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Updates about Faculty Senate

Welcome back to Rensselaer! I hope that your holidays were relaxing and rejuvenating, leaving you ready for this new semester.

Shortly before students departed campus at the end of the fall term, the faculty voted with near unanimity to reestablish the Faculty Senate (65-0-3). This comes following the December 3 vote by the Board of Trustees to approve the constitution put forward by a faculty committee. The Senate will be composed of eight voting and five non-voting members with six officers. There are four congressionally mandated Faculty Senate committees that will be filled in the upcoming faculty elections: the Promotion and Tenure Committee, the Curriculum Committee (which also has three student positions), the Planning and Resources Committee, and the Faculty Committee on Honors. The faculty is losing no time in putting together its new Senate—elections for all positions are expected to take place next week.

Very few individuals among the student body were at Rensselaer when the Faculty Senate was initially disbanded in 2007. As put by The Chronicle of Higher Education “The Institute’s provost, Robert E. Palazzo, suspended the senate in early August [of 2007] following a disagreement among faculty members, administrators, and the university’s Board of Trustees over moves by the senate to extend voting rights to non-tenure-track faculty members.” Since the Faculty Senate was disbanded, the faculty hasn’t had a centralized elected representative and thus has been excluded from many Institute initiatives. Many of the initiatives put forward in the past few years have lagged or have crashed completely due to lack of faculty enthusiasm or awareness. This lack of representation had major impacts upon student experience so it is with great pleasure that I welcome this long awaited resolution. The reestablishment of the Faculty Senate marks a very positive step forward for the institute and it is my intention to help students, and the student senate develop a positive, productive relationship with this new Senate.

In particular, the student Senate’s Academic Affairs Committee is eager to work with the newly created faculty senate. Beyond this, I am exploring the possibilities of various joint-committees to help guide and advise institute policy which will be discussed with the elected leadership.

Beyond these partnerships, there are several logistical steps that the Student Senate will take in the next weeks in order to facilitate the reinstatement of the Faculty Senate. First, as mentioned previously, the Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee has three student slots—two for undergraduates and one for graduates. This committee tackles many important issues, such as degree requirement, adding majors or minors, and adding or deleting classes, among other topics. If you would like more information about these positions or would like to participate, send an e-mail to gm@rpi.edu. Second, students are able to nominate one full faculty member to the Promotion and Tenure Committee. While this would normally occur during Grand Marshal Week, the Senate will appoint a professor to temporarily fill this position until GM Week 2012. If you would like to fill this position or know of an individual who you would like to nominate, please send an e-mail to gm@rpi.edu.

Again, welcome back! As always, if you have any questions or comments, send an e-mail to gm@rpi.edu or justask@rpi.edu.