Agenda/Minutes‎ > ‎2008-2009‎ > ‎

2009 - 04/02

UCAP Meeting of 04/02/2009


agenda status: approved


University Committee on Academic Policy
Thursday, April 2, 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 March 26, 2009 meeting

    3. Comments from the Chair

    4. Comments from the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education

    5. Religious Observance Policy Revision – Discussion
      Michael Schechter, Subcommittee Chairperson
      John Gore, Jim Smith, Subcommittee Members

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

    7. Roundtable

minutes status: approved

approved at meeting of 04/16/2009

UCAP Minutes for meeting held on 04/02/2009

University Committee on Academic Policy
Thursday, April 2. 2009
Board Room, 4th Floor, Administration Building

Attending: Dennis Banks, R. Sekhar Chivukula, Marty Crimp, Doug Estry, John Gore, Mandalyn Griffin, Richard Hallgren, Caroline Hartig, Linda Jackson, Hovig Kouyoumdjian, Mike Lawrence, Carolyn Loeb, Brad McDonald, Georgia Padonu, Malea Powell, Jerry Punch, Michael Schechter, Jim Smith, Tom Volkening

Not Attending: Mary Jo Arndt, Mary Burleson, Peter Cobbett, Guiseppe Getto, A. Mahdi Saeed, Sharif Shakrani, Mike Shields

The Agenda was approved.

The March 26, 2009 minutes were approved as amended:
Strike the sentence “The second part of the proposed amendment, that the University cannot take disciplinary action against “such speakers” on matters of “protected First Amendment speech” and insert: “Finally, she commented that she sees no legal problem with the principle articulated in the last sentence of the proposed amendment, which reads, "Specifically, no disciplinary actions may be taken against such speakers or speaker sponsors for protect First Amendment speech." However, she commented that the term “disciplinary actions” may be too limited in scope and it would be more appropriate to be clear that the University will take no adverse action against any individual for speech protected under the First Amendment”.

Replace “In addition, the committee is not persuaded that issues requiring modification of the ADP have been identified" with “In addition, the committee is not persuaded that modification of the ADP is necessary”.

Comments from the Chairperson
Chairperson Chivukula remarked that many proposals from academic governance committees were being forwarded to Faculty Council and Academic Council for action, among them the proposed amendment to the MSU Anti-Discrimination Policy, a proposed revision of the Religious Observance policy, discussion of proposed revisions to academic governance standing committee bylaws.

Professor Chivukula announced that Janet Swenson, Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Letters had withdrawn the request to require a grade of 3.00 in the prerequisite courses of ENG 230 and TC 243 in the specialization in Fiction Film Production originally scheduled for UCAP consideration at this meeting.

Comments from the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education
There were no comments from the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education.

Religious Observance Policy Revision – Discussion
Michael Schechter, Subcommittee Chairperson
John Gore, Jim Smith, Subcommittee Members

Motion by Michael Schechter to approve the revised Religious Observance Policy as presented was seconded by Jim Smith. UCAP unanimously approved the policy, with a number of editorial changes.

Committee discussion centered on:
    • Should item # 3 in the guidelines section become part of the policy?
      Some course-specific attendance policies allow for a specific number of class sessions to be missed or assignment or quiz grades to be dropped without impact on a student’s grade. Such policies should clearly state that religious observances are not to be included as part of the specified number of class sessions or grades.” Subcommittee should make clear in its cover memo to Faculty Council that UCSA recommended this be included and that UCAP as a whole was comfortable with this guideline.
    • The notification timeline suggested in the Guidelines section does not prevent an instructor from relaxing the guideline in favor of students.
    • Change instruction “provide notice to instructor by email” to “provide written notice, preferably by email”.
    • The importance of equity among students regarding time off for religious observance.

The consensus of the committee was that minor changes in wording were appropriate and should be considered as part of the document referenced in the motion.

Michael Schechter reviewed the draft Religious Observance cover memo to Faculty and Academic Council in which substantive changes to the current policy and feedback from other committees were discussed.

UCAP unanimously approved the proposed revision to Religious Observance Policy as amended in committee discussion.

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

Chairperson Chivukula asked committee members to focus conversation on the direction the committee wanted to take in the coming year.

Subcommittee Chair Banks reported that at the subcommittees meeting, Friday, March 27, the committee looked at a number of issues and concluded that issues surrounding Course Repeat Policy and the guidelines that UCAP uses to determine whether to grant a request to restrict progression, admission, or graduation by increasing the required grade point average are a matter of philosophy. It was their opinion that any data gathered could be viewed in light of current policy and could not be extrapolated to represent outcomes if another Course Repeat Policy were established. Dr. Banks reiterated that CIC institutions have widely varying Course Repeat Policies.

The subcommittee concluded that, based on the MSU Mission statement that speaks of inclusivity and a liberal arts foundation, Boldness by Design, and the President’s Statement on Core Values that speak of Quality, Inclusiveness, and Connectivity, any imposition of increased grade restrictions for progression, admission, or graduation reduced inclusiveness and the opportunity for students to succeed at MSU.

Subcommittee Chair Banks stated that, although the Course Repeat Policy does not appear to create a problem for students, if UCAP continued to grant restrictions that would increase requirements beyond a 2.0, students would be penalized by current policy that does not allow a course repeat for a grade higher than 2.0.

Dr. Banks urged the committee to request significant data from departments seeking increased grade points for progression, admittance, or graduation relative to probabilities of success before restrictions to programs are granted.

Committee discussion centered on the following issues:
    • Is the Course Repeat Policy a problem for students? Should the Policy’s grade cut-off be changed?
    • If the Policy would be changed, should a change in how the repeat is factored in to a student’s GPA and transcript reporting be changed?
    • Are students from underprivileged backgrounds disadvantaged by the existing Course Repeat Policy?
    • Should UCAP ask for a moratorium on all requests for increased GPA standards unless the request is linked to external accreditation?
    • Should the committee create guidelines for handling requests for increased GPA standards?
    • What is the definition of a failing grade at MSU? If admission as a junior is 2.0, isn’t a score below 2.0 failing.
    • What kind of information does the committee need to make a better decision about changing Course Repeat Policy or creating UCAP guidelines?
    • Does the committee need to examine grading practices? A breakdown by college, major, and course was requested in order to determine if there are courses in which no one gets below a 2.0.
    • Should the committee focus on program requests to raise standards for admission as a junior rather than change the Course Repeat Policy affected by the rising standards?
    • Committee inconsistency in handling requests for increased GPA standards.

Dr. Banks asked committee members to indicate whether they felt the subcommittee should focus on revising the Course Repeat Policy or on requests for increased standards that come to UCAP. The committee assented to a roundtable response with the following result.
      9 members recommend work on committee’s philosophy, guidelines, and consistency.
      4 members recommend focusing on changes to the Course Repeat Policy.
      3 members recommend both.
      2 members were not sure which course of action would be best.

Religious Observance Policy Revision – Discussion
Chairperson Chivukula stated that University Ombudsman Stan Soffin had been invited to join in the committee’s discussion of the Religious Observance Policy. Since the committee’s discussion of the policy was brief and Dr. Soffin arrived after a vote had been taken, Dr. Chivukula asked the committee to make an exception and reopen the discussion. The committee unanimously granted voice to Dr. Soffin.

Among Dr. Soffin’s suggestions were the following:
    • In order to use terminology consistent with other associated University documents, replace the word “complaints” with “grievances”.
    • Remove “Code of Teaching Responsibility” and add (spelling them out) the AFR, GSRR, and MSRR. As the proposed policy is for students, references should be to documents governing students’ rights and responsibilities.
    • Remove the phrase “which entail taking complaints to the instructor or the teaching unit’s chief administrator or designee”. The phrase is redundant.
    • In the first guideline, after the word “syllabus” insert “when the policies affect grades” in order to parallel the Code of Teaching Responsibility.

The committee deemed the suggested changes technical and chose not to reopen substantive debate.

Motion by Jim Smith to adopt the amended Religious Observance Policy and pass it on to ECAC for placement on the agendas of the Faculty and Academic Councils passed unanimously.

There were no comments from committee members.

Meeting adjourned at 11:50 a.m.

Respectfully submitted by
Sandra Walther