Faculty Senate Meeting

March 3, 2004

 

Attendees: Deborah Kaminski, James Stodder, Cheryl Geisler, Achille Messac, Bud Peterson, Tom Apple, Roger Wright, David Rainey, Lester Gerhardt, Terry Blanchet, Bill St. John, Joel Plawsky, Mark Goldberg, Ron Eglash, Jun Abrajano, Peter Persans, Patricia Search, Tamar Gordon, Bob Block, Bruce Nauman

 

Agenda

Approval of Minutes from 2/4/2004 and 2/18/2004 Faculty Senate meetings

Resolution on Privacy PolicyCheryl Geisler

Determinants of Enrollment at Hartford- Jim Stodder

            The Big Question

            Main Conclusions of Study

            Other Important Conclusions

            Graphs and Data

            Final Conclusions

Report on Hartford- Alan Eckbreth, Vice President and Dean, Rensselaer at Hartford

            Brief Overview of Rensselaer at Hartford

            People and Facility Features

            Impact

            Enrollment

            United Technology Corporation Student Enrollment Trends

            Fall Credit Hour Trends

            Tenure Conditions

            Curricular Approval Process

            Clinical Faculty

            Plans for Hartford

            Q&A

Announcement from Provost

Adjournment

 

Approval of Minutes from 2/4/2004 and 2/18/2004 Faculty Senate Meetings

The Minutes from 2/4/2004 were approved with minor changes:  13 in favor, none opposed, no abstentions.  The Minutes from 2/18/2004 were approved with one minor change:  13 in favor, none opposed, 1 abstention

 

Resolution on Privacy Policy – Cheryl Geisler

President Cheryl Geisler presented five amendments to the Privacy Policy that the Faculty Senate Executive Committee identified.  The Privacy Policy was originally presented by Claude Rounds to the Faculty Senate on 2/18/2004. 

 

Motion: The Faculty Senate requests that the following changes be made to the proposed Privacy Policy presented on 2/18/04:

 

  1. This policy applies to parking data, building access data, and video data.
  2. To the extent the information involves faculty, no information or reports will be prepared and released without the written approval of the VP for Administration, the Chief Information Officer, and the Provost except where required to perform routine troubleshooting or when required by law.
  3. The Provost will report all requests that are approved to the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate.
  4. No approval will be provided for purposes of performance evaluations.
  5. This data shall be kept no more than 1 month from acquisition.

 

Achille Messac, Senator-at-Large, expressed concern that this issue has been going on for so long.  He suggested to the President of the Faculty Senate that the Administration should review the changes proposed and get back to the Faculty Senate President as soon as possible to avoid yet another delay.  Cheryl responded that she will include a date for response in the memo to Claude Rounds.

 

Provost Peterson expressed concern of the inclusion of the words “when required by law” and suggested the additional wording be reconsidered.  He gave an example of a student being accosted in a residence hall, where there is entry and exit information available that could help in an investigation. Rensselaer would not be required by law to release the data, and the phrase “required by law” would mean that a summons would be needed.   He also encouraged the Faculty Senate to be careful about making policy recommendations on this particular policy.  Claude Rounds’ initial presentation addressed parking data only; however this proposed change from the Faculty Senate addresses many other issues including building access data and video.  The Provost encouraged the Faculty Senate to appoint a committee to work with Claude Rounds and John Kolb to develop a policy in cooperation that would be acceptable to all. 

 

Bill St. John, Senator, agreed with the Provost’s comment that a lot of information is captured including email, web browsers, telephone data, building access and video.  There are other forms of data to be concerned about as well.  He felt that it was reasonable to put together a committee to review these other privacy concerns.  Cheryl Geisler agreed and added that currently, neither the original nor the proposed policy addresses all privacy issues.

 

Bob Block, retired Senator-at-Large, stated that the faculty does not want individual data maintained but suggested that statistical data be kept.  Knowing how many cars entered a lot or garage would be helpful for planning purposes and should not be thrown away.  Bruce Nauman explained that the information will be kept on a dedicated server.  When the server is purged, the whole database is purged and info is lost unless put into another file or on another server.

 

The Provost asked what the process would be if the motion for changes to the Privacy Policy were approved.  The Provost was concerned that the original proposal addresses the parking data and what the Faculty Senate will propose addresses other types of data.  President Geisler stated that it would be sent to Claude Rounds since he had asked for a response. 

 

Vote on Motion:  9 in favor, 3 against, 3 abstentions. The motion passed.

 

A copy of the handout is attached.

 

Determinants of Enrollment at Hartford - Jim Stodder

Jim Stodder, Senator from Hartford, presented a study on enrollments at Hartford. The main report is available at www.rh.edu/~stodder/tuitionhartford.doc.  Jim stated that this is an empirical study based on 21 years of data. 

 

The Big Question

The big question is “is price sensitivity greater than 1 or less than 1?”  If it is greater than 1, (in absolute value), then a 1% rise in tuition implies more than a 1% fall in enrollment.  For example, if the price elasticity is 2, a 1% increase in tuition implies a 2% decrease in enrollment and consequently a fall in revenue.

 

Main Conclusions of the Study

The good news is that the price sensitivity of all students over a one-year period has been less than 0.5.  However, the bad news is the 1-year price sensitivity of new students is well over 3.0 for the same period.  These are the most conservative estimates in terms of price sensitivity.  Also, these are short term price sensitivities and he noted that longer-term price sensitivities will be greater since it takes time for many customers to adjust.  One conclusion is that there were small gains in total revenue due to the price increase but at a cost of a substantial fall in new student enrollment. 

 

Other Important Conclusions

The sensitivity to University of Connecticut (UConn) tuition is 0.2, which means a 10% fall in relative tuition in UConn would give a 2% fall in Hartford enrollment.  Sensitivity to Connecticut employment is very “pro-cyclical.”    Most graduate schools are counter-cyclical and vary inversely to the business cycle because if students cannot get a job, they go to graduate school.  But because tuition for many Rensselaer at Hartford students is paid by their employer, it is very “pro-cyclical”.   This suggests that there should be a different pricing policy for working professionals than for full time students.   Finally, there is no clear time trend.  After these other factors are taken into account, the time trends are either insignificant or they go both ways, positive and negative.

 

Graphs and Data

Jim Stodder went through several graphs explaining what information they showed.  When looking at Connecticut employment vs. enrollments prior to 1999, the two aligned well and followed the same path.  After 1999, there was a significant drop in enrollments which does not correlate with Connecticut employment.  Jim suggested that the increase in tuition is what made the difference. 

 

Final Conclusions

  1. The dramatic drop in enrollment was not only predicted, it was empirically predictable. 
  2. There is no evidence of time trends.  After price and employment data are taken into account, there are no clear time trends.  He also stated that a drop in enrollment has also occurred at Troy in the professional full time working program. 
  3. In strictly empirical terms, UConn is a competitor. 
  4. Hartford’s part-time Master’s programs are highly “pro-cyclical”.
  5. These price sensitivities imply that the revenue gains year on year (until this year), were purchased at a punishing cost in new enrollments and at a loss of long term market position.

 

Based on the conclusions of the study, the current pricing policy does not seem like a successful strategy to maintain the 50-year institution at Hartford.  Many Hartford faculty feel that the Administration does not intend to maintain the Institution.

Entire presentation is available here.

 

Report on Hartford – Alan Eckbreth

Brief Overview of Rensselaer at Hartford

Alan Eckbreth, Vice President and Dean, Rensselaer at Hartford gave a brief overview of Rensselaer at Hartford.  For close to 50 years, Rensselaer has maintained a graduate center in Hartford.   

 

People and Facility Features

There are 26 full time faculty members and 30 adjunct faculty.   The Hartford area has a large number of people who have PhDs from the finest institutions in the country and some of these have been an important part of the adjunct faculty.  Last fall there were over 1,000 students.  In the spirit of working professionals, the average age of students at admission is 33.  Many students enter with a great deal of experience and advanced degrees.  There are 27 general classrooms, 5 distance education classrooms, 5 computer classrooms, a 460-space parking garage and 330-space parking lot, a Union bookstore and cafeteria.

 

Impact

In terms of impact, Rensselaer at Hartford has granted 13,000 Master’s degrees since 1955.  Within the state of Connecticut, R@H has granted 20% of graduates in those degrees in which Hartford has a program. 

 

Enrollment

Enrollments at Hartford are highly pro-cyclical.  The MBA enrollments leveled out when the credit hour requirements were changed from 46 to 60.  During the dot.com expansion, enrollment rose, but at the turn of the century, there was the dot.com bust.  Connecticut was particularly hard hit by job losses.  The bloom from MBA programs faded.  Working professionals rely on companies to pay for schooling, but when times are tough, companies are more restrictive on management training and MBA funding.  Previously Hartford had only competed with UConn or the University of Hartford due to geographic isolation.  But now with the internet and on-line providers, Rensselaer at Hartford is now competing with Stamford, Carnegie Mellon, Georgia Tech, Michigan and Purdue.  The basis of competition has greatly changed and the philosophy to deal with this is to compete on quality not price.

 

United Technology Corporation Student Enrollment Trends

At UTC, employees can study whatever they want and get full reimbursement.  This is a market that should be relatively insensitive to price.  Over the period since the dot.com bust, the enrollments from UTC are down approximately 30%.  Much of the decline is due to online competition but also from local competition.  Hartford faces a situation of ever-increasing competition which is driving strategy. 

 

Fall Credit Hour Trends

Typically students average 4 credit hours per semester.  If distributed enrollments are viewed, it means that 1/3 of the students take 6 credit hours per semester and the other 2/3 just 1 course per semester.  The number of distance students is increasing, too.  In the fall there were approximately 1,000 students and this spring there were over 1300, which is equivalent to approximately $2 million in revenue which is not reflected in the Hartford financial statements.  Hartford has been very successful in recruiting weekend MBA cohorts which has helped to drive up the spring enrollments over the fall term.

 

Tenure Conditions

A new process for granting tenure to faculty at Hartford is in place. Tenure will be granted specific to the Hartford campus and according to the handbook.  In hiring tenured or tenure-track faculty, Alan Eckbreth will put together a Search Committee after working with the appropriate Dean and forward recommendations to the appropriate Department Chair on the Troy campus.  The appointment then follows the normal process within each school.  After the Dean of the appropriate school approves, it returns to Alan Eckbreth.  If he approves, it is forwarded to the Provost and then goes forward relative to the tenure process of the Faculty Committee on Promotion and Tenure.  It is Alan Eckbreth’s involvement that makes the tenure specific to the Hartford campus. 

 

Since each school determines its tenure standards, a given school might look at what is most appropriate to serve their students best.  Clinical faculty are highly valued on the Hartford campus due to the years of experience they possess.  Since many of the students have 15-20 years of experience, faculty who have worked in the real world are valued by the Hartford students.

 

Alan has talked to a number of faculty at Troy and has search committees together.  The challenge now is to put in place the enabling support mechanisms for faculty to be successful.  These include Doctoral students, RA and TA support, mentors and support for development of funded research portfolios.  One last thing is the challenge of having access to experimental facilities.  There is a dream of a technology park at Rentschler Field, but it appears that that is probably several years into the future.  Other than partnering with local corporations or local universities, experimental facilities will be a major challenge.  In the near term, experimentally-oriented faculty will not be hired.

 

Curriculum Approval Process

Hartford follows the processes in place within each academic school of the Institute.  The Hartford Department of the Lally School goes through the Lally School Processes and the department of Engineering & Science goes through the School of Engineering or School of Science.  Hartford degrees require approval from the Connecticut State Department of higher education as opposed to New York State approval.  The degrees are identical other than which state sanctions the degrees.

 

Clinical Faculty

The total number of clinical faculty that can be supported is determined by the enrollment levels and the number of degrees offered.  Clinical faculty are evaluated on the quality of their contributions with the following weighting: teaching 60%, scholarship 20 % and service 20%.  A typical teaching load is 9 credit hours per semester and the scholarship is primarily to support the currency of the curriculum.  Renewals consider performance in the above areas as well as future curriculum directions and the needs within an area of expertise.

 

Plans for Hartford

Alan referred the group to the Rensselaer plan and what it says about Hartford.  The Hartford Performance Plan is based on the Rensselaer Plan.  It does outline introducing tenure and tenure-track faculty.  Enrollments need to be stabilized by using a three-part strategy of upgrading the quality of the Hartford faculty, differentiating and improving the educational offerings and marketing much more aggressively than what has been done in the past.  Hartford intends to increase the high-end cohort programs, introduce a one-year educational MBA program in Fall 2005 and also continue to upgrade the Executive Master’s program and weekend MBA program. 

 

Hartford is currently marketing a one year, full-time MS in computer science.  This would be a professional Master’s degree in Computer Science.  The work being done on curriculum is reviewing increases in core requirements and allowing students to focus or generalize in selective electives.  Hartford is working to increase the Rensselaer content in non-credit Professional Development Programs.  The plans also call for hiring a Director of EWP of Marketing and Business Development.  Finally, Rensselaer at Hartford will be implementing total web-enabled student services.

 

More details in attached presentation.

 

Q&A

Bruce Nauman, Faculty Senate Vice President, asked whether hiring tenure track faculty  involves Troy campus departments in the case of engineering and science.  Alan replied affirmatively.  Once Alan gets together with the Dean of the appropriate school and puts together a Search Committee, the appointment process proceeds as it normally would on the Troy campus.  Bruce then asked what the process is for existing tenure track faculty and what is the procedure as faculty come up for tenure and promotion from one level to the next?  Alan stated that the faculty are covered in the Tenure Transition Plan as spelled out in the memo of 7/2002.  For new tenure-track positions, a national search has to begin; any current clinical faculty can apply and are free to do so.  The tenure process proceeds as per the Tenure Transition memo.  A package would be put together for promotion and tenure at the department level.

 

Cheryl Geisler, Faculty Senate President, asked whether the potential difference in certain areas of tenure and promotion criteria for Hartford and Troy have been outlined realizing they might be different in terms of specialization.  She asked how the Administration will communicate or work out the differences.  For example, if there were only one tenure-track faculty member in Hartford in Computer Science and it was time for a tenure review, the Dept of Computer Science in Troy has never dealt with the Hartford faculty member.  How will appropriate criteria be established? 

 

Alan stated that not all of those details have been worked out.  He added that tenure standards and criteria are different from school to school.  He would like to have criteria that value certain areas of expertise, such as patents or experience in industry.  We have to consider that standards that are required for teaching working professionals as opposed to teaching undergraduate or graduate students may be different.  The criteria have to be shaped appropriately for the student base.

 

Terry Blanchet, Senator-at-Large, stated that in both Jim and Alan’s presentations, data showed that enrollments diminished as the tuition increased.  A detail from Alan’s presentation showed that overall reduction in enrollment parallels the reduction in the MBA program but enrollments in computer science and engineering stayed constant despite what has happened since 1999.  Terry asked Alan how a tuition increase could affect only the MBA program and not other programs.

 

Alan replied that there is data for every management degree.  The data here is a compilation of all the Management degrees: cohort, general studies, and MBA.  In the late 1990’s, the ratio of MBAs relative to masters in Management was 2/3-1/3.  In the early part of this decade, the MS in Management students exceeded the number of students in MBA programs. 

 

Terry again mentioned that the levels in computer science and engineering were fairly constant relative to the overall drop in 1999.

 

Jim Stodder responded that this data only goes back to 1996.  There has been a long-term decline in both of those areas which represent about 40%.  It is not true statistically that computer science is insensitive to price increase; it can be shown to be sensitive to tuition.  Engineering cannot be shown, but computer science can be.  The trends are very similar, but the fit, however is not quite as tight statistically as it is with management. 

 

One of the complications with enrollment data is that there is a mix of current students already in programs, “in the pipeline” and incoming students.  One of the concerns is the new people coming into the program.  Another concern is the online competition from topflight engineering programs.   Hartford may not be filling “the pipeline”.  Some computer professionals are wondering if they should get a Master’s in computer science and wonder if that is enough to avoid being outsourced.  There is much greater pressure in people going into those fields.  Rensselaer at Hartford has had enrollment activity but not a lot of marketing effort, which is what is needed now.

 

Peter Persans, Chair of the Faculty, asked Alan to make a few short statements that can distinguishes Rensselaer at Hartford program from the UConn program.  Alan responded that what distinguishes Hartford is the quality of the faculty, but that this has not been established in the marketplace.  Right now the curriculum is not that differentiated, but part of the strategy is to differentiate the Hartford MBA from the UConn MBA. Hartford will follow Dean Simon lead relative to converting the Rensselaer MBA into a “Master of Business Innovation”.  Such a program is being put in place for this fall in Troy, but Hartford hopes to be on line by Fall 2005.  One of the things we are doing in advertising is branding and getting the message out into the Hartford marketplace.

 

Cheryl Geisler asked if Alan could discuss any increases or decreases in levels of tenure track, adjunct and clinical faculty.  Alan responded that as the Engineering and Science faculty are built up with tenure-track faculty, the number of adjuncts will decrease.  He could not give exact numbers since there is not yet an official budget.  He suspected that the faculty size will continue to go down until enrollments are stabilized.  He guessed the total faculty would probably decrease by 10-15%.

 

Debbie Kaminski, Faculty Senate Recording Secretary, asked how the trends have affected overall balance sheets in terms of revenue and expenses.  Alan responded that it has not been a good year.  Historically, Hartford has always operated sufficiently in the black in the range of “7 figures”.  This year, despite all the cost cutting, Hartford will be “in the red close to 7 figures”.  A decrease in enrollment was budgeted, but enrollment was down even more than anticipated.  The Provost added there was an anticipated 20% decrease in enrollment, but the decrease was actually 30%.

 

Alan added that one of the things that affected the bottom line is the Rensselaer Learning Institute that was providing education administration services to United Technologies.  Hartford lost that contract because of proposed terms that would have been unprofitable for Hartford.  This caused a second reduction in force.  The Rensselaer Learning Institute operated at a loss and this activity was a major contribution to overhead.  That loss of overhead has been spread across the rest of the portfolio.  

 

Roger Wright, Planning & Resources Committee At-Large member, stated that the financial reports did incorporate in December or January an 8-figure adjustment to the Rensselaer planned revenue. The adjustment reflects the losses in the program that Alan referred to.  Roger believed that the loss of that program had a significant on-campus impact, too.

 

Jim Stodder, Hartford Senator, stated that it is hard to understand how the cash flow could be up by $1 million one year and down by $1 million the next and have an impact of $10 million to the larger institution.  As far as being down seven figures, if you account for distance education revenue, Hartford is earning $1 to $2 million that Hartford is not credited for.  Jim suggested that Hartford would be in the black if those numbers were brought in.

 

Announcement from the Provost

The Provost announced the Faculty Senate/Provost BBQ is scheduled for March 31st.  He asked for Senators to sign up to help serve food to students.  The Provost office is providing the funding for the event.  Also the 4th Annual Colloquium on Teaching and Learning is May 10 and 11th and will have several keynote speakers.  He asked everyone to mark their calendars.

 

Adjournment

Meeting adjourned to working groups at 3:24pm.