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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Faculty Adopts New Faculty Senate Constitution

December 16, 2011

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Faculty Adopts New Faculty Senate Constitution

Faculty, Board of Trustees, and President Approve Formation of a New Faculty Senate

The faculty, provost, president, and Board of Trustees of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have approved a new faculty senate constitution. The new document, which was adopted following a vote by the faculty late Friday, Dec. 16, represents a revised governance structure at Rensselaer that will allow for a reconfigured faculty senate at the Institute.

The interim committees that are currently overseeing all aspects of faculty governance will be dissolved once the new senate is elected by the faculty. The process to nominate faculty for the senate has already begun.

“The Board of Trustees was pleased to endorse the new faculty senate constitution, and applauds its final approval by the faculty,” said Chairman of the Rensselaer Board of Trustees Arthur J. Gajarsa ’62. “Its adoption strengthens the role of our tenured and tenure-track faculty in the progress of this great institution. We now look to our faculty and Institute leadership under President Jackson to build on the enormous progress made under The Rensselaer Plan and to continue to advance Rensselaer, its students and its faculty.”

“I am pleased to conclude this process and to have a strong structure of faculty governance at Rensselaer,” said Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson. “I look forward to working closely with the newly elected senators as we focus on our priorities, and as we continue to build our academic resources and expand the size and strength of our exceptional faculty. This partnership will be essential for the continued progress of this world-class technological research university.”

“The process to develop and adopt this faculty senate constitution involved the hard work and dedication of many members of the Rensselaer faculty,” said Provost Robert E. Palazzo. “I thank all members of the faculty who participated in this review process. Your service and involvement in this important endeavor will serve present and future faculty and students in immeasurable ways. Kudos are due as well to Curtis Powell, the human resources vice president, who worked with me in my role as provost, and our external attorneys, to bring this process to successful fruition.”

The new faculty senate constitution was drafted by members of the faculty with opportunities for input from the entire Rensselaer faculty throughout the process. The process began with a faculty review of best governance practices at other universities. The organization and drafting of the new faculty senate constitution then were led by a group of faculty representing each of the academic schools at Rensselaer. Representatives were elected by their peers on the faculty. The draft document then was submitted to the Provost for review and sent to the President, who after review and approval, sent it to the Board of Trustees for review, refinement, and approval. The final faculty senate constitution was approved at a meeting of the faculty on Dec 16.  Sixty-eight members of the faculty were present for the vote, which was near unanimous in favor of the adoption of the new constitution. The review committee will serve as the elections and nominations committee to conduct a vote for the new faculty senate officers and representatives

“I am very pleased with the turnout at the faculty meeting and extremely pleased with the vote of the attendees to proceed with the establishment of the faculty senate,” said Michael O’Rourke, professor of civil and environmental engineering and co-chair of the faculty governance review committee.

“We’re very glad that this issue has been resolved, and look forward to working productively with the administration,” said Atsushi Akera, associate professor of Science and Technology Studies and co-chair of the faculty committee. “We especially thank the provost for his earnest effort to bring the faculty and administration back into alignment, and to ensure that our faculty has an effective voice in helping to shape the future of our institution.”

The adoption of the new faculty senate constitution is the final step in the effort to revise the faculty governance structure at Rensselaer that was initiated by the Rensselaer Board of Trustees in 2006. The Board initiated that process to solidify the seminal role of tenured and tenure-track faculty in faculty governance. The Board, President, and faculty committee have clarified the role of professors of practice, lecturers, librarians, and retired professors in the governance processes. The new faculty senate constitution calls for representatives from all of these groups to be represented in a new faculty senate.

The classifications of clinical faculty and some adjunct faculty have been changed to reflect the new titles of professors of practice and lecturers. The associated overall faculty and instructional staff definitions, developed through the Contingent Faculty Initiative undertaken by the Provost and the Vice President for Human Resources, were approved by the Board of Trustees at its December meeting.

For more information on the faculty governance review process, go to:

Contact: Mark Marchand
Phone: (518) 276-6098