Faculty Senate Meeting

Wednesday, March 21, 2007  

2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Fischbach Room, Folsom Library

Agenda

 

Present: Henry Scarton, Jeanne Keefe, Lou Gingerella, Larry Kagan, Mike Fortun, W. Randolph Franklin, Mike Fortun, Achille Messac, Jim Napolitano, Christoph Steinbruchel, Patricia Search, Paul Hohenberg, J. Keith Nelson, Bruce Nauman, Peter Persans

Absent: Ning Xiang, Jacob Fish, Tamar Gordon, Satish Nambisan, Julie Stenken, Roger Grice, Malik Magdon-Ismail

Guests:  John Harrington, Bram Van Heuveln, Bob Linhardt, Eddie Knowles, Chuck Carletta, Prabhat Hajela

 

Approval of Minutes from the 2/21/07 Faculty Senate Meeting

Minutes approved with one minor change

Approved 12; Opposed 0; and Abstentions 0

 

Item A1:  Provost Search Committee Chair, Eddie Knowles, Vice President Student Life and Co-Chair, Professor Bob Linhardt

 

Eddie Knowles and Bob Linhardt provided an updated of the Provost search.  They shared an updated version of the Provost advertisement with a revised date of July 1, 2007. 

 

In December 2006 the President officially launched the Provost search and announced the Provost Search Committee and eight sub-committees.  The eight sub-committees are composed of constituent groups representing a cross section of Rensselaer community; these groups will interview the candidates.  The on-campus interviews are expected to take place in late April early May 2007.  The sub-committees will conduct the second interviews.  Two communications to all faculty: (1) one through deans to faculty; (ii) another will be sent before end of this week to update faculty on reviewing process. 

 

The process began with sixteen candidates, Of those, eight were invited in first visit; and of those, seven have accepted the invitation.  The fields represented by the wide variety of candidates from peer and aspirant institutions include areas of business, engineering, science.  Scholarship is a major criterion for selection. The committee believes there is a good depth in the number of candidates.

 

Interviews will be 90 minutes in which all candidates will be asked an identical set of questions. The goal is to have a pool of five or six candidates to move forward. The President would like at least three names from the committee.  The target is to have someone in place by the start of the 2007-2008 fiscal year.  On their third visit, they will meet with President Jackson.

Achille Messac is a member of the Provost Search committee that will interview the provost candidates.  He also will chair a FS sub-committee that will also interview the Provost candidates.  This subcommittee will consist of six Faculty Senate Executive members, and six other members, which include senators and senate committee members..

 

A question was raised about the Provost being the Chief Academic officer in the past; whereas at present it was pointed out that  the Rensselaer President is the Chief Academic officer.

 

Keith Nelson said he was approached this week by two faculty members this week who suggested that the advertisement is skewed heavily in biotechnology and bioinformatics. 

Henry Scarton suggested revising the advertisement to include other aspects including energy, experimental media the arts even though the position statement includes those areas because the advertisement is the first contact with a potential candidate.

 

The most recent advertisement and challenge statement has been circulated via email to the faculty under separate cover.

 

Item B1:  Motion to resolve Faculty Definition and Faculty Handbook

Jim Napolitano said the Faculty Senate Constitution requires that every spring it submit to the Provost and then to the Board revisions to the handbook.  The revisions proposed last spring (see Faculty Senate Minutes dated 4/12/06) included a definition of faculty.  In light of the Board’s request of the Faculty Senate to change its definition of faculty to reflect that of Board’s which is ‘tenure and tenure track faculty’ the following motion is proposed.  

 

Mike Fortun made the following motion:  The Senate formally withdraws the handbook as submitted to the provost in May 2006, and that the Senate form a committee of faculty, administration, and at least one member of the Board of Trustees, to study models of faculty definition and governance at peer and aspirant institutions, and to recommend to the Senate appropriate language for the constitution and handbook to be taken to the faculty for a vote in spring 2008.

 

Henry Scarton seconded the motion.

 

Vote:   Approved 9; Opposed 0; 2 Abstention

 

Discussion about this motion resulted in agreement that a task force should be formed.  This task force would engage in serious study as to what other institutions are doing in terms of: 1) the definition of faculty and clinical faculty; and 2) to examine the role of Rensselaer Clinical Faculty and what contributions they make to Rensselaer.

 

Item B2:  Motion for Reconciling Academic Freedom and HR Guideline 800.10 

Chuck Carletta, Secretary of the Institute and General Counsel

 

HR 800.10

 

Jim Napolitano discussed HR Guideline 800.10 and how it may pose a potential threat to academic freedom. 

 

Henry Scarton shared that this guideline by reading following three excerpts::

 

Human Resource Policy Guideline 800.10, which reads in part “No faculty member or employee shall solicit to promote support for any cause or organization during his or her working time…”

 

HR 100.2 - Purpose of Scope which states “this policy applies to employees and only where noted to faculty, students and members of the President’s cabinets/deans.” 

 

HR 100.6 - Right to Modify Procedures and Policies. “Purpose to ensure the institutes right to modify any policy without prior or further notification.”

 

When Bruce Nauman was President of the Faculty Senate he received a reprimand in his personnel file as a result of survey that was sent out by an ad hoc sub-committee.  This survey had a few questions regarding labor organizations.  Based on HR 800.10, the administration took the view that this was a violation of rules and therefore reprimanded Bruce Nauman as then President of the Faculty, and filed this reprimand in his personnel file.

 

Professor Nauman emphasized that he did not send out the questionnaire, nor did he approve it, or write it.  The questionnaire included such questions as ‘would you consider joining some outside organization such as AAUP’ and ‘would you consider unionization’.  He stated that this was not advocacy it was just a poll.  Had these items actually been voted on, he believes that faculty would have voted against unionization, etc. 

 

Former Provost Bud Peterson’s rationale for placing the reprimand in Professor Nauman’s personnel file was that the President of the Faculty Senate is responsible for all actions taken by any members of the Faculty Senate and its committees.  Professor Nauman then grieved against ‘suppression of free speech on behalf of the faculty’ and ‘suppression of governance on behalf of the faculty’.  He also filed a complaint against the NLRB because tenure track faculty are not employees according to the NLRB.

 

The rationale for the reprimand was that the actions of this committee and Bruce Nauman as President of the Faculty Senate could have been in violation of National Labor Relations Act.  The result was a ruling that faculty are not employees but are considered managers.  Therefore, it obviates the rationale for reprimand. 

 

The grievance is against this odious restriction on our academic freedom, which was never heard.

 

Jim stated that the administration cites that the reason it was not heard was based on the Faculty Handbook which implies that they do not need to address the grievance is because Professor Nauman paid legal fees.

 

 

Professor Hohenberg said that this policy does not appear to have anything to do with academic freedom in terms of interactions with students.  However, it does have to do with sharing information with colleagues.

 

Christoph Steinbruchel referred to HR 800.10 as a very vague policy which would only defined when challenged. 

 

Professor Fortun commented that we have an example of the practice of defining HR 800.10 which weighs much more heavily.  He continued to state that the NLRB has ruled that we are [faculty] not managers in the case of LeMoyne Owen College.  In this case the NLRB found the faculty to not be managerial employees. 

 

Bruce Nauman stated that NLRA states that “managers” a term which is now synonymous with “faculty” are allowed to form and join a union.

 

Bruce Nauman made the following motion that was formally seconded:  The Rensselaer Faculty Senate affirms that the Human Resource Policy Guideline 800.10, which reads in part “No faculty member or employee shall solicit to promote support for any cause or organization during his or her working time” does not apply to Rensselaer Faculty.

 

 

Chuck Carletta, Secretary of the Institute and General Counsel, was asked how an employee or faculty member would know if they are violating HR 800.10.  He said there are professional organizations as all of us have adopted.  What triggered this policy was a company was selling pots and pans in college residence halls. That litigation went to the US Supreme Court. He continued to say that union organizers will always show up on anybody’s property to organize.  Three years ago he had to evict group that wanted to organize the environment services people.  Organizations such at the Girl Scouts, the United Way and others can solicit at Rensselaer because they ask.

 

Mike Fortun asked why HR 800.10 is not an infringement on academic freedom.  Chuck Carletta responded that in order to have such a discussion about academic freedom he would want to prepared.  

 

Peter Persans shared that he does not think that HR800.10 is vague at all, what is vague is the process of implementation of the policy.  

 

In answer to questions about how this policy could be changed, Chuck suggested that if there was a desire to change this HR policy that going to HR is the first step. Changes would be proposed to HR resolved by VP and President and occasionally would go to the Board of Trustees.

 

 

During the discussion, Chuck Carletta stated that conversations on Rensselaer property between faculty regarding unionization were a violation of law.   Professor Nauman asked Chuck Carletta to find where this policy is supported in the law either state or Federal.  Chuck agreed to try to find such a law.  In view of the late hour and at Professor’s Nauman’s request, his motion was tabled for action at subsequent meeting.

 

Item C:  Any other Business – there was no other business.

 

 Meeting adjourned  4 p.m.