Faculty Senate Meeting

November 16, 2005


Present: Achille Messac, Bruce Nauman, Christoph Steinbruchel, Mike Fortun, Debbie Kaminski, Cheng Hsu, Satish Nambisan, Chjan Lim, Jeanne Keefe, Roger Grice, Paul Hohenberg, Bob Degeneff, William Randolph Franklin, Keith Nelson, Peter Persans, Patricia Search, Larry Kagan, Dan Berg, Amir Hirsa


Absent: Jim Napolitano, Ning Xiang, Edward Woodhouse, Lou Gingerella, Sandy Sternstein


Guests: Henry Scarton, John Harrington


ATTENDANCE: Administrative and Non-Administrative Faculty, and other parties

 Approve Minutes from the 10/26/2005 Faculty Senate Meeting
Election of Architecture and Management Representative on Planning & Resources Committee
Report from the Curriculum Committee - Amir Hirsa, Chair
Core Outcomes - Christoph Steinbruchel, Former FSCC Chair
Report from Planning & Resources Committee - Dan Berg, Chair
Report from Promotion & Tenure Committee - Larry Kagan, Chair
Web-Based Satisfaction Survey Discussion
Handbook Motions and Yearly Review Items

Approve Minutes from the 10/26/2005 Faculty Senate Meeting

The Minutes were unanimously approved.


Election of Architecture and Management Representative on

Planning & Resources Committee

After a brief discussion, Professor Peter Parsons was unanimously elected as the Architecture Representative and Professor Bill St. John was unanimously elected as the Management Representative.


Report from the Curriculum Committee – Amir Hirsa, Chair

Professor Hirsa reported that the Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee (FSCC) has been managing and maintaining the course catalog which includes the approval of some courses, course revisions as well as the review of proposed new programs.  The other issue the committee is working on is mid-semester progress reports.  Although many faculty feel it is an additional responsibility, most students like the idea.  A joint committee has been formed with 3 faculty members of the FSCC and 3 student senate representatives.  Their recommendations will be brought to the FSCC and the FSCC hopes to present a proposal to the Faculty Senate by the end of the semester.


Core Outcomes – Christoph Steinbruchel, Former FSCC Chair

Professor Steinbruchel stated that after some discussion with the current Chair of the FSCC, it was determined that it would be important for the Faculty Senate to review the draft of the proposal prior to a final version be submitted from the committee.  To facilitate the effort, Professor Steinbruchel distributed a copy of the old version, the current draft proposal as well as a list of some major changes.  Lastly, he suggested that the version be posted to the Faculty Senate website to allow the entire faculty to view it.  The FSCC would then review it again in the spring once feedback has been received.


Professor Bruce Nauman, Chair of the Faculty, suggested that the FSCC also address the necessary mechanisms in which the goals would be achieved.


 Report from Planning & Resources Committee – Professor Dan Berg, Chair

After the election of a Management and Architecture Representative, the committee is now complete and has complete academic representation. 


Regarding the duties, as specified in the Faculty Senate Constitution, Professor Berg feels that the Constitution is not being followed.  The Planning and Resources Committee has been invited to the Rensselaer Plan review and feels it is an effort to follow the specifications in the Faculty Handbook, but no budget discussions will occur.


A subcommittee was created to review the graduate student policy item, but there is no report at this time.  The library resources subcommittee has been meeting and has been given some material.   When they have their report available, it will include information from John Kolb.  A third subcommittee under consideration is for defined benefit pension, tuition benefits or the entering undergraduate class.  This third subcommittee will be resolved at a future Planning and Resources Committee meeting.


President Messac invited the Planning & Resources Committee to speak at any future Faculty Senate meeting to give an updated report on the status of the committee’s business.


Report from Promotion & Tenure Committee – Larry Kagan, Chair

Professor Larry Kagan reported that the committee is in the process of completing their work for the semester.  During the fall semester, the committee reviewed 15 cases; 3 were appointments to full professors with tenure, 2 were promotions to full professor, 1 was the granting of tenure, 8 were promotions to associate professor with tenure and one was an appeal case. 


He reported that the group has had good attendance with no outstanding problems and there have been clear communication channels with the Provost.  They do not know if the committee’s recommendations will be followed or not.


The committee has been following the same procedures the committee used last year.  Professor Kagan will review the newly approved handbook to see if they are following the newest guidelines and procedures.


ATTENDANCE: Non-Administrative Voting Faculty


Web-Based Satisfaction Survey Discussion

The Faculty Senate Executive Committee contacted Michael Kalsher from the Institute Review Board (IRB) to determine whether the survey would be governed by that board.  After examining the survey, the IRB determined that the survey was not considered research and that the proposed mechanism to give the survey would address the issue of confidentiality.  Thus, the Faculty Senate survey was issued an exemption from the IRB.  A staff member of the Office of Research was given the survey to prepare for electronic response. The specific steps addressing confidentiality are explained in the attachment below. This last version is the result of the newly presented considerations.  President Messac also obtained clearance from Provost Peterson that the survey did not violate the No Solicitation rule in the Human Resources Policy Guideline 800.10. 


Christoph Steinbruchel made the following motion:  "Move that the senate approve the administration of the Chain of Command Survey as planned; with the attached (1) approval of Provost Peterson, and the attached (2) exemption of the Institute Review Board in place. Specifically, the senate (i) agrees that the safeguards that are in place for confidentiality are adequate, (ii) that it is in agreement with, and approval of, the attached (3) document submitted to the Institute Review Board to obtain the EXEMPTION, and (iii) that it is aware of no other requirements that must be complied with. As such, the senate hereby decides to administer the survey as planned."


Seconded by Mike Fortun.


A Faculty Senate member feels the survey does not address the satisfaction level with the structure of the Institute.  He also questioned whether the Chief Academic Officer is the President of the Institute or the Provost.


One senator stated that he does not think the results will be different than the results from last year.  He is concerned that it will appear as if the Faculty Senate did not take the survey seriously because nothing was done about it.  Last year’s survey revealed a problem in regards to faculty and leadership.  He also thinks that the questions are asked and answered, but there is no idea what to do with the results.  This senator thinks the administration should be engaged on the issues that were revealed in last year’s survey.


President Messac feels that the Faculty Senate has made strong overtures to engage the administration in many ways.  He is also concerned that regular meetings with President Jackson have been cancelled, the meeting with the Chairman of the Board has been cancelled, and the most recent meeting with the Provost was cancelled. Other less formal interactions between the administration and the Faculty Senate that had taken place in the past also no longer do.  He is unsure whether the survey will help, but he is has done the significant preparatory work for the administration of the survey, primarily to comply with the pertinent senate and faculty mandate.


A friendly amendment was made to the motion.  “If President Messac could not obtain the necessary permissions by November 28, 2005 under the wording of the initial document, then the Chair of the Faculty will implement the Satisfaction Survey using the same procedure he used last year.”  It was accepted by the motion maker and the person who seconded the original motion.


Vote:  11 in favor, 3 opposed, 1 abstention.  Motion passed.


Handbook Motions and Yearly Review Items

Chair of the Faculty, Bruce Nauman, made the following motion:



Whereas the Faculty Handbook is silent on certain issues, we, the Faculty Senate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, hereby resolve as follows:


Regarding termination procedures (Section 2.14), the (Termination Hearing) Panel will decide on two issues, whether the accused is guilty of the alleged infractions and, if guilty, whether the infractions are sufficiently grievous that termination is warranted.  A decision to terminate must be based on clear and convincing evidence that the accused is guilty of the alleged infractions.  Equivalently, the Panel must conclude that guilt is highly probable.  This is a standard of proof beyond that of the preponderance of evidence standard used in civil litigation but short of the beyond reasonable doubt standard used in criminal cases.  All reports made by the Panel, including any minority reports, will be shared with the accused and with the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate. 


Regarding scholarly misconduct (Section 5,3), suspension for a period beyond one semester shall be in accord with the procedures specified for termination (Section 2.14).


Regarding grievance procedures (Section 5.4), all reports by the Hearing Committee, including any minority reports, will be shared with the grievant and respondent and with the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate.


Seconded by Larry Kagan.


Vote: 16 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstention. Motion passed.


Professor Nauman also made the following motion:



Whereas Human Resources has published a 2003 Employee Handbook that was subject to the following motion passed on 10/29/2003


The Senate repudiates the applicability of the Employee Handbook to the Faculty and asks that any future editions of this handbook be named staff.

And, whereas there is a larger, similarly titled, document relating to policy and procedures that has not been generally distributed to the faculty and that is not available on line, we, the Faculty Senate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, hereby resolve as follows:


All policy and procedures relating to scholarly activity of the faculty and all communications among and between faculty are subject only to applicable law and provisions of the Faculty Handbook.   


Seconded by Larry Kagan.


Vote: 16 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstention.  Motion passed.


Professor Bob Degeneff made the following motion: “Move that the Faculty Senate will create an ad hoc committee to conduct the annual review of the faculty handbook as mandated in the Constitution.”  As mandated by the constitution, the Secretary of the Faculty will be in charge of that committee.


Vote: 16 in favor, 0 opposed, 0 abstentions.  Motion passed.






(((Survey Introduction, placed before the survey questions)))




During the spring 2004 election, the faculty approved the following proposal:  A proposed addition to the responsibilities of the Senate to conduct a yearly survey of faculty satisfaction with the Faculty Senate and the administrative chain of command.”  The proposal was approved by 84%, and was confirmed by a unanimous vote of the Faculty Senate.


This survey is strictly VOLUNTARY, and intended to be anonymous. 


The following steps have been taken to address anonymity of the respondents:


1)    This survey web site is on an RPI server.

2)    The link you used is different for each respondent; and the software used allows the link and incorporated password to be used only once. 

3)    Your IP address and Email address will not be stored. They will only be used to ensure that only eligible faculty complete the survey, and do so only once. Who responded will not be tracked, and responses will not be associated with respondents.

4)    If you are from a small Department and you do not wish to divulge your Department, and are concerned about being identified, you should simply not select a Department, and you will not be prompted department related questions. The same procedure applies to Centers.


A staff member of the Office of Research will administer the survey; and has confirmed the correctness of the above steps.


If, for any reason, you feel that the above steps do not adequately protect you, simply DO NOT COMPLETE THIS SURVEY.


IF YOU DO NOT HAVE TIME TO FINISH THE SURVEY after you started it, simply do not click the “SUBMIT” button, and start over before December 8. You can SUBMIT it only once.


The survey will provide you with opportunities to make comments. All aspects of the dissemination of these comments will be at the discretion of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee (FSEC). The ratings for the Department Chairs will be disseminated to the faculty in an aggregate fashion. In addition, the FSEC shall be responsible for all aspects of the distribution of the survey results.


You can respond to the survey from December 1st, 2005 to December 8, 2005.  A general faculty meeting will be held on Wednesday, December 14 at 2 PM in Sage Room 3510 to present and discuss the results.


For questions regarding the administration of the survey, please contact the Senate Administrator Francine Fredette at fredef2@rpi.edu.  You may also send questions or comments of a general nature to the President of the Faculty Senate, Achille Messac at messac@rpi.edu, who will forward them to the FSEC and/or the Senate.