Minutes of the Meeting of the Undergraduate Council

May 10, 2011

Attending: Diane Bello, Kathleen Bratby, Donna Di Donato, Cynthia Dietz, Arlene Feldman, Sarah Fuller, Thomas K. Hemmick, Jeff Ge, Kane Gillespie, Norman Goodman, Deborah Machalow, Joeseph Michell, Anne Moyer, Beverly Rivera, Scott Sutherland, E. K. Tan

1. The minutes of the meeting of April 26, 2011 were reviewed and approved as revised.

2. Scott Sutherland relayed that, via email, the Council approved a proposal by Gary Halada to add an offering of ESG100 in Syosset High School as part of the ACE program. (ESG100 has already been taught at Paul Schreiber High School in Port Washington without prior approval from the Council and this course will be formally included in the ACE program also, for consistency.)

3. Scott Sutherland relayed that, via email, the Council approved a recommendation from the Registrar and Provost's office that the following statement be added to the Undergraduate Bulletin:

“Requests for changes to an undergraduate academic record after the degree has been officially granted will be considered only under exceptional circumstances within six months of the conferral.”

4. Thomas K. Hemmick, Professor, Physics, Chair, General Education Committee (GEC) presented on a preliminary draft report of the GEC. The revised general education curriculum is being called the General Education Experience (GEE) to reflect its newness. The motivation for reconsidering Stony Brook’s general education curriculum is to address an evolution of the system away from its original purpose and the fulfillment of requirements becoming a “check box” exercise for students. Critical tools include (1) clear objectives in terms of the learning outcomes for the curriculum, (2) certification and recertification of courses that propose to meet a learning objective, and (3) assessment. Guiding principles also include Experiential Education and Unifying Themes that provide the option of following a themed path through a taking a collection of courses. The conceptual model involves Skill/Knowledge Area, Outcomes, Standards, and Fulfillment. Students’ academic careers will involve stages:
            Stage (1) Foundations
                        Acquire and Practice foundational skills in
                                    -Written communicant
                                    -Oral communication
                        (These foundational skills will now be explicitly included in classes rather than
                          considered to be “infused” throughout the curriculum.)
            Stage (2) Knowledge in four areas
                                    -Study the Natural World
                                    -Appreciate the Fine and Performing Arts
                                    -Address Problems using Knowledge, Critical Analysis and Methods of the
                                    -Understand, Observe and Analyze Human Behavior and Societal Constructs
            Stage (3) Responsibility
                                    -Analysis and Application of Ethical Principles and Ethical Reasoning
                                    -Engagement and Global Issues
                                    -Knowledge of the Political Economic, Social, and Cultural History of the United
                                    -Understanding and Interaction with Diverse Cultures
            Stage (4) Beyond the Classroom
                                    -This might take many forms: research and scholarly activity, service learning, study abroad, performance and creative activity, field work and internships, leadership. (This is currently part of the offerings at the university but is not centralized. To accommodate this as a requirement the number of slots available would need to be doubled.)

Deborah Machalow asked whether the Undergraduate Writing Requirement will be part of this scheme or separate, and how the variability in what is considered to fulfill this requirement across departments would be addressed. Thomas Hemmick reported that the UGWR may be folded in to the system.  If so, it would be likely that a minimum would be specified by the university, but that individual departments would determine what further criteria would fulfill the requirement.

Jeff Ge asked how experiences beyond the classroom would be counted. Thomas Hemmick noted that for an activity to be counted it would have to be considered a class and be certified. Kane Gillespie noted that this part will require additional faculty engagement in roles as faculty sponsors.

Scott Sutherland raised the issue of whether grades could be separated such that grades for course content and grades for fulfilling a general educational requirement could be given separately, as this would increase the number of courses that might be used to fulfill such requirements. Thomas Hemmick noted that this may be captured in the notion of classes stressing acquiring versus practicing foundational skills.

Diane Bello asked about the implementation of the plan. Thomas Hemmick responded that the General Education Committee mission was to focus on philosophical and pedagogical ideas and that implementation would be handled by a separate committee. There will be a guide produced for faculty and students that gives clear and simple guidelines.

Deborah Machalow asked about how this would affect students who were already enrolled under the prior system. Thomas Hemmick responded that they would be grandfathered.

Kane Gillespie asked whether the Curriculum Committee would be doing the certification.  Thomas Hemmick responded that there will be a wave of certifications at the beginning and this may need to be handled by a separate Certification committee.

Jeff Ge asked what certification would be based upon. Thomas Hemmick responded that it would be based upon whether a course delivers learning outcomes and meets standards. Norman Goodman noted that the distinction between acquiring versus practicing seems to indicate a distinction between faculty delivering versus students acquiring.

Deborah Machalow inquired about current student representation on the General Education Committee. Thomas Hemmick responded that students were intimately involved in the retreat that generated the three guiding principles : clarity about objectives, experiential learning, and themed paths, but that the student members of the committee had now graduated.

Cynthia Dietz inquired about the methodology for approval of the new system. Thomas Hemmick noted that the report that will come to the Undergraduate Council for approval will have tacit approval from the Provost.
Respectfully submitted,
Anne Moyer, Notetaker