Educational Policy Council

Minutes of the Meeting of December 4, 2002

Present: C. Bischoff, P. Bloniarz, B. Bosco, R. Bromley, R. Gibson, F. Hauser, T. Hoff, S.B. Kim, J. Logan, D. McCaffrey, S. Phillips, C. Pearce, J. Pomeroy, M. Pryse, M. Range, C. Santiago, S. Stern, E. Wulfert (Chair), R. Farrell (Recorder)

1. Approval of Minutes:
Approval of the minutes of the meeting of October 23, 2002 was delayed until the next meeting, until Dean Alain Kaloyeros of the School of NanoSciences and NanoEngineering, and Dean Joan Wick Pelletier of the College of Arts and Sciences could review the draft.

2. President's Report:
The President's Report was given by Provost Carlos E. Santiago.

Although the budgets for the next two years are not specific, all indications are that they will be more challenging than any budgets of the 1990's. For now, all campuses have been instructed to cut 5% out of their budgets by the end of this fiscal year without using reserve funds or one-time savings, i.e., these are to be permanent cuts.

Ultimately, New York State is seeking:

1. a 10% decrease in state expenditures;
2. a decrease in what the state terms its "fill rate" - the number of state employees.

The Provost's Office will work closely with the Senate, the Senate bodies, and student governance as the details of the new budget become known.

3. Chair's Report -
No Report

4. New Business:
Prof. Bromley and Registrar Gibson proposed a change to the start time of classes and a decrease in the number of classes that meet three times per week in late afternoons, in recognition of the fact that few faculty or students schedule classes that begin at 8:00 am or meet after 2:00 Friday afternoon. The proposed change in schedule would increase the number of classes that meet twice weekly, on Mondays and Wednesdays and Tuesdays and Thursdays.

There was significant discussion over the merits of the proposal, centered on three issues:

1. Might passing the proposal lessen the number of undergraduate courses that meet three times per week for 55 minutes per meeting, and increase correspondingly the number that meet twice per week for 80 minutes, and might this negatively affect the quality of the undergraduate teaching?

2. Could this proposal not be viewed as shortening the academic week from five days to four days by essentially eliminating Friday classes?

3. Would the passing of this proposal "reward" those academic units that have refused traditionally to teach at unpopular times?

To each of these questions, Professor Bromley and Registrar Gibson responded that the proposal simply recognized what has been the case for decades, and, by formalizing the three-credit Monday-Wednesday course sequence, classroom usage should actually increase. Specifically, because neither faculty nor students wish to schedule classes that meet on Friday afternoons, the tendency is not schedule any M-W-F classes after about 2:00 PM. The obvious result is unused classroom space, not only on Friday afternoon, but on the corresponding times on Monday and Wednesday as well. A major purpose of the proposal is to recapture, if you will, the use of the Monday-Wednesday afternoons by using 80-minute class periods when classrooms are available.

Further, there was significant debate over whether the proposed change needed to be discussed and debated at the school and department levels, and with student governance. Provost Santiago offered to bring the issue to the Central Council of Student Association (meeting the following evening), and to the next Council of Deans meeting, and to report his findings at the next EPC meeting. In response to Mr. Bischoff's comment that graduate students would be impacted both as students and as teachers, Provost Santiago agreed in addition to the Central Council of the SA, the graduate student governance (GSO) should be presented w/ the issue of the proposed schedule changes.

5. Old Business -

6. Report of EPC Representatives to URPAC:

Professor Logan questioned the effectiveness of URPAC as an advisory board to the President when meetings are held at irregular intervals, data are supplied to the membership at the meeting rather than beforehand, and questions on which advice is needed are not clearly framed. Professor Logan has brought this issue to the membership of URPAC.

The membership of EPC requested a meeting be scheduled as quickly as possible after the next URPAC meeting, even if that occur during the holiday break. Dr. Farrell responded that he would solicit the members' schedules via e-mail, immediately after the meeting.

Respectfully submitted,

Richard J. Farrell