STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY
UNDERGRADUATE COUNCIL

Members present:  Brian Colle, Cynthia Dietz, Donna Di Donato, Arlene Feldman, Sarah Fuller, Rick Gatteau, Kane Gillespie, Norm Goodman, Cheryl Hamilton, Joe Mitchell, Scott Sutherland.

The meeting was called to order on March 28, 2008 at 10:00 a.m.  Joe Mitchell volunteered to take the minutes.

Regarding the upper division writing requirement, Cynthia Dietz volunteered to gather information on what other campuses are doing in this regard.  It was generally agreed that the current system is not working here.

Norm Goodman reported that the Provost met the previous week with the Executive Committee, indicating that the curriculum, and the DEC in particular, were important issues on his mind.

Brian Colle reported that Mark Aronoff asked if the UGC would like him to visit to discuss DEC issues.

Course Pack Proposal:  A copy of a proposal by Michael Barnhart was distributed, following up from the previous UGC meeting.  The idea is to create a centralized University-wide coursepack center to deal with copyright issues legally and collectively, to perform printing services, and to handle sales and distribution, in hopes of reduced costs and reduced “bootlegging”.  The UGC expressed concern about the resources necessary to run such an operation, citing the fact that a few people would need to be hired and that copyrights can be expensive to secure in some cases.  Other questions arose about where such a center would be located (possibly in the library).  Joe Mitchell asked if the center would be self-sustaining in terms of resources.  Sarah Fuller asked if the coursepacks would be cheaper as a result of having the center; she also requested that the UGC should investigate the practices at other universities.  Brian Colle commented that coursepacks and copyright issues are currently a burden on faculty members.  Scott Sutherland remarked that the proposed center may result in coursepacks that are cheaper than what is done now (which includes contracting outside and markups by the bookstore).

Undergraduate Bulletin Publication Cycle:  Kane Gillespie, the Bulletin Editor, proposed to make official what has been done for the last 10-15 years:  He distributed a one-page proposal of dates setting deadlines for submissions, approvals, revisions, and publication of the Bulletin.  Donna Di Donato raised the question of how firm the deadlines should be.  Scott Sutherland suggested that deadlines may vary from year to year according to the academic calendar.  After a short discussion, the UGC agreed to approve the proposal, subject to a minor wording change to reflect the possibility for exceptions: “Specific exceptions due to extraordinary circumstances would require approval by a relevant governance body.  When possible, the Bulletin Editor should be consulted.”

DEC Discussion:  Brian Colle distributed a summary of DEC issues raised and discussed so far.  Is the DEC “broken”?  Brian Colle characterizes the answer to be “not really, but there are loose bolts”.  Kane Gillespie reported that there were five upper division Skill 4 courses approved; this should help to relieve some of the Skill 4 shortage.  The question arose again whether Skill 4 should be required to be completed early, as had been proposed previously by Joe Mitchell and Scott Sutherland.  Scott Sutherland pointed out the advantages of having a more homogenous mixture of students in courses if Skill 4 is done in a timely manner; however, he pointed out the desirability of having a common policy for all skills.  Arlene Feldman pointed out that Skill 4 is different, since many of the relevant courses are upper division.  Scott Sutherland responded that it should then be made a part of the DEC.  Norm Goodman asked if there would be technical difficulties with labeling Skill 4 other than a “skill”.  Donna Di Donato indicated that there is an issue, since DEC K and Skill 4 can be satisfied with a single course, and this form of double-counting does not apply to other DEC categories.  Arlene Feldman warned that this is opening a Pandora’s Box; the issue had been carefully considered previously when Skill 4 was established.  At this point, Norm Goodman gave a brief historical perspective on how Skill 4 emerged as a means of satisfying the general education requirement that the Board of Trustees approved. 

Joe Mitchell suggested that one could consider a revision to DEC K to be satisfiable by two options: (a) take a K4 course (one that currently satisfies both DEC K and Skill 4), or (b) satisfy Skill 4 (by taking an appropriate course or AP credit) and an American Plurism course.  This exactly specifies the current practice.  It was pointed out that there are also “F4” courses, so the change would need to be slightly more complex.  Scott Sutherland repeated the suggestion to have all skills done by the end of year 2, allowing exceptions approved by an advisor).  Kane Gillespie suggested to have a reevaluation of all DEC K and F courses to see which satisfy the general education American History requirement.  Scott Sutherland raised a related question for the Bulletin: Should all DEC C courses be labeled as C and Skill 1?

Brian Colle assigned homework to the UGC to provide feedback to him for discussion at the next meeting.