EDUCATIONAL POLICY COUNCIL
October 12, 2001


Present: J. Bartow, A. Bentley, C. Bischoff, S. Coon, J. Delano, F. Hauser, R. Highfield, S. B. Kim, J. Logan, M. Masson, D. McCaffrey, J. Pipkin, M. Range, C. Santiago, T. Stephen

Guests: W. Lorang, B. Szelest, E. Wulfert

Chair McCaffrey called the meeting to order at 1:32 p.m.

1. Approval of Minutes
The EPC Minutes of April 23, 2001, were circulated to the 2000-01 EPC members. These minutes have been revised. The 2001-02 EPC member approved the April 23 minutes as revised.

On page 1, under Chair's Report, line 4, "roll" should read "role." There being no further corrections to the September 21 EPC minutes, it was moved and seconded to approve. Professor Logan suggested that the minutes would be more useful if they were more detailed, and Chair McCaffrey agreed that the subsequent minutes would outline the discussions in more detail.

2. President's Report
Provost Santiago reported for President Hitchcock. He reported that the State is operating under a bare bones budget. The University at Albany is working under the same budget as last year but the budget does include funds for the negotiated raises. It is our understanding that the State funding for the School of Public Health and for the School of Nanosciences and Materials will be included in this year's budget, he said. Last year's EPC minutes stated that private funding would support the School of Nanosciences and Materials, reported Professor Logan. The Provost clarified that it was never intended that the School of Nanosciences and Materials be funded by reallocating funds from existing State funding resources.

Provost Santiago reported that four University at Albany departments (Sociology, Psychology, Public Administration, and Criminal Justice) would be receiving an increase in graduate stipends. This is a 3-year allocation. System Administration picked these four departments out of several units that were submitted for consideration by Albany.

Provost Santiago has asked the Deans to look at enrollment targets, which have been restructured for this year. This year Albany has surpassed its targets. Enrollments at the graduate level are doing well, especially in the Schools of Education and Social Welfare. The Provost stated that next year is an election year and, because of that, tuition likely would not be increased. Tuition increases should be planned over a series of years.

Albany is facing a challenge in the utility costs, the Provost said.

The Provost noted that Albany would welcome 48 new faculty to the campus. Albany will continue to recruit faculty, as adding faculty to the campus I one of its highest priorities.

We have been informed that System Administration must submit its 2002-03 budget request to the Director of the Budget by October 26. We anticipate no additional funding in that budget year from what we have received in 2001-02. While negotiated salary increases are included in the 2001-02 budget, we have been told not to expect funding for that purpose in the 2002-03 budget. This anticipated shortfall would be $4 million.

For the academic year 2001-02, the campus has participated in a budget reallocation exercise. The schools/colleges have been taxed 1 percent of their State allocation and other units have been taxed 5 percent of their State allocation. This exercise has raised $3 million for the academic year 2001-02.

The Governor asked the Federal government for $54 billion to help with the economic growth of New York State and the September 11 tragedy. Provost Santiago said that the University has been sensitive to the need to provide timely communication to the campus community on developments following September 11.

Provost Santiago stated that security concerns are increasingly taking our attention.

3. Chair's Report
Chair McCaffrey reported on his meeting with the Provost after the last EPC meeting. Three issues were discussed: incentive-based budgeting; assessment of the academic experience on campus; and assessment of educational outcomes.

Provost Santiago suggested an agenda item for the next meeting -- a proposal to change the time classes begin. This request comes from Registrar Gibson and does not require full Senate approval. In this proposal, classes will begin later in the morning and free up Friday afternoons. The Provost will invite Professor Bromley and Registrar Gibson to the next meeting.

Professor Logan asked if Chair McCaffrey and the Provost discussed EPC's role in the University's budgeting process. The Provost stated that a working group of Deans was developing an initial proposal for the design of an incentive-based budgeting system. We anticipate that the proposal would be reviewed by the University Resources and Priorities Advisory Committee (URPAC) and reported to EPC by their designee. Provost Santiago noted that the idea is to have a process through which increases in enrollment, research and other critical indicators would lead to increase funding. Professor Delano asked if there was anything in the establishment of the new School for the study of nanosciences that would lead to a structural dependency between commitments for increased funding for the School and changes in the State's budget. The Provost indicated that it was never intended that the School of Nanosciences and Materials be funded by reallocating funds from existing State funding resources.

4. Old Business
There was no Old Business

5. New Business
a. Discussion of Spring 2000 Student Opinion Survey by Institutional Research. Mr. Lorang noted the undergraduate survey was completed in Spring 2000. There are two main uses. System Administration has access to the results and the survey is a way of looking at the campus. The student opinion survey results are also used to negotiate understandings regarding the mission review process. A third use is being planned by System Administration as a performance indicator influencing State funding. Mr. Lorang sees the results as important externally. Internally the survey results indicate areas that need attention. The change in Advisement Services is an example of a change that stemmed from earlier survey results. The survey does not give all the answers but does indicate some problem areas. The educational outcome agenda helps to improve student ratings and improves teaching and learning on the campus. Institutional Research will develop a web site, which will include assessment resources and links.

Mr. Szelest noted that the student opinion survey is a fairly long survey. He reported on his extensive conversations with colleagues in Student Affairs regarding the results. For the EPC meeting he was asked to focus on academic-related experiences. The numerical trends in academic classroom experiences generally have been flat in satisfaction ratings from 1994 and most items tend to cluster, he said. The items are general in scope. The response rate was 31 percent and the respondents were representative with females responding in a higher proportion. The University at Albany is ranked either third or fourth across most indicators among the four University Centers in Spring 2000, with declines in most indicators relative to other four-year units in the SUNY system since the last survey in 1997.

Provost Santiago asked EPC to help discover issues that might produce some of the survey findings, and that could lead to targeted improvements. One Council member noted that the size of classes may have an impact on the results, but it also was noted that the faculty do not have a consensus on the effect of class size on class effectiveness. It was agreed that the impact of class size should be discussed further. There also are more general cultural issues on the campus that may influence the results. For example, Ms. Coon noted that many students commonly do not see classes as being challenging.

Chair McCaffrey suggested that EPC, with Institutional Research, should examine the results closely and advise the Provost with respect to factors that may be producing the results. Provost Santiago said that the data bring up many questions, and that reduction in the overall number of faculty on campus over a period of years may have influenced the results. Professor Logan suggested that any analysis of the results should be focused clearly.

Professor Hauser stated that he sat on a committee that produced a detailed report and recommendations concerning items on an earlier survey, but Academic Affairs never implemented the recommendations. Professor Range asked if it were possible to refine the data. Mr. Szelest replied that some of the material was in the handout distributed at the meeting. EPC members suggested that an assessment tool be devised and used. Professor Logan noted that documents likely exist that would be relevant to any analysis. Some of the changes implemented on campus have been in response to the survey, reported Provost Santiago, but there are many different areas that need to be addressed. Choices must be made where we can make a significant impact. There are areas on the academic side that need discussion in the schools/colleges. Focus groups are looking at particular areas. The Provost will get this information to EPC. He noted that the issue is important because System Administration is going to be using the survey results to reallocate resources, and, more generally, it is a quality of life issue. EPC's job is to deal with the academic side of this issue. One Council member suggested reactivation of the Evaluation Policy Committee and recruit other people beyond EPC to help with the analysis.

Mr. Szelest noted that the ratings have gone up a little in 1997. A Presidential Scholars survey was completed this spring. One concern noted from that survey is that many Presidential Scholars are unwilling or hesitant to approach faculty. Unless a student has a problem, they will not approach the faculty. He also noted that any analysis of the results of the Student Opinion survey should be done in a way mindful of the new requirements for the assessment of student learning outcomes. In addition, the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and the State Education Department will assess support services.

Chair McCaffrey indicated that the would speak with the Provost regarding the next steps in an analysis of the survey, request assistant from other Council members and those outside the Council, and identify other documents that may be relevant to such work.

6. Adjournment
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 3:06 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
 
 

Madelyn R. Cicero
Secretary