Undergraduate Academic Council - MINUTES

Meeting Date:
Thursday, September 11, 2003, 9:45 AM-11:00 AM

Richard Collier, Sue Faerman, Robert Gibson, Deborah Bernnard, Gerald Burke, John Delano, Anne Hildreth, Reed Hoyt, Trudi Jacobson, Steve Messner, Sue Phillips, John Pipkin, Joan Savitt, Helene Scheck, Joshua Smith, Greg Stevens

Guests: Sheila Mahan and Clarence McNeill

Previous Minutes:
Several minutes have not been submitted from Spring meetings. The Chair e-mailed Faridah Jivani a request to forward Joan the minutes. After minutes are assembled and reviewed, they will be submitted to Council for approval.

Undergraduate Academic Council:
The Chair reviewed the structure and duties of the council.

The Council is responsible for implementing the academic plan as established by the Council on Educational Policy in respect to undergraduate studies; establishes criteria for determining academic standing, academic honors, admissions policy and undergraduate program review; reviews all undergraduate academic programs and recommends new programs; formulates policies for honors programs and independent study programs; insures and reviews procedures for individual student academic grievances at school and college levels; considers and recommends suspension or discontinuance of programs to the Vice President for Academic Affairs and to the President.

The Undergraduate Academic Council encompasses four subcommittees: Committee on Admissions and Academic Standing (CAAS), Interdisciplinary Studies Committee, Curriculum and Honors Committee, and Committee on Academic Standing (CAS).

(1) Committee on Admissions and Academic Standing
The Committee on Admissions and Academic Standing serves as an appellate body for reviewing admission decisions and reviews applications under the Talented Student Admission Program when the talent is "Leadership." The committee also considers academic standards and regulations, including proposals of requirements to restrict admission to a major. The CAAS serves as the final appellate body for individual student academic grievances.

Bob Gibson was appointed Chairman. Bob mentioned the need for members to join this committee. Joan has a listing of interested members.

(2) Interdisciplinary Studies Committee
Reviews and approves faculty and student-initiated interdisciplinary majors and minors and all University-Wide courses (U Uni and U Unl). The committee also recommends/monitors University-wide independent study, internships, special projects, and interdisciplinary topics course.

Anne Hildreth was appointed Chair.

(3) Curriculum and Honors Committee
The committee considers proposed changes in major, minor, and major honors programs and courses.

A question to be considered this year is awarding honors for a second Bachelor's degree.

A new English major proposal will be presented this year. Joan reminded members of work required outside the committee setting.

No individual was selected to chair this committee.

(4) Committee on Academic Standing
This appellate body for undergraduate studies may grant exceptions to University academic regulations. The committee reviews student requests for late drop appeals, requests for exceptions to opted S/U deadlines, student readmission applicants with less than 2.0 GPA, graduation with honors requests, and dismissal appeals. The committee attempts to give dismissed students a two-week turn around time for proper documentation to be submitted. The CAS meets at least once a semester after grades have gone out to students.

Reed Hoyt is the Chair of this committee.

Senior 100 Level Course Restriction
The removal of the restriction on seniors from advance registering in 100-level courses was discussed by the committee.

Guest Sheila Mahan was requested to speak to first-year student retention issues.

The legislation had two purposes: (1) attempt to keep freshman level classes open for freshman, and (2) have seniors work at a higher level. Some 400-500 requests for seniors to register at 100 level are received each semester. With PeopleSoft, approval for course sections has made it more difficult for students and UGS staff. The current policy is not working, and it works less well with MYUALBANY. It was noted that UGS has become a quasi-advisement office due to reviewing DARS audits and determining if seniors require 100-level classes. There is a need to quickly review this policy since pre-registration will be upon us soon.

A principal concern is recruitment of high achieving students and retention of freshmen. We should strongly consider reserving a portion of seats for summer/pre-registration for our freshmen students.

What do students need? We are just starting down the path of understanding this. As an example, when non-major Bio 102 moved to the Spring semester, overflow resulted in registration for the major course Bio 110. We have to predict demand in order to provide appropriate supply.

Presently, the departments now have access to control classroom seat quantity. Unfortunately, this has been falling to the Advisement Center since many departments remain in a PeopleSoft learning stage situation. A micromanagement system appears to have taken place where departments release five seats one day, another five seats the next day, etc.

UGS receives 400-500 requests for waivers per semester. Almost all are legitimate requests for Gen Ed or major/minor requirements are granted.

Sheila Mahan mentioned that her office is working to have departments consider the needs of both minors and majors in making seats available during registration. She mentioned that the Summer Planning Conference system worked well. Departments need to better control number of available seats. Fall pre-registration for Spring should duplicate success of Summer Planning Conference.

If seats were not an issue, it would be preferable to give seniors the option to register for 100-level courses. The mix of seniors with freshmen creates a different environment for freshmen due to what a senior's life experiences can add to the class.

New transfers need 100-level Gen Ed courses to make up for what was not completed at their community college.

Patterns: some like diversity, some like non-science classes, other students have completed all major course work and prefer to register for easier classes in their graduating year. It was noted that many faculty will give numbers to students versus trying to figure out if a student actually needs the class/classes.

Our educational policy should address BOTH student and departmental behavior. Departments need to decide who should be in class and what restrictions there should be at class level.

Dean Faerman mentioned that permission numbers were given as early as March for the Fall semester, enabling students to enroll at any point. (This means that permission numbers can be used to take up other available seats or to claim seats in excess of the established maximum, and there is no way to control that.).

Bob Gibson mentioned that under PeopleSoft the permission numbers can be used immediately and that on the first day of advance registration many students cannot register due to financial holds.

The current process tends to make extra work for students as well as the Dean's office. Example: Section 1492 is needed and student completes paperwork. The student returns within a couple days, finds out that the section is closed, and now needs Section 1495. Thus, the process needs to be re-done.

Other Comments and Suggestions:

The University-Wide "Academic Transition Team" should also review these issues and then give suggestions to this committee.

Bob Gibson said that the Dean can temporarily suspend a policy without Senate approval.

For consideration at the September Senate meeting, the committee would need to pass a bill before September 22nd.

Since permission numbers override everything, should we just allow the system to handle the supply/demand?

One of the suggestions made was to dispense permission numbers only once the course is full.

It was suggested to program the software to restrict class numbers until a certain date in the semester. Unfortunately PeopleSoft does not have that capability.

Would a pre-registration/maximum number you can register in pre-registration (16 in lieu of 19) resolve this? Bob Gibson mentioned this possibility has too many wrinkles.

Proposal Voted on and Passed:
It was moved that UAC recommend to the Dean of Undergraduate Studies that she suspend restrictions placed on Seniors registering for 100 level classes for the Spring 2004 semester. During this time, UAC will further study the issue. The proposal was passed unanimously.

Final Item
A course action form request was distributed for analysis of the Economics Department's proposal to introduce a grade requirement for students wishing to declare a major in Economics. Referred to CAAS.

The next meeting will be held Thursday 9/18/03, 9:45 AM, LC-31

Notes taken by Joanne Baronner, Undergraduate Studies