Undergraduate Academic Council Meeting Date: Monday, February 13, 2006, 9:30-11:00 AM. Present: J. Philippe Abraham, Jeanette Altarriba, Seth Chaiken, Richard Collier, Sue Faerman, Anne Hildreth, Carolyn Malloch, Karin Reinhold, Lisa Trubitt, Daniel Truchan Minutes: Minutes from the February 6, 2006 meeting were reviewed and corrections acknowledged. Those minutes, with required updates, were approved. Gen Ed Subcommittee Discussion Continued: Since a few members had left this semester, Anne Hildreth announced the need for additional Gen Ed Subcommittee members. Seth Chaiken agreed to become a member. Anne expressed a desire to have more College of Arts & Science members, and Jeanette Altarriba volunteered to e-mail her suggested names. Continuation of Proposed Changes For Biology and Globalization in the Americas: The UAC considered the minor in Globalization in the Americas. Dick Collier provided a handout to Council members showing that the specific lower division required courses are offered every semester as are some of the elective choices. Most electives are offered every year, only one offered every two years. Council passed the proposal. Continuation of Mandatory Minor Requirement & Current Gen Ed Requirements Discussion: We should consider both minor and gen ed requirements. A member mentioned there has been a call for additional gen ed courses. Could gen ed courses be combined with minor requirements towards graduation? It was noted that more problems exist with the graduation of transfer students. If allowed, could the minor be waived under certain circumstances for transfer students, as gen ed once was? Dan Truchan commented that it’s reasonable to do so since SUNY-Albany has more gen ed requirements than other universities. Dan mentioned taking a random survey of 200 students. Results follow. General Education Question 1. Are there too many Gen Ed requirements? 2. Are there enough Gen Ed Classes offered? 3. Should there be more courses in your major available to count as a Gen Ed course? 4. In general should more classes fill Gen Ed requirements? Minor Requirements 1. Should we no longer have a mandatory minor requirement? 2. Should we have a minor that you can build yourself? 3. If you did not have to have a minor would you still have one? Other Topics 1. Do the advisers provide adequate guidance? 2. Would you take a national test that would not include your overall grade, for assessment purposes? 3. Would you be happy taking another mandatory test? 4. Do you believe the campus could look better? # Yes 200 75 180 # No 0 125 20 162 38 107 167 82 93 33 118 19 16 181 184 0 184 200 16 Included in the survey was the question “What would you do with those extra credits?” Dan indicated “Most said they would take more classes in their major or just take interesting courses that applied.” UAC Minutes, 2/13/06 Page 2 of 3 Dan provided a comments or concerns section. He provided the following notes: (1) “never knew that there was any minor that we could build ourselves” and (2) “make Gen Eds less or give out more courses to get the students more opportunities to take them.” The Chair mentioned the Council’s appreciation of hearing from a student’s perspective and that Dan performed a good job. We claim a minor is helpful to fall back on for career purposes when a major does not assist the student in obtaining employment. Yet, we need to be cautious of our inferences. If a student is taking a course of interest, it will be at a lower level. Dan believes students taking interesting courses at a lower level will resume with classes at a higher level. A member mentioned that placing a completed minor on a resume speaks volumes in lieu of only a few completed minor courses. Advisement Services should discuss the advantages of minors with students since it’s quite different from requiring a minor. Even though some students are self-driven and may register for more than one minor, there are students that fall through the cracks. They may not have had enough graduation credits, have below a 2.0 in their minor, or have not met all requirements in the minor. Gen Ed requirements must meet the minimum of SUNY mandates. Albany requires the following beyond the SUNY minimum: an extra Natural Sciences, an extra Social Sciences, U.S. Diversity and Pluralism, Global/Cross-cultural, and the second semester of a foreign language. We could give up the second Natural Sciences and the second Social Sciences, which will help some students, but this is not where the shortages occur. Anne mentioned that in comparison with other universities, we have more flexibility due to our allowance for double counting. What courses lend themselves to require more student seats? The second semester language has the greatest shortage. Many students do not obtain an 85 on their Regents Exam, and we require them to take a second semester of language. As an example, regions beyond Europe may be double counted, but there is no double counting in language. Dan inquired as to why the University does not allow sign language to be used as a waiver for a language requirement? Only those students pursuing a career requiring sign language may obtain a waiver (e.g., nursing). Disabled students are exempt from taking a language but are required to complete a language literature course (e.g., French literature, Greek literature, etc.) Students may discover more about a culture from literature courses than from taking the language course itself. Dick Collier suggested that since the shortages occur for languages the student studied in high school (primarily Spanish but also Italian), and students often wind up taking Spanish 2 several years after their high school experience with the language, an alternative might be to require the Elementary Level II if the student is continuing a language studied in high school or Elementary Level I if the student takes a language not previously studied in high school. This will spread enrollments around the other foreign languages, where spaces are much more available, and won’t tempt students to try to make it through Spanish 2 late in their college career when their knowledge is completely rusty. It was noted that Phi Beta Kappa requires two completed semesters of language. Another problem is the lower division writing requirement, where the University did not make available the spaces needed when it adopted that requirement. Many students now use two upper level courses to meet the requirement. Anne mentioned that about 1,600 incoming freshmen received an 85 or higher on the Regents. Problems exist more with transfer students. Anne was questioned on the 1,600 number but will reexamine her information and report back to the Council. UAC Minutes, 2/13/06 Page 3 of 3 Could students be tested or interviewed on their language ability at advisement time? Previously students were tested. Unfortunately, with lack of resources, those placement tests were discontinued. The Languages, Literature, and Cultures Department’s policy is such that when three years of high school language has been taken, a student cannot take the first course in the sequence. It was noted that this is a common regulation on many campuses. Anne mentioned the other end of the spectrum is social and natural science courses where two courses are required. The science departments informed Anne that they are pressured with students having to meet their gen ed requirements. We should look at specific courses. Dick mentioned there is an option for waiver that is part of SUNY policy. Buffalo students are waived from language requirements when pursuing an engineering degree. It was suggested that professional programs look into this option, specifically Accounting, Social Welfare, and 3+2. Could we find a way to combine Regions Beyond Europe and Global/Cross-Cultural for those students having advanced language skills or possessing knowledge of another country’s culture? It was noted that culture is typically introduced in the third semester of modern languages. A student going abroad will meet SUNY’s language requirements. There is a sense that students enjoy U.S. diversity and pluralism and global/cross-cultural courses, and they are more relevant to the present time. Dan mentioned that US Diversity and Pluralism and Global/Cross-Cultural courses are interesting. Students would resent their being taken away due to the fact that more gen ed selections would be eliminated. They could of course still opt to take a second social science or natural science if the requirements were changed to just one course. Anne informed the Council that the Gen Ed Committee meets this week. We should review the compromise for foreign language and compare it to the sciences requirements. Continued discussions should take place about the possibility of changing the residency requirements for the minor. Dick Collier noted that at least the residence requirement could be eliminated, allowing students to minor in subjects Albany doesn’t offer (through the Student Initiated Interdisciplinary Minor) as the council discussed last semester. What of those students wishing to declare a minor and there is nothing there to offer? It was noted that many departments care about students declaring a minor. There is a practical logistic problem in trying to solve the problem without affecting the curriculum’s integrity. Questions were raised about departmental control of minors. Dick suggested that if the residence requirement were eliminated as a University requirement for the minor, a department or program could require residence if desired. He noted French does something comparable in limiting the use of French courses taken abroad toward that major. It’s a matter of increasing flexibility and the need to accommodate. For the interdisciplinary minors, the mechanisms of the Interdisciplinary Committee provide a review. Next Meeting: No meeting will be held next week due to the President Day’s holiday. The next Undergraduate Academic Council meeting will be held Monday, 2/27/05, 9:30 AM, LC-31. Minutes Taken: Notes taken by Joanne Baronner, Undergraduate Studies.