As a student at RPI, you pay a great deal of money to the Institute and a significant amount to the Rensselaer Union, be it through hard-earned scholarships, loans you will be paying back for years, or personal savings. As such, The Poly encourages you to take an interest in the budget decisions at each level of Rensselaer.
As you might have read in our news section, RPI is planning to remove Research Incentive Funding, a small portion of professors’ grants used for things like travel to conferences, special projects, and office supplies. While it is important to note that the schools’ Education and General budgets are being increased to compensate for this, the loss of discretionary funds for principal investigators will impact professors’ ability to broaden research beyond grants’ strict spending guidelines. The research environment is critical for attracting and maintaining the caliber of faculty that students deserve. We encourage students to be aware of how this affects both you personally and the community as a whole. If you are in undergraduate or graduate research, talk with your professor.
While we are concerned about the potential effects of these budget cuts, The Poly understands that the administration faces many difficult financial decisions in this economic climate. We are pleased to hear that Provost Robert E. Palazzo and Vice President for Research Francine Berman are planning to discuss the development during their meeting with faculty next week. This meeting is dedicated to the removal of discretionary funds, but it is the first of what Palazzo plans to make a monthly meeting with faculty. We applaud this step toward increased transparency.
The Institute administration is not the only group struggling with budgeting decisions for the 2011 fiscal year. The Union just finished its long budgeting process, and will present the result to the Student Senate during an open meeting on Monday. Whether you are happy with the results or want to see changes, talk to your E-board representatives or e-mail President of the Union Alex Franz at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re unable to attend the meeting, you can find the budgeting information in the Union Annual Report, which can be found on the Union’s website.