To the Editor:
Thank you for your careful and damning study of RPI’s deteriorating finances in comparison with the more successful trajectories at Lehigh University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Rochester Institute of Technology. Your story is exactly the kind of exposé that college newspapers ought to undertake regularly to help hold administrators, trustees, and professors accountable.
I have one clarification to offer. Your article quoted a vice president as claiming that the Institute has added 320 new faculty, a notion that is terribly misleading. These professors are merely replacing those who have retired, died, or moved to other universities. Comparing the 1999–2000 catalog with the 2014–2015 catalog, one finds the number of tenured and tenure-track faculty to be almost identical: There has been little, if any, increase during President Shirley Ann Jackson’s years in office. The evidence is so simple that it is difficult to understand how anyone could mistakenly believe “adding faculty” to be an accurate or noteworthy achievement; I have heard both professors and lower-level administrators interpret the claim as a deliberate distortion, but I have no personal knowledge of the motives involved.
I also have one addition to your story: Many trustees, students, alumni, staff, and faculty may not know that the administration was formally required to gain budgetary approval from the Senate Planning and Resources Committee under the Faculty Handbook and Constitution that prevailed prior to the 2007 dissolution of the Senate. Well before that date, Vice President for Finance Virginia Gregg had simply stopped submitting the budget for approval. If the longstanding, mandatory procedure had actually been followed, the Faculty Senate never would have allowed the present budget bollix to have come about. As an elected senator, I told Ms. Gregg over a decade ago that she should be fired for dereliction of duty for violating the written governance agreement between faculty and administration. I later apologized for speaking too harshly—but I now regret the apology.
Professor of Political Science