Educational Policy Council

Minutes of the Meeting of April 24, 2003

Present: K. Hitchcock, C. Santiago, C. Bischoff, F. Hauser, T. Hoff, S.B. Kim, J. Logan, D. McCaffrey, J. Pomeroy, M. Pryse, M. Range, S. Stern, E. Wulfert (Chair), R. Farrell (Staff). Guests: Christine Haile, Sheila Mahan, Mary Beth Winn and Dean Joan Wick Pelletier

1. Approval of Minutes: The Minutes of March 20, 2003 were approved as amended.

2. President's Report:

· Budget:

President Hitchcock had just met with several members of the New York State Assembly regarding the proposed tuition increase, as well as the badly needed
"back filling" with state budget funds of any diminution of the proposed tuition increase figure of $1200. The President reported the following from her meeting:

1- It appears that funding for the Tuition Assistance Program will be restored, as well as the Educational Opportunities Program.

2- The most likely tuition increase should be $950. The Assembly will try to "backfill" with state funds to get the budget figure up to a total comparable to +$1,200 per undergraduate per year. The key to impress upon the members of the State Legislature is that, for each $100 below the originally proposed $1,200 increase, the University at Albany will lose $1.5 million from its annual operating budget. It is that message - that consequence - that we must keep in front of our friends in the Assembly and the State Senate at all times.

3- 1.858 billion dollars is the figure requested for the entire SUNY system.

Professor Pryse asked what level of campus funding would result if the total SUNY budget does indeed come in at $1.858 billion? Provost Santiago responded that that figure would still leave the University at Albany with a deficit of about 6%, or 9 million dollars.

Further, it seems clear that graduate students would be hit the hardest. The University has been working very hard to increase stipends for graduate assistants. The possibility of a major graduate tuition increase would do much to negate that work, and the University is working very hard to try to diminish the possibility of a large increase at the graduate level.


The new "Bold Vision" capital campaign will be announced on Saturday. The goal will be to raise five hundred million dollars, of which 270 million has already been raised. President Hitchcock announced that Chancellor King would attend Saturday's event, as will a number of state and local dignitaries and University benefactors. This is an extraordinarily exciting time for the University, and this event is generating a great deal of interest, especially in the areas of scholarship aid and endowed chairs.

· PeopleSoft:

Provost Santiago introduced University Chief Information Officer Christine Haile and Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs Sheila Mahan to update Council members on the new PeopleSoft system integration. He noted that, since 1998, the University has been bringing modules of the new web-based system on line, and is now poised to bring the financial aid module up in June.

Ms. Haile reminded Council members that SIRS would be essentially closed down on June 7, 2003. SIRS is a 16-year-old legacy system, and the new PeopleSoft data base is a web-based system using technology that was not even imagined when SIRS was created. The one-week conversion will be completed and start-up for new students will go live on June 16th with the new web-based service. Training will continue throughout the summer. Students will be able to register on-line in August when there is a student transition team in place.

Ms. Mahan handed out documents outlining that faculty and students would come in to the system through the web. She added that the students are very anxious for this on-line system. There will be printed material available and there is a tutorial on the website at She added that the people in the departments and offices that use the old SIRS system daily would be offered training throughout the summer.

Ms. Haile explained that they are taking this opportunity to do the streamlining of user id's and password policies and procedures, and to increase IT security. All faculty and staff will be receiving new user id's, passwords and personal identification numbers (PIN's) in June.

Provost Santiago asked if the Committee would like a more extensive presentation on the upcoming changes, because the purpose of today's presentation was to inform the Committee members of the status of the project. Chair Wulfert asked the members if they would like to schedule another meeting about the PeopleSoft changes. It was discussed and the members decided they did not want another presentation at this time.

SARS Issues:

The University has an emergency preparedness committee in place, and its members have indeed been discussing SARS. Currently there are nine students and several faculty in Asia. All have been in recent communication with the University, and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is constantly giving the University up-to-date information on SARS. When the nine students arrive back on campus, they will be required to report to the Health Center twice daily for seven days. The affected faculty will be requested to contact their own physicians immediately upon returning home from Asia. The University is also greatly concerned with the influx of foreign students coming to the University in September, and there is further concern with the availability of visas for them, and for students that go home to Asia for the summer. Dr. Lawrence, the Director of the University's Health Center, is in constant contact with CDC on these issues.

· Enrollment:

Ms. Mahan spoke about freshmen enrollment. There are approximately 2,100 freshmen who have confirmed enrollment thus far. The quality of the admission pool and the deposit pool are holding strong, i.e., 17 points higher on SAT scores and GPA numbers that are higher than last year. Twenty percent of the deposited admittees are in the top 10% of their respective classes, double the figure from three years ago.

3. Chair's Report:

Chair Wulfert announced the creation of an ad hoc committee to study the impact of new research centers on the campus; the first meeting is scheduled for May 14th. Members of the committee are: Professors Wulfert, Hoff, Logan and McCaffrey from the EPC, James Castracane, Kajal Lahiri, and John Welch from the Research Council, and Carolyn MacDonald as Chair-elect of the Senate.

4. Report from EPC Representatives to URPAC:

Professor McCaffrey reported that URPAC has met frequently since the last EPC meeting. The membership has heard presentations from all Vice Presidents and the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, discussed the budgets, and will continue deliberating over the next couple of weeks, providing advice to the Provost and President Hitchcock based upon all the material/information it has received.

5. Old Business:

· Approval of a Joint Major in Human Biology:

Guests: Distinguished Teaching Professor Helmut Hirsch, Biological Sciences, Professor Thomas Brutsaert, Anthropology, and Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Gregory Stevens. The proposed major in Human Biology was tabled at the last meeting because of significant budgetary questions. Chair Wulfert asked if the Council's guests had brought a new budget with them, and they responded that they had not. Specifically, they responded that the human biology program had been functioning as a stand-alone major for a number of years, and that the proposal to EPC had been drafted as a model for a time when budget resources would be available. However, given the current budget restrictions, the faculty members in the human biology program were very willing to continue the program as is, but very much want it recognized as a stand-alone major. The major is flexible, evolved over time, and has been modified along the way.

Chair Wulfert voiced concern, having expected a modified proposal. She asked if the Committee could approve it without the budget.

Professor Logan asked for a motion to approve the major without an attached budget. He moved to approve the proposal for a stand-alone major in human biology, subject to the College of Arts and Sciences' own decision-making process about the allocation of resources to the program. The motion was seconded, and the proposal for a stand-alone major in Human Biology was approved unanimously.

· D.A. Program in Humanistic Studies:

Guests: Professor Mary Beth Winn, Director of the Program and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Joan Wick Pelletier.

Chair Wulfert introduced each of the guests separately and noted the reason for their presence, i.e., since the suspension of admissions to the DA Program in humanistic studies may well be a contentious issue, Professor Winn was invited to give a brief presentation on the program and Dean Wick Pelletier was invited to explain separately why she suspended admissions.

Professor Winn gave a brief overview, explaining that, in her opinion, the program has exceeded its expectations. There are 55 faculty members serving on the program's various committees, and this year the program attracted eight applications and on re-application prior to the Dean suspending admissions. According to Professor Winn, the program is still attracting students, and she voiced concern that the decision to suspend admissions will stop that momentum, even if subsequently lifted. DA students are supported financially by their primary departments; some have been given assistantships, which suggests that the quality of D.A. students is good.

Professor Winn stated further that she believes that the D.A. program in humanistic studies is actually a revenue producer for the University, has a solid academic record, and has a strong record of its graduates finding teaching positions at colleges and universities.

Chair Wulfert opened the floor to comments.

Tuition revenue was questioned with reference to the number of students in the program and Professor Winn said the figures on her handout are actual numbers. She explained that D.A. students are not traditional students. Rather, they are students who return to school as adults, and not necessarily to be credentialized to teach. In that sense it is closer to a continuing education program for adults; some of them take their own time, and multiple leaves of absence are not uncommon. However, Professor Winn does not feel that is a valid reason to cut the program. This is a program that is making money, it is attracting solid students for the college, some of whom go through other programs once they have started here. The Dean's suspending admissions is preliminary to ending the program and Professor Winn feels it is based upon erroneous facts. Professor Winn stated further said it is demoralizing for students and alumni who will hold a degree that is no longer validated by UAlbany.

When questioned as to when the program was last evaluated, Professor Winn responded that the program was reviewed in 1997 in an internal review.

Professor Winn then left the meeting and Dean Joan Wick Pelletier entered. Dean Wick Pelletier stated that she decided to suspend admissions to the D.A. program last fall, and is considering recommending the discontinuation of the program in the context of the strategic plan of the University. As the new Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in a terribly tight budget time, she has had to study every program in the College to determine which might be closed that would arrive at some savings, while at the same time causing the least possible damage to the college. She did research on programs similar to this and the degree itself. Clearly, the degree has never caught on as a universally accepted, viable option to the Ph.D. degree. She said there are only13 institutions offering this degree and she does not feel that all of these institutions are in our peer group or peer inspiration group. Dean Wick Pelletier also stated that since Arts and Sciences has lost faculty positions, and that the current faculty are stretched further than ever before, that this is probably the one program the college can do without.

Enrollment in the program has slowed since 1997. Certainly the program has value, but there are budgetary choices that must be made. This program costs over $120,000, which is not insignificant, and this will be a significant budget cut. There are faculty, time and effort involved in this program, that could be diverted back to their home departments. She made a decision before applications were sent in, applicants have been written to, and their application fees will be refunded.

In early March she wrote to the CAS department chairs about her decision. Marjorie Pryse was the only one who responded. She met with some of the chairs in March and they gave reasons they would prefer to keep the D.A. in humanistic studies active. She thinks many of the department chairs understand that she is not opposed to the interdisciplinary program, in fact she likes that style of programming. However, she believes that most of the dissertations in the program could have been written in other existing departments, i.e., the D.A. graduates could have chosen an alternative degree program where their objectives would have been met. She has been meeting with department chairs, and they seem to understand her decision. They are interested in their own Ph.D.'s and/or feel they it might serve them better to have their own Ph.D. programs.

The 1997 review placed the program low in Category 2, about to move to Category 3. That is why she decided to suspend admissions, study it, and make a recommendation as to whether or not it should be continued.

Discussion by the Council members ensued after Dean Wick Pelletier completed her presentation.

Clearly, there was very real discrepancy between some of the figures produced by Professor Winn and some of those volunteered by Dean Wick Pelletier. Several members commented that, before any further decisions are made, the dean's staff should ascertain precisely the accuracy of the data made available to the dean. Additionally, the quality data on the program appears to be at least six years old, and it was suggested that a more recent review of the quality data on the program would be immensely helpful in determining the academic strength of the program today.

· Time Changes in the Official University Class Schedule:

Professor Logan moved for approval on the proposed bill, which had been discussed thoroughly in a previous meeting. The motion was seconded, and approved unanimously.

The meeting was adjourned at 3:25 p.m.