STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY
UNDERGRADUATE COUNCIL
MARCH 15, 2011 MEETING MINUTES

Attendees:   Diane Bello, Cynthia Dietz, Donna DiDonato, Arlene Feldman, Sarah Fuller, Jeff Ge, Kane Gillespie, Norm Goodman, Cheryl Hamilton, Roy Lacey, Deborah Machalow, Anne Moyer, Scott Sutherland, E.K. Tan.

Special Guests:  Nicole Sampson from the CAS Dean's office and Mark Aronoff (Senior Advisor to the Provost)

The minutes of the March 1, 2011 meeting were reviewed and approved.


The meeting focused on a review and discussion of the proposed changes to retake policy ("controlled access courses"), a further discussion on the ACE program, and Mark Aronoff’s proposal for new standard undergraduate course slots and meeting time periods.

On behalf of the Provost Office Course Availability Committee Nicole Sampson presented a report titled “Ensuring Access to Classes for Students” that summarized the issues relating to the current retake policy in the undergraduate curriculum. A proposal was presented to revise the current policy—to give priority registration to students who are registering for “High Demand—Controlled Access Courses” for the first time. Students who wish to retake a “Controlled Access” course could register for the course upon discussion with an academic advisor if seats were still available. Students could also retake the course during summer and winter sessions or transfer the course credits from other institutions.
Nicole Sampson pointed out that under the present policy, approximately half of the retake students for Math and Science courses still failed the courses. With the new policy, she suggested we put students who want to retake high demand courses in a priority queue after all first time enrollee.

Roy Lacey did not agree with a policy that would bar students from retaking a course. He pointed out that the problem could be an outcome of inefficient advising. Roy Lacey’s main concern was our responsibility as a university to come up with solutions to guide course retakers.

Nicole Sampson argued that it would be the students’ responsibility to perform during their first take, not the responsibility of the administration to ensure that they pass the courses.

Norm Goodman noted that while we discuss our responsibility for retake students, we should also think about students who need their first take to required course in order to graduate on time.

Sarah Fuller added that it would be a failure on the part of our university if we did not ensure course availability to freshmen or first time course takers. We should give the incoming students an opportunity since the present students have had their chance.

Deborah Machalow inquired if there were exceptions for retake students who need to take a specific course to graduate.

Nicole Sampson pointed out that such exceptions are subjective and are hard to include in the proposed changes to the policy.

Cheryl Hamilton expressed her concern with imposing restrictions on ESL 193, WRT 101, and WRT 102.
Deborah Machalow inquired about the average percentage of students who were retakers.
Nicole Sampson stated that it was approximately 10-15%.

Scott Sutherland shared his experience in the Department of Mathematics.  For every course, approximately 15% of students would not show up for exams.  This percentage of students would become the statistics of students who would need to retake the course.  Students should be more serious about their academic responsibilities.

Kane Gillespie added that this was also an advising issue we need to look into.

Scott Sutherland suggested that we work out alternatives for students who tried but failed in their first attempts at a course.

Roy Lacey asked how we could help students in the retake pool who were not given proper academic advising. Nicole Sampson suggested implementing early semester advisory evaluation. Norm Goodman explained that early semester advisory evaluation was done in the past in some departments.  The evaluation was dropped because some department claimed that the evaluation was a burden on the faculty.

Kane Gillespie argued that we should have advisory measures to help students who found out that they could not retake a course when the course was filled.  He raised the issue of how we could locate these students.

Deborah Machalow asked when students would be allowed to register for courses they need to retake.
Nicole Sampson explained that it would be after the last freshmen orientation.

Roy Lacey proposed a pilot program that would involve an add-on course to the main course for retakers.  He offered to teach a semester of the course. Norm Goodman responded that the proposal as a voluntary solution for a structural problem and thus no adequate.

Roy Lacey insisted that we commit to helping students who need to retake “High Demand—Controlled Access Courses” if we were to approve the proposal. Diane Bello argued that this would not solve the problem.  Unless retakers take their courses seriously, their GPA would suffer every time they retake a course.

Donna DiDonato advised that we do not vote on passing the proposal until further discussion, especially with regards to the concern of how this change would affect students who need to retake ESL 193 and WRT 101, 102.

Scott Sutherland reminded the committee that April 1 was the deadline for implementing the changes and suggested that we vote on passing the proposal.

The Council we removed ESL 193, WRT 101 and WRT 102 from the list and will address the retake policy for these courses separately. The Council voted and accepted the “High Demand—Controlled Access Courses” proposal.

The Council proceeded to review the European Languages proposal to expand their ACE offerings in high school.

Sarah Fuller pointed out that the proposal is vague.

Norm Goodman inquired about what outside resources would be required to support the ACE course offerings.

Sarah Fuller added by inquiring what faculty resource would be allocated and reallocated to facilitate the program.

Roy Lacey asked how this would affect the availability of our courses on campus with faculty participating with the program.

Scott Sutherland explained that Nick Rzhevsky’s explanation was that faculty would take up only a part of the duties in the program and it would not affect the course availability on campus.

The Council agreed that we request the Department of European Languages and Cultures to elaborate on their proposal by clarifying the allocation and reallocation of resources such as faculty involvement.  Scott Sutherland would draft a response to the Department.

The Council approved and voted to accept the changes made to the language in the sequential/simultaneous combined Bachelor’s/Master’s program.

Mark Aronoff discussed briefly the proposed changes to course offering times for Fall 2012. He explained that the proposed changes would 1) increase number of course vectors, and 2) increase Mon/Wed 80-minute class period.

The Council will discuss the proposal in the next meeting.
The meeting adjourned at 3:35 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,
E.K. Tan