Undergraduate Academic Council - MINUTES

Meeting Date:
Thursday, October 16, 2003, 9:45 AM-11:00 AM

Gerald Burke, Richard Collier, Robert Gibson, Anne Hildreth, Reed Hoyt, Trudi Jacobson,
Faridah Jivani, Clarence McNeill (Guest), Steve Messner, John Pipkin, Joan Savitt, Helene Scheck, Joshua Smith

Student IDs, PeopleSoft, FERPA
The meeting began with a discussion of how faculty can tell the difference between whether a student is using the campus ID (EMPLID in PeopleSoft) or Social Security Number ("National ID") if the number begins with three zeroes. Bob Gibson explained that in a sense it doesn't matter, since FERPA regulations specify that in the case of any identification number, faculty can only post grades with no more than the last four digits of the number. Since many of the faculty at the meeting did not realize this, it was suggested Bob send this information to department chairs. He noted it could also add a short "portal" message faculty might read when they sign on.

It was suggested that if two students happened to have the same final four digits, the initial of the last name could be used. However, for a last name beginning with an X or a Z, for instance, this would tend to identify the student. The faculty member in such cases should instead work out some other code for the students affected.

Although students may therefore continue to use their Social Security Numbers, they should be discouraged from doing so because of identity theft issues. It was also pointed out that some programs like WebCT link to the campus IDs and would thus not properly make the connection for students who enter their SSN/national ID number.

Chair's Report:
Joan Savitt explained that Joanne Baronner would not be at the meeting as recorder because of a death in her family and offered condolences on behalf of UAC. Dick Collier offered to take the minutes. At its meeting Monday, the Executive Committee passed on to the October 27th Senate meeting all three UAC bills. Joan also announced that a new student member has been added to the Council, Scott Wilk, who has been added to her mailing list and will attend future meetings.

The Chair has also been in contact with Sheila Mahan, who wishes to present her annual report to the UAC on the Talented Student Admission Program. She also wishes the following items to be considered by the CAAS: undergraduate admissions goals and the Memorandum of Understanding, possible revision of the policy concerning Multicultural Recruitment Program admissions, whether or not to require the optional writing sample portion of the SAT exam, and consideration of whether Albany policies reflect the changed curriculum in high school mathematics. In this context, CAAS Chair Bob Gibson noted the committee is meeting next week, but their agenda consists of the proposed major admissions requirements in Economics.

Minutes from the October 7, 2003 meeting were reviewed and corrections acknowledged. The minutes, with required updates, were approved.

Faculty Bylaws and Senate Charter Revisions:
John Pipkin and Dick Collier noted that the suggestions made at the last UAC meeting were discussed at Monday's Bylaws Committee meeting. New draft documents of the two councils were distributed.

Council On Academic Assessment:
The suggestion concerning "senior" professors on the Assessment Council does not appear on the revised draft, but the Bylaws Committee saw the reasoning behind this and, if the bylaws and charter are approved, this will be passed on to the Governance Council. "Senior" (as opposed to "junior") faculty may be presumed to refer to experienced, tenured full, and associate professors. At this point it was objected that some junior faculty should also be included on this council, because it will be a good learning experience for them. There was general consensus of those present that this was a good idea, and this modified recommendation will be passed on to the Governance Council. Dick Collier noted undergraduate membership was changed to at least one but not more than three undergraduates.

Anne Hildreth pointed out that 1.6 says the committee will "be responsible for SUNY-mandated assessment…." It was agreed this would be changed to "shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with SUNY-mandated assessment...."

Concerning the two committees that deal with General Education issues, despite the arguments of some UAC members last week, the Bylaws Committee felt that assessment functions should be separate from the approval body. Instead, the bylaws group stipulated a UAC and an Assessment Council member would be members of both committees.

Josh Smith said that in addition to what he feels is a logical argument for not separating the functions, the assessment aspect involved a long "learning curve" and this would be a problem with members having two-year terms. He provided a lengthy summary of the various steps and considerations involved in the General Education assessment process, including perhaps the need to respond quickly to new mandates. In response, it was suggested that many other governance bodies also have significant learning curves and that the charges to the UAC's General Education committee are sufficiently extensive in their own right not to be overwhelmed by or to have to compete with the assessment demands.

Dick Collier and John Pipkin noted that, in its meeting last spring with Sue Faerman, Judith Fetterley, and Josh Smith, the Bylaws Committee agreed, though somewhat reluctantly and with little precedent, that the Director of the General Education Program would also chair the UAC's committee and the Dean of Undergraduate Studies would have some say when members were assigned to that committee.

John Pipkin suggested the solution might be to increase the crossover from two to six members. Other suggestions were to require some joint meetings of the two groups, or create a large single committee of UAC (chaired by a regularly elected UAC member) with a subcommittee structure. It was also suggested for section 1.7.5 that the General Education Assessment Committee's assessments go directly to the UAC's General Education Committee as well as to the Assessment Council (i.e., without being cleared and approved by the Assessment Council first).

A member asked whether UAC was expected to vote on the two council drafts. It was explained that the Bylaws Committee is seeking feedback for what it will present to the Senate for its anticipated extensive discussion and eventual vote.

Joan Savitt read an e-mail from absent member Greg Stevens suggesting the membership on the General Education Committee include 50% from the College of Arts and Sciences. Members of other academic units which contribute substantially to General Education raised some concerns about this. Dick Collier noted that both SUNY Provost Salins and the University in implementing our SUNY General Education program were in agreement that no academic unit "owned" General Education or any of its categories. He noted that, except for Nanosciences, every college and school on campus as well as the University Libraries and the Interdisciplinary Studies Committee offer courses that contribute to General Education, and although some schools and colleges have more undergraduate students majoring in their subjects than others, numbers are sufficiently spread out that all must have a voice in the requirements. However, he acknowledged that some proportional specifications occur elsewhere among councils, though neither he nor John Pipkin recalled with certainty which councils. It was agreed that the practice should be standardized save where (as in librarian members of LISC) specific references to academic units are made. If such references are made, they should be by numbers, not by percentages (e.g., "at least 6, no more than 8, of whom at least 3 must be from…etc.") The Council discussed the importance of having sufficient representation of professional staff on committees and councils.

Doubts were again raised whether, even with the best efforts of a new Governance Council to recruit greater participation, the committees of UAC could be staffed. It was agreed that the maximum member figures made sense, but it was the consensus that the charges should stipulate a minimum of three, vs. five, Teaching Faculty on the CAAS, Curriculum and Honors, and Interdisciplinary Studies.

Dick Collier noted that the anachronistic charge pointed out last week by Bob Gibson in the CAAS had been deleted. He also noted that, in response to Dean Faerman's comments last week, the membership of the appellate body was changed, with representatives being "invited" from the colleges and schools with undergraduate students. To the membership would also be added two representatives of Undergraduate Studies, instead of one, and a representative from Judicial Affairs, matching current practice.

It was clarified that although UAC has one graduate student but this individual was not assigned to any of the committees, that person (as with UAC Teaching Faculty members, for instance, not used or needed to meet committee minima) could volunteer to be a member of any of the committees.

Finally, there was a discussion of the role of part-time faculty. Those who attended the Faculty Forum the day before briefly recounted some of the issues that had been raised. There appeared to be agreement among many of the UAC members that the faculty who have been teaching at Albany for several years should be invited (but not required or "expected") to participate in governance, particularly in those councils or committees that directly affect them or, as in General Education and its assessment, where they contribute a substantial portion of the instruction.

The next Undergraduate Academic Council meeting will be held Thursday 10/23/03, 9:45 AM, LC-31

Notes taken by Dick Collier, Undergraduate Studies