Fall General Faculty Meeting
Report on Issues Facing
the Faculty - Cheryl Geisler, Chair of the Faculty Senate
State of the Faculty
Two Decades of Legacy
Today’s Dilemma and Challenge
Accepting the Challenge
Issues to be Addressed in the Coming Years
Report on Issues Facing
the Faculty - Cheryl Geisler, Chair of the Faculty Senate
Introduction of President Jackson - Bruce Nauman, President of the Faculty Senate
Annual Report to the Faculty - Shirley Ann Jackson, President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Chair of the Faculty,
As the former Vice President of the
Cheryl noted that her colleagues often must go back more than 20 years to the administration of George M. Low in order to express a feeling of pride in the Institution’s direction. In the past 20 years, there has been a neglect of basic infrastructure in both physical and human terms. In response, many faculty have developed a veneer of indifference to cope with declines in which the faculty feels powerless. Ultimately, faculty develop practices to get along and to do well in their own protective corners no matter what is happening in the Institute as a whole.
Cheryl said that ways of life are changing at
Faculty need to engage with the future of
The faculty at
The success of the grade modifiers has several lessons that
should be taken forward in order to build a new
In closing, Cheryl issued an invitation and challenge. A study of climate at
President of the
President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
President Jackson said it is always a privilege to speak with members of the faculty and that she looks forward to the exchanges each fall. The President’s remarks follow:
Thank you for inviting me. It is always a privilege to speak with members of the faculty. I look forward to our exchanges each fall, and because I do, I will keep my opening remarks brief.
As some of you may have attended the Fall Town Meeting last week, there may be no need for me to repeat the full status of our accomplishments against The Rensselaer Plan. What I thought I would do, today, instead, is to summarize where we are—overall—and then, open our meeting for conversation and dialogue.
The most important development is the announcement of an
historic $1 billion capital campaign. The Renaissance at
The campaign will run through 2008, and is being carried to
our alumni throughout the
The campaign will support the
§ One target is for 10 constellations, supported at $10 million each, in areas including biotechnology; information technology; arts and media; and innovation and entrepreneurship.
§ Support is sought for forty additional faculty chairs, for a total investment of $90 million—half for senior chairs at $3 million each; the other half for career development chairs at $1.5 million each.
§ Another target is scholarships and fellowships at a total of $150 million.
§ Other initiatives target academic programs and curricula; research centers and programs; EMPAC, arts, and media programs; and student life, including FYE, athletics, leadership, and pipeline programs.
The campaign will support
§ Finally, we are seeking to raise substantial unrestricted funds that, by definition, provide financial support for the Institute’s highest priorities.
Our fund-raising initiatives are based on our priority needs and, taken together, they total more than $1 billion. By the time the campaign ends in December 2008, we will not fund every initiative at the target level, but we intend to fund many of them. We also intend to add substantially to our endowment—faculty constellations and chairs, and student scholarships and fellowships are sought as endowments—so as fundamentally to strengthen the Institute going forward.
Said another way, a successful capital campaign plays two roles. One is to meet current needs—and there are many as we move ahead at a very fast pace. The other is to build a strong foundation for the future.
The faculty are at the center of
Outstanding faculty both require, and attract, outstanding students—thus, the prominence of endowed fellowships and scholarships in the campaign. We must provide competitive financial support to attract the best undergraduate and graduate students. Once these students are here, we will provide the best possible programs, facilities, and living experiences, and we will continually examine our academic offerings to ensure that they are world-class, and that they meet the needs of a changing student body—and, a changing world. This is how we attract, retain, and educate the most talented.
Our students are talented, multi-faceted, and very smart. The average class SAT score has jumped more than 60 points in the past six years. Sixty-three percent were in the top 10 percent of their class, and the number of legacy and Rensselaer Medal winners are rising. Each class is more diverse geographically, culturally, and ethnically.
Likewise, our highly talented graduate students are arriving
with higher and higher GRE and GMAT scores. Three Fulbright Scholars entered
this fall. We have seen a 44 percent jump in the number of those studying at
the Ph.D. level. Our full-time residential graduate program at the
We now offer new Ph.D. programs in Cognitive Science,
Architectural Sciences, and, Electronic Arts (pending submission to, and
In the undergraduate academic program, we restructured the chemistry degree program and revised all of the courses. Several sections of our new introductory biology course, which we piloted last spring, are open, with 120 students this fall, and another 240 in the spring. We are piloting a discovery course for first year engineering students to expose them to engineering design early in their academic careers. We expanded the O.T. Swanson Multidisciplinary Design Laboratory to include mixed teams of engineering students. We instituted a new minor in game studies, an emerging and fast-growing field. Expanding student support and promoting faculty-student communication, our “Meet Your Advisor Day” was a big success, as was the “Opening Doors” program in which faculty and staff knock on student doors. Currently, eight graduate students are installed in undergraduate dorms to act as learning assistants.
A premier technological education requires a faculty which
leads with excellence in teaching and research. We pledged, under The Rensselaer Plan, to increase the
faculty by 100 new positions. By the end of this fiscal year, we will have
hired 140 tenured and tenure-track faculty over five years—73 in entirely new
positions. We started the semester with 374 tenured and tenure-track faculty.
This is an 11 percent increase over the fall of 2000 (when clinical and
research faculty are added, the total number is 460)—significant growth, which
must continue if we are to take our place among the country’s finest
universities. Currently, we are looking to fill 34
positions this year. When all of these positions are filled, this will bring us
to a total of 418 tenured and tenure-track faculty at
Critical to this continued growth is the filling of constellation positions currently open. The hiring process continues, and we anticipate their completion by the end of Fiscal Year 2005.
It is not just numbers which count.
Our faculty members are bringing research support and distinction to
Growth in research funding is
remarkable. In fiscal year1998, we received $37 million in research awards; in
fiscal year 2004, that number grew to almost $90 million. One significant
measure of this growth is the increase in total research awards from the
National Institutes of Health (NIH). Just three years ago,
We also must continue to innovate in undergraduate education in the curriculum, in co-curricular offerings and activities, and in student life.
There has been a tremendous amount
of change at
But, we also possess tremendous capacity to change ourselves and our institutions for the better. And, when change breeds success, we are urged forward to greater heights of achievement.
Consider a bit of the storied
history (which I shared at the Town Meeting last week) of the new baseball
world champions—the Boston Red Sox. Many believe that the famous “curse of the
Bambino” (when Babe Ruth was traded to the Yankees) prevented the team from
winning a World Series title since 1918. But, other, less superstitious
baseball experts and fans attribute this lack of success to a decades-long
resistance to institutional change. With a parochial owner and management in the
mid-20th century, the Red Sox fell behind. Through a series of
misjudgments, the team did not take advantage of—among other things—the
expanding talent pool brought about by integration in baseball and changes in
the wider society. The Red Sox focused on recruiting players whose skills were
narrowly well-suited only for
But, today, we see a different team—diverse racially, ethnically, and athletically—and, winning the 2004 World Series.
This kind of dramatic change does not happen overnight, as any long-suffering Red Sox fan will tell you, nor is it easy. But, it does begin with a simple decision: the commitment to be the best. We made this decision with the creation of The Rensselaer Plan, and we are taking that commitment a step further with the capital campaign. The success of the campaign will accelerate the full implementation of The Rensselaer Plan, expand the resource base, and help to secure the financial foundation of the Institute for years to come. To make it happen, we all must do our part—the administration and the faculty.
Before I close, I am sure you are aware that the Princeton Review designated
This has been a brief overview, set within the context of
the Renaissance at
Thank you, again, for inviting me to speak with you.
And now, what I really would like is to engage with you in a conversation.
Question from the floor: With regard to the fellowships, when do you envision that these will start “kicking in”?
Dr. Jackson: I can’t say. We just announced the campaign and are seeking money as we speak. There are two things we can never totally predict. One is when we will get the money, how responsive donors might be, or when they might give. The second is the structure of the gifts. People have said we raised $650 million dollars and “where is it”? Many gifts are given as bequests or with a multi-year payout period or in other forms including gifts in kind. For things like fellowships, we are seeking straight dollars. We are working to get it as fast as we can. The truth of the matter is that because of the giving we’ve already been the beneficiary of, in real dollars and in pledges, the Board over the past several years has voted to spend extra beyond what we would normally spend to jump start the Rensselaer Plan and to do a lot of the hiring and capital projects and the like that we have already done. We are working as fast as we can and as soon as we have some news, I will share the news. Thank you for the question. And what I tell donors is that we need the money now.
Bruce Nauman, President of the Faculty Senate: Something that has arisen in our dinner meetings with the faculty, was the possibility of identifying certain departments that have a chance for significant improvements in their rankings, such as moving into the top 20 and using some of the resources from the capital campaign for that. Can you address that?
Dr. Jackson: We have some departments we think are on the cusp of moving into the top 10 or 15 such as the Math Department. There are other departments that have come on strong and those we know are important. We’ve been talking with them and that has helped shape what we want to do in the Capital Campaign. We are considering what it would take without a Christmas list to really make key appointments and to do key things that might move those departments into the top ranking and to use them as leverage points to attract more support and to invest in additional departments.
Provost Peterson: One of the questions is you might have is how would we identify those departments. Dr. Jackson mentioned the Math Department. As part of the Performance Planning, we had asked the Math Department to provide information on what resources they need to make a change. The applied math department has been ranked highly for a long time, currently ranked 21st. They came back with a plan through the performance planning process that identified some specific needs, some of which have been able to be fulfilled. The process that we use is the performance planning process that we are going through now. He encouraged people to get involved in the process. First drafts are due Friday and there will be opportunity to visit with the Deans and department chairs and get involved.
Dr. Jackson: One other example is the computer science department which is very important. It has grown quite a bit in the last couple of years. We’ve worked hard to find expansion space; it’s been a challenging process, but we think we have an initial solution. Sometimes it involves hiring faculty or accommodating the faculty or giving the research space needed. We are also using the kinds of criteria that would lead to improving our national research rankings as a basis for where we might make focused investments as well as the fact that we’re looking to move into the AAU and to at least make an application to that within a few years and look at what that requires in terms of the focus and investments we need to make and what we can do to help our faculty become more recognized in their fields.
Cheryl Geisler, Chair of the Faculty: You mentioned we haven’t made much headway in changing the percentage of the female undergraduates. Could you comment on where we stand in terms of women in the graduate and undergraduate classes, faculty and where you think we need to go.
Dr Jackson: The percentage of women in the undergraduate body is 25%, the number in the graduate body is 30%, and the number in the faculty is between 15-19%. All of these are challenge areas that we need to make progress on. I have had direct discussions with the Provost and others on what we need to do in terms of how we do hire and search. We have hired a “consultant” to look at our undergraduate admissions who will look at a broad range of things which include enlarging the applicant pool overall but to also look at specific areas of diversity and how we attract more women, underrepresented minorities, and how do we have a broader geographic distribution. More than in the past, I’ll be rolling it into people’s performance evaluations.
Dr. Jackson: I’ve talked about entrepreneurship and innovation, arts and media. There are roughly 10 and the Kadoski Chair, which was the first Constellation. We had 7 plus Kadoski plus 2 that we’ve added. If we see the opportunity for others, we’ll pursue those opportunities.