Undergraduate Council
March 17, 2010, 3:30 pm

Present: Michael Barnhardt, Ora Bouey, Jian Cao, Brian Colle, Arlene Feldman, Sarah Fuller, Rick Gatteau, Jeff Ge, Kane Gillespie, Joe Mitchell, Beverly Rivera, Scott Sutherland (chair)
Guests: Lynette Phillips (Office of Counsel), Michael Gasparino (Communications), Jacob (Jake) Levich (Communications), Yvette St. Jacques (Communications), Susan Walsh (Communications)
Topic: Online Bulletin

There are a few issues: (1) legal/contractual issues; Bulletin is a binding document so it must accurately summarize degree requirements and other pertinent information, (2) What and when to change in the online Bulletin as requirements get updated?, (3) Print copies are no longer supported financially by the administration, so if print is still needed, who will pay and how many are needed?

Lynette P.: Every student should have access to the Bulletin information for their degree. Not all students have computers, and it is imperative that students have access to the Bulletin information so that the university can avoid any potential legal issues regarding student requirements and protocols.

Kane G. asked Lynette about some of the issues that have been encountered?

Lynette P.: There are three issues: (1) prerequisites for graduation, student conduct code (why suspended?, dorm procedures, etc…), and (3) academic misconduct protocols.

Sarah F. claimed that it is easier to find various topics and requirements using the printed Bulletin version.

Jake L. and Kane G. noted that the University Senate in 2004 proclaimed that the online Bulletin would be the official version.

Yvette S. said that the Bulletin can be downloaded and printed just like the latest faculty/staff contact directory. Since there are budget issues, there are no resources allocated to create additional paper copies.

Kane G. showed the online Bulletin on the computer. There is a Bulletin archive button. There are separate pdf links for each year, and within there are pdfs by topic (e.g., financial aide). However, to search one has to use the pdf find button.

There was consensus that a table of contents is needed for the online version.

Yvette S. mentioned that a deal could be worked with an off campus site to charge ~$20 for a hard copy of the Bulletin, which could be printed on demand. On the other hand, printing on campus of ~16,000 would cost $34,000 or ~$2 each.

Joe M. noted that if the cost is only $2 each, then only 10% of the copies (1,600) need to be sold/used to be as cost effective as having select faculty, some staff and students purchase at $20 each. Thus, it may be more cost effective to print on campus and sell at the bookstore for $4 or so.

Donna D. said that this is a transition period for the online Bulletin. Thus, all students should still get a hard copy version until the online version is improved.

Arlene F. noted that information is tough to find in many online Bulletins at other schools around the country. At a minimum the online version needs an index on the left hand side.

Kane G. showed that the online search does not allow for multiple keywords (e.g., math and science).

There was broad consensus that a better online search is needed for the online Bulletin. The generated pdfs also need an index generated.

Scott S. said that if an index is generated for the pdf, then might as well use the same approach for the online Bulletin.

Yvette S. mentioned that all new freshman and transfer students still get paper Bulletins, which is about 16,000 for two years

Rick G. noted that we may not need hard copy of everything in the current Bulletin (perhaps not the course descriptions).

Scott S. brought up the issue of changing policies and procedures in the online Bulletin. Any change in procedures should be put online right away (e.g., course retake policy). These updates need to be well monitored and communicated to the campus community.

Lynette P. noted that the university just needs to prove that we have communicated any changes to the students.

Kane G. noted that there is an online list of any changes to the Bulletin.

Joe M. said that Stanford University has a full alphabet (A-Z) index to their online Bulletin and it is driven by a Google search. There was consensus that Stony Brook needs this sort of index approach and it should be a priority.

Mike G. mentioned that most schools are still doing pdf Bulletins, not the online topics approach.

The good news is enough hard copies of the Bulletin exist to supply students, faculty, and staff until Fall 2011. Thus, there is some time to make the needed online improvements.

Respectively submitted,
Brian Colle