Faculty Senate Minutes



Return to revised Minutes of 9/12/2000


Present: M. Hanna, P. Hajela, B. Parson, M. Embrechts, G. Belfort, J. Erickson, F. Scott, A. Dyson, J. Ackerman, C. Breneman, J. Mitchell, L. Caporael, S. Andersoon-Gold, K. Fortun, G. Korenowski, B. Peterson, R. Leifer




P. Hajela:I'd like to call the meeting to order and to introduce our Provost Bud Peterson.Before we begin, can we approve the minutes of our meeting of May 2000? (Unanimous).The minutes of our August 29 meeting are not ready for distribution..


First item on the agenda is the election of a new senator to fill the position vacated by the resignation of Jorge Haddock.Jon Erickson has been nominations to fill this position. (Unanimous)



Second item on the agenda is a report on ad hoc committee formation as required to help the Planning & Resource Committee in the Performance Plan critique.


Some names were put forward from individual schools. We expect the complete slate by our next meeting.


S. Anderson-Gold:The H&SS council will be this committee from H&SS. Why were representatives of the PR Committee not charged with creating this committee?


M. Hanna: While the P&R committee has representation from each school, this group may not have the grass-root connections that we are looking for in the current process.Each ad hoc committee member will have knowledge of the department plan that was submitted, and will provide us with the department likes/dislikes of the plan.


P. Hajela:There are senators from each school Ė they represent school interests and should be connected to individuals within the school. They would be in a good position to identify people for the ad hoc committees.


C. Breneman:This is an alternative mechanism; the purpose is to be a sensing network that would be able to head off problems. So, we can suggest alternatives before the time schedule becomes too tight.


P. Hajela:Within your school will this group (H&SS council) be working with the dean in preparing this plan.


S. Anderson-Gold:Only in the essence of providing input; other groups will prepare the plan but there are a number of groups who will give input.


S. Anderson-Gold:The faculty council is aware of their depts. Planning process.As far as I know they are not involved in any executive committee; why not use this as the ad hoc committee?.


C. Breneman: We are just trying to make sure the plan is tailored to the needs of the faculty that is involved.The nature of the process is such that it will please some people and there will be those who are going to be less happy it then others. The idea is to give everyone a chance to put his or her voice in.




P. Hajela:Iím hoping that this approach will identify anything controversial in one of the plans at an early stage.C. Breneman will have a chance to question the portfolio owners at an appropriate time.This way the Senate can concentrate on items that will be most important to the faculty.


K. Fortun:Is the communication channel going to be that the ad hoc committee members will let it be know that they are point person and that the PR committee as a whole is open to receive input?Yes


C. Breneman: We should also publish it in Rennserv or in the Review to make it well known.

That's the reason for this committee besides the PR Committee.


Third item on the agenda: Message from Provost, Bud Peterson: I feel that the Faculty Senate plays a critical role in well being of the institution. They are a body that provides input on a number of issues:

††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††† a.††††††††††††††† Tenure and promotion process- key role in the tenure and promotion process

††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††† b.††††††††††††††† Review of curriculum-request for undergraduate degree approval by the Faculty †††† ††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††† Senate

Ways I would to see the Faculty Senate become involved:

a.††††††††††††††† Pursue a chapter of American Association of Universities, critical role for the Faculty Senate

b.††††††††††††††† Performance Plan: critical aspect of the activities in coming months. Faculty Senate will hopefully play a key role. Review guidelines from previous meeting.


Plan has specific time target driven to a large extent by the time frame to offer new faculty positions: - dept chairs, administration, faculty search committees, and deans need to have some idea/understanding of the budget situation for next year so as to make informed, intelligent decision on new hires. This is one of the key points in this process. If we wait till March to go through this process, then it is almost April/May before we establish the budget for the schools/dept.We then will miss opportunity to hire the best faculty.There is an attempt to move this process forward so that we do not lose an entire year.This will be a continuous process and this initial planning process is geared towards a three-year plan.

Decision made this year for three years out are not fixed in concrete.Goals made this year will be revaluated and modified as needed. It is not a one-time deal.Each year the plan will be reevaluated to identify high priority goals, and to see what needs to be done to accomplish goals. Rennsselaer Plan is the goal.It will identify the target, goals and the vision for the institution. Performance Planning process is the road map by which we will accomplish what is outlines in the Rennsselaer Plan.


Question on Performance Plan


L Caporael: Question about changes in tenure standards Ė relation to interdisciplinary work on campus?


Provost: I had a meeting with the Dean's council and the academic deans

We had a discussion on standards for hiring/continuing employment.This includes staff, faculty, and administrators. If we want to accomplish the goals outlined in Rennsselaer Plan we will have to increase the expectation we have of these individuals. This ripples down to higher tenure and promotion standards.


Who is responsible for doing this? Faculty says this is Provost & Deans job and the Deans say its the faculty's job.Actually it's everyones responsibility.


Where in the tenure process should the highest hurdle be?

††††††††††††† The process itself is as follows:

a.††††††††††††††† Dept. department chairdeandean committeefaculty committee/deancommitteejoint committeeprovostpresidentboard of trustee

Where in your mind should the biggest hurdle be?In my mind it should be at the dept. level.

They are the ones that know the sciences and are in the best position to evaluate the quality of individual work.


How do we handle tenure/promotion situation for non-traditional cases, for example an individual involved in interdisciplinary work.We need to look back at the faculty and ask what is the expectation of these individuals, and have they meet those expectations?We need to focus on the quality of the work that the individuals are doing.


How can we raise standards?The way to raise the standards should come from faculty.



S. Anderson-Gold: About the comment on standards coming from departments because departments understand the sciences. I wonder that once its out of department, will the understanding priority of the discipline still be in place as the case moves through the system?


Provost: Individual committee needs to put together a good package

(Package to include: strong reference letters from strong individuals that are leaders in the field).Most critical in promotion process are the letters the chair solicits. Who is asked to write, whre they are from, how they respond, how direct, these carry a lot of weight.Will this letter carry forward and up the line? I believe it will. Reason for this process is to allow for multiple inputs.It lets us avoid situations where you have a provost with an engineering degree trying to determine quality of work in an area they are not familiar with.


G. Korenowski:††††††††††††††† If a department turns down or rejects one of their people, do they get to retain the tenure line to fill with new a hire?


Provost: The following individuals have developed a process that deals with vacated faculty positions:

†††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††† Ginny Gregg - vice president of finance

Curtis Powell - vice president human resources

Bud Peterson, Provost


A memo was sent (by Doyle Daves) stating that all vacated faculty position will revert to the Provost office and redistribution will occur from there.


I do not believe we should make tenure decision based on financial resources. I feel the decision to not grant someone tenure should not have an adverse budget affected on a department.

Faculty should be able to make decision without worrying about budgets.They should not be pushed into making a decision they are not ready to make.Budget should not be a factor in tenure/promotion decision.


S. Anderson-Gold: Are these letters supposed to let the committee get a sense of how the letter writer feels about an individual?Should sum up by judgment?


Provost: Decision to go for letters should be done carefully.Letters are important especially in area of interdisciplinary work.Letters for multi-disciplinary or interdisciplinary fields should be very precise.


S. Anderson-Gold: Do we need to be trained to look for the right thing?


Provost: We need to carefully ask the right things. When we ask for a letter, we need to ask for comments that identify the individualís strong points, especially in multi-disciplinary fields.


G. Belfort: I agree that highest hurl should be at the dept level.But there also is the possibility of serious conflicts within the depts. That often taints that process. I recommend that the dean's office and your office give a white paper on what the criteria should be for great success.This would allow the Chairperson to ask the proper question and focus on the end results to give tenure or not to give tenure.


G. Belfort: Why should we join the American Association of Universities, what is it, and why are we not in already?

What does it take to do this?


Provost: We understand there are many issues that arise at the dept level.Thatís the reasons we have a process and don't just leave it up to the dept to make these decisions and to send to the Board of Trustees for approval. No one believes that one person or group is capable of making the right decision every time.


In answer to the white paper, I prefer to do it in form of question to be asked, and I would like to see the faculty determine the questions to ask. Example of question is whether graduate students are coming to this institution to work with that individual?


G. Belfort: This process should have feed back.


Provost: Precisely the reason why Iím talking to deans.Deans should be communicating to dept. chairs before decision are made. We need to make these decisions based on the quality of the scholarship of the individuals that are concerned.

Most important job of Provost is too attract, develop and retain the very highest quality faculty possible.


P. Hajela:In the context of remarks that have been made concerning higher standards for promotion/tenure, what can we do as a body collective to try and eliminate the fear complex. It would be good to indicate that if you have good scholarship, good track record, then there wonít be a discontinuous process in place here?


Provost: Decision made are not made by a single individual but by a group of individuals, by the faculty. This is not going to change as a step function but a gradual change. This can be a difficult process but it will not change quickly. People must recognize that if they work hard, do good work and have a level of activity, that the right things will happen.


K. Fortun:††† Is it fair to say your expectation is that we incorporate higher expectations for hiring new people, and to mentor them with reference to higher standards for promotion.If someone is just about to be tenured now, or just about to be promoted now, what can they expect?


Provost: In terms of change in the standards, I think that the expectations of new hires will be significantly different from the expectations of today.Expectation of people coming up for tenure/promotion right now is not going to be the same level as new hires.


K. Fortun:What can faculty expect of this planning process? How soon will we see more of the inner structure?


Provost: I think very soon.There have already been some changes: e.g. Vice President of research is new position. I think there will be visually noticeable changes soon.You can see some already.Like some of the initial changes that resulted from Renns. Plan, (The remodeling of the Union, the Mueller Center) some changes that are not so visible(ex:13 classroom wired for laptop computers, additional resources made available to promote research activity).I think the Performance Planning Process is going to allow the faculty and administration to sort through what we're doing? Do I believe we are going to be able to do everything we are currently doing, and still accomplish the goals in the Renns Plan?NO! Who will need to decided what we are going to do and not do, this is part of the performance planning process.


K. Fortun:Will there be an organizational shift?


Provost: Do I believe we are going to be able to do everything we are currently doing and still accomplish the goals in the Renns Plan?NO, what is it that we need to do differently?That part of this performance planning process.That not a decision the president nor I will make, this is a decision we will have to make collectively.


K. Fortun: In speaking of things that we will not do anymore, would you include areas to be cut as things that are demanding of the faculty's time (ex. Teaching undergraduate).


Provost: I mean that in the board sense. I'm not saying that the faculty is not working hard. I believe they are already working hard.Itís just a matter of prioritizing, time. Not everyone's priority list will be the same. Not everyoneís priorities need to be the same but you cannot have a total absence in a single major area and expect to be successful.Do I except someone who just did research to be tenured? No!.Do I except some who just did teaching be tenured?


Provost: Fact that the Renns Plan says we are going to focus on biotech does not mean we are going to quit doing everything else we do well.Renns. Plan wants to double the research volume. That means the people doing research in areas that have nothing to do with biotech or IT will still be doing research. It doesn't mean that if you're not doing research in biotech you need to go some place else.There are decisions that will have to be made. The process by which we get to that decision is the performance plan.We want to move forward in an area and that means we have to make changes. It does not mean we will throw everything else out.


M Hanna: People in the pipeline are afraid that they will be evaluated at P&T time on the basis of their choice of field as well as the quality?


Provost: We need to make those decisions based on quality.This must be a fundamental first step. We need to decide what we can really do well and focus on those things. We are not going to quit doing everything else - we now just add to it.


K Fortun: Just to add to your comment that we need to think of retaining good faculty.

We also need to maintain an overall sense of community.


Provost: The process is made of three components:





AAU the what and why?


Provost: AAU is number of different types of institution.It's a list I believe Rennselaer should aspire to be on.New hires look at this list before deciding on employment.So, if we want the best we need to let everyone know we are the best and this is one way of showing it.This group has high standards of scholarship and standards of fair treatment.It just seems like a group we would like to be associated with.



Meeting adjourned 4:10 p.m.