Index of Topics 10/6/09

Approved 10/20/09;  to Faculty Senate 10/26/09

Topics for 2009-2010


Report on Accreditation Standards


Honors review


Creation of Ad Hoc Committee on Academic Policy





Regular Meeting  --  October 6, 2009


Chair Roger Thompson called the meeting of the 2008-2009 Academic Coordinating Commission to order at 4:20 pm on Tuesday, October 6, 2009.  Prior to the call to order Commissioners had introduced themselves and described their interest in curriculum matters.  They also welcomed and heard from Provost Catherine Riordan.  There were nineteen (19) people present (see attached roster).


Approval of ACC minutes Members approved minutes of May 26, 2009 with one correction.

Report from the Chair

·    Chair Thompson presented some authors who write about curriculum, including former Dean of Harvard College, Harry Lewis (Excellence Without Soul), and Derrick Bok (Our Underachieving Colleges).

·    Thompson plans to have material to present to ACC by mid-quarter on course numbering schemes for X97s, X17s and X417s. 

·    Thompson highlighted ACC accomplishments for the past three years, including:

o   06-07 alpha numeric course numbering

o   07-08 fractional writing units and revisions to the ACC charge

o   08-09 formation of the Committee on Undergraduate Education


ACC Proposed Plans for 2009-2010:

Course numbering revisions to the catalog outlined above.

Interdisciplinary studies: curriculum oversight and rationalization in several categories covering a vast umbrella such as area-specific studies, and those growing out of the Women’s movements, civil rights, etc.. On March 4, 2008 ACC had an extensive discussion on this topic in its minutes.  Fairhaven and General Studies are also big players in interdisciplinary studies.

·      Minors.  ACC also discussed the role of the Minor at Western, asking what is expected of a Minor or a Major.  Currently there are 80 active minors, and 40 inactive minors since students began to formally declare a minor in 2006.  This represents a 400% increase.  By Spring 2009 10% of all students had declared a minor.  21% declared in 2007, but last spring 37% declared a minor and many seniors had two minors.  This implies expansion for curriculum and for departments. 

·      In 2008 we raised the question -- what is purpose of a minor and what are we doing with it.  Some departments have different requirements than others.  Do we have some more formal ideal or policy to which we want students to adhere?

Committee on Undergraduate Education.  Commissioners need to think about the ACC relationship with CUE.  Tracy Thorndike, as our CUE representative will be able to inform us what has been going on and concerns in both committees early on in the year.

·      Assessment and CUE.  Faculty members through CUE will have greater access to the resources for institutional assessment. We want close coordination in order to make sure that CUE and ACC are able to get inquiries answered.

New Initiatives:  ACC initiated discussions last year which led to the current white papers on Graduate Studies, International Education, Extended Education and Off Campus programs, etc., and plans to continue these discussions throughout the year.


Report from Vice Provost Steve VanderStaay

Accreditation standards have been rewritten.  VanderStaay is asking for a response from faculty and students yet still intends to protect faculty from unnecessary work.  VanderStaay will share the standards and the response with the ACC to get input and support for the idea that having as many as 16 metrics can dilute their meaning and usefulness.

·      Accreditors have shifted a request for development of “core functions” to an idea of  “core themes” and asked how these are addressed by themes and benchmarks throughout the university.  In this time of fiscal difficulty universities share many core values and so we oppose an additional request for “themes”.

·      Assessment reports are no longer required in 10 year increments but rather in 3-year reports that are shorter, and there are an increased number of shorter visits.  VanderStaay is seeking broad response to this, with comments on expectations of faculty members for assessment and how it is defined.  He noted that definitions are hard to figure out and not all that clear  in the new documents.  He asked “how do you determine what is a ‘core theme’ for a university? “

·      Faculty on ACC responded that one suggestion would be to select 2, or 3 or 4 strategic objectives, set goals and benchmarks and show how we are successfully on the road to accomplishing these.

·      VanderStaay commented that we can continue to ask for brevity.  Next year we may have to participate in selecting themes tied in to the president’s campaign, the strategic plan, etc. Getting familiar with the current document might help us down the road.

·      There is more flexibility under the new model for the university to determine what it wants assessed. 

·      VanderStaay added that this draft is the fifth draft, but the accreditors did not respond to requests about earlier drafts nor did they vary away from the “theme” orientation. 






ACC Action and Comment


Fairhaven College




Graduate Council

1/27/09 revised

Accepted.  MBA off-campus programs must include in the minutes the program titles, dean approvals, HEC Board and Provost approvals, and related course information (Zuzarte).


Graduate Council review


Accepted.  “Stacked” courses are defined as those which include both graduate and undergraduate students.


Honors Board




Huxley College


Accepted.  ESTU478 under review.  Question as to whether students get a Western “transcript”.  Generally not as this course is taught by a non-Western instructor and is attended by community students, non-traditional students who rarely come to Western.  Such off - campus programs now appear under regular college purview and are part of regular curricular minutes. 


Commissioners CommentsHONORS

Commissioners asked Provost Riordan for her perspective on maintaining quality in the Honors sequences and programs during difficulty budget years.

·      Riordan noted that we should be paying attention to Honors in terms of its mission and focus, and its possibility as a recruitment device, as well as enhancement of the curriculum.  Honors in the sciences can attract out of state students.  A greater percentage of Honors students graduate within five years.  We can think about an “Honors College”, or in some schools where students get their own “Honors GURs”.  Spencer Anthony Cahill noted that in some of the sciences, chemistry, for example, demand for courses and labs makes it difficult to secure a smaller class for an Honors student.  A prototypical Honors student is a female chemistry major.

·      Riordan is planning a larger review of the Honors programs this year; our draw of high academic level students has been failing, and Honors is a way to draw them.  Riordan will ask ACC for guidance.

·      Commissioners asked what colleges aside from Fairhaven might design faculty/student majors, and learned that this happens in Huxley College.  Liberal Studies also administers self-designed majors.  Lisa Zuzarte pointed out that all the colleges have a blurb in the catalog that allow for faculty/student designed majors, including the graduate school.  Andy Bach commented that in Huxley there are only two or three a year as faculty succeed in convincing the student that he/she can find enough within a regular major.



Ad Hoc Committee on Academic Policy

Commissioners discussed creating an Ad Hoc Academic Policy committee.  Commissioners believe that

faculty should be making the primary decisions regarding student scholastic and academic policies in the catalog. 

o  Susanna Yunker agreed and pointed out that there are many inconsistencies which are difficult to police in Banner or enforce any other way, or due to changing circumstances are no longer easily applicable.  Yunker requests faculty insight so that procedures can be updated.  As questions arise there is no real venue through which Yunker can vet policies.  Proposals for policy revisions by such a committee would continue to come before ACC.

o  At the next ACC meeting the Executive Committee will bring back language proposing the creation of an ad hoc committee.  This will consist of a few faculty that will work with the VPUE and the registrar’s office to review certain scholastic policies that no longer serve students well and to improve catalog language for the same.  These might include, among others, policies such as:

·      Transfer students allowed 105 credits but Honors require they then take 90 here, a load of 15 extra.

·      Add/drop policy in general and Drop privileges.  2 drop privileges per academic year.  Once the open drop period ends a student has to come in and see if the drop has been used. Most students don’t know they have a drop privilege or that it has been exceeded.

·      Residence.  Students studying abroad not eligible for Honors because the last 65 credits must be taken here at Western.

·      Prerequisites and drop.  A student that is required to meet prerequisites or leave the course may not know he has to drop the course himself.  Implications for financial aid and for access by other students.

·      Grade averaging for course repeats may impede students from moving past a deep hole they dug earlier in their career.  There is no statistical proof that such a policy allows other students greater access.

·      Graduation residence policy requires that you complete the last 45 credits here on campus -- a hardship if a student is called to military service or runs into family challenges.

·      Formation of a small committee might allow for revolving membership each quarter as new topics emerge and faculty with expertise in that particular area join the committee.  


Members adjourned at 5:28 pm

Rose Marie Norton-Nader, Recorder, October 6, 2009




Voting Membership (terms ending 2010)



Chair – Roger Thompson  2010



B –  Billie Lindsey, PEHR



Vice Chair – James Hearne  2010



C – Roger Thompson, History, Chair






 Kristi Tyran, Management (At Lg on leave Fall & Winter)



Ex Officio



I – Peter Smith, Library



Catherine Riordan Provost  (v)



Spencer Anthony-Cahill, SENATOR



Susanna Yunker, Registrar (nv)



James Hearne, SENATOR, VChair



Lisa Zuzarte, Catalog Coordinator (nv)



Ramon Rinonos-Diaz, ASVP-Academics






Associated Student member






Associated Student member



Permanent Guests



Associated Student member



Steve VanderStaay, VP Undergraduate Education



Voting Membership (terms ending 2011)



David Brunnemer, Associate Registrar



H-Tracy Thorndike-Christ, Spec Ed, CUE  






E-Brandon Dupont for Yvonne Durham, Economics



Rose Marie Norton-Nader, Recorder (nv)



D-Mark Kuntz, Theater






Cynthia Camlin, Art (At Lg, for K.Tyran FallWint 09-10)



Members Present



A-Roger Anderson, Biology, UPRC



Recorder and Guests



F-Niall O. Murchu, Fairhaven  (1 yr term for J. Helling)






G-Andy Bach, Huxley College



Date:  10/6/09        TOTAL:


 Members (18):12 faculty (2yr terms) represent 9 areas and 1 at-large plus 2 Senators (1 yr terms).  6 additional members include:  Provost (v), Catalog Coordinator (nv), Registrar (nv) and 4 students (voting).  ACC sends reps to UPC and CUE.  Recorder attends (nv).