Special Session of the Faculty Senate
March 5, 2002
Presentation by President Jackson regarding the new graduate tuition policies and the perception of centralized authority by the Administration
President Jackson outlined the decisions made by the administration,
and approved by the Trustees, regarding graduate tuition and policies. She
presented a set of rules developed by the Administration that will become
effective on March 8, 2002. The decisions were based upon her desire to make
President Jackson also gave her views on the perception by
the faculty of growing centralized authority by the Administration. She
stressed a need for "order on the planet" rather than to have different
scenarios for graduate teaching and research. President Jackson concluded her
remarks by asking for questions from the faculty. Through subsequent
discussions with faculty she again stressed a need for overall institutional
policies that minimize individual faculty optimizations. At the close of the
session she noted that incentives would be put in place to move all
Professional Masters Degrees to the
A transcript of the session follows. This transcript is slightly modified to eliminate redundancies.
President Linnda Caporael
welcomed President Shirley Ann Jackson and seventy-five members of the
faculty who attended this special session of the
President Jackson launched a presentation regarding Graduate Tuition. She reiterated that the new graduate full-time tuition rate would be the same as the undergraduate rate recently set by the Board of Trustees at $26,400 per year. Secondly, graduate students who get support from the institute, on central funds, or other promised support from contracts and grants will receive a minimum stipend. If the institution promised graduate TA's or RA's support, those students will get support for a specified period of time. The minimum academic year stipend is $12,000; the minimum calendar year stipend (students who are working on research grants and working all the time) is $60,000. A transition plan has been worked out that focuses on current graduate students in various categories that grandfathers them in as much as possible, procuring the money for primarily one to two years.
President Jackson mentioned that setting the overall framework for tuition is the responsibility and authority of the Board of Trustees. Every year the undergraduate tuition has been set. Over the years the focus has been on undergraduate tuition and there in fact has been a proliferation of practices and de facto policy that has never been brought before the Board regarding graduate tuition. As part of this overall transition, every category that we know about concerning tuition itself and the practices associated with it, was taken to the Board of Trustees.
Graduate tuition here at
What was found through the pool of universities studied (i.e., Stanford, MIT, Cornell, Carnegie-Mellon, Cal-Tech, and we deliberately wanted a spread ranging from schools whose endowments are not so different from ours, such as Carnegie-Mellon, to schools where clearly they had been in the research business a long time and where they have large endowments) and what was validated by further study within a larger pool, is that we are the only one of the private research college/universities that charges on a "per-credit-hour" basis. Other findings were that time to degree completion was longer. In the end, given the results of the study, we had to decide what our policy would be that would accomplish making things as fair as possible to our students, would put us in a mode that was like other research universities, and would guarantee our students stipend levels that made sense.
President Jackson, returning to the minimum stipend issue, asked the faculty if they were aware of the situation rolling across the country with respect to graduate assistants, (and in one instance, undergraduate assistants) where students are organizing and unionizing. The National Labor Relations Board has said they can do it. In each instance a big issue has been a livable stipend and in some cases how much they were asked to work. No institution necessarily guarantees all graduate students financial aid, but if they get that aid, they will get it for a specified period, and overall the university is going to set standards and policies about what kinds of stipends we should give out.
Overall policy and guidelines, with the exception of students in the special cohort programs, ("cohort programs" meaning we have special classes and categories of students, a majority of which are in the Lally School of Management, and a couple in the School of Architecture) is that full time graduate academic tuition will be set at the same level as the undergraduate level. The entire time a student is in residence, that student will pay tuition. There will be no categories of resident students, who will not pay tuition. The definition of full time will be a student who is registered for between 9 and 15 credit hours in each semester (i.e., fall and spring semester.) The 9 credit hours per semester refer to a TA, because that person has teaching responsibilities. Otherwise, the full time student will be taking 12 credit hours per semester. Only full-time students will be eligible for financial support in the form of a tuition waiver, stipend, research assistantship or teaching assistantship or both. All graduate students who receive stipends from the institute, or contracts and grants or other sources, have to be paid the minimum stipend.
There needs to be a timeline for people finishing their PhD, a tighter timeline for those who are working on Masters degrees, and for those who come in with Masters degrees in the field of study for which they are doing research. If they are coming in for PhD it's seven years, if they are coming in to do a Masters it's two and a half years, and if they're coming in with a Masters doing a PhD in field of study it's five years.
For summer courses, or courses less than 15 credit hours, there will be a per-credit-hour rate of $1100, and this policy will become effective on Monday, March 11. Any new contracts and grants proposals and annual renewals will have to incorporate the new tuition policy. That means the budget, the cost-to-contract for student support, will include the full tuition, less the institutional tuition cost-share. It must include the minimum, calendar year stipend and overhead.
Effective August 2003 the concept of "degree completion" will cease to exist. However, coming this fall (2002) students who are currently enrolled (already enrolled for degree completion) will be able to enroll this way in the fall. For a period of one year, students will be allowed to continue under the existing "degree completion" guidelines. (That is, a student will pay $50.00 per semester - the student, not the department.) After that year, this category goes away, and it goes away for everybody else who is not in it.
A fixed number of teaching
assistantships and/or institutionally supported research assistantships (ones
that we take out of the E&G budget) will be applied to each school, in
order to affect a very high quality student. In selection of these students,
strong consideration should be should be given to their research potential.
For each of these institutionally provided assistantships,
Some additional conditions are:
(1) A graduate Teaching Assistant is expected to work under faculty supervision, and no TA will be a primary instructor for a course that they teach. The TA will work a maximum of 20 hours per week in course support.
(2) TA positions are not assigned to individual faculty, but rather to support the teaching function in the assigned course of work. Part of the TA's responsibility, however, is to get to know faculty and identify a proper thesis advisor.
(3) The TA must be registered for at least 9 credits per semester.
(4) A student will be supported on a TA, or an institutionally supported RA, for a maximum of 2 years for a PhD student, and 1 year for a Masters student, except in special cases. After this period, it is expected that the student's thesis advisor will support that student, unless they have some other means of support. But we will encourage faculty to support them.
When a PhD student who has been a TA, moves into research with a supervisor, he has a research contract with full indirect cost recovery. The institute will provide a 50/50 cost share, on tuition and stipend, for that transition year. It is the academic Dean's responsibility, in consultation with the Provost, to insure that all the students who return, who currently occupy TAs or institutionally supported RAs, will be supported for the next academic year. Any exceptions to this have to be approved by the Provost on a case-by-case basis.
Effective immediately upon implementation of this policy, the tuition cost-share for all competitive, externally funded research proposals, that carry full indirect cost base, will be 35% of the required tuition for each graduate research student included in the proposal. All proposals, single or multiple investigators, will have a 35% cost share.
The principal focus for the
Part-time students in the core,
or general studies programs at
Any part-time student, who has
been enrolled on the
The transition plan for self-pay students is that we would like them to register as full-time students, and take the minimum of 12 credit hours per semester. If they don't, they can pay the part-time tuition. But if they register for full-time they can mitigate the impact of the changes in tuition. If they register full-time, and are currently pursuing a Master's degree, they will pay $750 per credit hour, for a year, at which time they come under the (inaudible) guidelines. PhD students will pay $750 a credit hour for two years.
Finally, we now have Registration-in-Absentia. These are students who are pursuing a degree, have completed their course work, are physically located off the campus, and therefore are not using institution resources. These students can register in absentia for a year, and they will pay $500 per semester.
A final rundown of the numbers:
President Jackson addressed the "centralization of authority" and "view of the faculty" issues. The President remarked that she is always stunned when she hears that someone has said that she has criticized the faculty. She said she "has never criticized any individual faculty ever, and if you hear that, somebody is lying." "What you might hear me criticize are policies that make no sense, or policies that are out of line with where other research universities are, or policies that don't treat students fairly and policies that need to change. On the basis of what came out of the study, as well as some data that was assembled by both the folks who did the study and our own institutional research organizations, there are some practices that don't look good and are being affected by these policy changes. So if there is any criticism, it is of those factors, but I think that part of the reason things have evolved they way they have, is not because anybody is a 'bad' guy, the faculty is the academic part of the institute. If you all really thought, that I thought you were horrid - 'bad guys' - why should I want to be the President? What I think has happened, is that over time there have either been no policies, or if they have existed they've been somewhat ad hoc and/or not adhered to. I think that plays into this whole issue of apparent 'centralization of authority' because if there haven't been any policies before, the mere imposition of any feels very constraining. But in point of fact, what we are putting into place, and what we purport to do, is to create an overall infrastructure that puts us in line with other institutions that we benchmarked. No institution operates without some rules in place and faculty has a lot of independence, and will continue to do so. But it is the goal of the university, and it's prerogative to say, what is it going to cost to attend the institution and what general rules will pertain with respect to how students are dealt with and how we administer our contracts and grants."
"I realize that some people have referred to me as a 'micro-manager.' However, how many of you have ever seen me come into your classrooms, and tell you what to teach? How many have ever seen me come into your laboratories and tell you what to research? How many have ever had me call you into my office and tell you how you should spend your day? But it is the prerogative of the President and the Board, to say how this institution will be financed; how, at large, it will deal with its students, and how it's going to administer its contracts and grants."
"We recognize that there
are idiosyncrasies with various programs, and individual cases, and we will
deal with those as they come along, but we don't write policy that layout the
overall approach and guidelines for a thousand special cases. Some people
even felt that doing Performance Planning, coming out of the Rensselaer Plan,
was making us too corporate - 'the very idea that we would try to layout
priorities.' But all priority setting is, is asking you what is it that you
think is most important to move
First, the very fact that we have what many people consider to be one of the best strategic plans in American higher education, and the fact that we are starting down the path with the kind of performance planning that has garnered us the support of the.. (inaudible)… that's impressive, and it's unrestricted they're not saying you must use this for this and you must use it for that.
Secondly, you know I'm committed to renewing and enlarging the faculty over some period of years, by the time we get through the next fiscal year, and over about a two to three year period, we will have hired 65 to 70 faculty. That will create at least 20 new positions.
We are going to totally transform the south campus, with the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies and the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center among other things. But we're also putting $17 million dollars, this year and next year into renovation, renewal and deferred maintenance. Up until this fiscal year, on a per-year basis, approximately $800,000 was spent on deferred maintenance. The Board has committed to spend $17 million this year and $17 million next year. This does not include other initiatives that have to do with start-up support for new faculty, and that's leaving aside constellation hires.
"Another thing that other people have said is 'the only thing that is important [to the President] is IT and Biotech.' If we have six constellations, with three faculty each and you square that against 65 faculty…you can do the math. Change is hard, and believe it or not it's hard for me too, I think we all have to have more good will with each other, and not always perceive the worst. I do not have a conspiracy against any faculty member, nor the faculty as a whole. I wouldn't be out here trying to get as much money as I can to support our initiatives, to provide support for start ups, to renovate space, try to have our living conditions for our students as good as they can be, if I didn't believe in the institution and the people in it. You have to tell me where I have failed you, because I don't believe I have. Have I been 'perfect,' absolutely not. But you tell me, are you better off today, than you were five years ago when the budget was running in the red? Ten years ago, eight years ago when people were being laid off? You tell me? I'm trying to bootstrap on a very narrow research base,…(inaudible)…and to have a stronger student body, a stronger presence in the world and a stronger financial (inaudible). If we all keep facing forward, we're going to get there, and in a few years, we're going to be a lot better off. Now let me hear from you…"
Don Steiner, MANE: If you have an existing contract, and you want to bring in a new student in the fall. What kind of an RA offer can we make? Or are all new students going to be brought in as TAs?
President Jackson: There will be a mixture of RAs and TAs, but how that gets assigned on a departmental basis, is a function of the Dean. If it's "your" money, an RA offer made on an existing contract will be under the old terms of the contract. However, it is advised you pay them a full stipend.
Steiner: The near term impact of this transition appears that it is going to require expenditures that were not planned on a year ago, and since the pot of money is fixed, it seems to mean that some prioritization is going to take place. So how will this adjust the plans we have over the next year or two to accommodate additional expenditures for the students?
President Jackson: As a metric, let's say one faculty member that you might hire, where you would pay him $100,000 a year, and benefits on top of that, probably equals 10 graduate student stipends, the university is foregoing the tuition…the Deans are going to work out what the trade offs are, that's not something I can comment on. We are not interested in laying people off, let me put that to you, and therefore there is an issue of thinking about what trade offs there are. People have gone around saying things like "there will be a freeze on hiring" - that's a lie. Or, "we should fire all the clinical faculty." Well, I'm not going to let you do that. But we need to think about what would be "new" initiatives.
John Brunski, Biomed: When you talk about metrics, and benchmarking, something that jumps out from the US News & World Report, is our student-to-faculty ratio, is only comparable to the State schools. All the private schools are much lower. It's a step in the right direction to hire faculty, but even if you put 60 new faculty in Engineering tomorrow, our ratio would still be way off from the schools we would like to be compared to.
President Jackson: All we can
do is what we can do, which is to try to grow the faculty as fast as we can,
within those constraints. The full realization of the Rensselaer Plan is to
improve the student/faculty ratio, but right now we're in bootstrap mode. I
would like tomorrow for the student/faculty ratio to change. Some people
might say well, shrink the number of undergrads, but some of you wouldn't be
here if that happens. This is why we're changing the whole underpinning of
graduate tuition, and having a capital campaign.
President Jackson: There are foundations that support people in the Humanities; people in the Social Sciences do get support from the National Science Foundation and others. No one is talking about decreasing the number of TA's that you have, if anything you will be better off. We are grossing up the number of TA students.
LeFevre: However, I still don't understand, what would happen
after this two-year period?
President Jackson: Students who are currently TAs or institutionally supported RAs who have been promised, will get support. The policy doesn't say who has been promised support, the policy does say that students who are on TAs will get supported next year, and any deviation from that is done on a case-by-case basis with the Provost's approval. If a student shouldn't be supported, who has been supported, you will have to work that out yourself, as I am telling students that the default is, that they should continue to be supported, unless there is some special reason why they should not. The default position is, if a TA is on support today, they will be on it for one more year.
Connor: I wanted to follow-up
on the student/faculty ratio comment. We have a large number of
undergraduates to educate and we need good TAs to do that. We have a
tradition of bringing in graduate students and making sure that they will be
adequate. Why is it then, given this context, that we have this extreme
situation of having very large undergraduate loads? We have taken the most
rigid interpretation of graduate tuition I have seen in any school. As
President Jackson: Ken, reality
has to set in.
Michael Jensen, Mechanical Engineering: Regarding once more the student-to-faculty ratio, when we look at some of these aspirant institutions, they have very large post-doc populations, as well as professional staff, we can have this change of policy that can go tomorrow, we can have a transition, but then after the two years, the assumption is that there has been a significant step-change in proposal writing and winning of grants. When I talk to my colleagues, everybody is stressed already, particularly because of the very high student load. You are now saying that in two years, we will have a qualitative and quantitative increase in grant funding to assure our aid for all of our students. The comments are made that our TA to RA ratio is way out of whack, and that is going to be changed within two years…
President Jackson: We are still supporting the same number of TAs. We have 400 funded TA positions and over 500 de facto TAs. So somehow you are teaching today with these 500 plus de facto TAs, and we're saying we're going to fully fund them on a go-forward basis, (now how that gets proportioned, in terms of whether one body goes through the five years on a TA, or we say a body is on a TA two-and-a-half years, and then something else happens) in the end you have 500 plus supported TA positions, and that is the same number you have today and those students are going to be fully supported. So in terms of how your teaching load gets handled, I fail to see how in a relative sense things are worse off, based on what we've said.
Jensen: I didn't say we'd be worse off, I said it would be the same. But on top of that the expectation is that the grant and proposals production will increase significantly, and that takes time.
President Jackson: That's correct. We've been doing faculty loading, and looking at how faculty spend their time and have had some interesting results. Some of which seems to fly in the face of what you are saying.
Jensen: Are you going to share those data with us?
President Jackson: Well, you will have to talk to the Provost.
A question in regard to degree completion at other universities was raised from a write-in to the Executive Committee: "Would it not be fair to point out that the ivy leagues, and Stanford do allow degree completion after a number of years after full tuition is paid?"
President Jackson: The schools that have some kind of degree completion mode, do not charge $50. … (inaudible)… MIT does not have a degree completion mode.
Tom Apple added a comment on a
case he was aware of regarding
Steve Cramer, CHME: According to the new rules, my group of 9 PhD students and 2 post-docs will have to go down to roughly 5 or 6 PhD students, if I keep my money at the same level and I'm already pretty much tapped out at NIH and several other agencies. So this new policy will not really increase my tuition that I give over to the university, it will cause me to decrease the size of my research group.
President Jackson: The university has been heavily subsidizing those PhD students you have, and I'm saying to you, that the university cannot afford to continue to do that. The real solution is that your colleagues have to have research contracts. The statistics are that there are about 100 faculty that have over $100,000 a year (funding) out of the 360 tenured/tenure track faculty. If the system were fully operative, then there would be the possibility to do more cost-share, etc., and the hope is we can turn this around. Other institutions subsidize, but they subsidize from endowment, not from what other people pay.
Gary Adams, Physics: You made a strong point about the initial appointments to be full- time appointments. Does this mean 12-months appointments? Is the responsibility of supporting students during the first summer, still falling on the research assistantship?
President Jackson: The appointments are for the academic year. If you still want that student to work for you, yes, you have to put him on that grant.
Mark Rea, LRC: How would one approach a discussion (or an appeal to the rules) with the Provost or the Administration, if it could be demonstrated that students are making money and high prestige through the programs that are put on?
President Jackson: We are looking at institutional policies overall. Part of the problem of where we are is that people have been optimizing individually and locally, and we are saying that there will be an overall university policy that will govern everybody. And we are not eager to have individual optimizations. (…inaudible…)
Howard Littman, CHME: I'm not sure I understand "when" TA support begins. In many departments it's desirable for students to start with an RA, and then use (at least in our department) the TA as a fallback to make this transition. However, most of the people in our department don't want to use TAs, but will they be able to get them somewhere down the line?
President Jackson: I think that's still under discussion, because you just brought it up!
Prabhat Hajela read a note from the emails: How does the new tuition affect benefits? There are faculty that take two graduate courses per semester, these courses are taxed and therefore there is a tax burden with the increase in tuition. How is this going to be addressed?
President Jackson: …(inaudible)… no, nothing at this point…our focus has been on full-time students, we are not taking away any benefits …(inaudible)… We're working on a transition for that.
Henry Scarton, MANE: There is
an analogy between UTC and
President Jackson: If they become a doctoral student, they have to register full-time.
Scarton: But they are full-time employees at General Electric Large Steam Turbine Generator, so they can't do that…
President Jackson: Their focus
will be at
(from the audience) "No part-time here?"
President Jackson: There is part-time here, but we're saying if you want to go to a degree program, then you register for that. The honest answer to this question is "we're still looking at it."
Bruce Nauman, CHME: A lot of our graduate/doctoral students are foreign. There is an I20 form that appears to obligate us for a period of 3 to at least 5 years. Do you have any comments on that?
President Jackson: I think you have to work that out within your department in terms of how you figure out how you can support the student, the university, provide (inaudible) department and the faculty within the department.
Nauman: But the second part to that is not the department, the second story to that is the University… …(inaudible)… We appear to obligate ourselves to this particular student for a year, this is a federal government form.
President Jackson: Well, then will have to look into that.
Amir Hirsa, Mechanical Engineering - Letters for new students have now been delayed for about two weeks compared to last year's calendar and I'm afraid we're going to lose out on very top recruits if we don't resolve this issue and do it fast. Letters and I20 forms are on hold; I'm trying to get a student that has been hand picked from…
President Jackson: Well the policy becomes effective on Monday.
Michael Jensen: But we don't know how many extra, if we have to cover existing students with TA's or if we can bring in new ones?
Provost Peterson: We have distributed a list of every graduate student who is enrolled in the fall or the spring to the Deans. The Deans are going through the lists a student at a time. We are trying to get that resolved as fast as we can so you can get those letters out. They have had them for a week or so. One of the schools is done, another is close to done, and they are going through to figure out exactly what the obligation is to existing students so they have these numbers.
Curt Breneman, Chemistry: In discussion with other faculty members it has come up that the 50/50 cost share that occurs during that first transitional year…for TAs going on RAs…so when I put a new student on my contract whose coming off of a TA, I'll get a 50% cost-share on the stipend and on the tuition for that contract. But the contract operates in terms of whole numbers. In other words, there are two slots, or three slots, but we have that extra half-piece and most of the time we can't bank that for the next year, for example. Practically, what is the expectation there, since we really can't split these things up?
Provost Peterson: Curt, I think you are picking a very special case where you have a single contract with incremental students, and just one contract. These are some of the things we're going to have to figure out. You could always turn down the institution's offer to support half a student…that's an option! But, I do want to make clear that in that transition year there is no obligation that the student will work as a TA; that's the institution supporting the student half-time to work with you on the research.
Ellen Esrock, LL&C: I'm trying to understand…(inaudible)…faculty who are teaching literature, history or whatever they are teaching, to teach writing courses? We don't understand how you are thinking of the priority.
Provost Peterson: Ellen, I think what is in question here is the definition of "teach." We have students in supervisory roles in the writing courses, and they are overseen by a faculty member. When the President talks about "teaching," what we're saying is we're not going to have graduate students that walk into a course, they are handed a textbook and a roll sheet and they are told, "go to it." There will be faculty supervision and oversight of students in these roles and positions.
Cheng Hsu, DSES: To clarify another point, unless I know that I can support 100 students two years from now, I'm not going to dare to make the commitment to 100 students.
President Jackson: That is correct and if you look at the number of PhD, and even the number of masters, relative to the amount of research support that we have, it is way out of line. I'm not looking to kill our graduate program, but I'm saying that we have to have a graduate program that is consistent with our abilities to support that graduate program. And if it has to go down before it goes back up, then that's what we have to do.
Joe Ecker, Math: In the Math Department we have 20 RAs. Let's say, roughly, to make it easy, we have 40 TAs. That means that two years from now we have 20 TAs looking for 20 RAs the year after that, we have another 20 TAs looking for 20 different RAs, and possibly, if students go for five years, after that we've got another 20 students looking for 20 new. So we would need in a steady state, 50 or 60 RAs for 21 faculty. Now MIT, (which has a nice Mathematics and Applied Mathematics Department) they have roughly one RA per faculty member; we have roughly one RA or fellowship, per faculty member. I don't see that two or three years from now we are going to be able to ramp up 20 RAs into 50 or 60 RAs. That's a serious problem.
President Jackson: The serious problem is that it is over inflated relative to what the institution has been supporting, relative to what faculty research can… (inaudible). Faculty get up and tell me all the time about how we're expecting that you're going to support 50 RAs down the line. Well, if you can't, you can't. But the answer is not that I'm going to take undergraduate tuition and pay for it. So you have to understand, and that's why I'm saying that if we have to go down, and then go back up in a way that is consistent with how we grow our research, and other resources, then that is what we are going to have to do.
Cheng Hsu: I truly believe that your objective is a good one, which will work. But obviously there are still major questions. One is the role of the professional masters degree in general. It is a national trend toward extending general education from four years, into masters and (inaudible) transition from here to there So far it seems to me an important issue, I just don't know to what extent the faculty, such as engineers (inaudible) up to this point, should be involved. I don't know to what extent the faculty has to be involved.
President Jackson: I think the faculty have been and are involved. Certainly at the level, from my understanding from Tom [Apple] and Bud [Peterson], in terms of discussions with Department Chairs and Deans about how to make a move toward this new result. All that has been done here is to lay these policies out in the large, and clearly the implementation details will depend upon what happens within the departments. Because in the end if you look at all that I've said to you is that graduate full-time tuition will equal undergraduate tuition. Secondly, if we tell students we are going to give them an assistantship, they're not going to get some minimalist stipend they will get full support. And third that we have a broad-based transition plan in terms of how the institutional resources are going to be used, and how the tuition is going to be grandfathered.
Then there are any number of specific implementation details that clearly require discussion among the faculty, and between the faculty and the administration and that will go on over the next several months. I'm not disagreeing with you, but if the thought is that we don't promulgate the overall broad policies until we've talked about it for another year, the answer is "no," we are going to promulgate the new policy.
Cheng Hsu: It seems there could be a worst-case scenario with very dire consequences. Such as the cost of RAs being a significant factor, such as (inaudible) if you offer TAs but nobody dares to accept and we don't have new students, and the Professional Masters Degree…
President Jackson: I agree that
would be a worst-case scenario! Regarding the Professional Masters Degree,
over time the incentive will be to move it to
President of the Faculty Senate, Linnda Caporael thanked President Jackson and the meeting adjourned at .