Faculty Senate Meeting
Present: Achille Messac, Bruce Nauman, Jim Napolitano, Christoph Steinbruchel, Mike Fortun, Debbie Kaminski, Ning Xiang, Cheng Hsu, Edward Woodhouse, Chjan Lim, Paul Hohenberg, Bob Degeneff, William Randolph Franklin, Keith Nelson, Peter Persans, Patricia Search, Sandy Sternstein, Larry Kagan, Dan Berg, Amir Hirsa
Absent: Jeanne Keefe, Lou Gingerella, Roger Grice
Guests: Mike Hanna, Bud Peterson, Prabhat Hajela, Lester Gerhardt, Heinrich Medicus, Jeff Durgee, Alan Cramb
International Program for Undergraduates
Mid-term Assessment -
Without changes, the minutes were approved; 11 approvals, 4 abstentions.
Prof. Alan Cramb, Dean of Engineering
The Dean of Engineering, Alan Cramb, is in the process of
developing a program that would enable students to have an international
experience. The program will arrange
exchanges with other schools around the world with strong engineering
Dean Cramb said that much will have to be learned in order
to make the program successful and many details still need to be reviewed. Currently, the departments are evaluating the
curriculum in order to make it possible.
The program will not add an additional semester of school for
graduation. He wants to make sure that
every student has the opportunity to have an international experience. He is committed to the international
experience program and feels that it will make the
Professor Tamar Gordon asked if a summer term abroad will be
offered. Dean Cramb said that he is
willing to set up the program in a way that will work well. President Messac asked if this program is
Retired Senator Paul Hohenberg is concerned about the large number of students going to each location and that it could create an RPI group which would make the students less likely to interact with local students and could dilute their international experience. Dean Cramb said that faculty support is needed to encourage their students to interact with other students abroad. The program should succeed not only in quantity of students but also in the experience.
President Messac asked if Dean Cramb views it as an RPI
signature program. Dean Cramb responded
that he feels it can be a signature program.
He does not think that any engineering program of
Dean of Undergraduate Education
Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education, Professor Prabhat Hajela, said that the School of Architecture currently has 75-80% of their students taking part in an international experience. The Schools of Management, Science and H&SS are also developing plans for an international experience.
The Office of Undergraduate Education wants to promote an international experience for all students. Vice Provost Hajela plans to create a range of different international opportunities for students with partner institutions; not just exchange programs. The program will focus on developing international programs with educational institutions that are considered a peer school. There are a number of institutions moving forward aggressively with well-formed programs.
The Office of Undergraduate Education is arranging faculty-lead
summer programs at international destinations.
These programs will involve students from
Rensselaer has been invited to participate in the
Vice Provost Hajela does not believe that the outsourcing of
education is in the near future, but believes a global movement in education is
possible. In some countries, the cost of
educating engineers is 20-30% of what it costs in the
Professor Cheng Hsu asked for clarification on how human
resources issues such as faculty loading will be determined. Vice Provost Hajela believes that if
Professor Bruce Nauman asked for a comment on the
Professor Chjan Lim commented on a program in
Professor Tamar Gordon is concerned about the state of
language learning at
Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee
President Achille Messac stated that over the past few months, the Student and Faculty Senates have worked on the issue of mid-term assessment. The Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee created a subcommittee with graduate student, undergraduate student, faculty and administration representation to review the issue.
Julia Leusner, Student Representative, said that the initiative was not designed to penalize faculty who are currently providing timely feedback. In many cases, students never received feedback on homework assignments prior to taking an exam on the material. By the faculty providing a “standing”, students would know their grade relative to the rest of the class. This would not imply a letter grade or official grade; it does not involve the registrar or any notation on a transcript. It is also not an indication of the final grade in the class. Ms. Leusner also said that work and assessment does not necessarily have to focus on the mid-term as long as tests and homework are returned within a week or two. The students felt the mode used is up to the Professor, such as WebCT, as long as the mode is happening.
Ms. Leusner’s final comment was that it was a joint effort between the Faculty and Student Senates. She added that it is not entirely up to the professor to do all the work and the students need to take the assessment received to calculate their own grade and where they stand. The Student Senate approved it unanimously.
Professor Hirsa feels it will be very useful in reminding
faculty to give feedback. He feels most
faculty do this for exams and mid-terms and provide averages and distribution,
but this initiative will be a good reminder for graded homework
assignments. Senator at Large
Professor Larry Kagan suggested that it would be worthwhile to revisit the issue if it is instituted to see how it is working. Professor Hanna said it will help students determine which class to spend more time on based on their received assessment.
Professor Nauman feels the Faculty Senate should not impose things on the faculty. Professor Sternstein believes the motion is flawed since it requires it be part of the Handbook and there are times when the Handbook is selectively not followed. Professor Hanna stated that if it were in the Handbook section 3.2.1, it would be included in the memo that the Provost sends to faculty prior to each semester. Professor Napolitano is confused why some people would not want to include it in the Handbook. He feels it should be in the handbook that students have some way to receive progress. Professor Kaminski supports the motion. Professor Woodhouse believes the full faculty should have a vote. Provost Peterson supports the intent of the initiative.
A straw vote was taken to determine whether the motion should go to the full faculty.
Results: 10 yes, 4 no.
The following motion was made and proposed to go to the general faculty for a vote.
“Resolved that: Each course syllabus will identify the mechanisms that are used to provide students with assessment of their progress during the semester. By mid-semester, students should receive some form of assessment that indicates their standing in the class. The mechanism of assessment can be determined by each faculty member and does not imply a letter grade.”
Provost Peterson received a memo from the Faculty Senate Executive Committee regarding the repeat grading motion passed by the Faculty Senate. It was suggested that President Messac send a follow up memo requesting the Provost to implement the motion. The Provost pointed out that the issue did not receive input from faculty or students and has not been put forth for a vote by the entire faculty.