College of Arts and Sciences

Educational Policy Meeting

 

Minutes of the 394th Meeting

Thursday, October 9th, 2003

____________________________________________________

 

MEMBERS.

PRESENT:  Joe Burns, Michael Connolly, Lisa Cuklanz, Paul Davidovits, Andrea Defusco-Sullivan, Vincent Dimaggio, Clare Dunsford, Solomon Friedberg, Omar Gonzales, Thomas McGuinness, Michael Martin, Gilda Morelli, Robert Murphy, Clare O'Connor, Mary Daniel O'Keeffe, O.P., William Petri, Jennie Purnell, David Quigley, Joseph Quinn, Grace Simmons, Eileen Sweeney, Barbara Viechnicki,.

 

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

 

INTRODUCTIONS: The members each introduced themselves and welcomed the six new members: Lisa Cuklanz, Paul Davidovits, Vincent Dimaggio, Omar Gonzales, William Petri, and David Quigley.

 

MINUTES:  Minutes for May 1st 2003 were approved subject to corrections offered by Bob Murphy.

 

 

SUBCOMMITTEE REPORTS.

 

Academic Affairs. Solomon Friedberg reported that the subcommittee handled two major issues last year:

  • Approval of a new interdepartmental program in Psychoanalytic Studies headed by Vanessa Rumble;
  • and a review of departmental minors.

 

Friedberg stated that, with some revisions in the required introductory courses and other details, the EPC had approved the new minor in Psychoanalytic Studies. He also stated that the review of minors had been completed and a letter sent to all the directors of all the departmental minors outlining the committee’s findings. He closed noting that, with the exception of the university’s need to bring consistency to the presentation of the information about the minors, there were no outstanding issues.

 

Honors. Bob Murphy reported that the subcommittee dealt with four issues last year:

  • A revision of the Independent Majors program raising the required GPA and instituting a requirement that students present alternate course sequences.
  • The completion of the review of departmental honors begun during the previous year suggesting the elements that should be included in any honors program and encouraging the inclusion of a senior thesis or research project.
  • A brief discussion of grade inflation which would likely be dealt with this year.
  • And a major review of the use of AP credits, SAT exams, and International Baccalaureate credits in the College of Arts and Sciences and the university core.  Following the subcommittee’s conversations with the departments
    • Romance Languages and Literatures and Germanic Studies maintained the AP score required for proficiency at “3” but raised the SAT II score to 550.
    • Fine Arts raised the required score for Core credit to “4” but retained the “3” for internal placement.
    • The chair of the English department indicated that department would probably agree to raise the scores required for English Literature and for Writing from “3” to “4” and to “5” for credit in both.

 

Murphy also reported that the subcommittee met with the University Core Development Committee to discuss dropping the infamous “rule of 9” requiring that nine of the required core course be taken at BC. Clare Dunsford, a member of the UCDC, stated that the issue should be considered as “under discussion.”

 

Murphy closed by stating that the subcommittee had recommended that the History Department be asked to reconsider the use of AP scores for satisfying the core and credit in the major.

 

Appeals. Joe Burns reported that the subcommittee had reviewed two grade appeals cases and two appeals of Deans’ rulings during the academic year and one request to include summer course grades in a students cumulative GPA.

 

Dean Quinn thanked the subcommittee chairs and told the members generally that, having heard the reports, if they wished to serve on a subcommittee other than that to which they had been assigned they should let him know.

 

 

NEW BUSINESS.

 

Academic Integrity. Dean Quinn stated that the Academic Vice President’s Advisory Committee had solicited the EPC’s opinion

  • whether the decision of a school’s Academic Integrity Committee stands as a recommendation to the faculty member who retains the final decision
  • or the Committee’s decision replaces the faculty member’s grade.

 

Dean Quinn noted that the conflict is between the tradition of faculty prerogative in matters of grading and the intent of the university to encourage equity across the university in matters of academic integrity.

 

Discussion.

 

  • Joe Burns stated that in such cases the committee generally decided the facts, made a recommendation for action, but left the grading to the faculty member. He added that the Deans did have the authority to grant a “W” or to change a registration to “P/F”.
  • Paul Davidovits stated that cheating was an offense against the institution not just the individual faculty member thus the university committee’s finding and recommendation should be binding.
  • Bob Murphy, Michael Martin, and Bill Petri all stated they thought this possibility would discourage the faculty from bringing cases to the committee. Bill Petri added the suggestion that the letter recommending the “F” be sent to the dean, filed in the sealed folder, with the information used in the case of a second offense. 
  • Gilda Morelli and Clare Dunsford both stated that the committee sees a breadth of cases that any individual faculty member would not and sought to assure equity across these cases and to protect students from overly harsh penalties imposed by some faculty members.
  • Michael Connolly stated that the problem arose because the policy was badly worded, that the faculty should be free to reject a committee’s or the dean’s recommendation about a grade, and that an administrative “W” could be granted in any case where the deans thought the faculty member had acted too harshly. 
  • Solomon Friedberg stated that the grading could be left to the faculty and a letter of sanction could address the question of the offense to the university. Dean Quinn responded this could lead to inequities case to case.
  • Paul Davidovits asked if any effort had been made to ascertain what other institutions did in such cases. Clare Dunsford stated there had been a survey of other Jesuit universities and the BC policy and which revealed a wide variety of practices.

 

Dean Quinn pointed out that the members of this committee had been elected as representatives of the faculty and that the task at hand was to make a recommendation to the AVP’s Advisory Committee. He then asked for a vote on three possible recommendations:

    1. That the committee’s recommendation concerning a sanction should continue to be advisory and that the faculty member should retain control over the grade.
    2. That the word “recommendation” should be dropped from the document and the committee’s decision should be binding.
    3. That the issue be sent to the EPC Academic Affairs subcommittee a committee for consideration and future discussion.  

 

Since there was not a clear majority for wither of the first two, the issue was sent to the subcommittee and will be discussed at the next meeting.

 

 

Topics for the coming year.  Dean Quinn offered the following two major issues.

 

  • For Academic Affairs: The use of undergraduates as teaching assistants and graders in undergraduate courses.
  • For Honors: Grade inflation or compression.

 

Dean Quinn asked that if anyone had additional suggestions for topics that EPC should take they should contact him. He then passed out the committee assignments sheet and added again that if any one wished to serve on a subcommittee other than that to which they had been assigned they should let him know.

 

 

ADJOURNMENT.  Dean Quinn thanked everyone and adjourned the meeting at 5:40 P.M.

 

Respectfully Submitted

 

 

Michael C. Martin

Secretary to the EPC