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4 Years After Suspension, Faculty Senate Will Return to Rensselaer Polytechnic

More than four years after Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute suspended its Faculty Senate, faculty members on the New York campus will soon once more have a voice in the institution’s governance.

The faculty approved a new senate constitution on Friday—in at least its fourth attempt to rebuild shared governance since 2007—after talks with the university’s board, provost, and president. It was the senate’s near vote of no confidence in the president, Shirley Ann Jackson, that some said had prompted the suspension in 2007.

That breach in shared governance—heightened by Ms. Jackson’s aggressive leadership, drive for rapid, debt-fueled growth, and tip-top compensation—drew criticism from the university’s accreditor and a sanction from the American Association of University Professors.

A dispute that immediately preceded the senate’s suspension concerned whether only tenure-track professors could be senators. Under the new constitution, which is said to resemble those on other campuses, the senate will include non-tenure-track professors, lecturers, librarians, and retired professors. Nominations for the new senate are being sought now.

An RPI news release quotes the president, provost, and board chairman, as well as two faculty members, as praising the new constitution, and heralding a new era in faculty-administration comity.

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