Faculty Senate Meeting



Present: Julie Stenken, Jeanne Keefe, Achille Messac, James Adams, Roger Grice, Patricia Search, Connie Fritz, Linda Schadler, Randolph Franklin, Jacob Fish, Lou Gingerella, Curt Breneman, Christoph Steinbruchel, Jim Napolitano, Larry Kagan, J. Keith Nelson, Ning Xiang, Peter Persans, Steve Breyman, Mike Fortun,


Absent: Satish Nambisan, Paul Hohenberg, Mike Wozny, Frank Luk


Guests: Henry Scarton, Virginia Gregg, G.P. Peterson, Morris Washington, John Harrington, J.V. Crivello, Harry Roy, Colette Holmes, Leik N. Myrabo, John Dojka, Bob Mayo, Prabhat Hajela, Pat Hults, Irving Stephens, Michael Century, Pawel Keblinski, Mary Anne Waltz, Yingrui Yang, Ramanath Ganapathiraman, Bram van Heuveln, Gerald Friedman, Ellen Esrock, Judith Frangos, Lester Gerhardt, Tamar Gordon, Audrey Bennett,


Approval of Minutes from the 4/19/2006 Special General Faculty Meeting and 4/26/2006 Faculty Senate Meeting – Professor Christoph Steinbruchel

Professor Achille Messac made a motion to include an amendment to the 4/19/2006 minutes.  It was seconded by Professor J. Keith Nelson.  Professor Messac wanted to clarify that no meetings with President Jackson were cancelled by the Faculty Senate Executive Committee (FSEC) while he was President of the Faculty Senate.  A friendly amendment was made by Professor Bruce Nauman to state that one meeting was cancelled by the FSEC and 3 by the President’s office during his tenure as Faculty Senate President.


Provost Peterson stated that during President Jackson’s recent address to the faculty, she encouraged people to “move forward.”  Rather than spending time talking about what has and has not happened, and what was right and wrong, he encouraged the group to move forward in a constructive and positive fashion.  He understood the concerns of Professors Messac and Nauman, but would like to discuss issues on how to improve Rensselaer for the students, faculty and staff.  Professor Messac stated that he fully agreed that we should move forward in a constructive and positive fashion, as he had always done as President of the Senate, but that these clarifications were intended to correct the record; as contradictory statements had appeared in newspapers and other public venues.


Vote on including amendment:  17 in favor, 1 opposed, 0 abstentions.

Vote on Minutes:  17 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstention.


Announcements – Jim Napolitano, Faculty Senate President

President Jim Napolitano announced that Linda Schadler will chair the Promotion and Tenure Committee, Curt Breneman will chair the Planning and Resources Committee, Mike Wozny will chair the Curriculum Committee and Frank Luk will chair the Honors Committee.


The Faculty Senate was invited to send representatives to the Board of Trustees Committees.  By tradition, both the President and Vice President of the Faculty Senate will be representatives on the Academic Affairs Committee, Bruce Watson on the Research Committee, Dave Haviland on the Student Life Committee, Neil Rolnick on the Administration & Personnel Committee, and Curt Breneman on the Finance Committee.  Provost Peterson has asked the pertinent Vice President to meet with the committee representatives so that the representatives can provide a report to the Faculty Senate. 


Membership: Vote on Caren Canier as H&SS Representative on the Promotion and Tenure Committee – Larry Kagan, Faculty Senate Vice President

Vice President Larry Kagan nominated Caren Canier as H&SS representative on the Promotion and Tenure Committee; seconded by Professor Peter Persans.  The 1-year remaining on the term is due to Larry Kagan being elected Faculty Senate Vice President. 


Vote: 18 in favor, 0 opposed, 0 abstentions


Library Sustainability Committee – John Harrington,

Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences

The Library Sustainability committee has begun its work and a report will be presented to the Provost and John Kolb, Chief Information Office, by the June 15, 2006 deadline.  Specific recommendations from the committee have not yet been identified, but the report will include an overview of the basic concerns regarding journal acquisition.  The cost of electronic acquisition has gone up 160% between 1994-2004.  The library has been helpful in providing information relating to acquisition and benchmarking other comparable university libraries.  The library website also provides information on market, costs, acquisition policies and cancellation policies as well as information on annual library budgets from peer and aspirant schools.  The librarians are interacting with department representatives to involve the departments in the work of the committee.


The broadest overview is that the charge will be broken down into basic propositions; the library is not now representative of a top-tier technological university that it aspires to be; the library has a distinguished record in economy and ingenuity in introducing innovation particularly in regards to consortia which is to be a big part of the future in the library’s use of electronic data. 


The committee has conducted a great deal of research through comparable libraries and through ALA.  One of the things the committee will want to state is that the library is crucial to most research and education goals on campus.  Thus, the library resources issue is essential to Rensselaer and the Rensselaer Plan.  The committee anticipates suggesting new initiatives which will involve faculty input and a commitment to the necessary resources. Dean Harrington stated that this is a major crisis because it could affect criteria for promotion and tenure due to publication opportunities.  One obstacle is that there is no model that Rensselaer can follow in how to move forward. 


Planning for 2006-2007 – Larry Kagan, Faculty Senate Vice President

Possible planning items for the 2006-2007 academic year were presented.  [List will be attached electronically.]  Provost Peterson said that the Middle States Accreditation report has been received.  The Middle States Steering Committee reviewed the draft and then submitted a response.  The final report has been received from the Visiting Team and will be posted to the RPI Middle States website.  It identified 4 areas in which special attention is suggested: 


The President asked Provost Peterson to establish committees, which will include faculty, to work on the areas of focus identified by the Middle States Visiting Team.  The committees will be appointed with consultation from the FSEC.  President Napolitano is confident that there will be fair representation of faculty.  These committees will then report to the faculty.  During the April 28, 2006 address from President Jackson to the faculty, she expressed a need and desire to more effectively engage the faculty in how to improve Rensselaer.  In order to facilitate this, in addition to the establishment of the above committees, informal discussion and dialogue will continue as well as the dinners with President Jackson.  The Provost is looking forward to working through this process. 


President Napolitano said that he would like to get more input and contribution from younger faculty on campus, particularly those from the fastest growing parts of the university.  He wants to have an informal dialogue to determine what these faculty members need and are interested in.  He will consider inviting many young faculty to a senate meeting in a larger venue. 


Professor Julie Stenken made the following motion, which was seconded by Professor Messac.

“The Women Faculty request that the following issues be put on the agenda as we move forward:



We request the appointment of a FS ad hoc committee on women to address these issues and request a meeting with the Faculty Senate Executive Committee.”


Professor Esrock said that the women faculty have already gathered a fair amount of information.  Provost Peterson added that the Office of the Provost fully supports this initiative.    


Vote:  16 in favor, 0 against, 0 abstentions


Professor Nauman said that the request excluding Professor Dan Berg from participating in the finance committee was made by Chairman Heffner.  Recently, Mr. Heffner excluded Professor Nauman and Professor Kaminski from participation in the meeting with the FSEC.  Historically, both the incoming and outgoing FSEC were invited to the meeting.  President Napolitano had been pleased to see that both the incoming and outgoing members were invited, but was later informed that the invitation was only to be for the incoming FSEC members. 


Vice President Kagan brought up the institute policies on Greek issues.  As part of the academic curriculum, there seems to be some issue regarding how the institution has dealt with the Greek matters.  Provost Peterson said the current Greek issues have to do with alcohol in common areas and a house supervisor.  The discussions are ongoing.  He suggested that if the faculty are interested in the issues, Vice President of Student Life, Eddie Knowles, should be invited to a future Faculty Senate meeting.  Professor Kagan asked about the process of the changes and how institute leadership dealt with the problems. 


Senator Jacob Fish is concerned about the public relations damage done by the recent vote on the confidence in President Jackson.  He is concerned about the decline in rankings and how that affects what people think of RPI.  He would like to avert this type of damage in the future as well as consider what damage control can be done due to the recent press attention of the confidence vote.  Provost Peterson added that in addition to affecting rankings, it affects incoming students, undergraduate students, graduate students, and support generated from alumni.  He said “Rensselaer students and faculty are viewed by the rest of the world and we are responsible for how Rensselaer is viewed.”    


Chair of the Faculty, Achille Messac has received several emails from student leaders using phrases such as “join forces and go to battle”.  He has yet to respond to any of the emails; however he feels that, it is important to know that this is on the mind of student leaders.  President Napolitano said that the student referendum results are 1585 not in support of the administration and 85 in support.  Recording Secretary Steve Breyman suggested the student concerns be discussed in the FSEC to determine how best to address their concerns.  Provost Peterson encouraged the Faculty Senate to move judiciously and suggested a full understanding of all the issues. 


Professor Esrock stated that she worked with President Messac on the diversity committee several years ago and he was a tireless and strong advocate for change.  Now in the Faculty Senate, she offered him congratulations and thanks for the incredibly hard work he has done with integrity [audience applause].  Professor Christoph Steinbruchel stated that the faculty owe a great deal of gratitude to Professor Achille Messac.  As President, Professor Messac had received pressure from all directions, but he was steadfast and upheld the vote of the general faculty to hold a vote of no confidence in President Jackson, in direct compliance with the senate and General Faculty mandates.