EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MINUTES
Present: Bryant, DiMagno, Fuller, King, Logan-Peters, Miller, Peterson,
Sawyer, Spann, Whitt, Wolf, Wunder
Date: Wednesday, December 4, 2002
1.0 Call to Order
Miller called the meeting to order at 3:00 pm.
No announcements were made.
3.0 Undergraduate Advising Anne Kopera, Director, Advising, Arts & Sciences; Don Gregory, Director, General Studies; Dennis Schulte, Biological Systems Engineering
Miller noted that one of the goals of the Executive Committee is to improve the undergraduate experience at UNL. He asked the guests to discuss issues they see regarding undergraduate advising. Gregory stated that he sees three relevant issues: the complexity of advising, a culture clash between faculty advisers and professional advisers, and the lack of a reward system. Schulte stated that there is an incredible difference in the quality of advising from department to department, even within the same college, and that the complexity of advising has made the job more complicated. Spann asked if there are equal advising loads within a department. Schulte stated that there is not an equal distribution of advisees, in part because some faculty members specialize in advising freshman and sophomore students. Kopera noted that there have been three major overhauls of undergraduate requirements during her years at UNL, each one making the process increasingly more complicated.
Kopera stated that the complexity issue is a major concern for students. She stated that they are often unaware of whom they should see for advising. She pointed out that there is no overall coordination of advising on campus. She stated that it would be particularly helpful for colleges to work together on advising issues since many of the required courses can be outside a students college.
Kopera stated that other concerns are the lack of resources and the heavy advising load. She pointed out that the national association for advisers recommends a ratio of 300 students to 1 adviser. However, the Arts & Sciences advising center currently has a ratio of 1100 to 1. She stated that campus-wide recognition and reward for advisers would be greatly appreciated and helpful. She stated there also needs to be a campus-wide definition of advising.
Schulte pointed out that there has been a decrease in resources for advisers, particularly in dealing with students who have problems outside of academics. He noted that there is no longer any structure or place to turn to for assisting these students. Kopera pointed out that the Academic Success Center no longer exists.
Kopera stated that there are two models of advising. Colleges that have a split model have an advising center and also faculty advisers to assist with a students major. Colleges with a single model only have faculty advisers. She noted that Arts & Sciences has a split model and that its advising center works well with faculty. Whitt stated that it would be helpful for faculty in Arts & Sciences to have a clearer idea of what they should be doing as advisers and what is being done by the advising center.
Fuller asked if the new DARS system is helpful. Kopera stated that Arts & Sciences is not using it yet but plans to in a year. Gregory stated that the report generated by DARS is cumbersome at best. He stated that General Studies will not use it because it is quicker to explain things to the students using the form developed by General Studies. Fuller stated that she uses it and that it has been very helpful because information is readily accessible. Kopera noted that the complexity of the reports is a result of the complexity of the universitys undergraduate requirements. DiMagno suggested that a form from DARS could be placed on the web for students to use. Schulte stated that plans are to make it web based for students.
Wunder asked if it was time for the faculty to review the requirements for their departments and whether it was appropriate for the Senate to call for a review of the curriculum. Kopera, Gregory, and Schulte all agreed that it would be appropriate for the Senate to call for a review. Kopera warned that if the list of courses to fulfill requirements were made too narrow there would be a backlash of too many requests for substitutions. Gregory noted that the Freshmen Experience Task Force examined the most popular courses for new students and determined that the list was relatively short. Peterson pointed out that having a long list of options gives students flexibility. He stated that the Integrated Studies courses are more of a problem than the Essential Studies courses.
Wunder stated that a problem related to advising is room assignments. He noted that courses are being moved into general purpose classrooms where audio/visual equipment is not available and the room size can not accommodate the class size. Kopera stated that she once called a summit meeting of department chairs to discuss course scheduling. She stated that the chairs were unaware that some of their courses were causing conflicts with other required courses.
Peterson stated that he often sees freshmen and senior students but rarely sees sophomores and juniors. He wondered how much students were missing by not seeing advisers during this time period and whether there was something that could be done so that advisers see more of these students.
Wolf asked what can be done to improve advising on campus. Gregory stated that the colleges need to decide on the system they want to use and stick with it. He stated that if it is done seriously, a reward system should be incorporated. Wolf asked about the issue of coordination. Gregory pointed out that if the colleges develop a good advising system, coordination should not be as big a problem.
Kopera stated that the lack of resources continues to be a big problem. She stated that the advisers are doing a great deal of work with very few resources. She noted that the advisers are also being asked to do recruiting as well as advising. Bryant pointed out that the white paper on teaching written by the Academy of Distinguished Teachers does not address advising and that faculty members seem to be steered away from advising by the Vice Chancellors. Schulte noted that a message was sent with the closing of the Academic Success Center that advising is not important.
DiMagno asked the committee whether the Senate should review the comprehensive program requirements to see if they can be simplified. He suggested that a classical liberal arts model could be used. Wolf pointed out that the issue is more complex and that some of the ES and IS requirements were attempts to provide a liberal arts education. Peterson noted that before the comprehensive education program, CASNR students could often avoid taking courses in the humanities altogether. Kopera suggested that the IS requirements could be eliminated. Spann noted that IS courses are not being taught as they should because of the lack of resources and the increased size of classes.
Wolf asked who represents the advisers. Gregory stated that no one currently represents the academic advisers. He noted that this may fall under the responsibilities of the new Dean of Undergraduate Studies. Peterson pointed out that the committee could bring this concern to the SVCAA. He noted that the committee will interview the candidates for the position when they are brought to campus and that the questions regarding advising need to be asked. Spann suggested that the Dean of Undergraduate Studies should also oversee technology in general purpose classrooms. He pointed out that often these classrooms lack working equipment.
4.0 Approval of 11/20/02 Minutes
Spann moved and Peterson seconded approval of the minutes. Motion approved.
5.0 Follow Up on December Senate Meeting
The committee discussed the conversation on the APC procedures and how the Senate meetings could be conducted to encourage greater participation by the Senators.
6.0 Unfinished Business
6.1 Presentation of Domestic Partner Benefits to Board of Regents (Wolf)
Wolf reported that he will be speaking to the Board at their December meeting regarding domestic partner benefits. He stated that he will present the information that the situation has now changed and the University is now in the minority of its peer institutions in not offering these benefits. The committee agreed that it would be helpful if the Chancellor spoke to the Board as well.
6.2 ASUNS Resolution on Transit Service Fee
Griffin distributed a copy of the ASUNs resolution regarding the transit service fee. The resolution calls for a mandatory transit fee for all students only if such fee is assessed as University Program and Facilities Fee and is annually reviewed by ASUN Student Government. The committee agreed to wait and see if the resolution passes.
6.3 Retirement Cap
Bryant reported that he received notification from the Chancellor that he and President Smith did not think the upcoming legislative session would be a good time to introduce the bill to remove the cap because of the budget crisis. Bryant noted that he has been working with Senator Beutler on the bill and that he needs to confer with the Senator about whether to introduce the bill or not. Bryant stated that he would like to discuss the issue with the committee soon. DiMagno pointed out that the retirement cap bill seeks to change the language and does not have an impact on the budget at this time.
7.0 New Business
7.1 Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics
Miller distributed a copy of a call to form a coalition on intercollegiate athletics. He noted that the coalition is being formed by schools of the Big 10. The coalition is requesting schools of the Big 12 to join. The committee agreed to discuss the issue at the next meeting.
The meeting was adjourned at 5:12 pm. The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be on Wednesday, December 11 at 3:00 pm. The meeting will be held in the Academic Senate Office, 420 University Terrace. The minutes are respectfully submitted by Karen Griffin, Coordinator and James King, Secretary.