Undergraduate Academic Council

Undergraduate Academic Council
Meeting Date:
Wednesday, November 15, 2006, 1:45 PM to 2:52 PM.
J. Philippe Abraham, Jeanette Altarriba, Scott Barclay, Maria Brown, Sue Faerman, Chris Faugere,
Susanna Fessler, Anne Hildreth, Carolyn MacDonald, Carolyn Malloch, John Monfasani, Nikki
Kotary; Karin Reinhold, Dan Smith; Brian Tregerman, Lisa Trubitt, Dan Truchan, Rui Zhao; Guests:
Sue Phillips, Greg Stevens
Minutes from the October 25, 2006 and November 8, 2006 meetings were reviewed. No corrections
were required, and the Council approved both sets of minutes.
Proposal to Revise Membership of Honors College Governing Board:
As mentioned in previous discussions, the honors college governing board was originally to include six
deans of colleges and schools having undergraduate major programs and six teaching faculty holding
the rank of Distinguished Professor, Distinguished Service Professor, Distinguished Teaching Professor,
or hold University awards for excellence in teaching. When the Dean designees met in the spring to
discuss faculty recruitment, it was agreed that governing board members should not be limited to only
colleges or schools presently having undergraduate major programs. Provost Susan Herbst, Vice Provost
Sue Faerman, outgoing Senate Chair Steve Messner, and incoming Senate Chair, Diane Dewar met to
discuss suggested composition changes for the honors college governing board. The resulting
discussions are reflected in today’s handout. Vice Provost Faerman also met with Dr. Jeffrey
Haugaard, Assistant Vice Provost for Honors Programs, and he requested three honors college students
be designated to the governing board comprising a sophomore, a junior, and a senior. That requested
update has been reflected in the current handout. It was mentioned that honors college students vote on
the selection of the three undergraduate representatives. A change of wording under Structure was also
approved so that after “… disciplines of the University” a new sentence will appear: “The Governance
Council will submit the initial slate of faculty.”
Proposal to Eliminate Two Gen Ed Requirements:
It was mentioned that gen ed requirements have become bloated from what was originally proposed by
the SUNY Board of Trustees. The proposal suggests eliminating both the Global and Cross-Cultural
Studies and the U.S. Diversity and Pluralism from the General Education Program.
The elimination is proposed since, as referenced in the handout: (1) neither Global and Cross-Cultural
Studies and the U.S. Diversity and Pluralism are required by the SUNY-wide gen ed mandate, (2) both
are superfluous with three other Gen Ed requirements in the Cultural and Historical Perspectives
group, (3) the 30 presently-required Gen Ed credits exceed minor credit requirements and almost
match major credit requirements, and (4) “reducing the gen ed credit requirements will make more
attractive the extra work involved in the honors program, in double major and major/minor programs,
and BA/MA programs as well as making easier the integration of transfer students into the UAlbany
curriculum.” (5) Both requirements are legacies of an earlier Gen Ed program at UAlbany, and have in
effect been rendered redundant by the SUNY-wide mandates.
UAC Minutes, 11/15/06
Page 2 of 2
Discussion ensued with some Council members agreeing while other members were hesitant for
elimination. A Council member suggested visiting the whole gen ed package and review what is and is
not mandated, review requirements for transfer and non-transfer students, etc. Perhaps the Gen Ed
Committee could organize an ad hoc committee to study which gen ed requirements are/are not
needed. Another member suggested having the Gen Ed Committee itself complete the study. It was
questioned whether the General Education Program is in place for academic requirements or is it a
value-based system. An undergraduate student member voiced the opinion that gen ed requirements
should not be eliminated since they ensure more well rounded students. Some U.S. Diversity and
Pluralism classes produce different versions for students and some do not go into depth enough for
history purposes. Bingingtom and Stony Brook are two universities that mandate certain requirements
not that demanded by SUNY Albany. Another undergraduate student mentioned that by eliminating
gen ed requirements, some students would complete their degree within a four year time period in lieu
of their need for five years to complete mandated Gen Ed requirements. The Registrar’s Office, in
reviewing thousands of transcripts, has never witnessed the lack of completed Global and CrossCultural Studies and the U.S. Diversity and Pluralism gen ed requirements preventing a student from
graduating on time. An undergraduate student mentioned that many students retain a course load of 15
credits to stay eligible for TAP even though 12 credits are required for full time status. It was pointed
out that the General Education Program was not established to assist students in determining their
major since gen ed courses were meant to be spread throughout the student’s four-year college career.
Is the General Education Program deemed educational or to establish values on students as a whole? A
teaching Council member mentioned her understanding of a Global and Cross Cultural class is one that
explicitly compares two cultures. The member’s course does not count since it does not explicitly
compare her foreign culture class with American culture. Her argument was that the students explicitly
compare their own culture (usually American) with the target culture in her class. Thus, her students
are confused as to why her class does not count as Global and Cross Cultural. A member pointed out
that some universities demand a certain amount of foreign language and allow no exceptions. What
faculty desires in a degree should be considered. A member expressed the belief that language courses
be given a cross-cultural designation since they do have a cross cultural portion. By definition, we are
teaching values. What is to be studied or not studied compromises teaching values that are based on
value. A member mentioned that we cannot teach a Beyond Europe class without it being or becoming
cross cultural. It was stressed that the Gen Ed Committee last year worked diligently to double count
gen ed classes, especially in US History, global and cross culture, and beyond Europe. It was
mentioned that the learning objectives are different for both Global and Cross-Cultural Studies and the
U.S. Diversity and Pluralism. A December deadline for the Gen Ed Committee was proposed, but
many members believed this was too early. Spring classes begin January 18th. Perhaps the end of
January would be an appropriate deadline? It was pointed out that the Gen Ed Committee should be
given until the end of February.
The Council agreed that the Gen Ed Committee is to provide by the end of February a proposal to
leave the General Education Program as is or to determine some sort of reduction for non-SUNY
Next Meeting:
The next Undergraduate Academic Council meeting will be held Wednesday, 11/29/06, 1:45 PM, LC-31.
Minutes Taken:
Notes taken by Joanne Baronner, Undergraduate Education.