Original Minutes from Faculty Senate Meeting - February 19, 2003

Return to revised Minutes of 2/19/2003

Attendees: Jun Abrajano, Sharon Anderson-Gold, Terry Blanchet, Robert Block, Harriet Borton, Michael Danchak, Jeffrey Durgee, Loretta Ebert, Ellen Esrock, Gary Gabriele, Mark Goldberg, Dennis Gornic, Achille Messac, Bruce Nauman, Jonathan Newell, Celia Paquette, President Peter Persans, Provost Bud Peterson, Jim Stodder, Mary Anne Waltz

Guest: William E. Savage, Director; UMI Dissertations Publishing, ProQuest Information and Learning, Ann Arbor, Michigan

President Persans brought the meeting to order at 2:05pm. A quorum not present, endorsement of the minutes of the February 5 meeting was postponed until the next Faculty Senate meeting.

Roger Wright, chair of Planning & Resources, reported the committee approved the positive aspects of the doctoral program in Cognitive Science. The committee is working on a more elaborate statement on the review of the Performance Plans. In two weeks, the committee will meet with Curtis Powell, VP, Human Resources, to get an update on the compensation initiatives.

There were no new reports from the Promotion and Tenure and Curriculum Committees.

Associate Dean Dennis Gornic, Office of Graduate Education, introduced Bill Savage from UMI/ProQuest Dissertations Publishing. (Presentation posted to Faculty Senate website.) The Office of Graduate Education and the Library are exploring avenues for possible electronic dissertation publishing. Presently over 350,000 dissertation titles are available from UMI over the web. Source institutions are provided free return access to all its own dissertations. For Rensselaer, there are now about 4,398 titles in the UMI database; 601 titles are available in digital format. It was mentioned that at this time Rensselaer has not provided an IP address to UMI, hence we are not capable of accessing this database. Research Libraries Director, Loretta Ebert, will investigate the procedure to tie us into this service, if indeed it is free of charge.

A return to the discussion regarding proposed amendments to the constitution was next on the agenda. President Persans informed the senate that a petition (with 10 faculty signatures) was submitted to include clinical faculty in the present definition of faculty in the constitution giving them full rights to vote and run for office (Persans read the amendment). Anderson-Gold proposed a competing amendment opening up the vote to all faculty members for representatives to the Faculty Senate, but restricting holding of senate positions to tenured faculty. Stodder noted that Hartford faculty members would prefer to have full rights of representation and standing, but in the event that the original amendment is on the table, (for voting rights for clinical faculty and representation) then that is the one he would endorse. He further noted that there has to be some representation of Hartford and Troy clinical faculty, but he views the Anderson-Gold proposal as an acceptable compromise if the other amendment is not made available.

President Persans noted the confusion that would arise if the two amendments were both placed on the ballot, and recounted a similar incident last year where another clinical amendment got a majority of the votes but failed to pass. He noted, however, that the constitution mandates us to include the amendment with ten signatures on the ballot. Nauman suggested Anderson-Gold could get ten signatures, probably in the room, in order to include her amendment on the ballot, but strongly criticized the ease by which an amendment can be placed on the ballot with such a small contingency.

Provost Peterson commented that we were proceeding in the same direction as last year when there were two competing amendments, the ramifications of each were not clearly thought out and, fortunately, both of them did not pass. Repeating that process this year would be a mistake and just compounds the issue. He also questioned the wording of the first amendment that had received ten signatures because it sounded as though it eliminates the librarians and others that were included in the constitution in the definition of faculty. President Persans answered that the only "change" in the wording in that section of the constitution is to add clinicals in the definition of faculty.

Messac supported Nauman's criticism that getting ten signatures should not be enough to allow amendments to be put to a vote. As an alternative, he later proposed that amendments could go on the ballot if they secured a majority vote in the Faculty Senate or signatures of 50 members of the faculty. This suggestion would constitute an amendment to the constitution. After some initial discussion, it was proposed that this issue should be thoroughly explored at a later time.

Goldberg who was a signatory to the first amendment withdrew his signature.

Provost Peterson suggested that if the two amendments make it to the ballot, the Faculty Senate has an obligation to make sure that the amendments are clearly understood by faculty members or the senate should take an official position that helps explain to the faculty the impact of the amendments.

Durgee noted that missing in these discussions is information about the function and role clinical faculty members play. Danchak responded that the function of the clinical faculty, within the context of the senate, should be looked at very carefully. He endorsed stepping back and recognizing that clinical faculty members should have the same representation, as is logical within the context of the business of the senate, as everyone else.

Newell wanted clarification of the Anderson-Gold amendment restricting eligibility for election to tenured persons only. Anderson-Gold answered that her proposal is for tenured faculty only, and the logic is to restrict elected positions to people who have long term commitments. Newell responded that we might be narrowing the pool so badly that we won't find anyone to run for office. Stodder countered that the arguments for why clinicals should not be there applies even more strongly to tenure-track faculty who are in an "up or out" situation. "If you are going to bring them on, you certainly can't use that argument for why clinicals are excluded," he claimed.

Before completion of the amendment discussion, noting time constraints, President Persans mentioned that the person discussing the next agenda item (Faculty Ombudsman) was absent. The item was postponed. He solicited announcements and other new business. Messac asked the Provost if at least a partial answer on some of the tuition questions will be received in time to impact offers being made for next year, to which Provost Peterson responded "I hope so." President Persans announced that Gary Gabriele has asked for the nomination of a Faculty Senate member for the Calendar Committee.

Returning to the amendment discussion, Provost Peterson commented on Messac's 50-signature proposal that it would be preferable to carefully review the constitution, and circulate a draft proposal that we will be able to discuss when we will have more time at a later meeting. President Persans responded that we have until Friday to add items to the ballot before the General Faculty Meeting. Persans noted the possibility of forming an ad hoc Constitutional Committee that could then make well thought out suggestions or proposals, and perhaps having a Special Election in September, where there would be a separate ballot to address amendments not included in this forthcoming election.

Anderson-Gold then asked the status of the first amendment brought forth. President Persans responded that the Executive Committee would discuss the creation of an ad-hoc committee to address these amendments to the constitution. Danchak offered to withdraw the first amendment (conditionally, upon the Anderson-Gold amendment also being withdrawn), and endorsed the formation of an ad hoc Constitutional Committee that will come up with a reasonable and consistent solution to the problem of clinical representation.

President Persans resolved that neither amendment would be placed on the ballot for this forthcoming election.

The meeting adjourned at 4:00PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Jun Abrajano
Recording Secretary

July 29, 2004