Undergraduate Academic Council

Meeting Date:
Monday, October 25, 2004, 2:00-3:25 PM.

J. Philippe Abraham, Seth Chaiken, Richard Collier, Randall Craig, Rachel Dressler, Sue Faerman, Robert Gibson, Anne Hildreth, Trudi Jacobson, Sheila Mahan (Guest), Carolyn Malloch, Karin Reinhold-Larsson, Crystal Rion, Joan Savitt, Dave Smith, Lisa Trubitt

Minutes from the October 18, 2004 meeting were reviewed and corrections acknowledged. The minutes, with required updates, were approved.

Chair's Report:

Other Business:

It was mentioned that the Advisement Task Force might present their report at next week’s meeting regarding recommended action items to be voted on by UAC.

The advisement task force was mentioned. The Chair mentioned that both he and Joan Savitt are on the advisement task force for this project. Work is on-going, but UAC should expect to vote on recommendations pertaining to the task force.

It was mentioned that the senior restrictions on registering for 100-level classes have become somewhat chaotic. Dick Collier mentioned that seniors were able to register for 100 level classes this past Friday but are now frozen from registering. The Chair requested the Dean’s office to keep the Council informed on this issue. It was mentioned the limited resources for Gen Ed and other course sections would be at the top of the Advisement Task Force report.

Mission Review II:

The Mission Review II discussion continued from last week’s meeting. In discussing academic program directions, the question was raised regarding the statement that as many as 1,000 students may be enrolled in “IT-intensive” undergraduate programs by 2010. Sheila mentioned she believes this phrasing will most likely not be included in the next draft version. The Dean mentioned the IT minor may not be a stand-alone since it will be complimentary to other majors.

The Council questioned the wording on page 34 that implies the University’s objective is to give every course an IT component. If this is the case, computer resources should be available to meet this objective. Perhaps the wording is not deemed necessary or desirable? The Dean questioned why the wording was “not desirable” since assignments and syllabi may both be placed on the web. On-line does not translate into accessibility. Some students have informed faculty their computers were not working and thus were unable to access required information. Although 80% of students have their own PCs, some students use Library and other public user room PCs to avoid a walk to their dorm. This results in computer inaccessibility for other students. It was noted that no time or application limits apply to public PC usage.

The Chair mentioned that WebCT does not provide public access even to the syllabus: A student must be enrolled in a course to access any of its WebCT material. He mentioned MIT’s “Open Courseware” project for contrast. We need a statement of inclusion in every course, and every technology needed should be available to students. We should discuss initiatives and how they play out with technology. Sheila mentioned the sentiment is for us to provide technology for every course. If technology is unavailable, we may have to re-phrase the wording. What’s being argued is availability of an on-line component for every course. To what extent is on-line technology popular and how can we provide it?

RPI deemed it necessary for students to possess their own laptops. For engineering, many classes are composed of virtual reality labs in lieu of a hands-on lab component. Reportedly, students lose much in not having a hands-on lab. The Dean mentioned her concern with academic freedom. Among faculty there is a continuum from those never touching a computer to some who require students to complete specific work on the computer. The University wants to support faculty preference in instructing each course, but it also wants to meet students’ expectations for current technology.

We should propose language that makes reference to intellectual and scholarly appropriateness of the technology to be better supported in the future to be included in the document. We want to convey the message of certain computer technology being available but also wish to put some teeth into the message regarding students’ needs to have basic computer skills. If the University does not come forth with needed financial resources for student PCs and faculty teaching, it can have an effect on the curriculum. Some courses lend themselves to a more visual on-line approach than other courses. Technology changes can transform a discipline as taught in a course. The Chair mentioned that PowerPoint is not the only presentation software package available, and one counselor described an alternative better suited to teaching visual art subjects. The question was raised as to how a faculty member makes support needs known. The faculty member would approach the Chair of the department, and the process would go up from there. The Dean mentioned she has a yearly meeting to discuss software needs, but hardware needs such as multiple display screens are not discussed. She mentioned that hardware needs should be discussed. The Dean also mentioned another financial resource is from the Innovation in Teaching awards which distributes money to faculty members for software or hardware needs.

The role of CETL was discussed. The assumption to speak directly to CETL for a department’s soft-hardware needs was discussed. CETL does assist in obtaining equipment. Due to previously returned equipment being damaged, CETL insists on storing the equipment in their office. The Dean mentioned in the future CETL may purchase equipment, but another department will be in charge of repair bills.

The Chair mentioned two elements that are involved: innovation which is the purview of CETL and routine deployment and maintenance which is not. It was mentioned that routine technology use for one faculty member will be innovation for another. There should be wording reflecting this in the proposal. Faculty will need assistance in helping them grow in the learning process of on-line component availability for every course.

The question was raised regarding a wish list for faculty needs. Where should the faculty go and who is responsible? The Dean mentioned the commercial “Course Space” software requested by some faculty was too expensive for CETL to support.

The Chair mentioned it is unrealistic to expect support to be provided for what any faculty desires with a “no matter the cost” mentality. He mentioned that LISC, chaired by David Wagner, will be addressing complicated issues of the open/free software movement, as well as the Mission Review.

The Council briefly discussed the news of Attorney General Ashcroft going to review copyright and other intellectual property issues, the increasing problems copyright causes for academic presentation in the visual arts, and the ways commercial technology will enforce such rights.

The Dean will provide language on CETL for faculty development and technology enhancement. The on-line component needs to be defined since we do not want institutional mandates on how courses are to be run. The Dean mentioned that faculty should be innovative with their classes. Each course does not necessarily need to be computer-based. Faculty could pursue a 55 minute class discussion versus teaching the entire class.

Sheila mentioned another IT section on page 49, which shows plans for assuring technology infrastructure. A review of this page may answer many Council questions.

The proposal contains a description of the University’s strengths as well as areas which are targeted for support and development. It was mentioned that the arts and humanities portion is missing. Students will be cheated if these are permanently left out, and this needs to be emphasized to the writers of this document. Sheila mentioned that although the original document is important, we need to review the language that will be in the whole package.

Sheila mentioned that on page 21, the plans for program development are described. SUNY Central is inquiring what academic program changes are planned for the next five years. Sheila commented that additions to the sections on fine arts and performing arts may be submitted.

Many Albany faculty say there is a lack of money for undergraduate program development here at the University. The Buffalo and Stony Brook centers are funded differently than Albany and Binghamton.

The Chair mentioned that traditional programs must be maintained and developed because they are necessary academic supports for any new or future programs. Sheila agreed that undergraduate programs do not receive their fair share of wording in the document. This issue should be raised.

Next Meeting:
The next Undergraduate Academic Council meeting will be held Monday, 11/1/04, 2:00 PM, LC-31.

Minutes Taken:
Notes taken by Joanne Baronner, Undergraduate Studies.