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2009 - 01/29

UCAP Meeting of 01/29/2009


agenda status: approved


University Committee on Academic Policy
Thursday, January 29, 2009
10:15 A.M. to 12:00 P.M.
Board Room, 4th Floor, Administration Building

  1. Approval of the Agenda

  2. Approval of the Minutes of the January 15, 2009 meeting

  3. Comments from the Chair

  4. Comments from the Associate Provost for Academic Services, Linda O. Stanford

  5. Integrity of Scholarship and Grades Subcommittee Report
    Carolyn Loeb, Subcommittee Chairperson
    Rick Hallgren, Brad McDonald, Subcommittee Members

  6. Course Repeat Policy Update
    Dennis Banks, Subcommittee Chairperson
    Peter Cobbett, Brad McDonald, A. Mahdi Saeed, Subcommittee Members

  7. Religious Observance Policy Update
    Michael Schechter, Subcommittee Chairperson
    Jim Smith, Subcommittee Member

  8. Roundtable

minutes status: approved

approved at meeting of 02/12/2009

UCAP Minutes for meeting held on 01/29/2009

University Committee on Academic Policy
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Board Room 4th Floor, Administration Building

Mary Jo Arndt, Dennis Banks, R. Sekhar Chivukula, Peter Cobbett, Marty Crimp, John Gore, Mandalyn Griffin, Richard Hallgren, Hovig Kouyoumdjian, Michael Lawrence, Carolyn Loeb, Brad McDonald, Jerry Punch, A. Mahdi Saeed, Michael Schechter, Sharif Shakrani, Michael Shields, Jim Smith, Linda Stanford, Tom Volkening.

The Agenda was approved.

Minutes of the January 15, 2009 meeting were approved.

Comments from the Chair
Chairperson Chivukula announced that after the January 15, 2009 meeting at which action on the request from the Department of Animal Science had been deferred, the Department of Animal Science had withdrawn its request.

Dr. Chivukula welcomed John Gore, a new ASMSU representative to the committee.

Chairperson Chivukula asked Jim Smith and Dennis Banks to report on Faculty Council and Academic Council meetings.

Vice Chairperson Smith reported the Faculty Council did not discuss UCUAP bylaws due to lack of time. He noted that a potential problem for UCAP would be the mandated timing of the election of committee chairs as the first meeting in the fall semester. Dr. Smith will represent UCAP at the next meeting of the Faculty Council at which committee bylaws will be addressed.

Dr. Banks reported that the Academic Council did not have a quorum; consequently, only information items were discussed.

Chairperson Chivukula, UCAP’s representative to the Academic Calendar Taskforce, reported that the Taskforce met several times and intended to have its recommendation completed by mid-March. The Taskforce plans to survey faculty, students, and administrative personnel to inform its planning process. As a test, a limited release of the 9-question survey will be given to the Academic Council and other relevant standing committees.

Comments from the Associate Provost for Academic Services
Dr. Stanford expressed her appreciation of UCAP’s detailed consideration of UCC issues. The University Curriculum Committee finds the policy perspective complementary to the curriculum view in assessing requests.

The committee deferred discussion of agenda item 5 until all subcommittee members had arrived.

Religious Observance Policy Update
Michael Schechter, Subcommittee Chairperson
Jim Smith, Subcommittee Member

Subcommittee chairperson Schechter reported the subcommittee had not met and requested a replacement for the student member that had left the subcommittee. John Gore agreed to serve as the student representative on the Religious Observance Policy subcommittee.

Chairperson Chivukula stated he would remind other relevant standing committees that feedback on this policy proposal is requested.

Course Repeat Policy Update
Dennis Banks, Subcommittee Chairperson
Peter Cobbett, Brad McDonald, A. Mahdi Saeed, Subcommittee Members

Dennis Banks, subcommittee chairperson reviewed the most recent data analysis from OPB with the committee. Dr. Banks asked the committee for additional guidance in its approach to assessment of the Course Repeat Policy with the purpose of determining whether a policy change should be made in light of the increasing number of requests from programs to impose grade restrictions.

Committee discussion centered on the following issues or themes:
    • How does the grade threshold for course repeats interact with the requirement of a GPA greater than a 2.0?
    • Would an appeal mechanism for students to request a course repeat with a grade of 2.0 or over be preferable to a change in policy?
    • Is there a mechanism in place to allow an undergraduate student to retake a course for credit if they have a 2.0 or above?
    • Should an examination be made of the timing of course drops?
    • Although increased GPA requirements are not granted in order to manage the number of students in a major, some accreditation agencies specify faculty/student ratios. What mechanism should be used to prevent loss of accreditation in such a situation?
    • Is it appropriate to allow an increased GPA requirement in a single course to prevent a student from entering a major or progressing in the major? Would an increased GPA requirement in a suite of courses be acceptable?
    • Would transfer students have an advantage in admission to a major because credits transfer but grades do not?
    • Data presented represents students who graduated. What impact does the Course Repeat Policy have on students who do not graduate?
    • Ask OPB or the Office of the Registrar for additional analysis regarding the amount of improvement by students who repeat a course. Specifically the range of improvement 0 to? 1.0 to ? 1.5 to?
    • Should the committee first have a philosophical discussion regarding GPA requirements? Changing the grade point for repeat to 2.0 or 3.0 is a considerable change for the entire University in order to accommodate a small, but growing number of programs with GPA requirements. Is there not another route to go?

Associate Provost Stanford suggested the subcommittee contact the Financial Aid office to determine whether Federal policies regarding time to degree and credit limits to degree might have implications for the Course Repeat Policy.
Chairperson Chivukula recommended considering two larger issues in question. If MSU is an open access institution, should UCAP approve requests from programs that contain a specific GPA for admission or progression that is greater than that required for graduation from the University? Of the various dimensions of the Course Repeat Policy, which are at issue? Professor Chivukula suggested the subcommittee meet with Associate Provost Estry as they considered next steps.

Integrity of Scholarship and Grades (ISG) Subcommittee Report
Carolyn Loeb, Subcommittee Chairperson
Rick Hallgren, Brad McDonald, Subcommittee Members

Chairperson Chivukula prefaced the committees report asking that the committee attempt to provide a final draft for action at the next UCAP meeting in order for the proposal to be submitted for action at the February 17 Faculty Council meeting. Professor Chivukula suggested that the subcommittee consult Ombudsman Stan Soffin to discuss the construction of the policy to insure that the proposal will work effectively.

Subcommittee Chairperson Loeb began discussion of the most recent comments from the Graduate Council. Committee discussion resulted in the following:
    • Item 1 of the proposed policy dated December 2008 should be rephrased to make it consistent with the AFR regarding falsification of records. It was suggested that the Admissions’ falsification of records practice be consulted. Insert UGC Recommendation item 3 beginning with “In the case of graduate students...” into the proposed policy.
    • Item 7 of the proposed policy dated December 2008 – in cases of ambiguous jurisdiction, strike “from one of the core colleges” to make it parallel with references to colleges in relation to graduate students.
    • Clarify disciplinary action vs. penalty grade in the proposed policy.
    • Given that policy and implementation are separate issues, the suggestion was made that language regarding using the electronic student folder be changed to “becomes part of the student’s academic folder.”
    • Given that notation of academic dishonesty will not be part of the student’s transcript it was suggested that these records be maintained in the offices of college deans.
    • Should the student’s right to appeal, (referencing the AFR) be included in item 3 of the proposed policy?

Chairperson Chivukula suggested that the committee attempt to accomplish the following for review at the next UCAP meeting:
    • Make the specified changes to the draft policy.
    • Review the updated draft policy with Ombudsman Stan Soffin for his input and suggestions.
    • Create three short documents for submission to Faculty Council with the draft policy.
        • Summary of changes represented in the revised draft and the rationale for the changes
        • Summary of input received from other standing committees or organizations and a brief description of how the committee dealt with the input.
        • Suggestions for implementation—not part of the policy—will be forwarded as suggestions with the proposed policy.

Dr. Cobbett reported that across-the-board tuition increases have created an accrediting problem for CHM, COM, and CVM in that the amount of debt students at MSU are incurring for their education is out-of-line with that of students at peer institutions.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:00 pm

Respectfully submitted by
Sandra Walther