Faculty Senate Meeting
4-25-01

 
Original Minutes from 4-25-01
   
Present:  M. Hanna, P. Hajela, B. Parsons, S. Derby, K. Anderson, S. Anderson-Gold, L. Kammerer,
L. Caporael, J. Mitchell, P. Boyce, G. Belfort, P. Quinn, C. Breneman, M. Embrechts
 
Absent: K. Fortun, A. Dyson, R. Gutmann, K. Craig, , G. Korenowski, R. Leifer, J. Erickson, B. Peterson
 
Guests:  G. Gabriele, J. Nelson, P. Federici

Agenda

Election Results
Review of Administrators
Report from the Curriculum Committee on the IT Structure Changes - Gary Gabriele, Dean of Undergraduate Education
Report from the Planning and Resources Committee, IT Structure Changes
- Curt Breneman
Planning and Resources Committee - Department Mergers in the School of Engineering

Adjournment

Election Results

President Prabhat Hajela called the meeting to order. The Election results were presented by Faculty Senate Vice President Linnda Caporael. She then made a motion to accept the results as submitted. The Election results were unanimously accepted as presented by Linnda Caporael.

Review of Administrators

Senator Sharon Anderson-Gold presented on the Review of Administrators.  

Senator Mark Embrechts stated that when the language "the chairman may be renewed" is used, it seems to imply that this is not the normal procedure while history says the normal procedure is that the chairman is renewed. He also believes there is a problem with the dean statement that their is no parallel statement.  He asked whether this means that after five years the term is up and it might not be renewed. Bob Parsons, Secretary of the Senate responded that that is the language that is already in place. He added that this is the way the statement reads to him, (this may not be what was intended). The intentions need to be made clear. It reads as if the chairman would not normally be renewed but he may be renewed.
 

Senator Sharon Anderson-Gold what a better background assumption might be. Mark Embrechts also question the assumption of what the normal procedure will be. He does not want to see that after five years someone states that that is not what is written. Prabhat agreed that it is a valid point and that the old language actually states that the President appoints the dean for an indefinite term. The department chairperson is only appointed for a fix term, but the fix term is not specified. He asked whether the language already exists that these appointments may be renewed. Sharon said that it does, but only specified for the chairs. Bob Parsons stated that the Provost is the one that added the term and the Faculty Senate Executive Committee felt that it was a good thing.  This is just a recommendation that will go to the (what office?) for approval to be added to the handbook.
 

Linda Caporael asked if there was some reason for having a review for a three-year chair.  It seems to her that it would be important if the chair were going to be renewed.  Taking the amount of time it takes to do a review, if you have a chair that is not going to work out, it will take a while to figure that out and then just let the rest of that term drift. Gary Gabriel, Dean of Undergraduate Education, stated that the five-year term is not new to this document but has been in place for a while, but is not in the handbook.  In the dean's definition you could simply say "before reappointment" which would correct the misconception of them being renew or not.  The problem he sees with this statement is that it seems to imply that only deans reviewed are those deans who head up schools. It does not clarify if it includes him as Dean of Undergraduate Education as well as other Deans that do not head a school.  He is not sure what the intent is with respect to those Deans. He added that he has no position on it, but is is just not clear in this statement. Sharon Anderson-Gold stated that she thought if "Deans of Schools" were added to the statement "of the school", it would imply all Deans.
 

President Prabhat Hajela made a motion to accept the handbook changes. Bob Parsons made the motion, it was seconded by Steve Derby and then unanimously accepted.

Report from the Curriculum Committee on the IT Structure Changes - Gary Gabriele, Dean of Undergraduate Education

Gary Gabriele, Dean of Undergraduate Education that that the IT curriculum satisfies all the school of science core requirements, except for one aspect and that is currently in the school of science core. It requires two kinds of electives, which must be in different disciplines.  Originally this did not appear to be a problem but J. Napolitano felt this would be a problem for IT students.  Sam Waite has informed the committee that the current core requirement is under discussion in the Science Curriculum Committee.  At this point, there is not a resolution, but it does not appear to the committee to be a major roadblock.  The Committee is still investigating the confusion surrounding what it means for IT to be administrated within the School of Science relevant to degree requirements.  There are no sustained roadblocks to report at this time.  Associate Dean for the IT committee will have a discussion on this topic.  In all others aspects, the core requirements for IT and Science are the same.

Prabhat Hajela asked Gary to inform the Faculty Senate of any administrative problems. Gary responded that he does not know of any yet, but he did expect it to be a challenge.

Report from the Planning and Resources Committee on the IT Structure Changes - Curt Breneman  

Curt Breneman stated that he thought the real question is how to evaluate the IT Undergraduate program with the IT Graduate research program. He questioned how these two fit together. Gary Gabriele said he believes it is too early to tell. He thinks that the assumption can be made that it is not too much different than the Institute Research Center and their corresponding undergraduate programs. He does not see where this is functionally too much different from that.
 

Prabhat asked what the Senate wants to do with the proposed IT structure. He asked if the Senate wants to go on record to state this is something the Senate would like to reexamine in depth and then give our opinion on or accept it as proposed. Bob Parsons asked Curt if he had any idea how big the management group is in IT. Curt's understanding is that it is the majority. Bob Parsons asked if science is a good home for this group or whether there should be an IT component in Management and an IT in Science to maintain an interdisciplinary. Curt asked if the School of Science is the best academic home for the undergraduate and master level work. He personally feels the program is a good one and that the Senate should endorse it. He added there is going to be problems along the way, and as with the Rensselaer Plan, it will be reviewed on an annual basis.
 

Chair of the Faculty, Mike Hanna, stated that he still has a large concern in whether the undergraduate program is in the right place. Based on the students that are in the program, he does not know how many of them would feel that the School of Science is the right place.  If he had to pick the two strongest places within in the field right now for the IT undergraduate program it would have to be Computer Science or Management.  His question is why did it go in one direction as opposed to the other. He added that he would be more comfortable in saying that the Senate withstands until further evaluation.

Curt Breneman asked if he was suggesting that the Research Administration, Graduate Administration and Undergraduate Administration be split so there are three pieces instead of two. Mike responded that he does not have a problem with the graduate portion if the question about the Master's portion of the program is answered. He asked additionally if the thesis Master work is done the same way as the PhD and if it is non-thesis, where does it go. Curt believes that the reason why the School of Science was chosen for this is because the research component definitely has more science as well as engineering it it. IT should be thought of as a science application.

 

Prabhat said he believes the Senate has a number of unanswered questions, including Core Curriculum matters as well as the right place for the IT structure. He said he thinks it needs more discussion within the Senate before the IT structure can be endorsed.
 

Planning & Resources Committee - Department Mergers in the School of Engineering  

Curt Breneman stated that K. Nelson has an alternative proposal for increasing the critical mass of the department.  Department Mergers Presentation attached. Keith Nelson said that the statement that Rensselaer has had a declining faculty is true, due to the administration letting faculty go without replacing them.  In his view there are three individuals within the ECSE who are really power engineers.  If those three individuals were moved into electric power this would free up three slots in ECSE, which would allow the Administration to hire people that they feel are more in line with the directory making ECSE more compliant with the Rensselaer Plan and it would build the number needed in EP so that it would get us back to where the department was during our research.  He said that he is currently negotiating with General Electric for two of their engineers to come to RPI as research professors fully funded by GE for four million dollars each for an indefinite period of time.  Which would again provide another two individuals. At their last meeting, the advisory committee in engineering was up in arms about this merger.  They recommended very strongly against it and two of them offered to write a check to pay for another faculty member. They were prepared at that point to supply another faculty member.  The reaction he received was that one person was not enough.  If both packages are put together, with the adjunct, Rensselaer will have a respectable department.
 

Senator Peter Boyce asked if this is financially viable for the department. Keith Nelson said "yes" and that the department currently has 18 graduates students (most are paying their own way). Out of the four faculty, one is fully funded, one of the chair professor's money comes in from the outside. He added that it seems this is almost an attempt to eliminate something that has been successful in the past but does not have the new concern of the Rensselaer Plan.  He thinks that financially successful existing departments, which are producing a useful product, should be supported.
 

Curt Breneman said that it has been pointed out that other departments could actually fall in this particular ax very easily if undergraduate numbers are what accounts for what makes something successful or not.  It appears that undergraduate numbers are more sufficient to the current administration then graduate students.
 

Sharon Anderson-Gold said that if the three professors who are currently in another department were added to this department, it would go a long way in increasing the bulk. She asked if he had ever talked to these individuals to see if they are interested and what the obstacles are in making it happen. Keith Nelson responded that he does not believe they have formally been approached and he does not know what their wishes are.  One of the individuals already has a joint appointment in EP but is administratively in ECSE. Sharon said that it sounded like an interesting idea and was just wondering if he had a feeling there was an obstacle or interest. Keith did not want to speak for the Dean, but he thinks if the Dean were here, he would say that he sees a correlation between ranking and size. If the top ranking universities are looked at, there is undoubtedly a correlation between the size of a department and its ranking. The fact of the matter is that the comradely is not true. There are some very find small departments. He thinks the motivation is to try and build numbers in ECSE. 

 

President Hajela said that unfortunately the Dean is traveling and he has requested the Senate grant him the opportunity to speak to the P&R report and perhaps address all questions that have been raised here today.  The Senate may go various ways today. A vote can be taken on the proposal put forward by the P&R committee or the Senate can wait and hear from the Dean. Or the Senate can vote either way to accept the proposal or turn it down, or defer the decision to next week when the Dean can make a presentation to respond to questions so an educated decision can be made at that point.
 

Mike Hanna asked what impacts this will this have on the undergraduate program in EP and if the curriculum be as viable. Keith Nelson responded that the impact on the undergraduate program will be very small and that it is predominately a postgraduate program department.  There are more PhD per faculty member than any other school of engineering.  He thinks that were it not for the fact continuous bailing of the boat (so to speak) is happening, even with the research level at a low high, it could still be a great deal higher.  The money is there, but the time to go after it is not because the department is short in numbers.  If the question is specifically for undergraduate then he would have to guess those numbers are extremely low, that it would not be impacted very much.
 

Prabhat asked what has been the history of faculty in the tenure process. Keith said that he has been chairman for 15 years and that he has not yet not gotten anyone through the P&R committee. Prabhat asked how many faculty he was talking about. Keith said perhaps 3 or 4.

Bob Parsons asked what the backgrounds of the students are that come in for their masters/PhD. Keith said Electric Engineering and Electric Power Engineer and one year Master's program. For PhD students the background is enormous.
 

Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education, Gary Gabriele commented that from listening to both the recommendations, there seems to be many similarities so it is not clear to him why they would recommend one and not the other. Curt stated that the main difference is that they do not believe the EEE department is as viable in its present form as the EP department is.  This opinion is based on the elevation of the faculty structure at the moment, what is on national records.
 
P. Quinn said he thinks the Senate should wait until next week and hear the Dean and that no action is taken until the Dean has been heard. Kurt

Anderson said that the question he would like an answer to next week or shortly there after is what is the value of adding these extra faculty or lack of not adding in keeping this department.
 

Prabhat asked that if this were to become an electric power division within electric engineering, what does it do to the staff and the ability to work in terms of teaching load and being able to get a research source from outside. Shep Salon said that in the current situation, an overload in teaching is taken in order to Master's degree and doctoral students.  Moving in to ECSE, it is unclear if the same relationships would be allowed.  The question has been avoided numerous times.  The current arrangement is that the faculty teaches an additional core course, to obtain the TA allotment to attract graduate students.  The second area is that the assumption is whether the faculty in ECSE or EP have the same job security, and that right now the market is enormous for graduates.  The assumption is that it is a strong program now but what happens if it is messed around with and what happens is that it is unsure if it will be allowed to continue doing what it does and one cannot be assured that the faculty will stand for that.  If people can not or will not be hired to backfill empty positions, the program will be destroyed in a very short time even if Rensselaer want it to be or not.
 

Sharon Anderson-Gold asked that in the P&R proposal whether a moratorium should be requested so that they can continue in their study. Mike Hanna said yes so that the answers to the questions voiced today can be found. If the Dean were not traveling today, he would assume the Dean would be here in this meeting and then there would be a greater ability to make a resolution as to how the Senate feels.  This would allow everyone to hear all sides of the issues. He does not think it integrates the recommendations by the P & R committee, it just provides more input. Peter Boyce believes that the Dean should be allowed his chance to answer the questions and then the Senate can make their decision. Curt said he feels more comfortable with having the Dean address this Senate rather than just P&R. The Senate needs to receive his answers.
 

Prabhat asked if all was in favor of having a meeting next week, with the dean and at that point make a decision on the merger.  The meeting for next week was approved.
 

Adjournment

Meeting adjourned 4:45 p.m.