Undergraduate Academic Council


Meeting Date:

Monday, October 24, 2005, 9:30-10:45 AM.




J. Philippe Abraham, Jeanette Altarriba, Scott Barclay, Seth Chaiken, Richard Collier, Sue Faerman, Ingrid Fisher, Robert Gibson, Zai Liang, Carolyn Malloch, Lisa Trubitt; Sue Phillips (Guest)




Minutes from the October 17, 2005 meeting were reviewed and corrections acknowledged. Those minutes, with required updates, were approved.


Student-Initiated Interdisciplinary Major:


Lisa Trubitt reported on the Interdisciplinary Studies Committee’s review of a student’s request to be allowed to construct an interdisciplinary major. Although the student presented a very long and interesting rationale, she failed to explain the objective or “mission statement” for the major, hence why existing major opportunities do not meet that objective. Dick Collier is working with both the student and the faculty sponsors to secure a concise statement to that effect. The committee also suggested she consider supporting course work in the Department of Communication. Once revisions are made, Dick will provide an update to the committee.


Business School Proposal:


The Chair mentioned that he had received word that UPC had approved the Business School Proposal. The last page of the handout is designated as Bulletin wording. It was mentioned that there is a question on admission and retention requirements. Dean Leonard had insisted on keeping the admission requirement. Vice Provost Faerman observed that the formula is simple algebra and poses no confusion to students interested in the School of Business, but questioned the rank in class criterion, since this has nothing to do with Group 1 status as currently defined and the University could thus lose Group 1 students from good high schools who are not in the top fifth of the class. It was agreed this criterion should be eliminated. The wording “grade point average and performance” should be changed to “grade point average (HSGPA) performance.


A suggestion was made to change the word “unconditional” to “direct” admission and to end the sentence that referred to “unconditional admission” with the word “Albany.” Seth Chaiken suggested the two references to “admission core courses” be changed to “business core courses” and this was approved. The Council having approved these changes, it was agreed that they would be submitted to Dean Leonard for his consideration.


Advisement Policy:


A member questioned which individual(s) would handle the responsibility for Bulletin wording, which faculty to work with, etc. Vice Provost Faerman stated that the advisory board would provide these services. She further explained that the task force met during the summer to consider all pertinent issues. The task force discontinued meeting since they were awaiting this proposal to be passed. Once an advisory board is implemented, it would create the mechanism to complete the tasks at hand.

UAC Minutes, 10/24/05

Page 2 of 4


As mentioned previously, the advisory board would be convened and its members chosen by the Provost and UAC. This board would be required to provide a yearly report to UAC. Vice Provost Faerman stressed that the board’s structure is a reporting one and not hierarchical. Actions will be acted upon in lieu of waiting for action items to come their way. A member mentioned this board should be parallel and non-hierarchical with their reporting and should keep lines of communication open to both Provost Herbst and UAC. Recommended bills will be presented to UAC for review, advisement and possible presentation to the University Senate. It was noted that this will impact other bodies of UAC, likely identifying issues and problems relating to such matters as retention standards and general education.


A member questioned how we will measure successful advisement and how to determine that advisement is being accomplished in a correct manner. Vice Provost Faerman mentioned that (1) academic assessment has made advising a part of each department for students’ degree assessment and (2) the Office of Institutional Research is responsible for the student survey and national engagement surveys. Bruce Szelest informed Vice Provost Faerman that he received the survey’s numbers, has reviewed departmental advisement methods, and is providing feedback to all departments. The Assessment Council and administrators have the responsibility for advisement and should also be presented with the student survey’s results for review.


Vice Provost Faerman reported that the UPC approved the Advisement Policy proposal last week. It was noted that Section 2A covering re-allocation of resources was added. The recommendations hopefully will be channeled from the Senate to administration to all departments.


Chair Abraham mentioned he will contact Bruce Szelest to request he present student survey results at a future UAC meeting according to Dr. Szelest’s availability. He also mentioned his inability to attend the October 31st UAC meeting and has designated Scott Barclay to chair the Council that day.


The Council approved the proposed policy which will now be presented to the Senate in the form of a bill.


Grading Policies:


A member mentioned that the S/U wording was previously reviewed but was never voted on by the Council. It was moved and approved. It was also mentioned that the new language to appear on the back of the form students must fill out to request the change in grading will also be reflected in the upcoming Undergraduate Bulletin.


Carolyn Malloch discussed her previous handout regarding the rules and regulations governing the repeating of courses at other schools. The institutions vary in their approach. Some schools allow courses to be repeated, and the student receives a final grade from the results of the second repeated class. At other schools a grade higher than a “D” results in student needing permission to repeat. Others require a submission of a permission form to replace a grade.


The question was asked whether we want to allow students to repeat a course in order to achieve some GPA repair. Perhaps we could place a limit on credit replacement only up to 15-16 credits. One member mentioned that after years of working with students that many students assume that Albany’s policy is identical to that of their previous institution and would allow for course repeating and the option to have the transcript only reflect the final grade obtained in a class after completion of the class the second time.

UAC Minutes, 10/24/05

Page 3 of 4


Should we only review the proposal but not allow a change in the policy? If the policy is not changed, it would be a heads up to students that not all schools have the same policy. Also, some professional schools will redo calculations, which could affect the student’s admission to the school. Bob Gibson mentioned that changing the policy would have far reaching ramifications beginning with admission requirements in some restricted majors, etc.


It was noted that allowing students to repeat courses would encourage them even more to repeat courses and therefore occupy seats that would not be available to other students wishing to enroll in those classes for the first time. What of students that work hard, fail a course which lowers their GPA, and then is not allowed into their preferred major? The present policy allows a student to appeal both academically and medically.


What about students on probation that are trying to raise their GPA? Vice Provost Faerman mentioned the policy being changed a couple years ago where students were allowed to withdraw well past mid-semester. Where do we draw the line? Also, a policy change would encourage Űberachievers to repeat classes when obtaining a grade of A- and lower since it would lower their high GPA.


One member mentioned that in the Psychology Department, all psychology courses, including repeats, are computed when calculating the required minimum average for admission into the major. It was pointed out that repeating classes would assist students that truly need help with an undesirable GPA. Sue Phillips mentioned that some students are devastated when they fail a course and definitely want the opportunity to repeat the class. She also mentioned that due to the present policy, her office discourages students from repeating classes.


Some students are not diagnosed with a medical condition, attend the University, and then perform miserably. Carolyn Malloch pointed out that one of her students did not realize she had ADHD until she was dismissed from the University. The student returned, Disabled Student Services worked with her, and she ended up doing well. Some students are not aware of the appeal process, while others are fearful of disclosing a disability and may therefore suffer negative consequences.


It was mentioned that some students petition to be readmitted to Albany, but their deficiency is too large to correct. For this type of student, they should be encouraged to attend another university where they would not have a huge quality point deficit.


Another wrong message being given to students if Albany were to adopt the changes under consideration would be that consequences won’t matter even if they did poorly this semester. Some students repeat a class 2-3 times and end up with the same grade. It is quite apparent that these students are not resolving their academic problems. Sue Phillips mentioned that she wishes that the Psychology Department would allow APSY 210 to be taken only twice. Perhaps departments should place a restriction on the number of times students may repeat a class. By doing so, the student will be forced to consider other majors as options since they perhaps are in denial of their inability to perform adequately in their first choice.


Feasibility of implementation was touched upon. Our software will not prevent a student from repeating a class, and only departments can prevent this. It was pointed out that TAP certification and financial aid would be another component affected if the policy is changed.

UAC Minutes, 10/24/05

Page 4 of 4


Vice Provost Faerman informed the Council of a student with a medical issue that was not diagnosed 10 years earlier when she attended the University. She continued her studies at HVCC with a 3.8 GPA result. Upon her readmission, Undergraduate Studies worked with the student to remove her previous SUNY-Albany grades since she had a valid medical excuse.


The Council agreed not to endorse the proposal.


Editorial changes for the S/U Option notice:


It was requested to change “S opted” to “S-opted.” A period should be placed inside quote marks. It was also pointed out that the word “adviser” can be spelled with an “o” or an “e”. The “e” appears to be the preferred standard throughout the country.


Other Business:


The Chair mentioned that the Council will hopefully receive an update from the School of Business for next week’s meeting.


Next Meeting:


The next Undergraduate Academic Council meeting will be held Monday, 10/31/05, 9:30 AM, LC-31.


Minutes Taken:


Notes taken by Joanne Baronner, Undergraduate Studies.