Memo: RPI president can pick Union director

A RECENT MEMO STATES that the director of the Union is appointed by the president of Rensselaer, as per the bylaws of the Institute and the Union Constitution. (file photo)

The Rensselaer Union has lacked a director since former Director of the Union Joe Cassidy’s departure in January 2016. In an effort to fill the position, the Division for Human Resources has been conducting a search for candidates. On Wednesday, September 13, the on-campus portion of the search for a director of the Union begins as two candidates will be coming to RPI. During their time here, each will be interviewed for an hour by a committee of 20 students. Ultimately, according to the Rensselaer Union Constitution, the next director of the Union will need to be approved by a vote of the Rensselaer Union Executive Board.

In a memorandum issued by Vice President for Human Resources Curtis Powell (, the Division of Human Resources states that the director of the Union position as outlined by the Union Constitution will be appointed by the president of Rensselaer. Powell wrote that the president is entitled to “approve annually the terms and conditions of employment and salary policies for all staff, faculty, and administrators and other employees of the Institute.” However, Article I of the Bylaws of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute ( declares that “the Board shall carry out” that function. Furthermore, the president is allowed to “exercise a general superintendence over all the affairs of the institution” as per Article VIII.

Powell continues by quoting the Rensselaer Union Constitution, Article V, which states that the director must exercise her duties “in accordance with the policies of the Rensselaer Board of Trustees.” Powell asserts that this fragment indicates that “the Rensselaer Union Constitution must fall within the bylaws of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.”

Historically, the director of the Union has reported to the Executive Board, and members of the Board vote to approve anyone taking up the position. In 2011, however, the Executive Board did not vote before Cassidy was appointed director of the Union. In Spring 2016, proposed changes to the Division of Student Life ( sparked a protest outside of the president’s Spring Town Meeting (