Faculty Senate >Final Report of the Faculty Senate Planning and Resource committee

Final Report of the Faculty Senate Planning and Resource committee

I. The overall fiscal landscape
A. Endowment is about 576M (today)
B. Annual budget is about 300 M
Tuition and Fees 45 percent
Sponsored Research and grants 19 percent
Endowment 10 percent
Auxiliary 12 percent
Gifts 8 percent
Other 6 percent
C. Investment draw down on endowment 50-60 million-ending in 2006
D. Debt capacity fully committed to 2011
E. Looking at downturn in demographics for undergraduates in 2009
F. Committed to the BT-EMPAC complex current budget about 253 million

Faculty Senate Executive Committee Survey

I. The question

Dear Chairs and Center Directors:

The Faculty Senate (FS) seeks your input on the impact of the new graduate tuition policies. How have the policies affected positively or negatively, the ability to accomplish departmental missions in education and research?

Your top three bullet points will be helpful for preparing a FS response. Please send them to the FS representative for your school, (see http://www.rpi.edu/dept/facsen/committees/members.htm to view list) any member of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, or Ralph Noble, Chair of the Planning & Resources Committee (nobler@rpi.edu) by April 25th.

Also, please indicate if identifying information is to be kept confidential.

The Responses

" Impact on Current Students

There is substantial negative impact on the morale of current graduate students and their perception of the Institute. Faculty report that some students are considering leaving when they complete there M.S. degrees. There are suggestions that some students are finding themselves 'high and dry'.

" Impact on M.S. Program

Many if not all of the M.S. programs will be profoundly negatively affected by the tuition policy for a variety of reasons, including:
" Loss of funding, ability to provide partial funding
" One year M.S. students are simply not worth the faculty time it takes to train them

" Impact on Delivery of Undergraduate Education

There is widespread expectation that undergraduate education will be impacted negatively. Loss of T.A.s, an inability to develop a quasi-professional T.A. cadre.

" Impact on the role of Graduate Students in research

Many faculty believe that it will be more cost effective to hire technicians and post docs than to support graduate students. Both in terms of cost and in terms of the quality of the graduate students contribution to the research on a compressed four year cycle.

" Impact Faculty Recruitment

Some spoke to the difficulty of recruiting world class faculty in the current environment

" Impact on Grant writing and Getting

In the 40 pages of emails I received not one faculty member indicated an intention to increase the rate at which they are writing proposals. Many are at or beyond the point of diminishing returns.

What is needed

" Clarity and Simplicity
People don't understand the plan or the program simple as that.

" Flexibility
Faculty don't see that there is sufficient flexibility in the use of the TA support -this needs to be made clearer

" Recognition that Tas have a teaching mission independent of their role as researchers in training , at least in some units.

" Appreciation That the cottage industry model is very cost effective -even if it doesn't scale up.

" Effective and carefully thought out safety nets : there is a need to evaluate contingencies systematically : parental leave, various special situations that will occur. There is the widespread perception that some enrolled students will be left out in the cold.

" Certainty:The administration simply has to provide a mechanism for guaranteeing every entering grad student 4 years full support with contingent access to a fifth year support. There should be some way to link the department's track record for funding to access to TA support so that the Institute' standing as the guarntor of last resort is revenue neutral in the long haul. As it stands individual graduate students are being exposed to all the risk and uncertainty as the guarantors of last resort, which many faculty see as unacceptable.

Planning and Resource Committee Survey

The planning and resource Committee of the Faculty Senate solicits the opinions of the faculty so that we can carry out our charge to present in an informed way the faculty view of decisions that have profound on the planning and location of resources at Rensselaer.

The new graduate tuition policy will have profound impacts on the planning Process and the allocation of resources at Rensselaer both directly and indirectly. The Planning and Resource Committee is committed to making a reasoned and constructive assessment of those aspects of the graduate tuition policy which fall appropriately within it's jurisdiction.
This survey is being collected electronically in a fashion that ensures that only Rensselaer faculty vote and that the anonymity of the faculty is preserved.


Response rate : 125/395 faculty ( 32 percent)

General Policy changes and processes

1.) Information was effectively disseminated to the Rensselaer
community concerning the new policies.
Choose one alternative: percent
A. Definitely yes 2
B. Probably yes 20
C. Not sure 8
D. Probably no 20
E. Definitely no 49

2.) The campus community was fully involved in the formulation and
implementation plans regarding the new policies.
Choose one alternative:
A. Definitely yes 0
B. Probably yes 3
C. Not sure 3
D. Probably no 12
E. Definitely no 80

3.) I have confidence that Rensselaer's current administration's strategy
as outlined in the Rensselaer Plan can transform our university into a
premier research institution.
Choose one alternative:
A. Definitely yes 0
B. Probably yes 13
C. Not sure 27
D. Probably no 24
E. Definitely no 33

4.) The prestige of the campus will be increased as a result of improvements
in the graduate programs produced by the recent policy changes.
Choose one alternative:
A. Definitely yes 2
B. Probably yes 6
C. Not sure 27
D. Probably no 33
E. Definitely no 41

5.) A sound and comprehensive decision making process was used in
formulating the new policy.
Choose one alternative:
A. Definitely yes 1
B. Probably yes 1
C. Not sure 9
D. Probably no 22
E. Definitely no 68

Impacts of tuition policy

6.) Recent changes in graduate tuition policy will further the goals of
the Rensselaer Plan.
Choose one alternative:
A. Definitely yes 3
B. Probably yes 6
C. Not sure 12
D. Probably no 37
E. Definitely no 41

7.) The New policies in the administration of Teaching Assistants
will be beneficial to graduate students, the graduate program
and the Institute
Choose one alternative:
A. Definitely yes 2
B. Probably yes 2
C. Not sure 14
D. Probably no 37
E. Definitely no 45

Specific Investments

8. Should the Decision to invest in the Biotechnology Building ($80M) have been involved the participation of the Faculty Senate Planning and Resource committee .
Choose one alternative:
A. Definitely yes 52
B. Probably yes 31
C. Not sure 10
D. Probably no 4
E. Definitely no 4

9. Should thee Decision to invest in the The investment in the Performing Arts Center ($140M) have involved the participation of the Faculty Senate Planning and Resource Committee.
Choose one alternative
A. Definitely yes 57
B. Probably yes 27
C. Not sure 8
D. Probably no 4
E. Definitely no 4


The Planning and Resource has considered the concept of fixed price tuition for graduate students as presented bye the dean of the graduate school. We recognize the proposal is intended to provide a foundation for growing the graduate program and endorse the concept of suitably constructed 'prestige pricing' strategy as applied to graduate education. The Committee recognizes the need for a more systematic approach to graduate tuition and the value of encouraging graduate students to work at a consistent pace and graduate in a timely fashion. The concept of fixed price tuition has a wide range of potential consequences. While the committee realizes that there it cannot systematically explore all the essential issues before the next trustees meeting, it recognizes that there are boundary conditions for any successful fixed price plan for graduate tuition. First and foremost the intellectual and scholarly agendas upon which the long-term health of the institute depends need to be sustained during a difficult transition to a new mode of operation.

We recognize that the graduate tuition proposal is definitely a work in progress. Given the complexity of the transition and implementation process we have articulated some basic principles to guide the process. We recognize that the overarching goal of the graduate tuition initiative is to enhance the quality of research and graduate education at Rensselaer and in the pursuit of that goal we recommend the following principles

Principle I. All contracts, commitments, and moral obligations to current graduate students and faculty should be honored.

Principle II. All graduate students recruited to Rensselaer should be provided with a commitment of full support in the form of tuition and stipend for the statutory period of time required to obtain the Ph. d. ( 4-5 years unless otherwise negotiated

Principle III. Full and extensive participation of faculty and others is needed to achieve the best results in the implementation of the graduation tuition plan We recommend that the number individuals who are currently full time faculty on The Dean of the Graduate School's committee be increased to three.

Principle IV. The pursuit of academic excellence will be successful largely to the extent that the Institute builds on the strengths of its diverse academic units.. The existing plan addresses the strategies common to all the academic units, the next step is to explore in a systematic way the unique contributions of each unit and the way these contributions can be optimized.

Principle V. Whenever Rensselaer administered funds are used to support graduate students the there should be sufficient cost sharing on graduate tuition to maintain and enhance the role of graduate students in research.

Principle VI There is a legitimate role for a reasonable period of degree completion (1-2 semesters) at reduced tuition.

Principle VII In some disciplines (e.g. management and anthropology) students spend significant amounts of time off campus working independently; therefore special consideration is needed to adjust the nature of this situation. The amount of time appropriate needs to be determined jointly by the administration and the academic unit involved

July 27, 2004