Comments on a General Message

Our president has sent out a general e-mail explaining what’s going on. I’m not sure if it is related to the Uprise or if it was planned anyway. If you don’t have a copy in your inbox, RPInsider has posted the text.

I’m only slightly pleased by the report, though if it is a first step toward more transparency, it should be encouraged. I’m glad that “we do not anticipate any further reductions in force”, though this does not rule out more layoffs. We are all reminded that past layoffs (”proactive steps we have taken”) has resulted in “the smallest tuition increase since 1996″, which is still 3.1 percent. I suspect the recent drop in inflation rates could have something to do with it as well. (Tuition historically increases faster than average income for almost all schools, not just RPI.)

There’s an ominous line under the Academic Enterprise section:

In keeping with our goal of building the long-term academic strength of Rensselaer, we are moving away from hiring faculty on a temporary basis from year to year. This means that more of the responsibility for the curriculum and course offerings must be assumed by the tenured and tenure-track faculty.

This is referring to the non-renewal of contracts for various clinical and adjunct faculty. You may have read about this in S&W; I plan to rant about it here soon.

The message goes on to restate the plans for modifying student life. I will rant about that too at some time in the near future.

While it’s nice to get some explanation of what’s going on, I want to remind everyone that that’s not all the student body is currently looking for. For quite some time now, we have first heard about plans affecting us after they were finalized. That’s what the Uprise was about, and that’s what needs changing. Some attempt to gauge general opinion and use it as a factor in the decision process would be a good beginning.

As the new posters say, “How can listening to students possibly be so hard?”

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