a difference in my teaching, except for the scheduling to get away.   Many faculty in engineering do consulting. What we have done is change from Friday to Mondays for consulting.

G. Gabriele:  On the issue of quality of life, I asked R. Hart what he's seen as an impact on the student life.  His feeling is that having a full five-day schedule has changed the working of activities in a positive way; in his opinion the campus has gone back to being a seven day campus.  The schedule change has really worked from the extra curriculur standpoint and has bought new life to what occurs on the campus on the weekend.   Some of the comments I heard from the student senate was they had an opportunity to spread the workload out over five days.  It may involve a little more drinking on Tuesday night but it also allows time on Wednesday to get work done that is due on Thursday and Friday.  The general opinion is that there might be a few problems in a few places but generally they are satisfied with the approach.

I don't quite understand the issue of flexibility.  Any system we come up with is going to require some regularity in the scheduling - it is not going to be totally flexible.  I would like to understand the issue of flexibility better so I can make changes.

  The issue of lunch has always been an issue, and is still is an issue. This is due to trying to jam most classes into the 2-4 time frames.  The 8-10am hour is under utilized due to students not willing to attend early morning classes. I have no solution for this at this time and we will keep working on trying to find a solution.  In terms of the issue of family life, we are trying to find a good solution; we have started by taking away the late classes.  I don't know how to solve this problem and I don't feel that A. Nadel’s proposal solves this problem either.  I'm not sure there is a solution for this problem. The committee is open for feedback on how to change any of these issues and hopefully make things better.

L. Caporael:  This proposal is not about changing back to a four-day week. There is not intention or mention of trying to make a change to the four day week.  Second, in terms of what is flexibility, it being able to have classes on a Monday & Wed. or Tues. and Thurs., this kind of flexibility?  There are many ways flexibility can be understood; this is one attempt to have an institutional flexibility.

G. Gabriele:  Issue surrounding when research gets done - flexibility for doing research is still at a department management level.  I think we have to have some sort of scheduling procedure in place which is applicable in 90% cases - the other 10% have to be more flexible.  Some of the issues, particularly around research, have to be worked out between chairpersons and faculty.

L. Caporael:  What we do need and what we are asking for is cautious schedule which allows flexibility at the department level to go beyond the Mon, Thurs cycle and possible do a Monday and Friday.

G. Gabriele:  If you go back to the guideline there is more then the Mon & Thursday, Tuesday & Friday options. We have one hour periods and three day a week options.  It's not just the Mon, Thurs and Tues., Fri options

S. Derby:  Is the number of faculty we have commuting at RPI over a hundred miles typical to other universities or is this a problem we have because we are in a small area? Is this something all universities experience?

P. Hajela:  Gary, it appears that there are some points raised here that your committee needs to look into.  I would like to see your committee take all suggestions under advisement and see how we should proceed. We can have a continuing discussion on this issue at a later date.

Institution Sign Policy

P. Hajela:  The student senate has submitted amendments to the official sign policy for approval.  In accordance with the rules, the student senate, faculty senate and the office of the dean of students must approve any proposal.  In reviewing the amendments it seems that these things are already being done.

W. Bobrowski: The amendments reflect what is currently being done. These changes came about from a discussion within the student senate. Some individuals felt the policy was enforced when it was convenient to enforce and generally ignored.  I originally proposed all building being opened up to posting but the agreement with the deans office was that CII, DCC, JEC are now open to posting; interior of buildings are still subject to the building supervisor approval.  There was also a restriction lifted on the use of tape.  Tape may be used with the exception of duct tape, no posting on the ground, and the ability to stop a corporation from outside posting in excess unless sponsored by a dept or club; additionally, the policy forbids posting of signs in a manner that it is unsafe or very difficult to remove.

M. Hanna:  Was there a discussion on somehow enforcing that if you put up a poster, you must be responsible for taking it down in a reasonable amount of time after the event.

W. Bobrowski:  We did have this discussion. The answer was it would be nice but generally it a self-policing issue.  If it has a date on it you can post over or take it down after the date has passed.  If it posted for service which is not specially dated then after two weeks of posting you can remove it.

P. Hajela:  I believe the significant change is in that outdoor signs were only to be posted on campus bulletin boards; now they may be posted on some building.

B. Peterson:  I was wondering if there was any discussion on how to enforce placement and removal of sign by the student senate?

W. Bobrowski: The general opinion was student-policing effort, or applying penalties for not removing poster in a reasonable amount of time.  What is happening now and will continue to happens is if someone complains to the dean of students office, action will be taken; if no complaints are filed, then no action is being taken. No, no one is out there actively checking.  It is just impossible to do this; we do not have the manpower or time to go actively pursuing violations.

B. Peterson:  I would like to make a comment that we should not rely on the physical facility to police the sign policy.  The student government is allocated over seven million dollars a year, and those allocations are used for lots of things.  It seems to me policing the sign policy is an issue of personal responsibility.

P. Hajela:   Is there a motion to approve the amendments? M. Hanna.  Unanimous.

Review of Administrators - Sharon Anderson-Gold

M. Hanna:  The one concern I have with this wording is the 20% figure. In case of small departments, this could become very disastrous.  If you have a department with 5 people, one person would be 20%. If they became mad they could continuously hold up the department.  Does every chairperson on campus have a three-year appointment?

B. Peterson:  We are moving in that direction.  I have talked to the deans and indicated to them we will appoint deans for five years and department chairs for three-year terms.  There are some departments here that have an indefinite appointment but we are changing them into three-year terms.

P. Hajela:  Does the handbook state it should be a three-year appointment?

B. Peterson:  No, the handbook states they are appointed by the president for a fixed term.  We are trying to identify that fixed term, to five year for the deans and three-years for the chairs.

R. Parson: The problem is the things that are not written in the handbook may change as the president and provost change. We didn't want to go into too much detail in the handbook but we did want to put some pieces that we feel are important. As  S. Anderson-Gold indicated, especially at the deans level, so that the faculty can call for a review if a major group felt it was warranted. In this situation, all the faculty would have a chance to give their input.

B. Peterson:  Is there a sense among the faculty that the administration is not responsive to the faculty when they are unhappy? Is that why you felt you needed to add a percentage?

R. Parson:  I think we should remove the 20%within the chair definition but keep it in for the deans.

P. Hajela:  I was under the impression from our last meeting in dealing with this subject that the purpose of changing the wording on chairs in the handbook was to keep the senate out of the loop and to see how the process worked by simply putting in words (in the handbook) that stated that chairs would be reviewed.  Yet I see that it states the faculty senate and deans office will jointly develop this format for reviewing.

S. Anderson-Gold:   This is due to the third concern mentioned on feedback (report); we felt it would be useful if the faculty senate were involved in the process of developing this format.  Our intention was that it would be a generalized format on how you would review the deans and receive the feedback.

P. Hajela:  I thought we had arrived at a consensus of putting language into the handbook which would force the review of department chairs – this does not exist at the moment. Then we would step back and see how that policy works.  I thought that was the agreement we had reached.

B. Peterson:  I think we should look at other universities and see how they perform their evaluation.  I think what you are looking for is for the provost to have a responsibility to report back the result of the review to the faculty senate and the dean to report back to the faculty the result of the review of the chair.  I think you should say in the handbook that the provost would meet with the faculty to discuss the result of the review where they may ask questions.  To say in the handbook you are going to develop a format seems strange.  Either develop it now and then put it in the handbook or leave it out.

P. Hajela:  I think the language needs to be revised some.  I suggest we revise the wording and then bring it to a vote at the next meeting.


Meeting adjourned 4:45 p.m.