College of Arts and Sciences

Educational Policy Meeting


Minutes of the 398th Meeting

Thursday, October 14, 2004




PRESENT:  Joe Burns, Christina Corea, Lisa Cuklanz, Paul Davidovits, Stephanie Fernandez, Solomon Friedberg, Michael Graf, Michael Martin, Ourida Mostefai, Sr. Mary Daniel O'Keeffe, William Petri, Jennie Purnell, David Quigley, Joseph Quinn, Harry Rosser, Catherine Schneider, Robert Scott, Eileen Sweeney, Helina Teklehaimont, Barbara Viechnicki.

ABSENT:  Akinseye Akinbulumo, Andrea Defusco-Sullivan, Carlos Jaramillo, Thomas McGuinness.

ON LEAVE:  Clare Dunsford.


CALL TO ORDER:  Joe Quinn called the meeting to order at 4:05 P.M.


INTRODUCTIONS: The members each introduced themselves. Joe Quinn welcomed the five new members, Christina Corea, Stephanie Fernandez, Michael Graf, Catherine Schneider, and Robert Scott.


MINUTES:  Minutes for the meeting on May 10th, 2004, were accepted as is.




Joe Quinn asked the past subcommittee chairs to review their subcommittee’s activities last year.


Academic Affairs.  Eileen Sweeney reported that the subcommittee had spent the year gathering information for a report on the use of undergraduates as teaching assistants and graders in the college. She stated that two issues required consideration:

  • What was the nature of the work the students were engaged in – tutoring, grading, technical training, class presentation? and
  • Were the students paid or did they receive course credit? If the later, did they receive credit more than once for working the same course?


She added that two departments seemed to be special cases:

  • Mathematics, where students tutor and grade homework assignments but not exams; and
  • Communication, where students are paid as graders in core classes and are given credits for serving as TAs in upper division courses.

The subcommittee’s recommendations were:

  • Undergraduates should only be used when there is a demonstrated necessity;
  • Undergraduates who work as TAs or graders should usually be paid for their work rather then given course credit; exceptions may exist; and
  • The EPC should develop guidelines for when undergraduates could be used as TAs.


Joe Quinn stated that the use of undergraduates as TAs and graders was limited to six or eight departments and that the real issue was budget.  He allowed that in some cases course credit might be appropriate but that strict criteria needed to be set concerning how many credits and whether they should be graded or pass/fail. Barbara Viechnicki added that the Computer Science Department needed to be included.


Honors.  Michael Martin reported that the subcommittee had spent the year gathering information for a report on grade inflation or compression in the College which also included surveys of other institutions. He added that the rise in figures like the median GPA followed almost exactly the rise in quality of the undergraduates over the past decade and a half.  Joe Quinn stated that the problem was not really inflation but compression resulting in the loss of the ability to make distinctions among students.

Martin continued stating that the subcommittee report included three recommendations:

·        Educate the faculty about the general situation in the college and in their department relative to their own grading;

·        Develop measures for assessing student’s relative performance and placing that information on the transcripts; and

·        Incorporating some measure of students’ grade expectations into student course evaluations.


Noting that the initial report with supplementary documentation ran over 20 pages he added that the task now would be to decide what to distribute.


Joe Quinn passed out a version “sautéed” down to a mere 10 pages, noted that the department by department comparisons would need to be masked or deleted and that, to date, this should be considered confidential.


Solomon Friedberg stated that the difference between students GPAs could be .001. Bill Petri, Michael Martin, and Ourida Mostefai, agreed that the rise in the quality of the students raised the possibility that the grade inflation resulted from faculty expectations having remained flat. Robert Scott asked if there was a correlation between SAT scores and grade performance. Bill Petri raised the point that with this information the college might re-consider the GPA cutoffs for any types of honors and distinctions awarded at graduation.


Martin concluded that there might be an additional philosophical issue in that there did not seem to be any agreement on the purpose of grades, for example are grades in some manner comparative?


Appeals.  Jennie Purnell briefly described the Appeals Subcommittee’s business as hearing student appeals concerning grading and unfair applications of college rules and noted that Appeals did not handle academic integrity cases.


Ourida Mostefai stated that there were some outstanding jurisdiction and procedural questions noting that occasionally a situation arose which involved students from the other schools taking an A&S course. Solomon Friedberg noted that the appeal procedures and integrity procedures varied between the schools.




Joe Quinn stated that there would probably be requests to approve two new minors this year – one in Catholic Studies and another in Jewish Studies. He noted that the procedural model for these would be the approval of the BA in Biology and the approval of the Psychoanalytic Studies Program.


Helina Teklehaimont and Christina Corea stated that there would be a proposal for an Ethnic Studies Program originating from students. Catherine Schneider stated there might be some initiatives dealing with cross school minors. Joe Quinn noted that as CSOM did not allow minors there could be no cross school minors with CSOM. Ourida Mostefai added that students could take courses on a space available basis but they could not construct a minor.


ADJOURNMENT.  Joe Quinn passed out the preliminary list of subcommittee assignments and ask that the members caucus briefly to elect chairs. He adjourned the meeting at 5:00 P.M.


Respectfully Submitted



Michael C. Martin

Secretary to the EPC