Undergraduate Academic Council

Undergraduate Academic Council
Meeting Date:
Monday, February 13, 2006, 9:30-11:00 AM.
J. Philippe Abraham, Jeanette Altarriba, Seth Chaiken, Richard Collier, Sue Faerman, Anne Hildreth,
Carolyn Malloch, Karin Reinhold, Lisa Trubitt, Daniel Truchan
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
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
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
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
# No
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
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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
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.