Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Fischbach Room, Folsom Library

Present:  Patricia Search, Jeanne Keefe, Prabhat Hajela, Larry Kagan, Christoph Steinbruchel, Achille Messac, Jim Napolitano, Roger Grice, Paul Hohenberg, J. Keith Nelson, Ning Xiang, Peter Persans, William Randolph Franklin

Absent: Lou Gingerella, Jacob Fish, Malik Magdon-Ismail, Bruce Nauman, Mike Fortun

Guests:   Henry A. Scarton, Erica Sherman, John Harrington, Bernard Fleishman, Alan Balfour, Patrick J. Quinn, Mark Mistur, Bram Van Heuveln, Lester Gerhardt, Mike O’Rourke, Leik N. Myrabo


Approval of Minutes from General Faculty Meeting 11/8/06 and Faculty Senate Meeting 11/29/06

Minutes were approved with minor changes:  9 approved, 0 opposed.


Senate nominations:

Recording Secretary replacing Steve Breyman:  Henry Scarton 10 approved, 1 abstention.

Senator at Large to replace Ned Woodhouse representing H&SS.  No nominations received, Larry Kagan will canvas for next meeting.


Announcement:  President Jim Napolitano announced the date for the Faculty, Staff and Student memorial to be held at the Chapel & Culture Center on Thursday, March 29, 2007 at 11 a.m.12 noon.   Faculty volunteers will be needed to light candles for deceased faculty.  To volunteer, please contact Andrea at mincsa@rpi.edu or ext. 8150. 


The main difference between the two memorials is that the one during the Faculty Senate Meeting becomes part of the record of minutes of the Faculty Senate Meeting whereas the one for Faculty, Staff and Students does not.  Additionally, Faculty Senate Meeting Memorial provides an opportunity for eulogies for Emeritus Faculty as well as those who died in service.


Faculty Senate President Jim Napolitano turned the meeting over to Chair of the Faculty, Achille Messac who announced each speaker.  A moment of silence was observed following each eulogy.


Professor Michael Abbottremembered by Professors Joel Plawsky and  Wayne Bequette of the Isermann Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering.  Professor Joel Plawsky stated, Mike Abbott spent literally his entire adult life at Rensselaer, first as a student and then as a faculty member. So it is fitting that if you log in to RateMyProfessor.com and look up Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute the first name you see is Mike Abbott.  Fortunately for Rensselaer, the key item to the right of his name, his rating, is 4.9 out of 5, a 40-year grade point average that few, if any could match.  Mike’s entry also sports a red chili pepper signifying that Mike was “hot”.  I guess that made him the Cary Grant of our Department.


Mike was universally loved and respected by our students and is perhaps the only faculty member in chemical engineering that every student has fond memories of.  Mike was acknowledged as one of the best, if not the best teacher at Rensselaer and one of the foremost teachers and scholars of thermodynamics in the world. Contemporary chemical engineering at Rensselaer could rightly be termed the “Mike Abbott Era”.  He taught every class and his syllabi are the templates we still follow.


Mike was the professor, the advisor, the colleague, and the mentor everyone wanted.  It didn’t take long for everyone, students, staff, and faculty to realize that Mike was the person you could go to talk with about anything; whether you had a serious personal or professional problem, just wanted to laugh about the latest Institute development, or wanted to learn about music and poetry.  Mike was the glue that held our Department together, the person who told us what we were supposed to be doing, who kept us accredited, focused and centered, and who was the acknowledged authority on all things that had to do with RPI and its relationship with students, alumni, and their parents.


I speak for everyone in the Department when I say we miss Mike more every day.  The Mike Abbott Era may have ended, but his influence will endure for a very long time.


Wayne Bequette:  Thank you Joel. You covered many of the topics I planned to cover.  

Both Joel and I have very fond memories of Mike, having started on nearly the same day in 1988.  Mike was a colleague that did everything well. He was an excellent mentor to undergraduate students, as well as the junior faculty.  He was an outstanding colleague, and was very well known in chemical engineering, having authored and co-authored a number of thermodynamics textbooks.  In addition to the things that Joel mentioned, Mike certainly helped me tremendously even after his retirement in 2002, when I served as the acting head of our department.  Mike was still always around even in retirement to handle many of the important details in running a department including student advising, and providing me with a history of the way things had been done in the department.  I have one anecdote that gives you some insight into Mike’s modesty but also into the way he educated his students.  I was fortunate enough to co-teach a design course, a Capstone course, with him.  When he would find students struggling with certain problems and worrying about their grades, here Mike, a world renowned expert in thermodynamics, would tell his students that he earned a “C” in his first thermodynamics course.  He had a take home message that, even though he was an expert in thermodynamics, he struggled just as much as you; if you work hard, you too can be a great success.  We all loved Mike dearly and miss him.


Capt. Robert H.P. Dunnremembered by Professor Michael O’Rourke of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.  Captain Robert “Rip” Dunn passed away this past summer on July 31, 2006.  Rip was born on September 11, 1926 in Philadelphia.  He graduated from Annapolis in 1948 and was commissioned as an officer in US Navy.  After a tour at sea, Rip returned to Rensselaer and received a M.S. in Civil Engineering.  Returning to the navy, Rip joined the Civil Engineering Core “Seabees” and served in London, Naples, Okinawa, Vietnam among other posts.  Apparently you do get to see the world by joining the Navy.  Rip earned a Bronze Star for Distinguished Service in the Vietnam War.  After retiring from the Navy, Rip taught Civil Engineering at his alma mater at Rensselaer.  He taught Construction Management, Professional Practice (combination of Contract Law and Ethics in relation to construction management) and Surveying all of which we was eminently qualified to teach.  The phrase ‘an officer and gentleman’ describes Rip well, he was truly a nice person.  Each year my wife and I celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a party. When he was younger (in his 60’s and early 70’s) he and his wife Pat would regularly attend.  For the last couple of years, he and Pat preferred not to drive at night and he no longer attended our party.  However they often sent us a bouquet of flowers with a note telling us to enjoy our party.  As I said, in my opinion, he was an officer and a gentleman and will be greatly missed.


Professor Erastus Leeremembered by Professor Henry Scarton, Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering.  Erastus Ras Lee, age 90, died May 17, 2006 in Lee, New Hampshire.
Ras Lee was born February 2, 1916 in Southport, England to Herbert J. and Emma (Cook) Lee. He was graduated from Cambridge University with top honors in 1937 with a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Sciences and Mathematics. He met his wife, Shirley Wilson, at Stanford University where he completed his Ph.D. in 1940. During World War II he worked first as a Progress Officer in the British Purchasing Commission in New York and later in the British Air Commission in Washington. Officer Lee was concerned with planning aircraft deliveries from U.S. companies and keeping records of modifications required to meet British needs. He and his wife returned to England during the war where Ras first worked at the Ordnance Board and then at the Armaments Research Department.


After the war, he became Assistant Director in charge of the Technical Engineering Section of the Production Department of the newly established British Department of Atomic Energy. In 1948, he and his family returned to the United States where he was a Professor of Applied Mathematics at Brown University for 14 years. He served as Chair of the Applied Mathematics Department for five years. In 1962 he was appointed as a Professor in the Division of Applied Mechanics and the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University, where he remained for 20 years. The last 10 years of his career he served as the Rosalind & John J. Redfern Jr. Chair of Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. In 1975, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, partly in recognition of his pioneering research in plasticity, and for “contributions to the advance or mechanics and their application to rocket engine and nuclear power plant design.”
He is survived by his four children, Michael Lee of Providence, Rhode Island, Martin Lee of Durham, New Hampshire, Margaret Lee of Mill Valley, California, and Susan Greenleaf of Peacham, Vermont; and four grandchildren, Max and Sam Ritzenberg and Willa and Holly Greenleaf. He is predeceased by his wife, Shirley (Wilson) Lee, his brother, Walter Lee, and sister, Margaret (Lee) Lee.


On a personal note, Professor Lee was well liked by his many colleagues.  We all looked forward to the many garden parties at his home and the lovely Cambridge-style hospitality.  He will be missed.


Professor Henry Nagamatsuremembered by Professor Leik Myrabo, Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering.  Henry Nagamatsu passed away in May, 2006.  Survived by his wife Emily, daughter Nancy, son Brian and their families. 


He received his Ph.D. from CalTech.  Henry was involved in many research projects including the bumper whack, re-entry nose cones, and re-entry heat shields for manned space flights.  In Henry’s honor I am wearing this tie that his daughter Nancy designed which celebrates the golden years of space flight.  Henry was a brilliant experimentalist and played a major role in bringing hypersonics and space flight into reality in this country. 


Rensselaer has lost a wonderful, talented and generous man.  I feel extremely fortunate to have known him as a research colleague as a thoughtful mentor, and as a dear friend.  He mentored countless graduate and undergraduate students at Rensselaer, as well as faculty like me.  I admired this prince of human being for his steadfast approach to difficult challenges, his intelligence and his many insights and quips regarding experimental research in gas dynamics like he would often declare “Nature knows no politics”.  That was one of about three dozen of his favorite quotes.  I loved hearing him. 


When we faced difficulty in the laboratory, he always had more than one solution for resolving them.  His previous job as a scientist before Rensselaer was working at GE R & D where he designed and built a million dollar facility which would allow tests to Mach 60.  


When he was invited to join the Rensselaer faculty thirty years ago by our Chair Professor Fred Ling, basically the lights were off in Ricketts as far compressible flow, testing, research and teaching experience.  He brought it back as a vital and exciting laboratory complete with a new hypersonic tongue to test Mach 8 – 25.  There are few universities in the country who have that kind of facility.  He added three transonic test sections.  Now after 23.5 years of my being here, we have come full circle to the closing of Ricketts Laboratory.  But, Henry’s legacy is living on in Brazil.  His former student Marco Manucci under the Aerospace Technical Center in San Paolo Brazil just brought on line last week a world class hypersonics facility for testing, like the one here at Rensselaer only a little bigger and a little more powerful.  Emily and Nancy traveled to San Paolo for the dedication of the Henry T. Nagamatsu Aerothermodynamics and Hypersonics Laboratory.  His legacy is carrying on Rensselaer is kind enough to donate his entire library about 7000 lbs. of reports in addition to other hypersonic test equipment.  Henry was a prince of man a gentleman and a scholar.


Professor Harry Tierstenremembered by Professor Henry Scarton, Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering.  Professor Harry F. Tiersten, 76, Renowned Authority on Interacting Mechanical
and Electromagnetic Fields in Material Continua

Professor Harry F. Tiersten, a faculty member of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) of Troy New York in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering passed away suddenly from a heart attack on June 12, 2006 at age 76.  Professor Tiersten was an unusual combination of an outstanding researcher, a gifted lecturer and teacher, and a strong source of guidance and inspiration for his graduate students, and to his colleagues. He is considered to be one of the founders of the macroscopic theories of continuum electrodynamics. He is the author' of two technical books and many research papers published in technical journals.


Harry F. Tiersten, born in 1930, was raised in the Far Rockaway section of Queens, New York City. He received a BS degree in civil engineering in1952, and went on to earn the MS and Ph.D. degrees in engineering mechanics in 1956 and 1961. All three degrees were granted by Columbia University.  At Columbia, his graduate study and doctoral dissertation were performed under the guidance of the eminently famous Professor Raymond D. Mindlin. His professional years were spent primarily at two illustrious institutions. From 1961 to 1968, he was Member Technical Staff at Bell Telephone Laboratories (now Lucent Corporation) at two locations, first at Whippany, New Jersey, and later at Murray Hill, New Jersey. From 1968 until his death, he served on the faculty of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.


Dr. Tiersten had a distinguished and internationally recognized scientific career.  One of his early contributions after joining Bell Telephone Laboratories was to write the theoretical section of the ANSI/IEEE Standard 176-1978, "Standard on Piezoelectricity". His first book "Linear Piezoelectric Plate Vibrations", published in 1969 by Plenum Press, has been a major reference on the theory of piezoelectric vibrations ever since its publication. His earlier contributions to the linear theory of piezoelectricity are classic and oft referred to by researchers in the field;  there after he developed the theory of nonlinear electroelasticity for large deformations and strong fields, the linear theory for infinitesimal fields superposed on large biasing fields, and the perturbation theory for frequency shifts in piezoelectric resonators. As just mentioned, these theories continue to influence the work of present day researchers.


His contributions also extend to theories for general nonlinear interactions of elastic deformations with electromagnetic fields in continuous media, including thermal effects and conduction or semiconduction.  His distinctive viewpoint in this area of work is presented in his second book, completed later in his career, "A Development of the Equations of Electromagnetism in Material Continua", published by Springer~Verlag in 1990. He was also highly regarded in the international mechanics community. He is considered to be one of the founders of the study of macroscopic theories of continuum electrodynamics.  His scientific style was exemplary of Mindlin's school of applied mechanics researchers, ranging from fundamental theories to applications in technology.  For example, Dr. Tiersten's work on the sensitivity of resonator frequency to acceleration completed in the 1980s is crucial to satellite systems in use today; in layman’s terms, Dr. Tiersten’s works are used for the creation for exact clocks used in orbiting satellites.


During his career, Dr. Tiersten was the recipient of a number of honors and awards.  He was a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Acoustical Society of America, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He was a member of the American Physical Society and the Society of Engineering Science Organizations. He was the recipient of the IEEE Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency control (UFFC) Society C. B. Sawyer award in 1979, "for contributions to the theory of piezoelectric resonators". He received the IEEE UFFC Society's Achievement Award in 1993 "for developing several rational theories for analyzing the electroelastic behavior in anisotropic crystals, including piezoelectric, nonlinear and energy-trapping effects for bulk and surface acoustic waves". He was awarded the Fellow membership grade of the IEEE in 1995 with the citation ''for contributions to the analysis of thickness-shear quartz resonators and surface acoustic wave devices".


Dr. Tiersten is survived by his wife of 53 years, Helen, by his daughter, Linda, and his son, Steven. Professor Tiersten will be remembered as a man of great character and intellectual ability, with honesty and integrity as his core values. He will be missed by all who knew him; and his family, his former students, and his many colleagues and friends can take consolation in the fact that the work he has created will have an impact on the field of continuum mechanics far into the future.


On a personal note, few persons have the ability to intensely focus on matters of the moment like Dr. Tiersten.  A conversation with him, especially in his office, revealed a researcher of great depth.  The conversation would begin with a period of transition, from whatever Dr. Tiersten was working on, to the problem of mutual interest; after which an extended often 3 hour vigorous discussion would commence; and usually resulted in clarifications or research extensions, and even entirely new or modified researches.   It was a great honor to have published with him.  He will be greatly missed, but not forgotten, as his classic works will live into perpetuity.

Professor George Saridis of the Department of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering passed away on 29 October at his home in Athens, Greece after an extended illness.   Professor Saridis was remembered by Professor Alan Desrochers

George Saridis was born on 11/17/1931 in Athens, Greece.  He received his diploma in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering in 1955 from The National Technical University in Athens, Greece.  Later he received a Masters and Ph.D. from Purdue University in 1962 and 1965, respectively.  From 1955–1963 he was an instructor in the department of  Mechanical and Electrical Engineering at The National Technical University in Athens, Greece.  From 1963–1981 he was a professor in the School of Electrical Engineering at Purdue.  While at Purdue he became a fellow of the IEEE and a Full Professor.  In 1973 he went to the National Science Foundation to start a new program in systems theory and operations research.  He was there for one year and when he returned his research directions had changed.  His new focus was in the area of robotics and prosthetic devices.  While at Purdue he graduated thirteen Ph.D. students. 

Prior to 1973 his students worked in the area of adaptive control, after that they were focused in the area of robotics and prosthetics.  I remember some of the experiments that went on in the lab.  Once in a while on the national news there will be a story about the six million dollar man, I get a kick out of that, the bionic arm where the arm actually moves based on electromyographic signals from the arm.  I remember seeing those experiments done over thirty years ago in his lab.  I remember a few other people at other universities who were working on similar research, but he was clearly in the forefront of that technology. 

In 1981 he came to Rensselaer and retired in 1996.  During his fifteen years here he graduated another twelve Ph.D. students.  One of his most notable contributions during that time was the fact that he was the founder of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society. 

In 1984 he became the founding president of that society.  Today that society publishes the IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation which I believe is the number one journal in that area in the world.  That society also has the number one conference on robotics and automation.  In the past couple of years the Robotics and Automation Society has spun off another publication, the IEEE Transactions on Automation Sciences and Engineering.  That group now has its own conference, which again represents another premier transaction and another premier conference.  All of that was started by George in 1984. 

While at Rensselaer, George and several of the faculty in ECSE and Mechanical Engineering were awarded an engineering research center from NASA. That center ran from approximately 1988-1992 with $5 million in expenditures.  During that time we had ten faculty and thirty or forty graduate students involved at a time.  He retired in 1996 and one year later the IEEE Robotics Automation Magazine had a small article noting his retirement.  One of the people who contributed to that article was his colleague George Bekey of the University of Southern California.  George Bekey remembers George Saridis’ “hearty laugh, generous spirit, volatile temperament and definite views” that enlightened many a technical meeting.  I can certainly agree with the definite views, he certainly had an opinion and was not hesitant to voice it.  Bekey referred to George as “a gentleman, a scholar and a friend.  It has been a privilege to know him, to work with him, and to have shared some of life’s experiences with him”.  I agree. I have known George since 1972, and I definitely agree that he was all the above and will be missed by all of us.  George leaves his wife Youla and will be remembered by his twenty-five Ph.D. students.

Fr. Tom Phelan – remembered by Professor Patrick J. Quinn, FAIA Institute Professor of Architecture, Emeritus.  There is a photograph in the Fall 1968 issue of Good Work magazine which shows Fr. Tom Phelan presenting the annual medal of the Catholic Art Association to Lewis Mumford, arguably the most incisive architectural and environmental philosopher of his time.  The ceremony took place in Litchfield, CT.  The accompanying report stated that Mumford found “Three New Worlds informing American experience, the terrestrial, the utopian, the technological – which converged briefly in New England, Concord, the mind of Emerson, the life of Thoreau, yet ultimately came to grief because they ignored the past, idealized tyranny and invented earth-destroyers”.  He said that “our task is to create not a new world but one world, in which every part is present”. 

Tom was only  forty-three years old then but the words presaged his own ultimately developed perspective on American culture, for almost 40 years later Kathleen Helfrich wrote that “Tom believed and lived as though one’s work, art and life are an integral whole (not disjointed).  This way of living seems difficult for many people in modern society”.


Tom might have added to Mumford’s three Worlds a fourth, the spiritual. Whether he was presiding over the board of WMHT, organizing the Hudson Mohawk Industrial Gateway, teaching a course on Spanish Mediaeval Architecture, delivering a homily on justice, leading trustees on a boat trip up the canal locks, counseling a despairing student, challenging a faculty member’s philosophy, building a Windsor chair, hosting a gourmet meal Chez Sofie or comforting someone at death’s very door, his priesthood was his driving force, is raison d’etre. 


Much traveled as he was and broadly read, his real world was local. 


In this he epitomized Friends of the Earth founder David Brower’s dictum “Think globally, act locally”.  Tom’s local world was profoundly complex and touched not only academic, ecclesiastical, cultural, political and urban communities of the Capital Region but the very individual lives of thousands therein.


Which brings me to his importance for Rensselaer.


Tom was an adjunct assistant professor and resident Catholic chaplain when RPI President Richard Grosh recommended to the Board of Trustees that he be appointed Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences in 1972.  It was, I believe, Dr. Grosh’s most important and longest lasting contribution to the future of Rensselaer for it was an inspired choice.


There was then no selection process comparable to what is customary today, no national search, no faculty-wide evaluation.  Just a simple and wise decision.  Grosh was savvy enough to realize that dossiers tell only a fraction of biographical story, that the person behind the dossier may be an Einstein or an idiot-savant, but that the driving character is key to the ultimate institutional value.


Grosh became aware of Tom’s founding of the ecumenically inspired Chapel and Cultural Center, unique in its time and internationally famed for its design.  My own first encounter with Tom was when he presented the latter, in 1966, to a national meeting of artists in Houston, Texas.  It was the beginning of a forty-year friendship and was one of the factors in my accepting my own deanship at RPI in 1971.  Grosh realized the extraordinary depth, breadth and diversity of Tom’s knowledge and interest but he also saw that Tom had a profound love of the Institute, its past and its potential future.


He knew, too, of Tom’s background at Oxford, but even more important, of his impressive perspective on the meaning of arts, literature and technology, something which had been strengthened by Tom’s visits to the unique community of specialists at Ditchling, Sussex, which flourish for over fifty years, from the 1920’s until the seventies.


Even before he became Dean, Tom had proposed to me that RPI ought to have a department of the arts despite the fact that Grosh had indicated that there would not be a nickel in new funding.  Our original committee included Arthur Burr, Dean of Engineering, sculptors Larry Kagan and George Kratina, then full-time in architecture, ceramics researcher Bob Doremus, musicologist Ernst Livingston and film expert Frank Hammet, an odd bunch indeed which, however came up with an innovative approach.  Architecture and Engineering would each “donate” a full-time position and these, coupled with two H&SS would form the initial Arts faculty.  Thus it was done.  Tom nourished this fledgling core and without his perseverance, EMPAC would not loom grandly over the campus today.  


It is easy to think of Tom Phelan as a persuasive fundraiser/administrator but how did he get to be such?  Indeed his talents and mind were valuable but it was his work which shaped them.  Never a micro-manager, he might have epitomized Mies VanDerRohe’s motto “God is in the details”.


The Gateway, dedicated to the preservation of the region’s architectural and cultural heritage, is exemplary of this.  For many years, Saturday morning bus and car tours of the region’s industrial architecture, painstakingly programmed and wittily conducted, endeared him to students and local citizens, professors and politicians.  It was a shoestring beginning in which with self-effacing ingenuity Tom persuaded six of us to join him in a venture which has become a model for educating citizens to the importance of the physical context in which they live and work.


I am sure that the people the Albany Catholic diocese were bemused when the new Chapel and Cultural Center opened in 1968, not with a spiritual retreat but with a weeklong Festival of the Arts.  A real spiritual retreat, however, is what it was and continued to be annually for almost four decades.


The Albany Symphony orchestra, Nick Brignola’s jazz combo, furniture making, a lecture for 400 architects, a symposium on Liturgical arts, photographic exhibits all were part of this unique beginning…all the vision of Tom Phelan.  I was fortunate enough to be invited from Berkeley to participate, and that, too was a strong factor in my thinking that Rensselaer was a place to be. 


But perhaps the greatest insight I had into the gentle self-questioning and overt enthusiasm of this kindly man was when I was recently asked to go through his personal library and his slide collection and to recommend how to disperse them.  Certainly books on religion, literature and the arts formed the expected bulk of the collection.  His purview was both Catholic and catholic, academic and pragmatic, spiritual and intellectual and his collection seemed to a who’s who of 20th century scholarship in these areas.


I was taken aback to discover that Tom had trodden some the same paths, geographically and intellectually, which I thought to my own and I wondered how many other lives he had paralleled in his researches.  I reflected on the many fascinating persons who were profoundly influenced by him and he by them.  The range is great:  Lewis Mumford, Dorothy Day, Clarence Rivers, Daniel Berrigan, Eric Johnson, Howard Hubbard, Sidney Archer, Richard Selzer and many, many more most of whom are less known but yet powerfully important in Tom’s world.  Ten RPI presidents knew him and he counseled several of them.


A fellow of the Society for Religion, the Arts and Contemporary Culture, he shared the distinction with Leonard Bernstein, Louis Kahn, Erich Segal, Paul Tillich and about one hundred other recognized contributors to those realms.  If you saw him in his jeans sweeping out the floor of the C&CC and meticulously cleaning up after a major event, if you saw him tending to his garden at Whitman Court, if you saw him cooking in preparation for a party for students, you would hardly imagine him on such a list of cultural divines.  But you would know the priestly inspiration of the work which he always saw as service to his fellow human beings. 


Mumford would have seen this and approved.  So would the surgeon-writer Richard Selzer.


But even more so would the greatest woodworker of our time, architecture-carpenter George Nakashima, whose work graces the C&CC and was often featured in the pages of the aptly named journal Good Work.


How fitting therefore to close with such an accolade to the service of our departed friend and colleague…Good Work, Tom!


Graham Williams, Professor Emeritus remembered by Professor Mark Mistur, Department of Architecture. 


On May 5, 2006 we suffered the loss of Emeritus Professor Graham Williams the athlete, architect, alum, teacher, very dedicated husband, friend and professor.  He is survived by his wife Patty and daughters Wendy and Amy.  For me Graham was first a teacher, then a colleague and mentor, and later a professional partner and a friend. 


To all of us Graham was committed to ensuring that generations of Rensselaer students were prepared to design and build well.  His dedication to teaching and practice were matched only by his integrity and his love for his family.  Graham will be forever a very important part of the School of Architecture, its development and its history. 


Of the school’s seventy-five year history which we just celebrated, Graham was an undergraduate student, a graduate student, a professor and emeritus professor - for almost two-thirds of the schools history. He arrived in 1948 when the school was only eighteen years old, having been established and built in the year of his birth. He was a member of the Rensselaer Engineers football team and graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1952 as president of his class. In 1953 Graham completed his Master’s of Architecture, also at Rensselaer.  After serving a term in the navy and some years in architectural practice, Graham accepted the call to join the faculty of his alma mater.  In the early 1960’s he rose through the ranks to became a full professor, teaching here for thirty-five years before becoming Emeritus professor in 1998. 


Over the course of those years Graham was central and formative to the school in several of its programs.  He taught the comprehensive integrative studio that was designed to equip bright minds and creative thinkers with the ability to accomplish their architectural ambitions.  This experience was central, and if we were to assemble the alum that benefited from that studio before they went out into practice, we would more than fill the Troy Music Hall with that assembly.  


Throughout much of his career Graham maintained an architectural practice designing residential, religious and educational buildings.  He was a very active member of the Troy community, instrumental in establishing the Rensselaer County Council for the Arts which blossomed to become the Arts Center of the Capital Region which has had countless impact on artists and non-artists in our region.  He served on numerous boards and remained enthusiastically committed to Rensselaer, his alma mater.  Graham was larger than life, his beaming smile, his kindness and genuine interest in people distinguish the man.  Those who knew him well knew that Graham loved to sail, especially at Forest Lake where his family resided each summer.  Whether it was in joining Graham and Patty at family activities, or meeting them at the airport in Rome to give a first introduction to that ancient city when he took the reigns of the Roman Studies program, or simply enjoying the sight of them interacting together,  the memories are large, and are very fond. 


Graham was truly a generous man with a clear mind on the issues and a genuine love of life. Graham Williams taught us to design and build well, a tradition worth continuing. We would be remiss if we did not attribute to Graham his significant place in the formation, development and history of School of Architecture and the Institute.



Professor W. Richard Kolk died on September 4, 2006.  He was Professor and Chairman of Electrical Engineering at the former Hartford Graduate Center, now Rensselaer at Hartford.  He retired in June 1998.


Dr. Warren C. Stoker ’33 founder of RPI of Connecticut died on November 16, 2006 at the age of 94. Dr. Stoker will be remembered by Faculty Senate President Jim Napolitano. I have the honor of speaking in remembrance of Warren Stoker, graduate and professor of Rensselaer, and founder of the campus to which we now refer as Rensselaer at Hartford.


Special thanks to Rebecca Danchak for the information she provided.


Professor Stoker graduated with BS and MS in Electrical Engineering from Rensselaer in 1933 and 1935, and went on to earn a Ph.D. in Physics in 1938. He joined the faculty of Electrical Engineering in 1941, conducting research in electromagnetic shielding. His efforts in educational development including revising the Navy Programs curriculum, and leadership of the Industrial Electronics option after the Second World War, as part of a new overall Electrical Engineering curriculum. He was promoted to Professor in 1950, and soon thereafter established Rensselaer's first Computer Laboratory.


United Aircraft Corporation asked Rensselaer, in 1955, to establish a new graduate program in the Hartford, Connecticut area. Prof. Stoker had developed a working relationship with UAC, based on collaboration in the computing laboratory, and was consequently asked to head this new venture. He was appointed Dean of RPI of Connecticut, The Hartford Graduate Center, and in the fall of that year, his campus opened its doors to 212 students.


This campus was dedicated to the idea of education for working professionals, a very new idea in the 1950's. In 1965, based on a very successful first ten years of operation, the Hartford Graduate Center launched a fundraising campaign to support a new facility and expanded programs. Prof. Stoker led this campaign, which yielded $5M from local Hartford business, and an additional $2.2M from the US Office of Education. Construction on the new campus was started in 1968, and completed in 1971. Soon, the Hartford Graduate Center moved towards independence from Rensselaer, and Prof. Stoker served as its first president, a position he held until his retirement in 1976.


Prof. Stoker received a number of honors and awards during his time as a researcher, educator, and innovative administrator. On June 2, 2006, President Jackson presented Stoker with one of three prestigious Rensselaer at Hartford 50th Anniversary Medals.


Prof. Warren Stoker died on November 16th, 2006, at the age of 94.


Professor Napolitano opened the meeting to any other business: 


Item #1) Professor Bill Brower died there will be a memorial service for him at the Chapel & Cultural Center this Friday, January 26, 2007. 


Item #2) The Faculty Senate discussed the recent communications from the Acting Provost and President Shirley Ann Jackson about the definition of faculty. 


Professor Napolitano:  In response to asking the Board of Trustees to approve the vote we had last spring, their response at the suggestion or encouragement of the Acting Provost, requested of the Senate that we modify the constitution to redefine what we mean by “faculty”.  As far as I know because we have refused to do that nothing has changed as to who or what is faculty.

Professor Hohenberg:   Referred to an article in the Poly that they have gone ahead and defined faculty.  They should be asked to correct their article.

Professor Messac:  Stated that we have all have seen the letter, as of this moment that is what the administration will consider as faculty.

Professor Napolitano:  There has been no change in status of faculty.

Erica Sherman:  Representative of the Poly said we could speak with the author of the article for clarification.

Professor Napolitano:  After this happened we asked to meet with the Acting Provost Bob Palazzo.  The Executive Committee met with Bob Palazzo and made it clear that we were insulted and that he should take this message to the President of the Board and let him know that we were trying to decide what to do with this. As far as I know the faculty has not been redefined.  This raises a larger issue, how do we deal this kind of thing.


Professor Scarton read the following from an email from Acting Provost Palazzo dated December 14, 2006:

Dear Colleagues,

At a recent meeting, the Rensselaer Board of Trustees considered a Faculty Senate Proposal to change the Senate constitution regarding voting privileges of Clinical Faculty. I was contacted by the Chairman of the Board to offer an opinion, which I provided to the President. I received a memorandum from President Jackson informing the Office of the Provost of the Board’s decision and discussions on the matter. Attached please find copies of these correspondences. Throughout this process, I have shared my opinions and various correspondences with Dr. Napolitano, President of the Faculty Senate.


According to the President’s correspondence, the Board had an in depth discussion which resulted in the Board’s definition of Faculty. By a unanimous vote the Board defined the “Faculty of Rensselaer to be only the active tenured and tenure track faculty currently holding the titles of Professor, Associate Professor, or Assistant Professor at Rensselaer” and requested that the Faculty Senate initiate a process to effect changes in faculty governance to reflect the will of the Board. Importantly, the Board clearly acknowledged the valuable and continuous contributions of many others to the intellectual vibrancy of the institution and recognizes the need for these to participate in University process through committee efforts of each of the various schools.


In my own opinion, this decision by our Board of Trustees represents a clear reaffirmation of tenure at a time when other academic entities are considering alternative operational models and recognizes the importance of the privileges and responsibilities of the tenured and tenure track faculty as stewards of the university.


At this time, the Office of the Provost is attempting to organize two meetings, one with the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, and a second that I hope can be an assembly meeting of the tenured and tenure track faculty as a whole, to allow for an open discussion of our Board’s decision and its implications. These meetings will be scheduled as soon as possible. Dr. Napolitano informs me that he will not be available between the dates of January 4-20, so we will do our best to work around his schedule as I believe it is important for him to attend, as well as other members of the faculty leadership.  



R.E. Palazzo, Acting Provost


Professor Napolitano:  Key point was the request to change the faculty definition which has not been done.  Therefore, nothing has changed.

Professor Persans:  For the purposes of Faculty Senate business our definition and the Board’s definition do not have to be consistent.  The Board’s definition applies for the business aspects that they have purview over.  Our definition applies for Faculty Senate business.

Professor Messac:  Then when we speak with the Board about ‘faculty’ our definition and their definition will not match.

Professor Franklin:  Our power comes from our electors, we recognize that the Trustees have the right to define ‘faculty’ as they like.  But, they should recognize that it does not affect us.

Professor Hohenberg:  This can offer the Administration and Trustees an additional reason if they need it to disregard what the Faculty Senate does.  After all any decisions we make are tainted by the fact that we not only in the election of Senators and Officers but in the deliberations with the Senate there are non-faculty voting. 

Professor Napolitano:  Stated that the vote of no confidence last spring was questioned as to how many votes were from emeritus.  They like the idea of saying that it’s not really a vote of faculty if emeritus are voting.


Professor Quinn:  There appears to be two parts to this, the first Clinical and Adjunct Faculty have increased in numbers considerably in the past several decades particularly in management, architecture and so on.  That has made inroads as well as a broadening of the faculty perspective.  Secondly, only in recent years that it was felt desirable to invite Professors Emeriti to be represented on Faculty Senate.  One might take Franklins’ notion one might say yes we understand from your point of view the faculty as ‘employees’ are defined in your terms.  But as members of the academic senate we seek input and advice from all our colleagues including those who are emeritus who possess 30, 40 and 50 years experience and may have a little perspective to over and we choose to consult them and make that part of our voting majority. 

Professor Steinbruchel:  I think we should continue to be as inclusive as possible in terms of getting input from everyone, including emeriti thereby using all our resources, past and present. 

Professor Napolitano requested motions.

Professor Persans:  I see two aspects of the Faculty Senate; one has to do with serving as an arm of the Provost’s office taking care of business through the Curriculum Committee, P & T Committee and so on.  The second aspect is that it has to do with providing the opinion of the faculty on various issues.  I am torn over to whether to propose that the Faculty Senate

Professor Messac:  What caught us off guard was last year when we were going through the process. Bud Petersen was a strong proponent of redefining faculty.  Bruce Nauman agreed with it, as well as 88% of faculty who voted for this (to redefine faculty).  In several meetings the FSEC pressed upon Board Chair, Sam Heffner to redefine faculty to include Clinical, and it still came out the way it did, which is unfortunate.

Professor Scarton read an excerpt from President Shirley Jackson’s letter dated December 11, 2006:

“It is the unanimous vote of the Board of Trustees that, henceforth, the Board defines the Faculty of Rensselaer to be only the active tenured and tenure track faculty currently holding the titles of Professor, Associate Professor, or Assistant Professor at Rensselaer.  For the purposes of receiving the formal view of the Faculty at Rensselaer, the Board will look only to those that fit this definition.


Furthermore, the Board requests that the Faculty Senate initiate the process to effect the change in Article II.A.i. (and elsewhere as appropriate) of its constitution, and all other aspects of faculty governance, to embrace the will of the Board of Trustees as expressed in its vote.”


Professor Steinbruchel moved - “That the Faculty Senate go on record that we decline making the changes as requested by the President.”

Professor Hohenberg:  That raises the question of who should vote on this, it might strengthen it if it’s a vote of those who Administration and the Trustees recognize.

Professor Kagan:  The effect of faculty opinions on the Board has proven inconsequential.  Can the board change the constitution by fiat?

Professor Messac:  They can suspend it but they have not.

Professor Kagan:   I think that we should draft a response to the Board and remind them that their vote cannot be construed as the final word.  We are willing to get into a dialogue with them, they cannot expect us to do anything if in fact they are saying that the only faculty members that they define as faculty are tenure track position then the Faculty Senate has no standing either.

Professor Napolitano:  Another problem is that we don’t have a direct line to the board.

Professor Quinn:  It might be worth asking why this decision has been made and request a dialogue with the Board.  As it’s been pointed out there is no need to change the constitution and bylaws. 

Professor Messac:  We have talked at length with the Board Chairman.

Professor Napolitano:  There is another issue we are asked to communicate through the Provost’s office and the President is difficult to reach.  The only time we have face to face dialogue with the Board of Trustees is at quarterly meetings.  I don’t know how to have a dialogue with people who see it as a mechanism to get their point of view across to us.  I believe in negotiation by well intentioned parties to achieve mutually agreeable outcomes.

Professor Hajela:  Have you approached the Provost? 

Professor Kagan:  The FSEC met with at which time we expressed our position. He told us what his position was. It was very clear that he took his position without approaching any of the Deans and it is a concern that he would reach that decision without discussion with the Deans. 

Professor Hajela:  May I suggest to move it forward using the line of communication that has been suggested through the Provost’s office.

Professor Napolitano:  We have tried but to no avail, being asked to wait ten weeks to meet shows that our concerns appear to be low on the list of priority for the Administration.

Professor Steinbruchel’s motion was tabled for next Faculty Senate Meeting.