Faculty Senate Meeting
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At , President Persans welcomed everyone to the last meeting of the Faculty Senate for the 2002-2003 year. He asked for a motion to approve the minutes of the March 26, April 9 and April 23, meetings. All minutes were approved.
Ash Kapila, chair of the Promotion & Tenure Committee reported that the majority of the committee's work is finished and cases have been sent on to the Provost's office. The process went fairly smoothly this semester, with only a couple of issues arising. The committee confirmed with the Provost that in the future the FCPT will be brought into the loop, and have sufficient time to look over dossiers of candidates before a major external hire is announced, as was explained in the statement read at the General Faculty Meeting.
Sonja Krause, chair of the Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee reported on the activities of the committee during the past academic year. (Report attached) Two new doctoral programs, one in Cognitive Science and the other in Architectural Sciences were approved. Most of the new courses proposed this year were approved, as well as a Certificate in Communication Design program.
Roger Wright, chair of the Planning & Resources Committee reported that they would meet today and are currently looking at the new curricula for the Architecture and Cognitive Science Ph.D. programs. The committee recommends for next year a checklist, or more formal procedure of items to validate each program. A sharper definition of expectations for reviewing and measuring up new programs was suggested. The committee suggested that a "live" database on budget information and performance planning information and others be made available to the committee next year.
President Peter Persans noted that the Executive Committee appointed Ron Gutmann to chair the Handbook Committee, and he will work with the Provost on the revisions. Other committee members will be identified shortly to help in that process.
President Persans introduced Ellen Esrock who proposed a new grading policy. Ellen gave a condensed overview of her, and Mary Ann Staniszewki's research on grading systems, grade inflation, and in particular "plus/minus" grading. It was found that faculty generally prefer to have a plus/minus system in place. Students are sometimes frightened and generally wary of the system. Students were fearful that they might experience more stress because they will feel a need to compete for smaller increments of grade improvement. It was noted that graduate students were more in favor of the system than undergraduates. Students operating in the summa cum laude range, (3.8) were concerned that they would have to work harder to make sure they do not sink to an "A-" level, which could change their grade.
At most other institutions, faculty were strongly in support of plus/minus. Professors felt they could evaluate students more fairly, with care and exactitude and thus assure students that grades would reflect their achievement in their courses. Another "pro" argument is the possibility that plus/minus systems will hold down grade inflation.
Ellen brought the following motion to the Senate:
"It is proposed that a committee that has student representation be formed or delegated to work next year to research the adoption of a plus and minus grading system for graduates and undergraduates: to develop a broad model of such a system for RPI; to discuss this system with the RPI community - faculty, students, administrators; and to report back to the Senate with an evaluation of these discussions in December 2003. The proposal will be put to a vote at that time. If the vote favors adoption of such a system, this will go on record and a committee will be formed/continued to develop implementation specifics and report back to the Senate in the spring."
The motion was seconded. A lengthy discussion followed with opinions for and against expressed, the status of plus/minus systems at other institutions questioned, the effect if any, on faculty evaluations, and an agreement of the need for very careful consideration of the issues. Bruce Nauman suggested a friendly amendment to the motion that before the committee is instituted, guidelines for discussion should be implemented. The motion was approved.
Looking ahead, Vice President Geisler stated she would like to do a more complete analysis, and report on it in the fall. She also would like to see more deliberation based on that analysis, about whether or not to go forward with a full survey of the faculty; and for the FS Executive Committee to strategize about some of the issues that this preliminary survey seemed to suggest we look into.
President Persans asked if the "joint" Executive Committee, those who are on the committee now and those who will serve next year, would be willing to meet as a group next week to decide what further meetings might have to take place before the end of the semester. He then introduced the new members of the Faculty Senate for 2003/04:
Vice President Bruce Nauman
Recording Secretary Deborah Kaminski
H&SS Senator Ron Eglash
Management Senator Jeff Durgee
Library Senator Mary Anne Waltz
At Large Senator Pat Search
At Large Senator Tamar Gordon
At Large Senator Bob Block
Hartford Senator Jim Stodder
P& T Management Rep Iftekhar Hasan
P& T At Large Rep Sandra Nierzwicki-Bauer
P&R H&SS Rep Steve Breyman
P&R Management Rep David Goldenberg
P&R Science Rep Bolek Szymanski
Curriculum H&SS Rep June Deery
Curriculum At Large Rep Amir Hirsa
Library Election Committee Connie Fritz
H&SS Election Committee Linda Layne
President Persans thanked everyone
for agreeing to serve next year. He then
recognized Linnda Caporael, chair of the Faculty Senate, and expressed his
gratitude for her gracious help during the past year and presented her with a
plaque from the entire Faculty Senate in appreciation of her tremendous service
to the senate over the last three years.
He also thanked Anne DeCelle, secretary to the senate, for her
assistance over the past year. President
Persans then passed the gavel on to President-Elect
Vice Provost, and Dean of Graduate Education, Tom Apple, presented a letter from the committee of a Nuclear Engineering doctoral student, who became ill in August of 2002, and passed away this spring. This student was well along the way on his dissertation, according to the committee it was a matter of a few revisions, however his illness prevented him from finishing. The student passed all his course work, and his candidacy exam, his dissertation is approximately 90% finished according to his advisor, but it was not completed and not defended. The question Dean Apple asked of the senate was "should we be allowed to award a Ph.D. posthumously?"
Provost Peterson added that there
were a couple other cases he was aware of where