Index of Topics 10/24/2006

Minors at Western – Discussion of formalizing

        For Approval  11/7/06 – to Faculty Senate 11/13/06       

Commissioners’ Concerns – a) Excluding majors from courses; b) Increasing Pass/Fail options





Regular Meeting  --  October 24, 2006


Chair Jim Hearne called the meeting of the Academic Coordinating Commission to order on October 24, 2006, in OM340 at 4:02 p.m. There were fifteen (15) members present, and three (3) others for a total of  eighteen.  (18). (See attached roster). 

Approval of ACC minutes

Commissioners approved the minutes of October 10th with a revision to one section.

Report from the Chair

Chair Hearne reported that some members of the Ad Hoc Committee on Add/Drop policies had met to discuss relevant issues, and that progress is being made.

Appointments to ACC Standing Committees:
Commissioners appointed the following faculty to Standing Committees:

To the General Education Requirements Committee:

Elsi Vassdal Ellis, 06-08, from the College of Fine and Performing Arts

David Rossiter, 06-08, from Huxley College


Diana Wright, ACC representative to GER Cte, Fall Qtr

One Vacancy still remains to the GER Committee:   one representative, Woodring College








Action Taken


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Postponed from previous meeting until confirmed that the Munro Seminar days are reduced from 5 to 3 days.




General Education Requirements Committee


Summary of survey. “CATL” stands for the Committee on Assessment of Teaching & Learning



Huxley College Curriculum Committee**




Core list policy

New temporary summer courses

Quorum rule change considered; course revisions, etc.











Comments on Curricular Minutes: 

Commissioners reminded curriculum and standing committees that “virtual meetings” are not okay since there is no way to make motions or conduct business.  However, it is okay to have the membership approve minutes online in the interest of timeliness.

** Chair Hearne will write to Huxley about the timeliness of their meeting minutes, and reasons for approving summer courses  at this late date.

Fairhaven’s Commissioner, Marie Eaton, reported meeting with Dean Gilman, the Registrar and the Catalog coordinators to solve the course numbering challenges in Fairhaven.  They will try to find more “special topics” numbers, and then the can plug in the unique title each year.  Adjuncts are hired late in the year and titles are arrived at late which has caused lateness in the minutes previously.

Commissioners confirmed there is a rule that a class not taught in two years go off the books, but that departments have to be alert to keep track of these.

Commissioners asked about Middle East classes taught in both CHSS and Huxley, and learned that the Huxley class is strictly geography.


DISCUSSION – Acquiring A Minor at Western --possible Formalization

Chair Hearne asked commissioners for their opinion on whether it would be advisable to increase the level of formalization of obtaining a minor at Western.  At present students get a minor listed on their transcript if they have sufficient number of courses in a particular area when they apply for graduation.

Commissioners’ comments:

§    Would formalization impact access to the majors?

§    Joe St. Hilaire:  While there is no formal declaration process, the new degree audit system will allow minors to be tracked, and we do it right now.  Because of degree audit we do need students to declare both a major and a minor in order to do a full evaluation.  To this end we have asked departments to give us a list of their minors.  Since asking students to declare minors the minors have increased fourfold, and we now have about 550 students with declared minors.  Same in spring quarter; we had about 500 who graduated with a minor.  At the same time, because they are not required to submit a minor declaration (it doesn’t give them any advantage for registration purposes, for example), they are taking classes in the minor whether they contact the department or not, and then 2 quarters before they graduate they ask the department to sign off on the minor.

§    Provost Bodman:  Should we have a formal declaration of a minor?  If it is true that the minors have no advantage in registration, what can be done, especially since highly impacted departments can hardly fit in their majors?

§    St. Hilaire:  We could require a formal declaration of a minor, perhaps by 120 credits or 135 credits rather than allowing them to come through at the last minute.

§    Commissioner:  Would it not be possible to have a preference order for registration:  first majors, then minors, then those with another interest?   This would involve talking to the Deans; some departments such as Sociology have done that for years, opening up courses to other majors after Phase I.

§    Bodman:  There should be some consistency in the policy, even though some have no access.  We should make it as easy as possible for students to declare a minor if they wished.

§    St. Hilaire.   We would need a system with some assurance that all majors had first choice; currently this varies greatly across the curriculum depending how impacted the majors are.

§    Karen Perry:  As the Advisor for all General Studies majors, there is a real impact on them.  General Studies' students are encouraged to minor; in many cases they can minor in several areas.   However, having to do it early might be disadvantageous since they might not even know they are in General Studies until around 120 credits.

§    Hearne asks if this has resource implications.

§    Bodman:  Yes, if this helps in getting access to courses they will be declaring a lot.  Some have learned they can declare one day and undeclare another day in order to get into the system.

§    St. Hilaire.  This doesn’t happen so much any more as departments watch carefully.   

§    Commissioner:  However, this does raise competing questions of access between Interdisciplinary studies, Minors, and Fairhaven students.  The present system works also, whereby departments use wait lists to give access of their own.

Commissioners:  If you are going to make a student jump through another hoop with this, then you should provide advisement and a structure to support the student.  Just signing a line somewhere is useless.  Overrides are currently the standardized form of acquiring a minor.  Most of the minors stated in the catalog require a specific number of credits, and specific numbers of courses, and some of these are by advisement.  There is a huge variation in the number of credits required for a minor from department to department.  Is there some sort of statement about what the size of a minor is supposed to look like?  Is it in the middle 20’s, even as high as 35 or 40?  Do those cross-disciplinary studies minors exist like Victorian studies?  What about in Fairhaven?  If a student is doing a concentration in Fairhaven, he can also minor in something else as long as there is no double-dipping in the major requirements.


 Commissioners Concerns:

ü      Lisa Zuzarte and Karen Perry announced that they are planning to meet with GER committee on course proposal processes, and are currently creating and revising an FYE form, and the GER form and making both electronic.


Exclusions Posted in the Bulletin:  Commissioner:  Q:  When  you have a freshman course, how do you forbid your majors from taking that course and receiving credit for it?  A:  There is an Include and Exclude feature that can be posted in Classfinder and Registration online.  Even if not in the system, you can put in the catalog “NOT INTENDED FOR _____MAJORS” for example.

ü      Commissioners continued a side discussion in light of the previous question, as to whether we should be teaching watered down courses for anybody?  Is this a 2-tier knowledge system?  Others responded that we can teach a rigorous conceptual-based subject course whether or not the student is majoring in the subject.  A course specific to non-majors can emphasize material different from that required in the major.  Commissioners adjourned before completing the discussion.


Pass/Fail: James Sanders, Associated Students Vice President-Academics, would like to propose that to prevent too many “add/drops” that student be allowed to take one Pass/Fail course choice a year.  Provost Bodman pointed out the challenge with that; if you do it in sequenced courses you create a huge loophole; many students who take a Pass/Fail could do either C work or many do A or B work.   Again, if for example, you need a 2.75 GPA to get into a particular program, and one of your courses is Pass/Fail, you are risking not getting in.  

ü      So, why do we have the Pass/Fail system?  So students can take a little risk in learning.  They can take a class out of curiosity about which they may have some temerity about.  They can elect the Pass/Fail, and frequently end up with A or B work.  Any elective can be Pass/Fail.  Commissioners learned that an initiative came from students when Pass/Fail was first instituted, that a NO PASS on 10 credits prohibits you from taking any additional Pass/Fail courses.



Commissioners adjourned at 4:57 pm.

Rose Marie Norton-Nader, Recorder, October 24, 2006





Membership (term ending 2007)



Chair – James Hearne 2006-2007



A -  James Hearne, Computer Science, Chair



Vice Chair – Roger Thompson



A -  Jim Stewart, Senator, Physics Astronomy






D – *Grant Donnellan, Music, ( NElig)






E -- George Zhang, Decision Science, CBE



Bodman, Andrew (Provost)



G – Patrick Buckley, Huxley (Fall Qtr for David Wallin)



Lisa Zuzarte (Catalog Coordinator)



H – Shelby Sheppard, Woodring (Fall Qtr for Marsha







Membership (term ending 2008)



Registrar, Recorder, Guests



A –  Michael Meehan, Senator, Computer Science



Joe St. Hilaire, Registrar



B –*Diana Wright, for Linda Kimball rep to GER-Fall Qtr



Rose Marie Norton-Nader, Recorder



C -  Leonard Helfgott, History



Troy Ragsdale, Classroom Scheduling



C -  Roger Thompson, Senator, History



Karen Perry, former Catalog Coord.



F -  Marie Eaton, Fairhaven






I –  Stefanie Buck, Library, rep to EESP






S -  James Sanders, ASVP-Academics, 2006-2007






S -  Christian Opfer, 2006-07, rep to UPC



Members Present



S -  Nate Warren, 2006-07



Registrar, Recorder, Guest Present



S-   *Lauren Balisky, 2006-07



TOTAL PRESENT October 24, 2006



      *Not Eligible for Re-election (served 4 yrs)












Members (18)






12 faculty (2yr terms) rep each area.  Provost, Catalog Coordinator (ex officio)  4 students (1 ASVP), 2 faculty Senators.  ACC reps:  to UPC, to GUR, to SenLegislCte.    Guests: Registrar, Recorder