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STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY
UNDERGRADUATE COUNCIL
Meeting Notes – October 10, 2016

In Attendance: Leo Bachmair, Diane Bello, Jennifer Dellaposta, Rick Gatteau, Norm Goodman, Ellen Hopkins, Rob Kukta, William Stanley, Alan Tucker, Tao Wang, Ayyan Zubair
Special guest: Dr. Charles Robbins, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Dean of the Undergraduate Colleges

The discussion focused on teaching in academic majors and the role of academic departments and faculty in academic success initiatives. What is the impact of poor teaching on student persistence/enrollment/success in courses? Dr. Robbins shared the history, function, and purpose of the Academic Success Team, formed by the Provost’s Office. What can we change about our business to be student-centered? How can we encourage a culture of success across the campus? How do we understand key issues, including course availability?

The Academic Success Team worked with deans to focus on course availability and bottleneck issues. One outcome was to create HDCA (high demand, controlled access) courses, giving first-time takers priority and ensuring that students seek approval in order to retake a class. We have much better data due to Institutional Research. This summer, course availability concerns were addressed in a timely manner.

Alan asked about faculty participation in the Academic Success Team. Charlie shared the committee would benefit from having tenured and tenure-track faculty on the team. USG’s President attends the team meetings once a month.

Undergraduate teaching is a critical issue in supporting the success of students. Norm concurred with Charlie’s comments, asking how we are assessing the impact of our work. Charlie shared that engaging faculty now will allow us to move to the next level. Charlie shared that we are working to evaluate the impact of the interventions on retention and graduation rates.

Ayyan talked about his positive experience in PHY 131. He enjoying having the online component of the course. Charlie shared the importance of faculty engagement in helping students succeed. He shared the success of the S-BOLD initiative to support online courses. We need to have the right courses for the right students.

There was some discussion about class evaluations and their value to the faculty and students.
What actions are being taken in the classroom to supporting student learning? Alan talked about the importance of the involvement of academic deans.

William talked about the structure of the senior year HSC major – sharing that the 500 students are divided into groups of about 70 students each who work with a faculty member. He shared the positive feedback from students and the value of a cohort-based model. Faculty get to know students, and students build relationships with peers and faculty.

Leo shared a concern about students entering an introductory course in a major, but later not being able to enter the major because of capacity restrictions or students not meeting GPA requirements. Charlie shared that he will work with the new Provost to align the students’ major(s) of interest and capacity in majors. Rob shared that we may need to consider controlled access majors.

Alan talked about major advising and mentioned UCLA’s model of hiring recent graduates to assist current students with course planning. Charlie reiterated the importance of engaging with students, highlighting that other schools have invested in both general and major advising. We need to bring these pieces together, presenting what we have done – and what we have and have not invested in academic success. Every person who is a part of this university has a responsibility to students.

Charlie shared more about the rollout of the Student Success Collaborative (SSC) campus which allows all departments to know the academic journey of students – identifying where students are off-track and providing interventions. Charlie talked about the Degree Works, a degree audit tool led by the Registrar’s Office, which will be available to advisors and students as of late October.

The meeting adjourned at 5:05 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Rick Gatteau

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