Faculty Senate Meeting

November 12, 2003

 

Attendees:  Jun Abrajano, Henry Scarton, Ash Kapila, Joel Plawsky, Gary Gabriele, G.P. Peterson, Tom Apple, Carol Wagar, Bruce Nauman, Cheryl Geisler, Peter Persans, Deborah Kaminski, Roger Wright, Sharon Anderson-Gold, Tamar Gordon, Bill St. John, Richard Leifer, Jeff Durgee, Terry Blanchet, Mary Anne Waltz, Achille Messac, Claude Rounds, Henry Scarton

 

Agenda

Approval of the Minutes of the 10/29 Faculty Senate Meeting

Core Survey ProcedureCheryl Geisler

Faculty Memorials:      

William W. Shuster - Chemical Engineering

Fritz V. Lenel - Materials Science and Engineering

Paul K. Rummel - Mechanical Engineering

Harrison Shull - Vice President and Provost

Parking – Claude Rounds

            Quantity of Parking Spaces

            The New Parking Garage

            Garage Occupancy

            Garage Safety

            Other Parking Investments

            Biotech Building Impact

Boiler Plant

            Snow Plan

            Two Year Parking Fee Structure

            Distribution of Transponders

            Privacy Issues Associated with Transponders

            Overnight Parking Restrictions

Meeting adjourned and working groups meet

 

Approval of the Minutes of the 10/29 Faculty Senate Meeting

At 2:00 PM, President Cheryl Geisler opened the Faculty Senate meeting.  She asked for a motion to approve the minutes of the 10/29 Faculty Senate Meeting.

 

Senator-At-Large, Terry Blanchet felt that the Minutes pertaining to Tom Apple’s discussion was lacking in clarity.  Two issues were discussed and edits made to the Minutes to help clarify.    

 

Tamar Gordon, Senator-at-Large, wished to add to the Minutes a concern raised during the last meeting about language in the Staff handbook. According to the handbook, employees are prohibited from circulating certain types of documents and Senator Gordon wanted a clarification of the implied restrictions. She also wanted to go on record as stating that some of the language in the Handbook was not only inappropriate as it applied to faculty, but also inappropriate for staff. Edits were added to the minutes to clarify this point.

 

Provost Bud Peterson asked “What does the motion that was passed at the last meeting mean?”  The Senate repudiates the applicability of the Employee handbook to the faculty and asks that any future editions of this handbook be named “staff”.  President Geisler has added this to new business.

 

With amendments made, the Minutes were passed.  11 in favor, none opposed, 2 abstentions.

 

Core Curriculum Objectives Survey

A Survey on Core Curriculum Objectives was formulated and distributed to the senate.  President Geisler asked for a program representative from each undergraduate bachelor’s degree to complete the survey.  The Executive Committee discussed this and decided the best way to get this data quickly would be to ask each senator to commit to getting two program reps to complete this survey.

 

A sign up sheet was circulated.  Additional copies of the survey are available at http://www.rpi.edu/dept/facsen/2003-2004/issues/CoreSurvey.doc   There are some degree programs with options within degree programs that are quite different.  In that case, a Core Objective Survey can be filled out for each option.  A Faculty member can complete the survey him or herself along with consultation with the department or someone else from the department may be recruited to participate in the Survey.

 

Some senators questioned the wording of some of the objectives and President Geisler confirmed that this is the wording in the proposal and we cannot change it.  The given wording has already been discussed and approved by the Curriculum Committee.  Chair Peter Persans suggested that people who respond to the survey may bring up questions regarding ambiguity of the wording to be cleared up at a future discussion.

 

Vice President Bruce Nauman expressed concern about the number of questions.  Since the number of objectives cannot be changed, perhaps we could have one question instead of two per objective. The single question would incorporate the intent of both individual questions. He suggested a revision of the question to be “to what extent should the undergraduate curriculum reflect this goal?... high extent, medium extent, low extent”. 

 

Sharon Anderson-Gold, Senator-at-Large, stated that every BS program has core requirements.  If she were to fill out the survey, she would think the math component would not come into the STS program courses.  She feels it is important to have math, but there are core credits to take care of this.  She also added that to determine whether it is or is not appropriate to revise a curriculum, both the core and the electives must be considered. President Geisler responded that it is possible to say an objective is met within your own current curriculum and that no changes are necessary.

 

V.P. Bruce Nauman made a motion to modify the first question to: To what extent should the undergraduate curriculum be modified to reflect this goal?  The motion passed -  11 in favor, none opposed, no abstentions.

 

President Geisler stated that with the reworded first question, the second question for each objective from the survey would be removed.

 

Faculty Memorials

Chair of the Faculty Senate Peter Persans began by explaining that there will be a slightly different approach for faculty memorials this year.  In this session, eulogies and memorials will be read into the Minutes for those Faculty members who passed away since the last memorial session in the spring.  Then in the upcoming spring there will be a ceremonial joint session to memorialize both staff and faculty.  Today, four people who have passed away since March will be remembered.  This information was gathered by contacting department offices, dean’s offices and the provost’s office.  If anyone was missed, they will be memorialized in our next Memorial session.

 

William Schuster, Chemical Engineering, eulogized by Professor Harry Bungay

Fritz Lenel, Materials Science and Engineering, eulogized by John Hudson

Harrison Schull, Vice President and Provost, eulogized by Peter Persans

Paul Rummel, Mechanical Engineering, eulogized by Peter Persans

 

Please see attachments for full eulogies.

 

Parking – Claude Rounds

Quantity of Parking Spaces

Claude Rounds, Vice President for Administration gave a presentation on the current parking status.    He thanked the entire campus for their patience during the parking and construction process.  The process is almost complete and almost ready to re-establish some of the core parking on campus.  When the 400 spaces were displaced, a commitment was made to build and provide additional parking that would return all of those spaces.  The garage is schedule for completion in January 2004 and occupancy will begin at the start of the spring 2004 semester.  The garage has 516 parking spaces: 494 in the garage, 17 west of the garage and 5 additional handicap spaces east of the garage.  Parking capacity in the Academy Hall Lot has also been increased.  In total, when construction work is complete, not only have the 473 spaces been replaced, there will actually be an increase of 160 spaces overall. 

 

The New Parking Garage 

Sharon Anderson-Gold, Senator-at-Large asked for clarification on the cost of the parking structure.  Since the 500 spaces in the garage replace the 476 spots from the lot, Rensselaer has only gained 24 spaces at a cost of $10 million?  Claude Rounds replied yes, but the school has also gained a Biotech building.  When a garage is built on an existing lot, there is a loss of some of the footprint of the parking area.  The parking garage itself is 2 ½ times the capacity of the footprint it replaced.  The balance of the 473 spaces was located in the footprint of the Biotech Building.

 

Sharon asked whether the financing of the garage was done with parking fees.  Claude responded no and that it was constructed from a $200 million construction bond from the Troy IDA which is a primary construction fund for all the projects.

 

Provost Bud Peterson also stated that building the Biotech Building resulted in a reduction of parking spots by several hundred spaces.  There are other factors in the cost equation, we did not just pay $10 million for 24 more spaces.  Another factor to consider is that the spaces in the parking garage are much more desirable than the lot spaces.  Claude made the point that Rensselaer did spend $10 million to put 500 parking spots back on the core campus for faculty and staff parking.

 

Sharon Anderson-Gold said that it was important to know all the history and the tradeoffs made in financing the garage. Otherwise, there might be some concerns that we only got a small number of spaces with that large investment. 

 

Senator-at-Large Achille Messac asked whether the population on campus is expected to increase which would continue to put stress on parking availability. Claude responded that there is no suggestion that a 500 car parking facility will satisfy all the parking needs of the south campus.  The campus has to be looked at as a whole.  There are some people located in south campus buildings who may elect to park in other places because they are cheaper.  Some people will be given parking garage preference who may not normally park in that area of the campus.

 

Garage Occupancy

Claude reported there are 131 people who have currently declared an interest in a parking space in the parking garage.  A promise was made that those with a C parking permit would get first preference for the parking garage.  First preference basis was initially available until November 15, 2003 but has been extended to December 15, 2003.  Anyone who wants a spot can sign up for a space in the garage if they are a C- permit owner and their transponder will be re-coded.  If the garage is not filled by C-permit holders, spots will then be available to other faculty and staff on campus.  From December 15th through January 15th there will be an opportunity for others to sign up.  If the garage is still not filled, issuing permits to graduate students on an annual basis will be considered.  A follow-up email will be going out that will outline these details.

 

Garage Safety

Provost Bud Peterson asked Claude to speak about safety precautions in the garage.  Claude reported that the garage is equipped with cameras and emergency call boxes.  The parking garage will be well-lit and there is an increased level of security.  Some parking garages pose a higher security risk, but he does not believe that it will be the case in the Rensselaer parking garage due to the cameras.

 

Other Parking Investments

In addition to the $10 million investment in the parking structure, $1.2 million has been invested in campus equipment and people to implement the plan. This includes buses, drivers and parking lot technology.  One of the key issues in providing a higher level of assurance to faculty and staff regarding parking is that the shuttle buses will continue to operate on a permanent basis after the garage is completed.  An investment has been made in parking control technology as well.  The parking gates and technology we are using is designed to keep unauthorized people out of the parking lots as well as to keep people who are not faculty and staff from getting into the parking lot.  Investment will continue in an effort to increase the reliability that staff can find a place to park on campus.  Access gates have been installed on the perimeter of campus.  They are designed to work in accordance with Rensselaer’s homeland security plan.  When Rensselaer is in an elevated level of alert, previously public safety people head to staff entrance points.  In the future the parking gates will be used to control entry. 

 

Biotech Building Impact

The construction of the Biotech building will continue until its scheduled occupancy date in fall of 2004.  It will take a couple of months to complete and phase out construction.  There will be some impact on Academy hall and throughout the campus during this process. Construction on EMPAC will begin in December including, site work and excavation.  There will be some impact on campus parking, campus access and campus traffic.  Compared to the Biotech construction and parking garage structure, EMPAC will have less of an impact on campus traffic.

 

Boiler Plant

The Boiler Plant will be completed in late December 2003.  The north lot has been affected during construction due to construction staging located on top of the hill.  This week the fence has begun to be removed and the North lot spaces will be increased by 25.  In January, additional spaces will be restored once the trailer is removed.

 

Snow Plan

The snow plan has been revised to address the changes in the Parking Plan.  There were some improvements to it.  Last year Rensselaer did a better job at removing snow than in previous years, and this makes parking spots available to faculty and staff.

 

Two Year Parking Fee Structure

This year a new two-year parking fee structure was approved and put in place.  Parking fees may be paid on a pre-tax basis through payroll deduction.

 

Tamar Gordon, Senator-at-Large, asked for an explanation of the two-year parking structure.  She also asked what will happen in the third year and whether it is expected that the rates will increase.  Claude responded that the parking review board had approved the rate increase to be phased in over 2 years.  The first 50% increase has already occurred and in fiscal year 2004/2005 there will be another 50% rate increase.  There is no proposal either to increase or decrease the rates at the third year.  The two year plan is primarily to cover cost of buses, staff, technology and the investment made to operate and manage the parking lots.  As far as his department is concerned, the two-year rate fee structure has accomplished what was needed to cover costs.  He would not deny that rates could increase at a later time. 

 

President Geisler asked whether the parking policy that went into effect is the result of the recommendation of the parking review board and whether the current rate structure was recommended by the board.  Claude responded that the rate settled on was less than the cap that was approved by the parking review board.  The parking review board reviewed his recommendations which included substantial financial data to help identify where the rate proposal was in comparison to the market place.

 

Bruce Nauman, Vice President, asked whether the parking review board had reviewed the rate increase.  He recalled a rate submitted but that it was lower than what the administration was looking for, therefore it was rejected.  Henry Scarton, Chair of the Parking Review Board, confirmed that a study had been done and then the rate had been approved.  More recently, the recommendations from the President had been approved.  He also stated that there is no formal recommendation but that it is his understanding that there are no plans to raise the rates anytime soon after the second year.  Bruce, who is a member of the Parking Review Board, did not recall any such vote, but Henry assured him that the vote was duly taken and recorded in the minutes. Claude added that a rate structure revenue model was put together to cover additional costs of the increased operations associated with the facility.  The parking review board did in fact review it and approve it. 

 

Provost Bud Peterson suggested that Claude outline the costs associated with creating surface parking spaces and garage parking spaces.  Claude explained that a single parking garage space can cost between $14,000 and $18,000 per space.  The RPI garage is approximately $14,500 to $15,000 per space.  A surface lot is approximately $4,000 - $5,000 per space and can go to $10,000 per space with additional surfaces.

 

Distribution of Transponders

The distribution of transponders is essentially complete.  On October 20th a pilot program began where there were people at the gates.  Friday November 14th, is the last day that people will be at the gates.  It appears that most of the faculty have picked up their transponders.  The transponder is designed to go onto the windshield and depending on the size of the car, it can work effectively on the top left side or on the lower left hand side as opposed to the upper right hand side. Some people are using hand-held transponders and there are certain types of vehicles that it may have trouble working with including pick up trucks or vehicles with tinted glass.

 

Privacy Issues Associated with Transponders

President Geisler questioned whether the transponders check employee records because she knew of a retiree who could not get through the gate even though the parking fee had been paid.  This retiree was told that the transponder did not work because he was no longer listed as an employee.  Claude responded that the transponders do not check employee records.  President Geisler asked further whether the transponder can identify an individual.  Claude responded that there is a cross-reference and when someone drives into the gate, it reads the transponder.

 

Henry Scarton asked that Claude go on record and officially explain what we do with this data that goes into a central unit, how long it will be kept, and whether it will be expunged after a certain amount of time.  He also asked for an explanation of how the system can work and whether it can be used to monitor and track an individual.  Claude responded that the system installed has read-entry only features. Upon entering a lot, it reads the transponder and checks it against authorization to enter that gate.  When there is a match in the database, the gate opens.  There is a cross-reference that shows what transponders have authorization to what gate and that a transponder belongs to somebody.  At this time, there is the opportunity to read the transponder upon entry but there is no read capability when someone exits the gate.  The database is stored for 30 days and there is nothing done with this data and no documents are being printed out and there are no intentions to do so.  From time to time someone may want the database checked to see if a transponder is not working.  Claude would not deny that there is an entry transaction that involves a database but that it only captures date and time of entry.  There is sensitivity from a privacy viewpoint and that this is technology that everyone gets exposed to today.  The point that has been made on several occasions is whether or not the data is misused.  Claude asked that people trust his department to effectively manage the system.

 

Achille Messac, Senator-at-Large has been approached by some faculty who are interested in the Faculty Senate making a formal request that the database have a 30-day limit. If data are held beyond that, the faculty would want to know about it as opposed to hearing “we have no intention to do anything else” with the data.  He asked whether Claude would have a problem destroying records after 30 days.  Claude responded that he would have a problem with that and that he preferred that the Senate ask for a response from Claude on behalf of the Administration to provide the faculty with the informational detail on how the data will be used.  Provost Bud Peterson also interjected that some assurance to how the data will not be used should be provided as well.  President Geisler suggested that what is needed is a privacy policy which we do not have now.  Claude responded that they are trying to follow some guidelines.  President Geisler stated that the guidelines are not public. 

 

Claude said he does not want to isolate the discussion to parking because the fundamental issue will reoccur when increased security technology is put on buildings where access codes will be used.  Henry Scarton added that computer ID cards are being installed in the Troy building and in the Biotech Building shortly.  ID cards will capture who is entering, what buildings are being entered and at what time of day.  How long that information is kept is an issue.

 

President Geisler asked Claude to return to the Senate in the spring with a proposal.  He confirmed that he will come to a Faculty Senate Meeting with some kind of plan or policy.  Claude stated that security is paramount as we go forward and that the development of security plans has stepped up this issue.  One of the issues currently as a country is whether people are willing to give up certain rights of privacy in order to be safe.  Claude said that he can offer some kind of plan regarding the parking issue and it will include a security provision in terms of access to the information.  He can provide it to the Faculty Senate within 30 days.

 

Overnight Parking Restrictions

Achille Messac asked whether there are time restrictions to stay over night or late into the night.  Claude responded that he has always encouraged people to move their cars when there is snow on the surface lots.  The top deck of the garage is not covered.  The only time a time provision is applied is on nights and weekends, when some gates are open for students. If they are not out by the next day, they can be ticketed, but this will not be applied to faculty.  Faculty and staff who live near campus have been encouraged to park in the lots instead of the streets when the City of Troy has issued a snow emergency.  There are times when faculty and staff have left a car in a lot for an extended period of time.  There is a right to do it, but inform the parking department so that security can be contacted in order to have public safety keep an eye on it.

 

Please see attachments for Claude Rounds' complete presentation.

President Geisler announced that the Faculty Advisory Group has agreed to come back and present to the Faculty Senate at another time.

 

At 3:34 the meeting was adjourned.