Minutes of the Meeting of the Undergraduate Council
February 15, 2008

Present: Joseph Antonelli, Michael Barnhart, Brian Colle, Cynthia Dietz, Arlene Feldman, Sarah Fuller, Rick Gatteau, Kane Gillespie, Norman Goodman, Leo Kamenetskiy, Joe Mitchell, Beverly Rivera.

1.  Sarah Fuller agreed to take notes.

2. The Minutes of the Meeting of December 12, 2007 were approved.
[Note: The Minutes of the Meeting of February 1, 2008 need to be distributed and reviewed.]

3.  A discussion of Course Packs was continued from the last meeting.  Assembled through official channels that check and arrange for copyrights as necessary, Course Packs have become quite costly for students—on the order of $90.00 rather than around $18.00 when assembled ‘in house’.  This poses a substantial financial burden for students. It was suggested that all necessary readings (not already published as textbooks) be posted on course Blackboard sites.  However, Blackboard has recently become more sensitive about copyright, and there may be legal issues about posting entire articles or book chapters on Blackboard course sites. The importance of legal counsel was emphasized.  Cynthia Dietz offered to investigate and to consult with the Library expert on copyright law.  We also want to hear from Michael Barnhart who raised the issue at the last meeting (but who was not present for this discussion.)  We will revisit this matter once more information on the legal context is available.

4.  Discussion of the DEC continued from last semester. 
a) The new USB Five Year Plan indicates as a goal implementation of an Undergraduate General Education Curriculum for the twenty-first century.  Item 4.9 stresses interdisciplinary dimensions of a revised General Education (DEC) curriculum.  We need to find out what group (5-Year-Plan task force) formulated that statement and to hear what they had in mind for specific revisions to the general education curriculum.  The role of the Undergraduate Council in a future reshaping of the present DEC remains to be determined. It was pointed out that the SUNY Central mandates for General Education would have to be observed in any reshaping of USB general education/DEC requirements.

b)  We deliberated about where in the Undergraduate Bulletin to place the paragraph explaining the rationale for the DEC that we adopted recently. We decided it should appear in the present Bulletin on page 68, right-hand column, under the bold-faced heading: The Diversified Education Curriculum (D.E.C.) Students will then see the rationale for the DEC before navigating through the letter categories.

c)  It was proposed that the actual list of DEC  categories should follow immediately upon the ‘rationale paragraph’  and that the ‘Important Notes’ (now on p. 68 directly  after the heading) should be placed at the end of the listing [after the present Category K].  There was spirited discussion of this point, at the end of which the reordering passed by a vote of 4 to 2.  Those supporting the reordering agreed that following the new introductory paragraph(s) there would be a statement in boldface: See Important Notes, below, p. xx. 

d)  The new statement about the ‘tiers’ needs to be revised because the ‘Entry Skills’ stand outside the DEC proper and do not constitute a ‘tier’. 

e) Joe Antonelli suggested that each DEC letter category be followed by a note indicating when it should normally be taken during a student’s matriculation.  Example: Category A should be satisfied within the first-year of study; Category K will normally be satisfied in the third or fourth year of study.  This suggestion was accepted. It will make the timetable for taking various tiers of DEC courses clearer to students when they look at each category.

f)  Kane Gillespie suggested that the publication schedule for the Undergraduate Bulletin should be reviewed.

g) Brian Colle asked that the group adopt a strategy for approaching the UG Council’s review of Skills and of DEC categories.

5)  Entry Skill 4

Entry Skill 4, American History Competence, poses particular problems, especially in terms of an early timetable for satisfying the requirement.  Michael Barnhart reports that many Juniors and Seniors are pressing to get into the course because they need it to graduate. A number of the courses that satisfy this requirement are upper-division and have pre-requisites, so first-year students would not be eligible to take them.

Background to the anomaly of Skill 4 within the ‘Entry Skills’ was provided by Arlene Feldman, who reported that the SUNY system administration did not approve of having their mandate for American History satisfied by USB’s DEC Category K.  Skill 4 (which is often satisfied by AP courses or, for transfers, community college American history courses) was added in the ‘Entry skills’ category in order to satisfy the State requirement.  Norman Goodman added more information on the prior history of implementing the State American history requirement within the USB curriculum as conceived by our faculty.

Michael Barnhart noted the following key problems that delay students’ fulfillment of Skill 4: i) a student assumes that high school or transfer course X will satisfy this requirement and discovers only in her/his third or fourth year that course X has not been approved as fulfilling Skill 4;  ii) limitations in the number of available seats and in the availability of instructors make it difficult to satisfy student demand. Kane Gillespie offered to supply data on the number of seats available in the academic year and to assess disparity between demand and resources.

We need members of the Undergraduate Council to come up with ideas about how to deal with what is now classified as ‘Skill 4’.  Please provide suggestions to Brian who will circulate them to the membership for general discussion during the next two weeks.

6) Our next meeting will be held on February 29th at 10:00 in the usual meeting place. At 10:30 Dean Staros will join us to speak about the Writing Program.  The first part of the meeting will be devoted to various issues continuing on from the meeting recorded in these Minutes.

Respectfully submitted,

Sarah Fuller