Original Minutes from Faculty Senate Meeting Sept. 25, 2002
Fischbach Room Folsom Library

Return to revised Minutes of 9/25/2002

Attendees: Jun Abrajano, Kurt Anderson, Sharon Anderson-Gold, Tom Apple, Terry Blanchet, Robert Block, Linnda Caporael, Mark Embrechts, Cheryl Geisler, Mark Goldberg, John Harrington, Ash Kapila, Achille Messac, George Nagy, Bruce Nauman, Jon Newell, President Peter Persans, Provost Bud Peterson, Susan Sanderson, Jim Stodder, Donald Vitaliano, Mary Anne Waltz, Morris Washington

President Persans brought the meeting to order at 2:10pm. Persans called for approval of the minutes of the 9/11/02 meeting. A motion for approval was made, seconded and passed.

From the standing committees, Susan Sanderson, for the Planning & Resources Committee, stated a report would be presented at the next FS meeting. Provost Peterson noted that the Key Initiatives from each of the Academic Portfolios have been distributed to the P&R Committee. There were no other committee reports.

Provost Peterson expanded upon his presentation regarding the key initiatives relating to handling of gifts, grants, contracts, foundation awards, and Center memberships. (Presentation attached) The Provost will distribute the proposed new policy to the Faculty Senate in the near future, at which time there will be opportunity for responses.

Other points discussed were: distinguishing between research results reporting and stewardship reporting; distribution of this type of report; gifts-in-kind and fellowship awards to individual scholars. President Persans invited the faculty to send concerns, preferably by email, to the FS Executive Committee or the Planning & Resources Committee for development and feedback.

Discussion returned to the faculty responses to the Graduate Tuition Policy. President Persans suggested that comments made at this meeting be summarized in a brief statement and passed on to the Administration.

Susan Sanderson noted that the impact on part-time students in the School of Management has been severe. More flexibility in how funds are allocated is desired. Issues the Management School faces (most notably, upper-level TA support for teaching large numbers of students and ability to obtain research funds and external financing) are also encountered in the School of Humanities and the Mathematics Department. It was reiterated that the TA support issue is dramatically different between the schools. Contrary to what might be the case in Science and Engineering, it is in the best interest of some Humanities students to develop and teach courses for at least four years. Under the current policy, flexibility on this issue is non-existent.

Provost Peterson clarified the TA policy does not prohibit/restrict TA support to the first two years. TA support may be given in the last two years. However, the policy does limit total support to two years for Ph.D.'s. There is a preference to use TA positions in the first two years so that students may identify a major advisor. The Dean of Graduate Education under specific circumstances may make exceptions.

The half-time TA issue was also addressed. Provost Peterson explained that it is not possible to offer a half time TA and RA within the same semester. A student can be a TA the first semester and an RA the second, but not split half-and-half for the same semester.

A comment was made that there seems to be bias toward the hard sciences, and that this model is inappropriate for much of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Our university strives for "intellectual diversity" and the policy's inflexibility does not encourage diversity in our programs.

Ash Kapila of the Mathematics Department expressed the need for graders. When flexibility is taken away, it adversely influences how upper level courses are taught. Kapila also stated, "There is no reason why scholarship has to be measured primarily with the metric of how much funding you bring in."

Linnda Caporael, Chair of the Faculty Senate, followed up saying "There are many areas of scholarship that do not receive funding. Funding patterns in this country are known to be influenced by their industrial potential. Industrial potential is not a measure of scholarship. How the Chemistry Department works is not an appropriate metric for the rest of the Institution."

Another issue, brought up by Jim Stodder of Hartford, is the higher cost of tuition in general. Apple replied there was some worry about the competitiveness of our grants, and that is why the cost share was increased to 35%. The cost share tuition is now about $17,000. An analysis on the total cost to the contract was done, and we are in the lower part of that with respect to other private schools. The $42,000 per student, per year, comes about if you take a year-long stipend of $16,000, overhead it 50%, and then get the cost-share, that comes out to $24,000 + $17,000. If you have non-overheaded funding, then you have to pay the full tuition, but you don't pay the overhead, and it comes out to $42,000.

President Persans asked for new business. Bruce Nauman and Don Vitaliano, (President of the American Association of University Professors, RPI Chapter) presented a proposal that the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate and the Executive Committee of the AAUP jointly engage in fact finding regarding the nature of the governance structure at Rensselaer. Vitaliano handed out a copy of the AAUP's "Indicators of Sound Governance" survey, and suggested that possibly some portion or condensed version of this questionnaire be done on the RPI campus.

After discussion, a motion was made and seconded that the FSXC discuss with the Executive Committee of the AAUP, before the next FS meeting, and bring back a proposal as to how to move forward in terms of fact-finding regarding the "Governance" issue. Motion carried.

One more item of new business from Robert Block was an inquiry regarding the official status of the retiree representative to the FS. Chair Caporael stated that previously Faculty Senate Executive Committees had taken one of the senator slots and asked a retired faculty member to fill that slot as a voting member. However, there is nothing in the Constitution for this procedure. This requires FS discussion and preparation of an Amendment, to go before the whole faculty, for a voting position for retired faculty.

The meeting was adjourned at 4:12pm.