Original Minutes from Faculty Senate Meeting - February 6, 2002

Return to revised Minutes of 2-6-2002

(NOTE: Minutes are longer than usual to include details of faculty compensation report.)

Attendees: Kurt Anderson, Sharon Anderson-Gold, Tom Apple, Anne Bilynski, Georges Belfort, Curt Breneman, President Linnda Caporael, Loretta Ebert, Gary Gabriele, Prabhat Hajela, Kim Keating, (Mercer) Andrew Klein, (Mercer) Gerald Korenowski, John Mitchell, Jon Newell, Ralph Noble, Bud Peterson, Curtis Powell, Susan Sanderson, Trina Sego, Mary Anne Staniszewski, Mary Ann Waltz

President Caporael brought the meeting to order and asked for approval of the minutes and appendix of the January 23, 2002 faculty senate meeting. Motion to approve minutes, with minor corrections, passed. President Caporael expressed appreciation on behalf of the Faculty Senate for the 9/11 Open Response Committee lecture series and urged Senators to bring the talks to the attention of their students and colleagues. The committee's web page and schedule of events may be viewed at: http://www.rpi.edu/safecampus/bulletins.html. For further information, contact Brian Lonsway, lonsway@rpi.edu or Kim Fortun, fortuk@rpi.edu

Chair of the Curriculum Committee, Mary Ann Staniszewski, stated the committee discussed the importance of having IT representation. It was felt that although IT has become part of the School of Science, the school would be overseeing only budgetary issues, not the IT curriculum. After discussion determining the need for a possible constitutional amendment to add representation from IT, it was suggested the Faculty Senate Executive Committee appoint, on a temporary basis, an IT member-at-large.

President Caporael asked for a slight change in the order of the agenda, as well as noting that Joseph Flaherty, Chair of the IT Constellation Search would have to postpone his presentation until the Senate's next meeting.

Georges Belfort, Chair of the Biotechnology Constellation Search Committee, described the committee's objectives, members, and activities to date. The process has been somewhat slower and more complex than anticipated, in part because Rensselaer is perceived foremost as an engineering school and not as prestigious in the biotechnology discipline. Some junior candidates' interest is dependent upon who will fill the senior candidate position, and so on. Both junior and senior candidates have presented in the Distinguished Lecture Series, but the major focus now is to attract more senior candidates. The committee desires input, and invites participation at their meetings, which are open to all Rensselaer faculties. Further information may be obtained by
viewing the Biotechnology Constellation web site at: http://www.rpi.edu/Contacts/Constellations/biotech/

Ralph Noble, Chair of the Planning and Resource Committee, presented the committee's considerations regarding the graduation tuition policy issue. The committee was to meet directly after this meeting and all were invited to attend to discuss this issue.

Susan Sanderson, Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Hartford, stated they would attempt to meet for the first time this coming week, and with Hartford every two weeks via videoconference. However, the cost of video conferencing has been a dilemma. Provost Peterson interjected that the committee should put together a budget of the estimated costs and submit it to his office. Chair Sanderson was happy to oblige!

President Caporael turned the floor over to Curtis Powell, Vice President of Human Resources. Curtis Powell introduced the compensation consultants from Mercer. First, Dr. Andrew Klein, the Higher Education Practice Leader and the top consultant from Mercer with 15 years experience, who is also an adjunct faculty member in the School of Management at American University. Secondly, Kim Keating, Sr. Consultant, 7 years with Mercer, has an MBA from Harvard Business School and is the project manager for the compensation initiative here at Rensselaer. Also introduced was Anne Bilynsky, Rensselaer's Compensation Manager.

Powell presented an executive summary of the recent benefit changes. (attached) The senate would like to review these changes, as well as dates of the Benefit Fair, and other issues, and give further consideration to the necessity of a Faculty Compensation Committee, which would review these type issues in the future and make recommendations to the faculty on a timelier basis.

Powell suggested anyone who wasn't able to attend the town meetings could visit the link on the Human Resource web site: http://www.rpi.edu/dept/hr/townhall/index.html. He is still looking for feedback on how to improve communications on this initiative to both faculty and staff. Issues of retention, and recruitment of new talent are of key importance to our goals.

Andrew Klein noted that one of the agenda items of the Rensselaer Plan is to raise the standing of the University, and to do that means world-class faculty, and that means competitive compensation. "We are comparing faculty salaries, by discipline, against the top 25 schools [colleges and universities] in the nation." "If we want to be a world class school, what does that mean? Does it mean being top 10? Does it mean being top 10 in every school? Top 25? We don't have that definition yet. But, it is clear that raising pay, without essentially the "push" on the other side, [building the structure, level of contribution] is going to be a funding problem."

"We're looking at three systems. One is really a base-pay program. The second is a dual-track faculty compensation system, differentiating contributors from world-class folks. And potentially the third, we have just started discussing, is any kind of bonus or supplemental program to recognize a particular contribution." In response to a couple questions, it was apparent that Mercer was not charged to look into supplemental pay issues, nor are they doing any kind of affirmative action analysis, nor discrimination analysis. "We are not looking at individuals, we are looking at positions (i.e., Associate Professors in the Management School are benchmarked against a group of other Associate Professors in Management Schools in the top 25 schools); that's the analysis and this is blind to any of the Title VII areas of discrimination."

The "compression" issue was discussed. Presumably a person who got above average raises every year since they were hired, would have only a slightly higher pay than a new person who just started. This is a merit matrix issue and organizations that use a merit pay program have that compression issue. It is not avoidable within a merit matrix design. It is avoidable by going beyond those designs, which may provide some relief.

In response to a question regarding dual-track compensation, Klein claimed that almost 100% of other schools practice it. Rensselaer practices it now, though it's informal, and it's disorganized. World-class talent is identified and it is paid more than the regular contributors in the organization. One of the problems is, it has tended to look more externally, at people you want to hire, and it has not looked (in as organized a fashion) internally, about talent that you have here. One of the agenda items is to make this kind of program available, and part of the organization, for current faculty as well as faculty you would like to bring into the organization. "We are looking to bring some order, discipline, logic, and parameters to this, and we are here to ask for your help. We have anecdotal evidence [that the dual-track program is going on here now] mostly that it is different in every school, but we have comfort that if we ask people to say 'who are the world-class contributors in this institution, and/or who are the world-class contributors you wish you had here?' there isn't a whole lot of difficulty creating the list."

Criteria that emerged from conversations with the Deans and the President regarding what a dual-track program "ought" to be doing, are: raise the prestige which ultimately translates into the increased ranking of the institution, the reputation of the institution, the quality of it's education, world-class faculty, and world-class graduates, to name a few.

At 4PM the meeting was adjourned. However, Dr. Klein was willing to stay on and answer further questions. Further discussion revolved around the dual-track salary structure, what other schools may consider "world-class" faculty, the compression issue, and faculty access to Mercer's final data, among other issues.

July 22, 2004