Gary Gabriele, Cheryl Geisler, Lester Gerhardt, Mark Goldberg, Virginia Gregg, Ash Kapila, Achille Messac, Bruce Nauman, Jon Newell, Lou Padula, President Peter Persans, Provost Bud Peterson, Curtis Powell, Susan Sanderson, Jim Stodder (Hartford), Mary Anne Waltz, Bruce Watson
Click here for original Minutes from 11/20/2002
President Persans brought the meeting to order at He asked for a motion to approve the minutes of the 11/6 meeting. Achille Messac made the motion, Jon Newell seconded.
There was discussion about the minutes not reflecting a return to Recommendation Number 4, (the splitting of RA's & TA's) in Linnda Caporael's motion. President Persans noted that the understanding was the document would be sent to the Provost's office as passed. However, he agreed that time would be set-aside at the end of this meeting to discuss an addendum to the recommendations to include the RA/TA issue.
Four members voted to accept the minutes, nine abstained, no oppositions; the minutes were approved.
There were no reports from the standing committees. Moving on to the next agenda item, President Persans introduced Virginia Gregg, Vice President of Finance, to present a review of Rensselaer's 2001/02 financial results.
Vice President Gregg thanked the senate for its invitation, stating that her presentation would be the same as that made to the Finance Committee of the Board of Trustees at the end of September. Some early outlook information for 2003 would be added where she had updates. Gregg also introduced Eileen McLaughlin, Budget Director, who would help with the '03 forecast.
Gregg stated that the Board of Trustees approved the Rensselaer Plan in May 2000, and shortly thereafter approved the potential withdrawal from, and potential investment of, between $50-$60 million of endowment funds to help jump-start the Plan. For the next five years, endowment withdrawals are anticipated to help support things like the constellation hires, some of the initiatives in research, and some of the facility initiatives.
During the discussion period after the presentation, it was asked if the $360 million gift or portion thereof was noted in the $33.6 million gift revenues. Vice President Gregg pointed out that it is very important to the donor, and part of the confidentiality agreement, that we not discuss the terms of the gift. "Obviously, payments that we would receive would be recorded as gifts when we receive them, but you have to look at endowment and operating and equipment gifts, as total gifts. Total gifts are a little over $53 million. Endowment gifts show up as capital gain items and are noted in the Capital Statement not in the Operating Statement," she said.
Cheryl Geisler, Vice President of the Faculty Senate, asked
Gregg what she thought would be the biggest issues
Professor Joe Ecker, Math Department, inquired about Gregg's referral to the "90's when we had budget deficits," pointing out that this past year we had a $17 million deficit paid out of the endowment, and this coming year there will be a $13 million deficit. He wanted to know if there would be a time when we stop spending out of the endowment. Gregg answered that these are strategic investments. "The sustainability slide shows what we are trying to do. We're talking about the operating deficit. Our revenues were flat in the early 90's, and our expenses were growing at an inflationary rate. Tactically, we pulled ourselves out of our hole, but it was painful. We are now investing between $20 and $30 million a year in strategic initiatives, in the constellations, and in a variety of other things. We will stop spending out of the endowment, and we are in the process of updating that now. However, we are at a very different point in time than we were back in the 90's."
President Persans thanked Vice President Gregg for her presentation, and asked if anyone had any additional questions or comments she or he could forward them to Roger Wright of the Planning and Resource Committee. Vice President Gregg's presentation is available.
Curtis Powell, Vice President of Human Resources, then presented an overview of the 2003 benefit changes, information regarding the pension plan, the status of the total compensation initiative, and a quick overview of some recent Human Resources accomplishments. (Slide presentation attached.)
Vice President Powell wanted to dispel what appeared to be
rumors on campus regarding the benefit packages. "Obviously,
Another benefit change will be a freeze on the
"opt-out" plan. At this time if employees elect not to take advantage
of medical or dental coverage,
Benefits that will be added include an adoption benefit of $1,000, and a pre-tax parking benefit. Looking at our parking strategy, we want to make sure that those deductions come out before taxes.
A cost comparison was done for annual health care costs.
(Slides 6-9.) The average cost for employers to cover their employees in 2001
was approximately $4,000 per employee. Comparatively,
Powell stated that there was a rumor that the pension funds were being utilized to finance the new building construction on campus. He said this was absolutely not true. Another rumor out there was that RPI was going to terminate the Defined Benefit Plan. Also, absolutely not true. Also, the Defined Contribution Plan will not be terminated.
(Gregg interjected that there are no plans to terminate the Defined Benefit Plan. To do so would cost RPI $100 million. "This is not something we are going to do; there is no foundation for that rumor," she said.)
Vice President Powell mentioned that there was one emerging
issue, and that is the IRS’ proposed regulations to eliminate the variable
annuity. That is, individuals who are in the Defined Benefit Plan have an
option of taking an annuity that is tied to the market. IRS, in the proposed
regulations, indicated that plan owners (such as
Concerning the total compensation initiative, (slide 12) the
next step is to reconvene the Faculty Advisory Group. We want to finalize the
faculty criteria and look at it from a broader perspective. We would like to be
able to develop a model that the Provost, the Deans, and the Chairs can use, to
insure fair pay practices here at
Regarding the last slide, (#13) Powell pointed out the fact
Vice President Powell answered questions regarding the benefit provider name changes to clear up any confusion. He reiterated that he needed feedback from the Faculty Advisory Committee regarding the compensation package. This committee needs to reconvene with a specific charge to help define what we are doing with the compensation model. Powell agreed with Linnda Caporael (Chair, Faculty Senate) that it is important for everybody to be involved in the process of defining criteria to classify "world-class," "high value" and "high potential" faculty.
Linnda Caporael inquired, if (when the total compensation plan is looked at) a paper prepared last year by Cheryl Geisler about the promotion of women faculty on campus, as well as women faculty salaries, will be considered.
Provost Peterson responded that the information gleaned from that study has been used in two separate situations. The Deans and the Department Chairs are aware of the study. "If you look into this, significant progress has been made in the past year-and-a-half regarding women and promotion and tenure issues," he stated.
Cheryl Geisler proceeded to the fifth agenda item: a senate vote for proposed interim appointments to the Faculty Senate to fill vacated positions, as stated below:
Secretary of the Faculty: Kurt Anderson (Steve
Senator from H&SS: Ellen Esrock (Linda Layne stepped down)
Senator from Management: Jeff Durgee (Susan Sanderson on sabbatical)
New Clinical Faculty Senator: Michael Danchak
P & R Committee:
Brian Lonsway, Architecture (for S. Van Dessel)
There was some discussion and concern raised about non-tenured faculty serving on the senate, as well as on the committees. Due to their status, and possible beholding to Administration, they may not be as forthcoming and articulate with their feelings on certain issues. However, it was countered that the Faculty Senate represents all faculty, and there are a number of articulate, non-tenured faculty now serving. Also noted was a distressing lack of participation from tenured faculty. President Persans noted the point, and counter-point, and asked for a vote: 13 were in favor of the interim slate, 1 opposed and 2 abstentions. The interim roster was approved.
President Persans led the discussion back to Recommendation #4, regarding the splitting of RA's and TA's.
After some discussion Jon Newell amended his first motion and then moved that: "Item #4: 'Allow carefully controlled splitting of TA and RA support within a semester and between semesters for individual students,' be an Addendum to the previous report to the Administration as a Recommendation of the Senate." Terry Blanchet seconded the motion.
Jim Stodder, via teleconferencing from
Ten voted in favor of the motion, two were opposed, and one abstention. The motion passed.
After further consideration, Achille Messac motioned that a second part to the addendum should be added that would state: (faculty) "be allowed to make separate/independent Academic Year and Summer RA offers." Jon Newell seconded. Ten voted in favor of the motion, no oppositions, and one abstention. The motion passed.
Provost Bud Peterson quickly brought up a new business item, expressing his concern over the email sent to all faculty members from the Student Senate regarding a "TA Grading Survey." The Provost had as many as thirty members of the faculty reply to him expressing concern about the appropriateness of responding to such a survey. The Faculty Senate is taking this issue under advisement.
President Persans adjourned the meeting at .