Undergraduate Academic Council

Meeting Date:

Wednesday, February 9, 2005, 2:00-3:20 PM.

Present:

J. Philippe Abraham, Scott Barclay, Seth Chaiken, Richard Collier, Rachel Dressler, Sue Faerman, Robert Gibson, Anne Hildreth, Crystal Rion, Lisa Trubitt

Minutes:

Minutes from the February 2, 2005 meeting were reviewed and corrections acknowledged. Those minutes, with required updates, were approved

Minutes from November 15, 2004 remain in need of review.

Chair's Report:

The first meeting for 2005 of the Advisement Task Force will be held Friday, 2/18/05. Last week’s Senate e-mail to voting faculty contained a short reference to the report and proposal on UAC’s web page. Yesterday, Deans and Department Chairs were sent a bulleted list that contains the web reference.

The Chair gave a report from the Senate. The Governor is strongly promoting the process of students graduating within four years. It was mentioned that it is practical for students to graduate within four years. Unavailability of Gen Ed courses is another problem affecting students graduating on time. It was noted this involves strategies that need to begin with advisement for the student’s first semester at Albany.

The Advisement Task Force Proposal:

The Council again agreed that providing paper copies of the proposal was too expensive, and placing the information on the web would be the preferred method. It was mentioned that whatever policy the Senate approves would hopefully provide resources. The end product should be interactive for students utilizing the information. It was emphasized that there is a certain expertise and expense required for creating an on-line version.

Prerequisites vary widely from course to course. Many faculty attempt to ensure students have completed their required prerequisites. Some faculty assume it is the Registrars Office’s responsibility to ensure students have completed all their prerequisites.

If a student handbook is placed on our website, there should be assurance of it being updated. New faculty will need to completely review the handbook whereas established faculty only need to review updated portions.

Students require information for properly securing all requirements in obtaining their degree. Faculty have the right to de-register those students not attending classes, and a specific paper form is distributed to faculty for this purpose. Also, faculty can de-register a student if they have not completed prerequisite courses by sending a memo to the Registrar. No agreement exists between departments on what is the definition of prerequisites. Practices vary widely and thus a University-wide prerequisite rule is not recommended. One member mentioned within his department he advises his students and his colleagues that enforcement of prerequisites is up to the discretion of the instructor. Prerequisite advisement is given from one semester to another but should be discussed for all eight semesters. Earth and Atmospheric Sciences does a good job of explaining to students their need to take certain courses at specific times of the year and how some required courses may not be offered from year to year. It was also mentioned that when a faculty member leaves, there is no guarantee of a replacement. This would also affect availability of classes.

When some departments advise students on their major program, they inform the student of substituting a certain course in lieu of a published required course. This type of information can not be placed in the Undergraduate Bulletin but would be helpful information on a website.

At times the Undergraduate Bulletin has been faulted for its legalistic language confusing students. Students would be able to decipher the language if a handbook or on-line reference was created in "student language". The chosen method should also explain majors and minors as well as suggest a sequence of courses or some type of guidance ahead of time.

Is there a means to inform of updates? As long as the Task Force receives our recommendations and continues to give the Council suggestions, there is no need to concern ourselves. The question was raised as to what type of information should be disseminated and how to publish it.

 

The Dean mentioned in her work with CETL that new faculty orientations now emphasize what should be placed in a syllabus and other practical rules and technicalities. It was suggested that if both CETL and the Dean agree, every academic program (majors, minors, certificates) could have its own page on our website. Updates would be provided, and students would be expected to utilize this information. The Council recognizes the need for a mechanism to provide an update of changes, such as an advisor list-serv, to students and provide brief updates of changes, such as through an advisor list-serv, to students and experienced advisors. In contrast, a printed handbook would be outdated as soon as it is published and each user would only have a need for a small portion of the contents of such a publication. Students need quick and correct access to information. The Dean mentioned these pages could be linked to each department's website.

Bob Gibson mentioned a legal requirement where information on each program from year to year must be yearly archived. Dick Collier noted that a print copy of the bulletin (which would also continue to be archived each year on the web) fulfills this requirement.

All information in this format needs to be updated yearly. Pat McAuliff maintains web updates. Freshmen advisors need updated information to guide students over the next eight semesters. Although the Undergraduate Bulletin is updated yearly, some inactive classes still appear. This results in time wasted for the instructor needing to inform the student to register for another class and also creates extra work for the Registrar’s Office. Is there a means for inactive classes to show when the course was last offered? Would departments take the time to review their inactive classes? One member mentioned his department’s review is driven by the scheduling deadline. The deadline forces the department to meet and agree on teaching assignments.

It was mentioned that the Spring schedules are not available until October, and thus makes it difficult for students to plan ahead. Quarter class counts are added later. It was suggested that most of the quarter classes are intentionally not listed in the original Schedule of Classes for a semester. Students should be advised on their long-term plans. Departments should inform students in their advisement that although certain courses were previously available, there is no guarantee they will be offered in the future. The advisement should include informing students of taking required classes elsewhere and transferring credits back to the University.

The following Council members attend Task Force meetings: Seth Chaiken, Sue Faerman, Bob Gibson, Joan Savitt, and Crystal Rion.

The Chair mentioned he would e-mail members if he receives any Task Force feedback.

Next Meeting:

The next Undergraduate Academic Council meeting will be held Wednesday, 2/16/05, 2:00 PM, LC-31.

Minutes Taken:

Notes taken by Joanne Baronner, Undergraduate Studies.