165th Plenary Fall Meeting
October 24-26, 2013
SUNY Maritime
Attended by Norman Goodman, Ed Feldman, Georges Fouron, Arty Shertzer and Fred Walter.

Outlined below are a few of the issues that were discussed at the Plenary that most impact UAlbany.  Many of these initiatives are rapidly evolving and require careful consideration at the campus level.

Teacher Educator Preparation Programs:

The Board of Trustees passed a resolution aligning SUNY policies in our schools of education with recommendations as yet unfinalized from the Governor’s New NY Education Reform Commission. This includes a minimum 3.0 or top 30% of high school class entrance requirement; use of GRE and SAT scores required for admission; comparative report card of student results; and 35% of professional course credits in clinical practice. Deans of Education schools were given a few days’ notice to provide feedback, but no such opportunity was presented to the UFS or the Faculty Council of Community Colleges.

The UFS passed two resolutions on this issue.  The first decries the passage of the BoT Resolution without consultation.  The second calls for a Task Force on Predictive Indicators of Teacher Candidate Quality to gather new data and to analyze the new and existing data to determine effective indicators of teacher candidate success by June 30th 2014.  It also calls for a delay in the implementation until this data can be examined further.

Start Up New York:

The legislation was passed by the Legislature in June 2013 with only a few days’ advanced notice. Campus Presidents have been told to deliver some “wins” for the Governor by January, and several are prepared to do so. Suggested talking points for Campus Governance with Presidents and/ or other senior leaders include:

  • How does the plan align with the academic mission of the campus?
  • What is in it for the campus?  Will there be economic benefits from the arrangement that can enhance the academic mission?  Will there be internship or co-op opportunities for students that will enhance their experiential education?  Will there be opportunities for faculty to enhance their research through interactions with the companies?
  • It’s implied that any offering of jobs to students would meet the “academic mission” provision, but it was noted that this hardly seems to actually support the academic mission of an institution.
  • Insist that the faculty need to be consulted on the nature of this alignment before the plan is finalized, not simply informed of the result, if it is to be meaningful and gain faculty support.
  • Insist that consultation needs to be done with elected faculty leadership. i.e. The University Senate.

There is an aggressive timeline for implementation with a January 2014 start date.  We were told that campuses have submitted their core academic competencies and that this information could be found on the start-up NY website but no such information was found.  Campus Governance bodies were encouraged by the architect of this law, James Malatras, to be assertive in understanding and questioning the plans of our respective campuses.  Campus plans can be amended.

SUNY Shared Services:

The shared services initiative moves forward rapidly this year with focus on six “back-room” areas designed to save money across the system (including purchasing, IT, and others). This initiative likely will continue to produce some tensions between campus autonomy and “systemness”, although the emphasis has shifted to sharing of items for which savings can be made at scale.

Open SUNY:

Several pieces of the broad Open SUNY initiative will roll out in January. The UFS is establishing an Ad Hoc Committee on Open SUNY. This group will report to the Senate on emerging issues related to Open SUNY, and thus will complement the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Open SUNY. The significance of the Open SUNY initiative, its potential for both good and bad outcomes, and the aggressive timetable all converged to demand a separate UFS committee.

SUNY signed a contract with Coursera over the summer to use their platform for MOOCs, should campuses and faculty wish, and this has given Stony Brook the opportunity to offer a MOOC this fall, with credit restricted to matriculated SB students. SUNY has yet to work out a mechanism for approval, oversight, credit, transfer, use of other institutions’ MOOC offerings, campus versus System control, etc. But MOOCs are only one part of the initiative. Prior Learning Assessment, expansion of online courses and online degrees, cross-registration of courses to allow students from one campus to seamlessly take an online course from another—these are just a few of the other elements.

Seamless Transfer/ Student Mobility:

Seamless Transfer is now in the implementation stage and is essentially a campus governance issue. 
The development of the initiative was essentially completed by the formal delivery of the Memorandum to Presidents early in the summer. This year, campuses are expected to review their programs (majors, transfer information) to align with the seamless transfer requirements, with preliminary reports due by the end of January. This clearly should involve considerable faculty input, all the way down to the department level. Yet there remain differences in interpretation, with the Interim Provost insisting that areas in the MTP that say campuses “should” adjust programs to include Transfer Path courses really means a requirement (i.e. a required or core curriculum); that’s not how the UFS and Student Mobility Steering Committee read the wording of the MTP.  This means that the transfer pathway courses are demanded of native students in any program and the process of determining what should be in the path is unfolding quickly.  Under the current timeline programs must be compliant by Fall 2014 and must be pushed through campus governance this year. 

Announcements:
BOT Forums:  There are 4 upcoming BoT Forums on different topics:

  • November 13th:                Student Success
  • November 25th:                The Changing Student Experience in the 21st Century
  • December 3rd:                   The Future of Research and Innovation
  • December 4th:                   What it Means to be a Public University in NYS

Times and Locations to be announced.

SUNY’s First Conference on Shared Governance:  April 23-24, 2014 at the Albany Holiday Inn on Wolf Road.  Proposals will be accepted through January 15, 2014.