Minutes of the Meeting of the Undergraduate Council March 29, 2011

Present: Kathy Bratby, Cynthia Dietz, Donna Di Donato, Arlene Feldman, Sarah Fuller, Rick Gatteau, Jeff Ge, Kane Gillespie, Norman Goodman, Deborah Machalow, Joe Mitchell, Anne Moyer, Scott Sutherland, E. K. Tan, Leslie Volpe

1. The Minutes of the meeting of March 15, 2011 were approved as emended.

2.  The Council discussed the proposal to limit the number of credits for which students may initially enroll. (See Scott Sutherland’s message of 03/29/2011.)

Key new elements of the proposal are:
a) to limit new students to 15 credits for initial enrollment, with certain exceptions (WISE, Honors College students (17 cr.), Biomedical Engineering (18 cr.), Chemical and Mechanical Engineering (19 cr.).

b) to link the increase in credit limit at the end of the summer (August 26) to possession of a specified cumulative GPA (either 2.5 or 3.0).

There are two primary reasons for limiting new students to an initial enrollment of 15 credits. One is the necessity of managing limited resources so that there will be seats available in high-demand first-year classes for students who attend orientation sessions in the late summer. The other is that new students will succeed better academically with a schedule of 15 credits or less. Rick Gatteau reported that the average credit load advisors recommend to new students is below 15 credits. He also reported on behalf of Cheryl Hamilton that entering students in the EOP/AIM program need to be authorized for at least 16 credits because of the course load they are required to take.

Objections to a 15-credit limitation for new students were: 1) that it limits students in the number of 4-credit courses they may take (and many beginning science and math courses are 4-credit courses); and 2) that there may be an increased flood of petitions, especially for late adds, as a result of a lower initial credit limit (15 rather than the current 17).

There seemed to be general agreement that credit limitations for entering students could be raised to some (as yet unspecified) level at the end of the summer, once orientation sessions were completed and new students had had a chance to register.

Given the lack of agreement on what the initial credit limitation for new students should be, that issue will be tabled until our next meeting. 

We agreed that the increase in allowed number of credits permitted at the end of the summer (August 26 in the proposal) should be limited to students with a specific cumulative GPA (and no outstanding Q grades or Incompletes). Given that we have not agreed on the base number of credits initially allowed, this will have to be expressed as an increase to N+m credits, where N = the base limit in credits prior to August 26 and
m = the additional number of credits allowed after that date. (The current limit [N+m] is 19 credits.)

There was no general agreement on whether the cumulative GPA necessary to move to a greater number of credits should be set at 2.5 or 3.0. Judging from this semester’s statistics, moving to a 3.0 cutoff would affect around 650 students.*  Donna Di Donato suggested that the cumulative GPA cutoffs should be set at the same level and follow the same procedures as the cutoffs for an overload.  Overloads are routinely granted with a 3.0 GPA and no Qs or Incomplete grades.  Students with a 2.5-2.99 cumulative GPA may petition for an overload (currently an increase to 20-23 credits). The idea that the GPA criterion for a late-summer increase in credit limit (now19) should be consistent with the GPA criterion for the granting of or petitioning for overloads seemed not to find much resonance in the Council.

Scott Sutherland will ask for data on the current situation regarding cumulative GPA in relation to enrollment in an elevated number of credits. 

The question was raised whether a decision on a particular cumulative GPA boundary would have differing impacts on students in the CEAS and in the CAS.

Questions to be considered at our next meeting:
            1) the number of credits to which new students should initially be limited
2) the cumulative GPA criterion for allowing an increase to 19 credits once initial registration for each semester has been completed.

Respectfully submitted,
Sarah Fuller, Notetaker

* This would represent a decrease by 40% of students authorized to take an increased number of credits unless granted permission by petition. In terms of this semester’s enrollments, a cutoff of a 2.5 GPA would reduce by 17% the proportion of students authorized to take an increased number of credits beyond the current 17-credit limit.