STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY
UNDERGRADUATE COUNCIL

Members present:  Michael Barnhart, Brian Colle, Donna Di Donato, Sarah Fuller, Rick Gatteau, Kane Gillespie, Norm Goodman, Cheryl Hamilton, Beverly Rivera, Scott Sutherland.

The meeting was called to order on March 14, 2008 at 10:05 a.m.

The minutes from the February 29, 2008 meeting were reviewed and approved.  A few typos were corrected, and two additions were made as follows: 

On page 2, where it states Dean Staros’ comment that “Stanford just made a $50 million/year investment into their program …”, the Council added, “This compares to a $60 million/year budget for all CAS departments at Stony Brook.”

On the bottom of page 2, where it states, “… the importance of writing outside of English class …”, change to “ … the importance of writing across the general curriculum …”

WRITING PROGRAM

The Council reviewed the previous meeting’s discussion with Dean Staros.

Norm Goodman commented that he is glad writing is now a priority at Stony Brook after being neglected for many years.   He noted, however, that having students take only one writing course may not be appropriate.  He also talked about writing across the curriculum.

Sarah Fuller said it is a question of resources and suggested we go to the Arts & Sciences Senate to share our concern.  Even with a new Director in place, there cannot be much movement without an infusion of resources.  Currently, it is not possible to have writing across the curriculum because of the lack of person power; we need more faculty.

Norm Goodman said the pitch for resources needs to go to the Provost.  We need the view of the new program director with a budget attached.

Mike Barnhart said it would be good for us to look at the upperdivision writing assessment done 10 years ago; it was not a favorable report.

Brian Colle noted that ASU requires all freshmen to take 2 writing courses; Princeton limits it writing class size to 12 students.

Norm Goodman suggested we should get examples of how other AAU institutions manage and teach writing.

Sarah Fuller said we should ask the DUGs how they carry out their upperdivision writing requirement.  How effective is it?  What are the standards?

Norm Goodman commented that the Writing Center needs to be reviewed as well, and we need to look at its resources.

Kane Gillespie was asked to draft a questionnaire for DUGs to complete regarding the upperdivision writing requirement.

Donna Di Donato noted that Mark Aronoff and colleagues recently submitted a grant regarding writing across the discipline; AAU institutions were eligible to apply.

Norm Goodman said we need to find out if there is uniformity in how writing is delivered; we want to help faculty improve the process and, if needed, change the structure.  Introductory writing should be a major agenda item for the Council in the fall.

Brian Colle noted that some schools have a comprehensive writing exam; students must pass or prove they can write before moving to an upperdivision writing course.

BULLETIN TEXT

The Council reviewed and unanimously approved the following addition to the Bulletin regarding academic accommodations.  The text will be added to page 82 at the end of the “Assessment of Student Performance” subheading.

Instructors must observe state laws, federal laws, and University policies regarding accommodations as noted in the Bulletin (e.g., student participation in University-sponsored activities and equivalent opportunity/religious absences).  Accommodations such as make-up exams, assignments, or other coursework that fall outside the purview of these laws and policies are at the discretion of the instructor.

COURSE PACKS

Mike Barnhart discussed course packs, noting the increased faculty load in putting together course packs and obtaining copyright permissions.  He also noted the increased costs to students because of the copyright fees.  Mike proposed establishing a “course pack” office, possibly in the Library, to manage the printing and distribution of these materials.  He said this centralized service should be a resource offered to faculty, allowing faculty to make requests for copyright permission.  Once the database of copyright information is set up, this centralized system will save time.  Mike added that FSA should be involved in selling these course packs to students at cost.  The Council agreed that this proposal is reasonable and asked Mike to return to a future meeting with a written proposal.

DECs and SKILLS

Brian Colle said the Council needs to write up a summary of its work this year regarding the review of DECs and skills.

The meeting adjourned at 11:00 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Rick Gatteau