Minutes of the Meeting of the Undergraduate Council April 12, 2012

Present: Diane Bello, Kathy Bratby, Arlene Feldman, Sarah Fuller, Rick Gatteau, Kane Gillespie, Cheryl Hamilton, Deborah Machalow, Scott Sutherland, Kathleen Watt

1. The Minutes of the meeting of 03/29/2012 were approved.

2.  The Council considered a new policy on transfer credits brought forward by Arlene Feldman.  The policy on “total number of credits and courses accepted” was approved after some discussion. Key changes from the present transfer policy include limiting transfer credits to academic courses, and stipulating a maximum of 84 credits that can be transferred.  The latter limitation arises from the fact that a Stony Brook degree requires a minimum of 36 credits completed at Stony Brook.

3. We considered a 3-page document about what is being (temporarily) called the DEC2 general education requirement.  The document, which stemmed from the Hammond committee, was not an actual proposal but a set of three statements about DEC2 whose interface was not coherent.  Among the matters discussed were:
            a) The designation DEC2 seems inadequate.  It was suggested that a student competition be launched to decide upon an appropriate name for the new general education requirement.
            b) Because under the new system some courses may satisfy more than one DEC2 requirement, the University might want to specify a minimum number of credits necessary to satisfy DEC2. 
            c) The upper-division writing requirement still seems unfocused in the document at hand.  It would be good to have more specific guidance and oversight regarding upper-division writing requirements in various disciplinary areas. There seemed to be general agreement that this requirement should remain discipline specific, linked to a student’s major and a student’s ability to write well within the conventions of that discipline.
            d) DEC2 specifies both course distribution across disciplines and particular learning objectives. In certain cases, it may be best to separate mastery of the course content (as manifested in a grade) from accomplishment of a particular learning objective.  For instance, a student may have a good grasp of the content in course X but  might not have satisfactorily demonstrated in that course the learning objective of becoming proficient in spoken presentation. That student should pass the course, but would not be certified as fulfilling that particular learning objective within it.

            e) Regarding Item 2 on the ‘Single page summary’—the requirement for  ‘a second, more advanced course’ in 4 areas—the sense was that this could be fulfilled by any course at or above the 200 level.

            f) TIMING for implementation of DEC2. It was reported that the Provost wants to see the new general education requirement implemented by Fall 2013. This timetable seems unrealistic, given the state of the proposal at the present moment, and the time needed to consult with departments and faculty about the DEC2, to navigate the channels of University governance, and to certify particular courses as fulfilling certain requirements and learning objectives in DEC2.

4.  Kathy Bratby distributed some very informative documents regarding Honors Societies and the Association of College Honor Societies, an organization that sets standards for  college and university honors societies.  This is relevant to our discussion at our previous meeting of  March 29. 2012. (See page 1 of those minutes.) These documents will form the basis for our future discussion of this matter and determination of standards for University recognition of particular honors societies and indication of membership on a student’s diploma.  We need clear and fair criteria for determining which Honors Societies will be recognized by inscription on a Stony Brook transcript.

Diane Bello brought up the problem of students who meet the criteria for membership in a recognized honors society but lack the means to pay the membership fee. There was general agreement that there should be means either to subsidize such students, or for the Society to waive the membership fee in such instances.

5.  Coming Attractions

            a) A proposal on Academic Standing will be presented at our next meeting.

            b) We will meet on Thursday May 3 2:30-3:30 rather than on May 10 as originally scheduled.   Scott Sutherland will send an updated schedule of meetings to the group.

Respectfully submitted,

Sarah Fuller