Boston College
College of Arts & Sciences

Educational Policy Committee
Minutes: Meeting of 21 March 2002 (387) approved version (01 May 2002)

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 Assc Dean for Administration, College of Arts & Sciences
williafq Derrick Williams Class of 2004

Agenda items:
1. Opening of meeting
2. Appeals
Case resolution
Appeals procedure proposal
3. Honors
A&S Departmental Honors programs
Suggested elements for Departmental Honors programs
Status of Departmental Honors reviews

1. Opening of meeting

The Dean opened the meeting at 16.10h.

The EPC received the minutes from the meeting of 14 February 2002 (386) as corrected.
Dunsford: Can the minutes also be distributed in printed form?

2. Appeals (Gelfand)

Case resolution
Action: The EPC unanimously approved a finding of the Appeals Subcommittee

Material distributed with agenda: "Report by the Committee on Appeals on a student appeal of a course grade", March 14, 2002.

A student who expected an A received an A- and wanted someone to say that the faculty member was wrong.
The subcommittee saw no evidence to support questioning the faculty member's decision and questioned the student's attitude.
The EPC unanimously approved the subcommittee's finding, rejecting the student's appeal.

Appeals procedures: proposal
Action: The Appeals Subcommittee and one Associate Dean will review and revise proposed procedures and bring them back to the EPC.

Material distributed with agenda: "Procedures for the handling of grade appeals", undated.

The Subcommittee has taken the 1974 EPC resolution on grade appeals and has tried to plot out the various roles involved in its implementation.
Continuity and institutional memory come from the Associate Deans and they should be at the heart of the process and familiar with what is going on.
The major burden lies on the department chair, first through mediation efforts, then, if these fail, for getting the appeal process under way. The procedure is designed to make sure that chairs keep records, including a log of student-faculty consultations.
The case then proceeds to the Appeals subcommittee, then to the EPC.
The question of where the final decision lies still remains. At the last meeting (386), the Dean made decisions based on the Subcommittee's recommendations. Gelfand's impression from the 1974 resolution is that the decision rested with the EPC.
The Subcommittee has been dealing with cases in isolation, and major concern has been placed on attaining a just resolution in each, but, as in a legal venue, precedent can guide decisions, and continuity and balance are an equally important part of insuring justice. We need to build up a record of cases.

We need a policy on how long faculty should keep records. Six months or one year seem wise.
--This is a burden on those who teach core courses.
Where does faculty responsibility lie when the materials have been returned to the student?
--The burden cannot be placed upon the student unless it is done explicitly.
--Some disagreement here, the transfer of responsibility is obvious.
--In some departments students are not allowed to keep their mid-terms or finals. In some cases they are left out in the corridors.
--Some courses, e,.g. writing seminars, may even generate entire portfolios, while are difficult to retain and difficult to return.
--There should be a policy about the irresponsible practice of leaving graded course materials in a public place.
Should the syllabus include a notice about the availability of appeal as an option?
quinnj: Three question areas are involved here:
1. Timing of deadlines for submission. Are there no exceptions or do we accept appeals submitted after six weeks?
--We should give freshmen some latitude.
--It is important to have a deadline.
--Exceptions to what is in the catalogue have been made.
--The present wording leave no 'wiggle room', and the language should be changed to say should
2a. What options are available? One page says that no one can change a grade but another page speaks of changing the grade to a W.
--Strictly seen, W is not a grade. nor is I. These are administrative actions.
--The Subcommittee proposes that it could have an objection noted in the student file.
--But a note in a student's file is not very effective, and all these notes get discarded eventually (after five years) and are administratively separate from the transcript. So this will not work anyway.
2b. Who changes the grade? The Dean, the Subcommittee, the EPC?
--If the grade cannot be changed, then what is the value of an appeal?
--If the EPC recognizes an injustice, doesn't it have the responsibility to redress that injustice?
--One also need not change the grade but insert a P or W.
--But P is a grade, even if W is not.
3. What does the EPC do if a faculty member is grossly incompetent or unfair?
--In one such case all grades were changed to P.
--We should not be concerned with oddities but write rules to take care of the 99% of cases.
--One type of grade issue is procedural, where an instructor issues a grade not based on the stated components.
Does the chair have a responsibility to keep records when a faculty members leaves the university?
Wrapup, by consensus:
If the EPC recommends action to the Dean, the Dean should inform the EPC of the outcome.
Maintaining a file of precedents and a body of 'common law' makes sense.
Add to list of questions: Should appeals cases be logged in with the EPC before the chair of a department begins formal procedures?
The Appeals Subcommittee and one Associate Dean should function as a revising committee and report back to the EPC.

3. Honors (Murphy)

The Subcommittee circulated the latest compilation of information about existing departmental honors programs. About 80% of these require a thesis. Perhaps much is being done already.

Looking at GPA standards in different areas is important.
The impact on departments must be fully assessed.
Departmental newsletters provide another means of spreading the news about honors programs.
The Scholar-of-the-College program and departmental honors programs frequently overlap.
Slavic/Eastern tried, with no great success even though its majors are a self-selecting lot, to have all students 'read' for departmental honors by preparing for and taking an AB Comprehensive examination which was identical with the corresponding opening (generals) portion of the MA Comprehensive.
The advising process can also raise awareness about departmental honors and can identify likely candidates.
--There can be an insert in the advisement newsletter for freshmen.
--The advisement group orientation meetings should also publicize this.
This cannot be separated from the question of when students declare a major.
The Subcommittee would also like to know how much publicity about departmental honors is raised at the Majors Fair.

The meeting concluded at 17.30h (5.30pm).

Respectfully submitted
M.J. Connolly
Secretary to the EPC
With thanks to Barbara Viechnicki
for notes on the first half hour of EPC meeting 287