Original Minutes from Faculty Senate meeting - February 5, 2003

Return to revised Minutes of 2/5/2003

Attendees:Jun Abrajano, Kurt Anderson, Sharon Anderson-Gold, Bud Baeslack, Terry Blanchet, Robert Block, Michael Danchak, Ellen Esrock, Cheryl Geisler, Mark Goldberg, Ash Kapila, Jim McKim, Achille Messac, Bruce Nauman, Jon Newell, President Peter Persans, Provost Bud Peterson, Bob Sands, Don Steiner, Mark Steiner, Jim Stodder, Mary Anne Waltz, Bruce Watson, Roger Wright

President Peter Persans brought the meeting to order at 2:06pm. The minutes of the January 22, 2003 minutes were approved.

Reports from the standing committees began with Roger Wright (Chair, Planning & Resources) who remarked that the committee reviewed the proposed Cognitive Science Department's doctoral program, and will write a statement that will be useful in obtaining State certification for this program. Secondly, the committee reviewed the Performance Plan draft presentations, and found them informative. One of the main concerns about the future was that it was difficult to extrapolate some of the future objectives from the tactical problems of the moment. Thirdly, the committee considers the Compensation Initiative effort a high priority issue, and a meeting with Curtis Powell regarding the issue would be sought in the short term

Gary Gabriele reported that the Curriculum Committee would shortly address a proposal from the School of Architecture for a Ph.D. program in Architectural Sciences during the semester, and possibly send it on to the Planning & Resources Committee.

The Promotion & Tenure Committee will meet in early March.

President Persans, for the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, commented that they met with President Jackson on February 4 to discuss a variety of issues. Among the issues were the nature of advising and faculty responsibility in advising; the philosophies of President Jackson concerning clinical appointments, and the differences from school-to- school, and department-to-department with respect to expectations for clinical faculty.
President Persans remarked that the FS Executive Committee's concerns regarding clinical policies and procedures had been addressed. Provost Peterson indicated that the appointment of clinical and research faculty follows a very structured process and checklist. A clinical appointment, and reappointment, involves a recommendation from the Department Chair, and a review by an appropriate Department Committee (and since this is not a "tenure" and promotion issue, this would not necessarily be the Promotion and Tenure Committee's responsibility.) Rensselaer tries to use a uniform process for clinical hiring and reappointment contracts. Many of the clinical faculty on this (Troy) campus would be surprised to know that in 1999 there were a large number of clinical faculty at Hartford who received a rolling three-year contract. Every year they were reappointed for three years. So that while the Handbook says that there is a semester's notice required, this would contractually obligate the Institution to a three-year notification of clinical faculty. The goal is to achieve some uniformity, so that clinical faculty contracts do not vary widely.

The same situation exists for research faculty in that there is a formal process and checklist structure for research appointments. Recommendations come from the Department, to the Department Chair, to the School, to the Dean, to the Provost, and then the Provost makes the decision. The Provost does not send it to the Faculty Senate's P&T committee, the Dean's Council and then to the joint committee, because that would have "tenure" implications. The policies and checklist followed are well structured and consistent with the Handbook.

Cheryl Geisler, Vice President of the Faculty Senate, asked if research faculty positions had the same contract terms as clinical. Peterson replied that clinical positions would no longer have three-year rolling contracts. Three years is the maximum contract period. Research faculty will generally follow the same process. The majority of research professor appointments, however, are on soft money and their appointment is contingent upon the availability of external funds.

Geisler then asked the Provost why research faculty appointments are considered part of the voting faculty while clinicals are not. Provost Peterson's perception of this issue is that it is a historical aberration. At the time the Faculty Council became the Faculty Senate there was no such thing as a Clinical Faculty member.

Also discussed with President Jackson, was Cheryl Geisler's proposed satisfaction survey. The President expressed a desire that such an instrument would produce action items. The FSXC is considering this, and will present a revised survey at the next meeting.

Faculty input on Performance Planning was another topic of conversation with President Jackson. She desires some substantive input from the Faculty Senate on specific items in the Plan and what specific issues the faculty may have with the Plan. President Persans asked that faculty send comments to him, and he will filter, compile and send them on the President and Provost, as quickly as possible due to time constraints.

The Provost wanted to clarify the process of the Plan, stating that a calendar of dates is initiated in July. The Departments and Schools develop their plans. Then there is a daylong retreat with the academic portfolios, to which the P&R committee is invited (as well as the Faculty Senate Executive Committee). The deans of the academic schools, Enrollment Management, Gary Gabriele for undergraduate education, Tom Apple for graduate education, and Alan Eckbreth for Hartford/working professionals, make presentations that are fairly informal, but describe some of the overarching goals, new directions, and any specific changes for the upcoming year. This is an information-sharing day in mid-October. November 1, the first draft is due, and then it is placed on the web. There is then a period of about a month where there is additional discussion, and "cross pollination." The Deans and the portfolio owners make presentations of the Plan to the cabinet on December 1. There are additional discussions, and based upon that feedback, budget preparation begins. In the January timeframe, the budget is presented. He noted that President Jackson very specifically requested that the Faculty Senate collect information, review it, and make specific suggestions regarding the Plan. Big issues should be the Faculty Senate's focus.

The next item on the agenda concerned changes to the FS Constitution, and President Persans excused the Administrators.

Provost Peterson, however, requested raising one important issue before he left the meeting. He mentioned that he was working with outside legal counsel on the Handbook for Academic Staff. At virtually every other institution looked at, the appeal process for tenure and promotion appeals the procedure of the process and not the decision itself. The reason for that (and the Provost is consulting with Tammy Cousins, legal advisor, on this issue) is the litigation that has occurred. It is desired that Rensselaer adopt the same approach that other institutions are taking, in terms of reviewing the procedure, as opposed to reviewing the decision. This is a huge change for Rensselaer and the Provost would like some guidance and feedback from the Faculty Senate regarding this issue. President Persans noted this would be an agenda item at a future meeting.

Cheryl Geisler presented nine draft amendments to the Constitution. Amendment 1 regarding the maintenance of an email address for voting eligibility; Amendment 2, regarding the provision for registration of retired faculty; Amendment 3, regarding an update of librarian titles; and Amendment 4, revision of administrator titles, were all endorsed by more than 10 faculty members for placement on the ballot. After lengthy discussion, the senate tabled voting on Amendment 5, inclusion of Clinical in the definition of the faculty, because of its complexities. Amendment 6 regarding the eligibility of Department Chairs and higher administrators to hold senate office was endorsed by more than 10 faculty members for placement on the ballot. It was suggested to combine Amendment 7 with Amendment 8, regarding named representatives and constituencies, but less than 10 faculty members endorsed these amendments for the ballot. Amendment 9 that will change representation of the Retired Faculty was endorsed by more than 10 faculty members for placement on the ballot.

The meeting adjourned at 4:00pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Jun Abrajano
Recording Secretary

July 8, 2004