Undergraduate Studies Committee of the Faculty Senate, April 18, 2002.
The meeting was called to order at 10:06. Present were Kenneth Koford, Thomas Leitch, Julie Waterhouse, P.K. Krishnan, Joe DiMartile, Lou Hirsh, and Maggie Masso.
1. Report: Avron Abraham, Chair of the General Education committee, explained to the committee the progress that committee is making, and in particular its review of the LIFE and Pathways freshman programs. Overall, these two are doing well, but the evaluation of the programs is indicating some problems. At this point these programs have a “life of their own” and are self-organizing, not just being imposed from “above”. Note more descriptions at the Undergraduate Studies web page.
The “freshman experience” seems a clearly good thing. It focuses on problem-based learning, and small-group work. Money will be needed to keep this going in the long run. Under way are Capstone and Discovery, which clearly should be sesparate. Also international and multicultural studies. (Note: as UGS has procrastinated, Gen Ed is now getting the multicultural duty, it seems!)
2. Ann Ardis, Director of the Honors Program and Anna Ciulla, Chairperson of Medical Technology, visited the Committee to discuss the new honors majors. Ann gave an overview of the new majors approach, which was adopted just two years ago and so is still in process. She provided two handouts on admissions into honors and the distribution of honors by major.
Ciulla described who Med Tech wanted to have an Honors major, and how they are able to arrange it. They discussed how the combined regular-Honors courses worked, and stated that in this case at least, the two were reasonably differentiated and gave the honors students additional work and advantages.
Various departments saw having an Honors major as an excellent signal of quality, and Lou Hirsh indicated that students felt that way as well.
We considered engineering’s difficulties in assuring sufficient advanced engineering honors courses for students, and Ardis noted that a considerable number of introductory courses could be taken in other departments to build up the right number of credits. The lack of incentives to offer independent sections was highlighted as a problem.
After Ardis and Ciulla left, the committee members present agreed that there was no further need to investigate the matter.
3. Suzanne Austin Alchon joined the Committee to review the approval of the Major in Latin American Studies for permanent status. She is the previous Director of Latin American Studies.
She described the long history of the Latin American Studies program and indicated that overall it is thriving, although the major is admittedly small. She indicated the close connections with international relations and Spanish, which allowed for many double majors. Also, there are some young new faculty who are expected to take a leadership role in the future. Koford questioned the slow progress toward obtaining permanent status, and wondered if this indicated lack of interest or administrative problems. Alchon noted the increased interest in hispanic matters at the university and pointed out that support for this major helped attract hispanic students to the university.
After a brief discussion, the Committee voted unanimously to approve the major for permanent status, and to have a letter sent to Acting Dean Huddleston noting the administrative issues found in the review.
4. The Committee then turned to the Examination and Test Conflicts matter, which had been reviewed by the Faculty Senate. At its meeting on April 8, Faculty Senate members were unhappy with the need to avoid scheduling classes between 5 and 7 Wed-Fri, and they had given numerous examples of problems. The Faculty Senate asked our committee to review the situation and decide what we thought, particularly after looking at the number of courses in this time period. Joe DiMartile examined this and reported to the committee that in fact there were a large number of courses, including single-section courses. 212 overlapped to some degree.
The discussion centered around paragraph 3 of the policy:
“Departments will refrain from scheduling single section undergraduate courses during the time period set aside for common examinations. Exceptions to this policy must be approved by the Registrar.
Alternative language, including “departments are urged...” was considered, but in the end it was voted to omit the whole paragraph.
5. Women’s Studies proposed a new concentration for the Women’s Studies major: Women in Global Perspective. It was approved without controversy.
6. One more Honors B.S., in Mathematics and Economics, was considered. It was approved, after some discussion. It was asked, why are all 600-level courses counted as appropriate for the honors B.S.?
7. Two very similar minors: Computational Biology, in the Department of Biology; Bioinformatics, in the Department of Computer and Information Sciences, were considered together. An e-mail from Sandra Carberry, CIS, was passed out dealing with such questions as “why two similar minors” and who would take each minor. We noted that this overall area is growing and important. The minors were approved.
8.Request for Extension of Provisional Status, Plant Biology and Landscape Horticulture majors, Dept. Of Plant and Soil Sciences. Donald Sparks’ request to postpone this for one year was briefly discussed and approved. Koford noted Sparks’ high reputation, and P.K. Krishnan agreed.
The meeting was adjourned at 12:25.