Undergraduate Academic Council

Meeting Date:

Monday, October 18, 2004, 2:00-3:15 PM.


J. Philippe Abraham, Scott Barclay, Seth Chaiken, Richard Collier, Randall Craig, Rachel Dressler, Sue Faerman, Robert Gibson, Anne Hildreth, Trudi Jacobson, Sheila Mahan (Guest), Carolyn Malloch, Crystal Rion, Joan Savitt, Dave Smith


Minutes from the October 4, 2004 meeting were reviewed and corrections acknowledged. The minutes, with required updates, were approved.

Chair's Report:

-  The Chair mentioned the meeting’s discussion today will include review of the minutes,

proposals for a performance major revision from the Music Department, a waiver of the pre-2000 Gen Ed regulations and change of the lettering system, and we will continue our Mission Review discussions.

History Honors Program Proposed Revision:

Dick Collier mentioned that Amy Murrell-Taylor has approved the updated proposal. The somewhat confusing major requirements have been restated. For emphasis purposes, the application deadline was italicized. The Council approved the updated proposal.

Revised Music Proposal

The final updated Music Department proposal was discussed by the Council. The updated paperwork does not include the revised catalogue copy but does state how the requirements will be changed. The move of the required major performance study courses to the 300- and 400- numbers is a more appropriate way of determining which students are ready to exhibit their work before the public in a respectable way at the end of their study. Since some questions remained, it was agreed that Dick Collier would seek clarification from the department and would determine what further action, if any, would be required by the Council.

Elimination of the Pre-“Fall 2000” General Education Program:

Dick Collier updated the proposal per last week’s discussion. The Council passed the proposal.

Proposed Suffixes for General Education Categories:

The proposed suffixes for Gen Ed categories were provided for informational purposes only. A Council vote was not required.

Mission Review II:

After the Dean provided a recap of Mission Review II, she emphasized that specific issues or concerns in the document and how it goes forward is the #1 concern. Sheila Mahan mentioned her meeting with several groups and how each considers the document from their own viewpoint. The present document resulted from the deans providing information, holding meetings and then composing their own sections.

Concerning the undergraduate curriculum, it was noted that in several places the document mentioned existing and new programs of a “forensics” nature and that Albany might consider highlighting these efforts in recruiting undergraduates. The enrollment plan section was discussed. Sheila mentioned we lost our tuition advantage for out of state students with the 2003 tuition increase. She still is encouraged that with hard work, we will improve the situation. One advantage of admitting out of state students is their ability to spread the word of their positive experience at the University. It was noted that the selectivity of “Full-Time First Time Undergraduates” chart does not include Presidential Scholars.

The Chair mentioned visiting a small private liberal arts college in New York State, which grants applicants from among the top five students in each high school a tuition that matches that of their own state college. Sheila mentioned that scholarship levels are studied, and she cited the possibility of spreading scholarship monies more evenly in Group 1. She mentioned that out of 647 Presidential Scholars, only 203 receive scholarship money. It was suggested that since the campus is rewarded by SUNY for attracting Group 1 students, money and efforts might be better spent on attracting and providing academic programs for that larger group rather than targeting the students we have been, who often transfer later to another campus. Sheila said that faculty opinion on the benefit of Presidential Scholarship funding seems evenly divided. It was noted there is prestige attached to a Presidential Scholars status even though a student may not receive scholarship money.

The possible use, mentioned in the Mission Review, of the new SAT writing exam to waive the SUNY Gen Ed requirement was discussed. Sheila mentioned this was written in response to SUNY system questions. The SAT writing exam will be administered first in March 2005. Once the writing exam is added, a perfect SAT score will equal 2400 since the writing exam adds another 800 points. The question was raised on how much time is given for the student exam, how it was being evaluated, how much review time for testers, etc. Sheila mentioned that SAT is releasing substantial information on the test. The Dean mentioned the SUNY system administers the requirements for Gen Ed writing and oral requirements (lower level and oral discourse) while our upper level requirement is campus-based. If the University desires a waiver for lower level, SUNY system approval would be required. The Dean mentioned the need for more seats in lower level writing courses. She also mentioned that her office authorizes students to meet the lower level writing requirement with an upper level writing course. It was also mentioned that if such replacements become wide spread, there will be excessive demand for our upper level writing courses. Some members commented on weaknesses in writing they observed in upper level classes. The Chair inquired about the extent to which lower level writing intensive courses emphasize proficiency in writing, including mechanics of writing skills compared to their particular disciplinary issues. In response, Anne Hildreth commented that the Committee on General Education would assess lower level writing courses and the extent to which learning is applied to students’ required skills. She mentioned a survey of departments and schools has been completed on the subject, and the results need to be compiled.

Sheila called our attention to Appendix B. The Chair mentioned that our last meeting's undergraduate admissions report indicates that the University must attract more Group 1 applicants in order to continue to increase selectivity while maintaining current enrollment goals. Sheila mentioned that Appendix B for the “Enrollment and Selectivity Plan” shows a proposed modest 1% improvement for the year. Sheila explained that enrollment projections were created via deans providing grad level input, continuing undergraduate institutional research, and new student group data. She also mentioned a continuation of working with the undergraduate group in A&S to obtain more accurate numbers.

In regards to the selectivity plan, Sheila mentioned we do anticipate an increase because the demographics are in our favor. The chart represents what we accomplished in the last 2-3 years with no dramatic offerings within the institution. The plan seems obtainable at the 2,100 student mark, which is 1% per year goal. Sheila requested the Council focus attention on the plan and provide comments. The Dean mentioned the need to see what the campus is prepared to do. She mailed letters to the department heads requesting a listing of their honors program directors. It was mentioned that some departments failed to identify their director or never had honor students. We need to consider our readiness for more selective classes.

Mission Review II will continue to be discussed in the meeting next week.

Next Meeting:

The next Undergraduate Academic Council meeting will be held Monday, 10/25/04, 2:00 PM, LC-31.

Minutes Taken:

Notes taken by Joanne Baronner, Undergraduate Studies.