October 12, 2010

Members Present:  Kathleen Bratby, Donna Di Donato, Cynthia Dietz, Arlene Feldman, Sarah Fuller, Rick Gatteau, Jeff Ge, Norm Goodman, Cheryl Hamilton, David Mazza, Joe Mitchell, Anne Moyer, Scott Sutherland, E.K. Tan.

The Council reviewed and approved the minutes from the September 28, 2010 meeting.
The Council discussed two agenda items:

  1. Developing a resolution related to class size, as first raised by Roy Lacey at the September 28 meeting.
  2. Reviewing the current policy on undergraduates enrolling in graduate courses.

Class size discussion:
S. Sutherland suggested we write a letter to the Provost that takes a stand on the issue of class size.  While we need to recognize the budget constraints, we should say that class size is an important issue and that we need to work towards smaller classes.

D. Mazza asked if we want to prioritize upperdivision classes to be smaller.

N. Goodman commented about our prior week’s discussion that we should aim to reduce class sizes for freshmen.  Norm said we need a better mix of small and large classes, and that we should work toward a commitment to achieve this goal.

S. Fuller asked about the appropriate maximum class size.  S. Sutherland responded that the answer will vary by discipline.

A. Moyer noted that technology has played a factor in improving instruction in larger classes; for example, through the use of clickers.  She commented that technology can improve teaching quality.

J. Mitchell commented that class size factors into the University’s ranking in US News and World Report. (A link to the specific breakdown and weight in the rankings was shared with members after the meeting.)

S. Sutherland said we should ensure that new students have two courses of less than 30 students in each of their first two semesters at Stony Brook.

D. Mazza commented that advisors should help direct students to smaller courses in planning their schedules.

N. Goodman comments that we need to continue to invest in flexible classrooms to allow group work in large classes, and keep this factor in mind for future rehabs of classroom spaces.

N. Goodman suggested that we consider giving freshmen priority over seniors in some courses.

The Committee suggested asking Beverly Rivera and Paula Pelletier for information on class sizes, looking at student schedules in terms of seat distribution (and min and max sizes) of each course/section. 

S. Fuller suggested we look at the First Year Matters Report.

D. Di Donato said she would obtain a copy of the report and share it with the group.

S. Sutherland will ask Roy Lacey to write a proposal to be given to the Provost.  The overall message should be that the University should acknowledge the principles described earlier and strive to achieve them.

Undergraduates taking graduate courses discussion:

S. Sutherland introduced the topic of undergraduates taking graduate courses.  The current policy is that, with graduate department permission, undergraduates can enroll in and apply up to 6 graduate credits toward their undergraduate degree.

The Council questioned why the limit of 6 credits exists.

D. Di Donato speculated there are two reasons why:  undergraduate students are charged graduate credits at the undergraduate rate (thus reducing revenue), and some view that undergraduates need to have an undergraduate experience.

A. Feldman suggested we look at the SUNY policy related to this matter.

J. Mitchell commented on the high quality of undergraduates in his graduate courses and that we don’t need to limit credits; we should reduce the hurdle.

After further discussion, the Council agreed to maintain the limit at 6 graduate credits, but that students could make a request to the appropriate office (either Undergraduate Academic Affairs or CEAS Undergraduate Student Office) for an exception.

Respectfully submitted,
Rick Gatteau