Faculty Senate Meeting



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


Absent: Ning Xiang, Larry Kagan


Guests: Henry Scarton, G.P. Peterson, Loretta Ebert, John Kolb, Prabhat Hajela, Ellen Esrock, Irving Stephens, John Dojka



Opening Remarks

Approval of Minutes from the 11/16/2005 Faculty Senate Meeting


Student Senate / Faculty Senate Joint Committee on Advising – Debbie Kaminski, Chair

Chain of Command Survey – Achille Messac, Faculty Senate President

Library Resources – Loretta Ebert, Director, Research Libraries

Discussion of Draft Self-Study Report of Middle States Steering Committee – Professor Peter Persans



Opening Remarks

President Messac stated that although the agenda was distributed requesting only non-administrative voting faculty to attend the Middle States Steering Committee discussion, the entire meeting can be attended by all present.


Approval of Minutes from the 11/16/2005 Faculty Senate Meeting

With minor changes, the Minutes were approved.



The names of faculty members who have passed away recently were read by Professor Bruce Nauman, Chair of the Faculty.  A formal campus Faculty/Staff Memorial will be held on March 20th at 10:00 am in the Chapel and Cultural Center. President Messac led the senate to a minute of silence.


Fred Billmeyer              Professor of Chemistry

Robert Dutton              Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Ira E. Harrod, Jr.          Professor of Management Engineering

Henry Hollinger            Professor of Chemistry

Christie Mahar             Instructor, Chemistry

David L. Noble            Instructor, Electrical Engineering

Gene R. Simons            Professor of Management and Technology

Roger King Steele        Adjunct Professor, Engineering and Science

Irving Einhorn               Adjunct Professor, Management and Technology


Student Senate / Faculty Senate Joint Committee on Advising –

Debbie Kaminski, Chair

Professor Kaminski distributed three proposed motions that were generated from the Student Senate / Faculty Senate Joint Committee on Advising.  No vote will take place on the motions at the meeting; they are being distributed for discussion.  The first motion addresses the mechanics of advising including what courses students must take.  The student would be reviewed after completing 85 credits to give adequate time to determine the remaining graduation requirements.  The person reviewing the student could be a faculty or a staff member.  The Committee felt this is necessary due to complicated curricula, dual majors, double majors, minors; and that students are often unsure what must be completed to satisfy graduation requirements.


The second motion focuses on mentoring.  The Committee is concerned that many advisors are not meeting with students and vice versa.  With this motion, students will meet with their academic advisor before being allowed to register each semester.  To get feedback on the advisor and the advising system, a survey will be filled out by the student.  The Committee believes that this particular method will help promote more regular meetings and will give faculty an opportunity to mentor students.


The third motion institutes the creation of a Faculty and Staff Honor Roll for Advising and Mentoring.  Candidates could be judged based on information from the student surveys but also upon recommendations by colleagues and students.


Vice President Jim Napolitano is concerned about the amount of time the first motion will demand on faculty.  He believes that much of the mechanics could be done by competent staff members, not necessarily faculty members. Senator Paul Hohenberg is concerned that one faculty member may not be able to interpret requirements for complicated and dual degrees.  He added that organizing the advising by department may not be the solution.  Professor Kaminski responded that students will need to receive documents from each department on what will be required.  Professor Peter Persans added that each department would certify that the student has satisfied their portion of the degree.  Senator Cheng Hsu believes that it is a very complicated process and that there should be interim reports since students often change majors. 


Provost Peterson stated that there may be resource implications for the first motion, but if the Faculty Senate believes it is something that must be done, it will be reviewed.   He suggested that since the Registrar certifies graduation, that it be involved in the process. 


Professor Henry Scarton suggests that for the third motion, the Faculty Senate select the award winner with approval of the provost.  He added that the Constitution will have to be amended as one of the duties of the Honors Committee.  In addition, Professor Bruce Nauman suggested a financial reward to motivate the faculty.


Engineer Senator Cheng Hsu believes the process to be a system issue therefore there should be a system solution.  He suggests that students be required to complete an electronic form and faculty will have a signature check box.  The form could now be an official document.  There was some concern that an electronic form would not be successful, but Debbie Kaminski stated that the procedure has not yet been specified and that only the motions are under discussion. 


Senator Ned Woodhouse is pleased to see that students have the opportunity to provide feedback.  This will allow faculty to know how advising is going in their particular department.  Professor Kaminski said that the motions will be publicized to the general faculty to inform them that they are under discussion, but it will not require a vote of the entire faculty.  With that in mind, President Messac suggested that each Senate member be in touch with constituents to get feedback.  He would also like to send it through Rensserv and directly to faculty once a final draft is prepared, in hopes of the Faculty Senate voting on it next semester.


Chain of Command Survey – Achille Messac, Faculty Senate President

President Achille Messac reported that the survey has been issued to all faculty members.  There was an initial problem for librarians responding to the survey, but the problem has been corrected.  Results will be announced at the General Faculty Meeting on 12/14 at 2pm in Sage 3510.


Library Resources – Loretta Ebert, Director, Research Libraries

Loretta Ebert, Director, Research Libraries, reported that in 1996, the library collection was modest for a research institution.  There were 3000 print titles and the collection had decreased due to inflationary costs.  The decision was made to migrate from print to electronic versions.  By migrating from print to electronic, Rensselaer increased the size of the collection to 38,000.  Not only has the size and scope enlarged, but users have been provided remote access.  Another strategy was that Rensselaer took a leadership role and created partnerships with other universities.  Expenditures were leveraged by combining resources with these other campuses and the Hartford campus.  Rensselaer also formed a consortium with 11 other institutions for sharing print documents.  The third strategy is what Rensselaer calls access vs. ownership.  Instead of owning a journal, Rensselaer provides the document delivery of individual articles and pays only for the article.  Rensselaer subsidizes up to $50 per article. 


The library has reached the point where all print items that can be purchased in the electronic form have been completed.  There are no more items that can be converted.  The library resource base is part of the Institute’s highest priorities as stipulated by the Rensselaer Plan.  However, based on the last 4 years, it is expected that the library budget will remain flat going forward.  Since collection rates will inflate at approximately 10% per year, the budget will need to increase by 10%.  If the budget remains flat, the collection will have to decrease by 10%.


Commercial publishing is changing in regard to electronic products.  Many titles are being packaged together requiring a significant expenditure and does not allow for individual titles to be cancelled from the package.  An increased demand for resources is expected relating to the expanded research programs, new graduate programs, new faculty requiring specific items of interest, increased undergraduate programs will require different types of material than graduate student and faculty, and a higher demand for multimedia formats.


Some cancellation criteria include the cost per use of items, the cost of an item, the impact to specific programs, whether the item is available through other resources or through document delivery as well as what package restrictions there are on some items.   The selection of titles to cancel was based on usage.  President Messac is concerned that that approach could lead to a potential problem.


Professor Ellen Esrock stated she feels it is unacceptable that a library at a university of such magnitude would have budget cuts.  She is concerned about some journals being cut due to usage numbers rather than by the impact on a program.  Loretta Ebert responded that everything on the list being cut probably has importance to someone on campus.  President Messac added however, that usage of H&SS journals and materials could be skewed due to the number of faculty.  Professor Chjan Lim suggested that the measure of usage of a particular library resource (such as a journal) be changed from the absolute form of number of hits per year to the relative form of number of hits per year per faculty plus student.


Professor Henry Scarton noted that Rensselaer’s library budget is $2 million less than the lowest budget of the AAU Institution budget list.  He feels it is inappropriate to hold the library budget stagnant for 5 years and that it needs to be increased.  He added that Rensselaer needs to maintain the academic resources available on campus. 


It was suggested that John Kolb, Chief Information Officer, be invited to a future Faculty Senate meeting to continue the discussion.  Jim Napolitano, Faculty Senate Vice President, is working on recommendations to present to the Faculty Senate.


The following motion was made and seconded.

To achieve the goal of being a world class university, the library budget should be increased substantially.”


Vote: 18 yes, 0 no, 3 abstentions.


Loretta Ebert's complete presentation

Discussion of Draft Self-Study Report of Middle States Steering Committee – Professor Peter Persans

Professor Peter Persans, also a member of the Steering Committee for Middle States Reaccreditation, reported on the current status of the process.  He stated that the process, which is a major review that occurs every 10 years, will come to a close this spring with a visit by the Accreditation Team on April 2-4, 2006.  The process began in March 2004 when a series of subcommittees were formed to review every aspect of the university.  These subcommittees have been gathering data for over 18 months and have written a Self-study Reports based upon a series of 14 individual Standards Reports.  The 14 Standards Reports, range in length from 10 to 60 pages, and were condensed and used as the basis for the first draft of the Self-study Report, currently available on the web.


The Provost recently sent out a memo to the Rensselaer community asking that individuals review the draft Self-study and Standards Reports available on the Web, and provide any comments or feedback either directly on the website, to the Steering Committee or to their Deans or Department Chairs, by December 22, 2005.  Peter highlighted that sections 3 and 5 refer to “leadership and governance” and “Faculty”, respectively.  He suggested that faculty pay particular attention to these rather than the hard data presented in the individual Standards Reports.  Pertinent sections and topics will be distributed via email to the Faculty Senate for help in their review.


When asked what will happen to the comments received, Peterson responded that the comments received from the campus community will be treated confidentially, (respondents are not required to include their name or department), but will be shared with the members of the Steering Committee to determine what changes or modifications should be made to the Draft Middle States Report submitted by the Steering Committee.  Decisions as to what changes to incorporate, will be made by this group, recognizing that the 14 Standards Committees have worked for over a year and a half, collecting, reviewing and summarizing information to determine what should be included and how it should be presented, and that the Steering Committee comprised of more than 20 faculty and staff, has met for countless hours reviewing and discussing this information and preparing the Draft Self-study Report.


Professor Persans stated that although the Chair of the Self-study Steering Committee has chosen not to personally endorse the draft, based upon the consensus of the steering committee and with their approval and recommendation, he has sent it forward to the Provost.  The Chair is concerned about three specific issues, which he feels do not clearly represent current situation.  One of these is what he believes is a deterioration of the Faculty Senate/Administration relations.


President Achille Messac is troubled that the section of the report addressing the senate should have had input from the current senate.  Professor Persans stated that there were over 100 people involved in the process, half of which were faculty which would provide substantial faculty representation.  In addition, four past Presidents of the Faculty Senate were included on the Steering or Standards Committees, including the Chair of the Faculty and The President of the Faculty Senate at the time the committees were formed. President Messac added that direct input from the current senate would have been helpful, since the issues of concern are more current in nature.


Chair of the Faculty Bruce Nauman asked if the refusal of the Chair of the Steering Committee to sign the draft will be shared with the visiting team.  Provost Peterson said that the Chair of the visiting team had met with the Chair and members of the Steering Committee to review the process.  Additionally, the draft had been approved by the Steering Committee as a group and the individual opinion of the Chair would not necessarily be part of the written report. 


President Messac asked if it was possible to extend the deadline for comments from 12/22 to 1/15/2006, due to the end of semester issues including finals and vacations.  The Provost responded that the draft report from the Steering Committee was nearly two months late which results in a compressed time for comments and that because of the need to mail the final version to the Committee well in advance of the visit, as required by Middle States, he would prefer to adhere to the published date for the general community.   In response to President Messac’s question, he stated that an extension would be acceptable, provided that this would allow the Steering Committee to receive feedback from the Faculty Senate and Faculty Senate Executive Committee in time for it to be incorporated into the final document to be sent to the President for review on January 15, 2006 and submission to the Visiting Team.