Minutes of the Meeting of the Undergraduate Council
September 24, 2012

Present: Kathleen Bratby, Janet Clarke, Arlene Feldman, Rick Gatteau, Jeff Ge, Kane Gillespie, Norman Goodman, Lloyd Lense, Peter Khost, Joe Mitchell, Michael Mooney, Anne Moyer, Jean Peden, Peter Stephens, Scott Sutherland  Guest: Vice Provost Charles Robbins

Topics Discussed

  1. Minutes of September  12, 2012
    1. Members of the Council reviewed and approved the minutes of the last meeting

  2. Presentation by Vice Provost Charles Robbins

    1. There is a new initiative to implement an early notification system regarding students who are in danger of not achieving academic success. This represents an effort to improve graduation and retention rates and retention rates and to minimize students on academic notice. Early intervention is important for better outcomes. Some classes have varying critical indicators of students who are not doing well: exams, clickers, assignments, or attendance. Robbins would like us to think about ways that we can notify Academic Advising so that they can reach out to these students and intervene. There may be some courses that would be a good place to start, for example, HD/CA courses. The hope is for a shift in culture such that faculty know that services are available to first-time students (e.g., Advisors in Undergraduate Colleges). Robbins is meeting with UGPDs, and Athletics, which already have this type of system in place, is part of these conversations. The idea is to be able to do more for students in terms of helping them with time management and determining an appropriate course of study.

    2. The Undergraduate Colleges are working hard to get as many faculty members involved as possible in teaching 102 seminars.  These represent a very important component of the academic success strategy. The advantages of these seminars include the opportunity for students to work closely with faculty in a way they normally don’t, perhaps forming lasting connections and to understand academic expectations. For faculty, this is an opportunity for them to really make a difference and to try out new course material. The Undergraduate Colleges will support faculty in any way that they can, as these courses are intended to be as rigorous as other courses. They can be offered flexibly, for 1 hour/week over 14 weeks or 2 hours/week over the first 7 weeks of semester. The stipend is $1,500 for faculty, whether on state or research lines, and this is paid as extra service. Robbins wishes to have the Undergraduate Council’s endorsement and support on this effort. Bratby thanked Robbins for a certificate of appreciation for teaching a seminar and the opportunity to have a better campus perspective. Goodman noted that this is a rare opportunity for faculty to deal with students on a humane basis. President Stanley will lead a similar type of seminar in the Honors College.

    3. Upcoming Provostial Lectures: former top rugby player Ben Cohen will present “True Champions Stand Up” on October 9, 2012, at 4:00 in the Staller Center on his anti-bullying initiatives. Jason Kilmer, University of Washington, will present  on October 11, 2012, at 12:00 in the Wang Center “Placebos, Pavlov, and Perceptions” on college-age substance abuse.
  1. Discussion of the Report of the General Education Committee

    1. Some concern has been raised that requiring only one introductory science course is insufficient and a lab course should also be required for all students. The Council discussion centered around whether this is practical in light of other potential constraints brought by other new requirements (especially a language requirement for Engineering students whose programs are already full due to accreditation requirements). Some concern was also noted regarding mapping requirements on to actual course plans and offerings. Points raised in response included: (a) the notion that single courses may satisfy multiple requirements, especially if learning outcomes are the focus, (b) the fact that the proposed Fall 2013 implementation will apply just to entering Freshmen, (c) the idea that cooperation with other departments may be a solution, (d) the idea that the new Gen Ed plan requires fewer DEC G’s and E’s and the DEC’s I and J have been combined, resulting in fewer requirements, (e) the idea that Scott Sutherland and Gene Hammond may be able to meet with UGPD’s to assist with course mapping, and (f) that there may be the possibility for flexibility of the timing of implementing the curriculum for some students.  Other points that were discussed included the centrality and importance of STEM and writing in undergraduate education, the necessity of maintaining rigor of the curriculum with an eye toward Middle States accreditation, the level of preparedness of students for whom the new curriculum will be geared toward (e.g., with or without AP courses, or second language or writing proficiencies), and whether the UG Council should or should not be revisiting the guiding objectives of the new General Education proposal.

    2. Concerns have been raised regarding the requirement that students earn a C or better in General Education courses.  This issue was noted but not fully discussed at the meeting.

    3. Another major issue is the transfer equivalencies of proposed General Education courses, and whether General Education courses from other SUNY schools will be accepted as counting toward the new General Education curriculum. This issue was noted but not fully discussed at the meeting.

      Respectfully submitted, Anne Moyer.