Undergraduate Council
(December 12, 2007)


Present:  Joe Antonelli, Michael Barnhart, Ora James Bouey, Brian Colle (chair), Cynthia Dietz, Donna DiDonato, Arlene Feldman, Sarah Fuller, Rick Gatteau, Kane Gillespie, Norm Goodman, Joe Mitchell, Beverly Rivera, Scott Sutherland

The meeting began at 4:10 P.M.

Previous minutes:  The minutes of  November 28, 2007 were approved with minor corrections of typos.

Review of three University statements for inclusion in Course Syllabi: 

  • The Undergraduate Council approved of the wording supplied by the Graduate Council on “Critical Incident Management” (“Stony Brook University expects students to respect the rights, privileges, and property of other people.  Faculty are required to report to the Office of Judicial Affairs any disruptive behavior that interrupts their ability to teach, compromises the safety of the learning environment, and/or inhibits students’ ability to learn.”)
  • The Undergraduate Council approved the wording supplied by the Graduate Council  on “integrity” (“Each student must pursue his or her academic goals honestly and be personally accountable for all submitted work.  Faculty are required to report any suspected instance of academic dishonesty to the Academic Judiciary.  For more comprehensive information on academic integrity, including categories of academic dishonesty, please refer to the Academic Judiciary website at http://www.stonybrook.edu/uaa/academicjudiciary/.”)
  • The Undergraduate Council approved the current statement on disabilities (“If you have a physical, psychological, medical or learning disability that may impact your course work, please contact Disability Support Services, ECC (Educational Communication Center) Building, room 128, (631)632-6748.  They will determine with you what accommodations are necessary and appropriate.  All information and documentation is confidential.  Students requiring emergency evacuation are encouraged to discuss their needs with their professors and Disability Support Service.  For procedures and information:  http://www.ehs.sunysb.edu/fire/disabilities.asp.”)

Requested change in number of credits allowed during the Winter Session:  Deputy Provost Brent Lindquist requested approval to amend the policies for the number of credits students are allowed to take during the Winter Session and to permit them to enroll for up to two courses totaling a maximum of eight credits but still retain the restriction that no petitions will be allowed. There was considerable discussion of this issue.  Some information of the policies of other campuses within SUNY, which indicated some variability across campuses, was discussed as was the available time for students to absorb the substance required in two courses (including out-of-class time study and reflection) over a three-week period.  It was noted that the memo from Brent Lindquist did not contain any academic rational for this change, only that there were resources available to allow it.  Also discussed was the importance of this change for some students who need two courses in order to graduate without having to stay for another full semester.  Consideration was given to the possibility of maintaining the current policy but allowing a petition to take two courses to students who exhibited the ability to do high quality academic work (e.g., with a GPA of 3.0 or greater).  The issue was finally resolved by a 6-4 vote in favor of keeping the present policy.

DEC rationale:  The Council considered the one-paragraph rationale for the DEC as provided by Norm Goodman and refined by Sarah Fuller.  The rationale was approved for inclusion at an appropriate place in the Undergraduate Bulletin.  However, it was pointed out that this rationale also needs to state the fact that the DEC is really a three-tier system and to describe these tiers.  Scott Sutherland agreed to draft such a statement for the Council’s next meeting.  The Council also agreed to review the titles and appropriateness of the current categories of the DEC at its next meeting.  In addition, there was a brief discussion of the apparent inadequacy of the program devised to meeting Skill 2 (Basic Writing Competence) to improve student writing ability and the confusion about Skill 4 (American History Competence), and it was suggested that these be discussed again at a future meeting.

Other business:  Donna DiDonato brought to the Council’s attention the fact that the flyers have been circulating on campus that offer tutoring services for Chemistry 129 and 131 by “Jason.”  “Solomon” already has permission to offer tutoring services in Physics.

There was considerable discussion that the search for a Director of the Writing Program seems to be taking place in secret. The names of the members of the Search Committee have been a closely guarded secret, and attempts to acquire this information have been rebuffed.  However, it is known that the chair of the committee is Professor Stephen Spector, chair of the Department of English.  The Council members indicated their belief that the membership of this committee and the criteria used to identify an appropriate person as Director of the Writing Program should be more transparent than it currently is.  Furthermore, the Council is especially interested in this process due to its long-standing concern with the quality of student writing ability, which many faculty believe has not been substantially improved by the current system of meeting the requirements of Skill 4 (Basic Writing Competence).  Given the Council’s concern about the quality of student writing ability, it is both proper and relevant for it to obtain the names of the members of this committee and the criteria for selecting a Director, and to indicate to the Dean of CAS its appropriate interest and possible involvement in this process.

The meeting ended at 5:20 P.M.

Respectfully submitted,
Norm Goodman