Minutes of the Meeting of the Undergraduate Council
March 15, 2012

Present: Diane Bello, Kathleen Bratby, Janet Clarke, Sarah Fuller, Kane Gillespie, Norm Goodman, Cheryl Hamilton, Gene Hammond (guest), Peter Khost, Deborah Machalow, Anne Moyer, Scott Sutherland

Minutes of the 3/1/2012 meeting – approved

TSM/BS Undergraduate Degree Program in SUNY Korea Proposal
It was recommended that the word “will” in this proposal be revised to read “would.”

Hispanic Language and Literature (HLL) Department ACE Program Proposal
It was noted that HLL’s proposal does not specify who will be conducting supervision of the proposed ACE classes or which additional schools will be involved.  Scott Sutherland, Chair of the Undergraduate Council, has inquired into these concerns and is awaiting response from HLL.  It was recommended that HLL start small in developing their ACE program and then grow as appropriate.  The French and Italian ACE programs were encouraged to report on their progress to date.

WRT and ESL Placement Process Update
Kane Gillespie explained changes being proposed to the process of placing students into WRT and ESL courses whereby an adjustment of the CCRW score threshold from 1,000 to 1,050 would allow for more objective, precise, and verifiable placement  of students into ESL, WRT 101, or WRT 102.  Under the proposed change, writing samples would be reviewed for all students with <1,050 CCRW scores, providing an unbiased and transparent quantitative standard.  This would avoid relying on less reliable assessments based on students’ self-reports or on presumptions about their birthplaces or native languages, as the current policy does.

Under the proposed plan, students scoring 1,050 or higher on the CCRW or who earn a 3 or higher on the relevant AP exam would be placed into WRT102.  Students scoring less than this threshold would take an approved proctored writing exam to determine their placement in either a WRT 101 or an ESL course.  A correlation between ACT and SAT scores is currently being determined in order to accommodate students who take the ACT exam instead of the SAT.

A question was raised about making the writing placement exam available to incoming students on the same day as that of the math and foreign language exams in advance of orientation, and it was proposed that the University offer this option.  It was noted that this option, however, would not be available to international students who are not present on campus during that time.

The Undergraduate Council agreed to approve these proposed changes to WRT and ESL placement process.

The Gen Ed Revision
Gene Hammond, Chair of the Gen Ed Committee, came to discuss a draft of the “DEC 2 Proposal: Single Page Summary for Students” document.  The Provost wants the new Gen Ed plan to be active by fall 2013, which means the new DEC revision would need to be ready as of June 2012.  Professor Hammond solicited the Undergraduate Council’s feedback and summarized the following feedback on the DEC 2 Proposal draft from other parties: (A) it doesn’t seem better than the current version, (B) it is uncertain how student consensus on the revision could be determined, (C) there is concern about the availability of the proposed “advanced” courses, (D) there is uncertainty about the exigency for the proposed revision.

Concerning point 1 in the draft document, it was asked whether or not “uses of technology” should be one of the “ten areas of knowledge,” what the term “technology” entails, and whether this technology proficiency should be specific to majors (and therefore not a DEC-level concern).  It was also recommended that the areas of knowledge be designated by learning objectives rather than by course.  These points were debated but no decisions were reached.

Concerning point 2 in the draft document, it was decided that the term “multidisciplinary” should be replaced with the term “interdisciplinary.”

Concerning point 3 in the draft document, it was noted how flawed the current system of administering the upper-level writing requirement is.  There was considerable debate about the proposed “spoken presentation” component, particularly concerning the pragmatics of implementing such a requirement.  No decisions were reached on these points.  It was also noted that multiple requirements could be “piggybacked” so as to be fulfilled in a single course, but a possible problem of discrepancy was raised whereby, for example, a student might otherwise deserve to pass a given course but not fulfill its “ethical reasoning” component.  It was suggested that this topic be taken back up in the future when more details are available.  The following points were also proposed: (A) that more meetings regarding the new DEC be held if the Provost’s timeline is to be met, (B) that better anticipation of how faculty and students will respond to the new plan be generated, (C) that a more complete DEC 2 document be made available as soon as possible, and (D) that when this document is made available to academic departments for review, it be presented explicitly as a draft needing input (i.e., not as a finished product seeking endorsement).

Respectfully submitted,
Peter Khost