Grand marshal responds to HR memorandum

Director of the Union subject to Executive Board approval vote, according to Union Constitution

Fellow students,

Yesterday, Vice President for Human Resources Curtis Powell sent a memorandum to President of the Union Matt Rand ’19 and myself in regards to the director of the Union position. In essence, the memorandum expresses the Division of Human Resources’ position that the president of the Institute ultimately appoints a candidate as director of the Union, per the Bylaws of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

The role of students in a final decision on the employment of the director is outlined specifically in the Rensselaer Union Constitution. The Bylaws of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute are a grant of authority to the Trustees; the Union Constitution is a subsequent enactment that delegates that authority. A general and prior enactment, like the Bylaws, cannot override a later, more specific one, like the Union Constitution. The Board of Trustees may use its authority to rescind or revise the Union Constitution, but, until that time, the final authority rests with those to whom it is delegated.

Article I of the Bylaws of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute states the functions to be carried out by the Board, including to “approve annually the terms and conditions of employment and salary policies for all staff, faculty, administrators and other employees of the Institute.” In its approval of the Union Constitution, the Board of Trustees has delegated the authority to “approve the hiring and continuance of all administrative personnel of the Union” to the Rensselaer Union Executive Board.

We recognize that a hiring process would not be possible without the Division of Human Resources, which has both policies to facilitate the hiring process and the resources to screen candidates, invite them to campus for interviews, and ensure compliance with state and federal hiring regulations. Human Resources has many policies defining the steps to be taken before an appointment can be made. In this unique case, approval by the Executive Board is an additional, necessary step which must occur before a candidate can be appointed as director. This approval occurs in full accordance with both the Bylaws of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Union Constitution.

Matt and I met with Vice President Powell yesterday, where we collectively reaffirmed the importance and necessity of the Executive Board’s approval of the hiring. We appreciate his commitment to an approval vote taking place. Additionally, we are excited to be participating, along with other student leaders, in on-campus interviews for the director position in the coming weeks.

If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to me at