Boston College
College of Arts & Sciences

Educational Policy Committee
Minutes: Meeting of 29 November 2001 (385) approved version B

Attendance:
quinnj Joseph F. Quinn (Chair) Dean, College of Arts & Sciences
barrya Ann Marie Barry Communications / Humanities (2003)
behnegaa Alice P. Behnegar Honors Program, designate for Michael Martin
boydmb Mikaela Boyd Class of 2002
burnsj J. Joseph Burns Assc Dean, College of Arts & Sciences
cnnmj M.J. Connolly (Secretary) Slavic & Eastern Languages / Humanities (2004)
defuscoa Andrea DeFusco Asst Dean, College of Arts & Sciences
dunsford Clare M. Dunsford Assc Dean, College of Arts & Sciences
jan Jan Engelbrecht Physics / Natural Sciences (2002)
gelfand Mark I. Gelfand History / Social Sciences (2002)
green Carol Hurd Green Assc Dean, College of Arts & Sciences
jaramicb Carlos A. Jaramillo Class of 2005
kafka Alan L. Kafka Geology & Geophysics / Natural Sciences (2003)
malec Michael A. Malec Sociology / Social Sciences (2003)
mcguines Thomas P. McGuinness Director, University Counseling
murphyro Robert G. Murphy Economics / Social Sciences (2004)
oconnocn Clare O'Connor Biology / Natural Sciences (2004)
okeeffe Mary D. O'Keeffe Assc Dean, College of Arts & Sciences
reifm Michael D. Reif Class of 2002
rosserh Harry L. Rosser Romance Languages & Literatures / Humanities (2002)
viechnib Barbara A. Viechnicki Asst Dean for Administration, College of Arts & Sciences
williafq Derrick Williams Class of 2004


Agenda items:
1. Opening of meeting
2. Honors
2a. Scholar of the College guidelines
2b. Departmental Honors programs
2c. Independent majors
3. Academic Affairs
Biology BA proposal
4. Appeals (not taken up)
5. Final announcements


1. Opening of meeting

The Dean opened the meeting at 16.07h.

The EPC approved the minutes from the meeting of 11 October 2001 (384) as corrected.


2. Honors (Murphy)

2a. Scholar of the College
Distributed: A pre-final draft of the new regulations for Scholar of the College (also sent by eMail) (1p)
The EPC briefly discussed typographic and stylistic alterations.

Discussion:
Dunsford: Why does this procedure require the signature of a chair?
Burns: So that the department involved supports the proposal and someone else has signed off in addition to the project advisor.
Dunsford: How will the Advanced Independent Research (AIR) be listed?
--It will have its own course identity.
Quinn: If this is available for next year's juniors, how will students find out about these changes?
--There will be open sessions in the Honors Program, and department chairs will be notified.

The sense of the EPC was to implement the new rules and to publish them also in the Faculty Advisement Handbook.

2b. Departmental Honors programs
The subcommittee continues to explore this topic, tending toward voluntary guidelines and some strong suggestions.
Departmental honors programs also have a strong marketing side, which requires linkage with Admissions, a spot in the Admissions bulletin, an A&S web-site presence, links to departmental publications and sites, and perhaps a brochure on departmental honors.
Some departments have catalog descriptions of their departmental honors requirements, others do not. The EPC could make this mandatory if it wished.

2c. Independent majors
With the implementation of the International Studies major, a need for subcommittee activity in this area has contracted. The increase of departmental and interdisciplinary minors has also removed some pressure for Independent majors adjudicated by the subcommittee.
The submission date for Independent major proposals remains 01 March.

The EPC discussed briefly a need to coordinate information about the independent major immediately even if this is out of cycle with the university's printed course catalog. This led to a peripheral discussion about the organization of information in the catalog and the relative virtues and drawbacks, with regard to maintenance and availability, of printed, of virtually printed (PDF) and of on-line catalog material.


3. Academic Affairs (Green)

BA Biology proposal
Distributed: Barry to EPC, 14 Nov 2001, report from Academic Affairs [sub]Committee (2pp)

In its meeting of 07 November, the subcommittee considered:
the distinction between BA and BS programs;
alternate approaches to the request (e.g. tracks within the existing BS Biology);
impact upon other departments;
AB Biology electives;
approval processes required beyond the College;
making changes optional for the class of 2004.

The subcommittee recommends acceptance by the EPC of the proposal.

The EPC discussed the request extensively. The following report has edited comments reflecting the topics and flow of discussion. Individual comments are attributed only where context requires:
 
Global and cross-departmental issues.
--Other science departments, Physics and Chemistry, have a concern that the proposal is premature and does not make clear how such a new program will improve the institution.
--Chemistry has not made any submissions in this process, neither to Biology nor to the EPC.
--This program seems more than a minor but less than a major. Shouldn't it have a stronger and a defined liberal-arts component?
--What constitutes the balance between departmental autonomy and the role of the EPC?
--Chemistry is an integral part of any Biology program.
 
--What would be the impact of this degree proposal on the pre-Medical program?
One can read this proposal as saying that the BS is for premeds and the BA is for others.
Would the absence of calculus-based Physics have an impact on the MCATs of students in the BA track?
One does not even need to be a Biology major to get into medical school.
Premed students get extensive counseling and guidance.
Could it happen that BA students would discover that they couldn't get into medical school?
--Highly unlikely because of the advisement process. Missing courses can be done in addition to the major requirements. Students have a good eye to what they need for their MCATs and for medical-school admission and know in advance the rigor of the premed process.
 
--The needs of the Biology department must be taken into account.
Biology must to be seen as more than a premed department with 50% attrition. Medical schools should not be driving what academic departments are doing outside the area of premed preparation. Apart from professional schools, similar impactions from outside occur in areas such as law, health sciences, and environmental studies but never to the point that they determine the profile of an entire department.
Students in a Biology program need access to areas like medical ethics, bioethics, genetic counseling.
Biology loses three-quarters of its majors, some perhaps because they lose interest in medical school.
Part of the attrition in Biology may be due to required work in Physics and in Organic Chemistry, but in fact of the 150 or so students who begin calculus Physics, few withdraw, even though many grades are in the B-/C/D range.
 
--The difference between a BA and a BS.
Many faculty and graduate students in our Biology department have BA degrees.
The table of comparative institutions accompanying the proposal is misleading. Harvard has does not label any of its FAS degrees as BS. Note also that only Brown and Duke do not require Organic Chemistry and Physics.
The label should be considered less important than the program content.
 
--Parallels in other academic areas
This issue arises constantly in Geology departments and the BS track in Geoscience emerged from a similar consideration. But should the EPC be micromanaging an academic department? Don't they know their turf better than we do?
The Geophysics degree grew from the Geology degree by adding in Mathematics and Physics.
 
--BA electives
The Biology department's Educational Program Committee would list accredited electives.
Many A&S departments only require ten courses for the major anyway.
Don't deprive students of a chance to major in Biology without being premeds.

Final remarks:
Quinn: A discussion like this is an important and valuable part of the work of a committee like the EPC. We should hear from the pre-medical advisor about whether this proposal would shortchange students by nudging them toward an easy road. We should also gather comments from concerned departments.
O'Connor: The Biology department would also like to have comments from other departments.
Dunsford: Should we also ask whether a track within the BS is not a better way to proceed?
Burns: The difference between a BA and a BS is a less meaningful one than the Environmental Biology track or even major. We must ask does this proposal stand as a major?
Jaramillo: Are Organic Chemistry and Calculus essential for the study of Biology? And, if not, what substantial ingredient is being put in their place in the proposal?

General sense: The Academic Affairts Subcommittee should gather opinions from Chemistry, Physics and the Premedical Program and also get more information about electives from Biology.
Clearly, approval will not happen in Fall 2001 in time for posted catalogue deadlines.


5. Final announcements

The next meeting (14 February) will take up Appeals and Academic Affairs.


 
Respectfully submitted
--mjc
M.J. Connolly cnnmj@bc.edu
Secretary to the EPC