Council on Educational Policy

2003-04 Chair:  Edelgard Wulfert

Friday, April 30, 2004


Present:          J-F. Brière, F. Hauser, F. Henderson, T. Hoff, G. Jicha, S.B. Kim, P. Leonard, D. McCaffrey, J. Pomeroy, M. Pryse, J. Ryan, C. Santiago, S. Stern, E. Wulfert

Guests:           P. Bloniarz, R. Farrell, R. Gibson, K. Lowery, C. MacDonald, G. Moore, G. Stevens, B. Szelest

Minutes:         The minutes of April 16, 2004 were approved.

President’s Report - Presented by Interim President John R. Ryan:

College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) – President Ryan reported that the SUNY Board of Trustees passed a resolution on April 20, 2004 stating that the CNSE will be established with an autonomous faculty governance structure.  President Ryan had forwarded his recommendation to the Board of Trustees endorsing that the college be established and that CNSE have a degree of autonomy in academic governance in the areas of curriculum, academic standing and appeals, tenure and promotion, and research, but that university-wide policies should govern the campus in overarching areas.  He stated further that it would have been his preference that the Board of Trustees wait until May to pass the resolution as this would have given him more time to solicit further input from EPC before making his recommendations.

Provost Santiago reported that the Board of Trustees’ resolution does allow UAlbany some degree of input, but specifics need to be negotiated further, and some details probably will have to wait until the CNSE develops its own bylaws.  These bylaws will be important in restructuring some of the current councils’ charges to allow for autonomy in an individual college/school.  The Provost is delighted that the college is and will be part of the UAlbany institution.  There are University-wide policies that all faculty have to adhere to, and fundamentally those policies have to be uniform.  CNSE is looking for a degree of flexibility that will allow its research to move forward quickly.  Provost Santiago does agree with members of EPC that this decision will open discussion in other schools on campus, and he thinks it is a positive step.  CNSE brings and will continue to bring significant benefits to the campus. 

There was discussion on the perception that the Board of Trustees’ decision on the establishment and structure of the college was rapid, and the fact that it was not discussed at the University-level.  President Ryan indicated that his recommendation to the Board of Trustees might have lead to the resolution, but that he had requested the Board delay their decision by one month.  However, the Board ultimately chose to move the resolution at that same meeting.  He noted that this is not something that is only occurring at UAlbany, the fact that Stony Brook has a similar structure may deem it not unusual.   President Ryan also referred to his memorandum to EPC, requesting that EPC provide advice on how the autonomous governance structure should be created, noting that he would like to comply with the Board of Trustees’ resolution. 

Dean Leonard questioned the time line for EPC to make further recommendations to the President, and what question will be debated in the Senate.  He questioned whether the Senate would discuss how a new structure would be created or how the new college would be integrated into the University.  This question lead to discussion on the interpretation of the Board of Trustees’ resolution.  One member read it as the matter being taken immediately out of the realm of Senate, while others interpreted it differently.  The new college having its own bylaws was compared to the College of Arts and Sciences, Rockefeller College and the School of Business that each has their own bylaws.  Professor Wulfert noted that since EPC has no information on the faculty governance structure or the bylaws from CNSE, it would be difficult for EPC and the Senate to make any recommendations at this time on how specific areas such as curriculum and tenure and promotion should be devolved to the college. Similarly, in the interest of possibly maintaining a uniform governance structure across the University, she stated that the implications of more autonomy for the new college would also have to be examined in terms of the other schools and colleges for that matter.  She therefore urged the Council to convene during the summer, once specific information is made available that can then be evaluated and serve as the basis for a discussion of governance structure and lead to recommendations as requested by Interim President Ryan.

Professor Kim spoke about the history and how the School of NanoSciences and NanoEngineering was originally established at UAlbany.  He said the idea of the college is very new and, given the history of the creation of the school, there is a level of distrust on both sides of the issue.  He suggested that people from both sides of the issue have reacted badly in the past but he noted that any departure from traditional practices would cause difficulties.  Professor Kim agreed that there needs to be a compromise on both sides.  Professor Kim then introduced a resolution proposing that the CNSE be granted a three-year time period to establish its own bylaws and governance system.  Then, after the three-years, it be reviewed by representatives of CNSE and the University Senate.  There was no action taken on the resolution.

Professor MacDonald reported that members of the School of NanoSciences and NanoEngineering (SNN) have volunteered for University Senate Councils for the 2004-05 session, which seems to indicate that they wish to participate in university-wide governance issues.  Professor MacDonald then suggested that EPC create a University-wide committee to discuss governance issues.  The committee could be an ad hoc committee of the Senate that will work with the Governance Council.  Professor Hoff suggested that the committee include representatives from every school and college at the University.  EPC members endorsed this suggestion. It was decided that EPC will make a recommendation to the Senate for a motion to create such a committee.  It was further discussed that Senate Vice-Chair Steven Messner could chair this committee and that the committee could work over the summer.

Student Senator Jicha requested that a student representative be part of the ad hoc committee and volunteered for the position.

Professor Hoff suggested that the ad hoc committee charge should clearly reflect that the creation of the committee is not in reaction to the Board of Trustees’ decision to create CNSE or the college’s development of its own bylaws. Instead, the committee will examine the existing faculty governance structure of the University, include representatives from every school/college, possibly in consultation with the deans, and the Senate’s charge to the committee should clearly specify the purpose of the committee and the exact questions it is supposed to answer.

Professor Pryse inquired if EPC will share President Ryan’s memorandum with the Senate as part of EPC’s report or the President’s report.   After discussion, it was decided the letter would stay with EPC.

Conclusion of CNSE Discussion: 

EPC will propose creating a University-wide committee that will look at the governance structure of CNSE and more generally examine governance structures different from the one at UAlbany and their possible implications for the University.  Representatives of every school/college on the UAlbany campus will constitute the committee, preferably with input of the deans, and with Senate and faculty representatives.  

President Ryan and Provost Santiago excused themselves from the meeting.

Chair’s Report: 

Professor Wulfert announced that she followed up on the Council’s request to meet with President Ryan on the EPC subcommittee’s suggestions regarding CNSE.  The purpose of this meeting was to clarify that the subcommittee’s report was not to be construed as the Council’s official recommendation regarding a possible change in the existing University-wide governance structure.  Instead, the report was intended to serve as the basis for discussion between the President and EPC and the EPC’s request that the President make a specific proposal as to how the governance structure should be changed, in case he recommended autonomy for CNSE.

URPAC:  No report.

New Business:

§         Dissolution of the Department of Classics:  Guest speaker, Assistant Dean Greg Stevens, CAS.  Assistant Dean Stevens requested that the Council approve the administrative dissolution of the Department of Classics.  This decision will not affect courses and programs, as students still can major and minor in Classics.  As Classics is an interdisciplinary field, the faculty of the former Classics Department have found a home in other departments (Art History, Archeology, English/LLL) and perceive this change as invigorating. The change will result in savings of a clerical assistant and a chair’s stipend but otherwise not affect courses and the degree program. The Council approved the request with one abstention.  The Bill on the Dissolution of the Department of Classics will go before the Senate.

§         Academic Calendar 2005-06:  Guest speakers Robert Gibson and Gwendolyn Moore.   EPC members were in favor of the motion to modify the proposed Spring 2005 calendar by resuming classes on Monday, April 25th.

§         2005-06 Calendar:  The 2005-06 school year calendar was approved unanimously.

§         Muslim Holidays:  Muslim students’ request to designate university holidays for two Muslim holy days was discussed at great length. While Council members were sympathetic to the students’ request, they were concerned about the impact of additional holidays on the academic calendar. Concerns were also raised that other religious groups would follow suit and request recognition of their religious ceremonies by designating school holidays.  It was pointed out that, by law, students of any religious group can request accommodation and that faculty must give them time off and provide opportunities for make-up exams.  The official recognition of Muslim holidays would result in the fall semester beginning on August 25. This would have several consequences, including increased cost to all students who would have to come to campus one week earlier than presently. It would also create problems because of the shortened time between the end of the summer session and the beginning of the fall semester, which would create a time crunch for necessary maintenance work.  After a lengthy discussion, the Council voted against approving a suspension of classes for the Muslim holidays.  Professor Moore from ULC stated that ULC had already endorsed the bill and would bring it before the Senate anyway, even though it had not passed EPC.  Professor Hauser then introduced a motion that faculty be requested not to schedule exams or make papers due on the Muslim holy days.  Most Council members questioned the feasibility of such a decision and the motion was tabled. 

§         IT Commons:  Associate Provost and Dean of the School of Information Science and Policy Peter Bloniarz updated the Council on progress in developing the Information Technology Commons, a campus-wide program to expand interdisciplinary research and educational programs at the University.  The program is intended to foster the development of new courses and interdisciplinary degree programs for students, while supporting faculty who conduct research that blends a disciplinary area and information technology.

Associate Provost Bloniarz reported that on April 14, 2004, the Deans Council re-confirmed their adoption of the IT Commons approach.  This year’s searches for new faculty members are now nearing completion.  Each of these new appointments will hold joint appointments with a disciplinary department and the School of Information Science and Policy.  One joint faculty member has been hired with the Department of Communication, and other searches are still underway with the departments of Public Administration and Policy, Educational Theory and Practice, Art, and Music.

Associate Provost Bloniarz reported that arrangements for these faculty appointments will be negotiated on an individual basis between their departments and the School of Information Science and Policy.  He indicated that each appointment in this year’s hiring round would be hired according to the University’s existing policy on joint appointments.  This policy calls for each faculty member to have a “majority” department for personnel matters.  The arrangements for teaching responsibilities, personnel decisions, and other matters would be spelled out in a Memorandum of Understanding that will be developed for each of these hires.  Associate Provost Bloniarz indicated that each hire is intended to support a research cluster in interdisciplinary scholarship related to information technology.

Finally, Associate Provost Bloniarz reported that the Information Science Ph.D. program, which is serving as the faculty planning home for the IT Commons, has constituted six committees to develop policies and initial plans for the IT Commons.  He distributed the initial charges and membership of these committees, and said that members were chosen to reflect the many ways in which information technology is relevant to scholarship in a broad range of fields.

EPC members made generally favorable comments on the IT Commons development, with several expressing strong enthusiasm and support for the program.  Professor Wulfert thanked Associate Provost Bloniarz for keeping the Council informed of the progress of IT Commons.

The meeting was adjourned at 11:30 a.m.

Respectfully Submitted,

Jayne VanDenburgh, Recorder