Minutes of the December 2, 2004 Meeting of the Academic Policies Committee of the Faculty Senate
Present: Esther Elstun (chair), Jean Moore (member), Clifton Sutton (member), Susan Jones (guest)
Absent: Carol Kaffenberger (member), Susan Trencher (member, on leave)
After some preliminary conversation, discussion of the
agenda items began at 3:09 PM.
The meeting adjourned at 4:30 PM.
- The minutes of the October 7, 2004 and November 11, 2004 meetings were approved.
- Cliff gave a progress report on his work involving the possible establishment of an "open withdrawal period"
for graduate students (during which graduate students can drop a limited number of classes, for any reason and
without needing permission from a dean, after the drop deadline (which is about a month into the semester)). Such an
open withdrawal period for graduate students would be similar to the one established last spring, and to be put into
effect in Fall 2005, for undergraduate students.
- At the Oct. 20 meeting of the Graduate Council, Provost Stearns did a good job of explaining the need to
consider late course withdrawals for graduate students, and Vice Provost Schwartzstein made some statements in
support of the proposed policy. Stearns reported that they would return to the discussion of the proposed policy
change at their Nov. 17 meeting, but the Graduate Council web site indicates that this issue wasn't discussed at that
time. Schwartzstein further communicated with me last month that that the Graduate Council needed more time to
consider the issue, and that it is hoped that something specific will be decided on at their Dec. 15 meeting.
(In summary, it seems as though they have decided that some sort of policy change is appropriate, but that the
details have yet to be firmed up.)
- Susan Jones supplied some additional information. She reported that some of the details being considered
pertain to issues involving GTAs and GRAs, students simultaneously in both M.S. and Ph.D. programs, and whether
units can adopt different policies. She indicated that she will work closely with the Graduate Council on this.
- It is hoped that this item of business can be completed soon and reported on at the January meeting of the
- Since Carol was unable to attend, Esther gave a progress report on Carol's work involving an investigation of
whether faculty have sufficient input
regarding the approval of undergraduate interdisciplinary programs involving more than one academic unit.
Prior to Thanksgiving, Carol sent an e-mail request to all Senators, soliciting their opinions, if any, on the matter,
and she has yet to receive any response.
- Since Carol was unable to attend, Esther and Susan gave a progress report on the revision of the parts of the
GMU catalog pertaining to academic policies. Some of the parts that will be changed are indicated below.
- Susan Jones cleared up a recently proposed change regarding university honors (see p. 40 of the current GMU
catalog), since it is the degree GPA that will determine graduation with distiction.
- Susan Jones updated the portion of the catalog dealing with academic progress so that the changes in policy that
resulted from the former Task Force's recommendations should not be subect to misinterpretation.
- The changes regarding undergraduate drop policy will be included.
- Jean reported on her investigation of the issue regarding the "13 hour rule" (with the issue being whether or
not to get rid of the rule which restricts the number of credit hours for which undergraduate students in academic
jeopardy may register for in a semester).
- Jean talked to both Renate Guilford and Linda Schwartzstein, and neither had any new information to support the
abolishment of the rule. (The change from SIS to Banner has made it difficult to obtain any new data to support a
particular position.) Renate indicated that she has now "seen the other side" and seems to be undecided with
regard to what would be best, indicating that she doesn't have an opinion at this point.
Linda indicated that while she has several concerns, she hasn't done an extensive study (comparing before and
after) of the rule. Although she stated that she is in favor of suspending the rule, she also indicated
that she would be comfortable with whatever the AP Committee decided to do with regard to this matter.
- Noting that three changes,
which have occurred relatively recently make it difficult to assess the effect of the implementation of the 13 hour
rule, and noting (as pointed out by Susan Jones) that deans can override the rule if they see fit to do so, Esther,
Jean, and Cliff all agreed that it is too soon to make any changes at present, and it was decided that Jean should
notify Vice Provost Schwartzstein of our decision to take no action.
- implementation of the current 13 hour rule,
- change from SIS to Banner,
- and adoption of a new policy for academic probation (which is on the whole more lenient than the old policy),
- Esther introduced a new item of business that was sent to the AP Committee; a proposal for a 3+3 program
from the School of Law.
- The 3+3 program, if approved, will allow GMU undergraduates to become students at the GMU Law School after their
third year, and simultaneously finish their undergraduate degree work while taking law classes. In the end,
successful students can earn both a bachelor degree and a law degree in one less year than it would otherwise take.
- Esther reported that she had spoken with Susan Trencher, who will be returning from her study leave next
semester, and that Susan has agreed to take the lead with this item, starting serious work on it when she returns to
her regular duties at GMU in the Spring semester. Susan expressed that she was concerned about the motivation behind
the proposal, and it was agreed that the AP Committee should talk with Dan Polsby and Anne Richards from the School of
Law in order to have them present their proposed program and to allow for questions to be asked.
- Esther is going to instruct Meg (Senate clerk) to contact Polsby and Richards, along with AP Comm members, in
order to gather information about times available for a meeting. Esther is also going to ask Meg to obtain a copy of
a similar 3+3 agreement that GMU School of Law has with James Madison University, and instruct her to search for
information about similar 3+3 programs that law schools at other universities have in place.
- Esther will e-mail Anne Richards in order to let her know that we have made plans to consider the 3+3 program
that the School of Law has proposed.
- It was suggested that Susan Trencher contact Linda Schwartzstein about this matter (since Linda is connected to
both the Office of the Provost and the School of Law).
- Cliff reported on the issue involving double majors (which deals with the amount of overlap that should be allowed).
- Cliff e-mailed Linda Schwartzstein and Susan Jones in Novemeber to seek their views on the issue. Schwartzstein
replied that Susan Jones can represent the Office of the Provost on this issue.
- Cliff summarized some findings that he can sent to the AP Comm members via e-mail.
- Some state universities seem to have no restrictions. (It can be noted that perhaps other universities don't
have majors that allow for as much overlap as some similar majors do at GMU.)
- Others have rather strict restrictions. For example, William and Mary only allows two courses to overlap, and
the University of Virginia requires that each major be satisfied with at least 18 credit hours which are not used to
satisfy the other major.
- Having received some supporting comments following the exchange of several e-mail
messages pertaining to the matter, Cliff suggested that perhaps something like requiring that each major have
18 unique hours (like what is done at
UVa) would be good for double majors at GMU, and that undergraduate certificate programs should perhaps be required
to have at least 6 unique credits submitted for them. However, since Susan Jones supplied some pertinent data
pertaining to majors, minors, and certificates at this meeting, it was decided that more consideration should be
given to the matter in light of the new information. (Specifically, Cliff's original suggestion concerning
undergraduate certificates should perhaps be changed to prevent certificates from overlapping so much with majors and
- Susan Jones remarked that SOM has a lot of students doing double majors because there is appreciable overlap in
the courses needed to complete majors in that school, and that also within CAS, the requirements for PIA and Global Affairs
majors allow for appreciable overlap, as do requirements for economics and some SOM degrees.
- It was decided that Cliff contact Bob Dudley (chair of PIA), who had initially expressed interest in this
matter, as well as selected others at GMU, to solicit their opinions.
minutes submitted by Clifton Sutton