Draft Minutes - April 24, 2012

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

3:50 p.m., 115 International Center

  President Simon, Provost Wilcox, G. Aben, C. Arthur, W. Anderson, E. Bank, M. Becker, J. Boughman, D. Buhler, R. Caldwell, D. Campbell, S. Carey, S. Carter, E. Charles, M. Chavez, K. Cheruvelil, C. Coursaris, T. Curry, E. Cushman, W. Davidson II, J. Dunn, S. Esquith, D. Estry, J. Forger, J. Foss, C. Frilingos, J. Goddeeris, T. Graham, I.J. Gray, M. Grieshop, L. Gut, C. Haka, M. Halloran, D. Heller, T. Holt, H. Hughes, C. Jackson-Elmoore, R. Janoudi, J. Joyce, M. Kaplowitz, K. Klomparens, Y. Komori, T. Levine, K. Lovell, L. Mak, D. Maybank, Greg Lang (for H. Melakeberhan), M. Morath, D. Moriarty, M. Noel, R. Ofoli, V. Poltavets, J. Powell, S. Pratt, R. Putnam, J. Revitte, E. Freedman (for J. Riedinger), D. Rovner, C. Scales, L. Selanders, D. Sheridan, K. Millenbah (for E. Simmons), G. Riegle (for W. Strampel), L. Stanford, L. Udpa, T. Wolff (for S. Udpa), C. Vermeesch, P. Whitten, P. Williams, D. Wilson, J. Wright, K. Wurst, J. Youatt

ABSENT:  K. Ames, M. Baba, L. Blau, J. Brooks, L. Brooks, C. Brown, M. Botros, M. Champane, R. Coffey, T. Davis, L. Dillon, M. Fillmore, H. Fitzgerald, S. Fletcher, S. Garnett, C. Gelbke, M. Griffes, D. Gift, S. Hassan, J. Hoehn, J. Howarth, R. Jones, L. Jordan, A. Joseph, M. Kasavana, R.J. Kirkpatrick, M. Lawrence, S. Lenway, C. Little, R. Mabokela, S. Marino, E. Martinak, S. Masboob, A. Meisel, P. Menchik, J. Millius, D. Miller, W. Miller, K. Mock, M. Mundt, V. Nikolovski, B. Olivier, D. Pathak, H. Perstadt, L. Philps, S. Pomeroy, A. Prezklas, M. Rappley, F. Ravitch, N. Rovig, C. Schotten, K. Selasky, M. Shapiro, A.J. Singh, B. Syzek, R. Taggart, Z. Taylor, S. Tekalur, C. Traister, M. Treadwell, S. Varriale, C. Washington, J. Washington, S. Watts, B. Wernette, E. Yakura

The meeting began at 3:20 p.m. with a quorum.

Approval of Agenda:
The agenda was amended to add Proposal to Change the Dual Enrollment by Undergraduates Policy and Proposed Revisions of the Drop and Withdrawal Policy.  The amended agenda was approved.

Public Comments:
There were no public comments.

Approval of Minutes:
The minutes of March 27, 2012 were approved as distributed. 

President’s Remarks:
The President thanked everyone for the work done this year representing faculty, staff and students on academic governance.  It has been a very productive year and important issues have moved through the governance bodies.

The President reported that there is not much new information on the budget.  The University remains optimistic that the issues related to the State budget can be resolved, including support for the Experimental Station and Extension.  Preliminary indications are that there are some positive developments.  At the Federal level there is great concern across all of the AAU Institutions regarding the support for research and the way the budgets are unfolding.  There is an active effort by the AAU and other institutions to work hard to move the numbers up. President Simon noted a positive note that the mark ups for both energy and water has occurred in both the House and the Senate and the information indicates that FRIB is in a much better position.  The review of FRIB is presently occurring for the determination about readiness for CD23A.  The independent review taken five weeks ago indicated a readiness for CD23A and we now are going through the formal process.

President Simon also reported some information from the last AAU meeting regarding important issues facing Higher Education.  The Executive Director of the AAU, Hunter Rawlings, issued a statement about the importance for institutions of MSU’s size and caliber to pay particular attention in these times to undergraduate education.  Much of the work through the Provost’s Office  in terms of curricular changes that have been reflected in some College presentations and are all critical as we think about the role of undergraduate education at MSU.  Rawlings has indicated that in order to support the research enterprise we must be sure to make strong connections between undergraduates and the research enterprise.

Provost’s Remarks:
Provost Wilcox thanked everyone for all of their work this year.  The President has done great work securing a more stable future.  If all goes well, it is estimated that the University will have about $4 Million dollars in the Provost’s Office to allocate across the campus and there are about one-hundred Academic Departments on campus.  The Provost is working carefully with the Deans, Vice-Presidents and others to make the investments in the right places.

The Steering Committee Chairperson’s Remarks:
Professor Powell echoed the thank you to everyone for all of the work done this year.  He noted that last Fall there was discussion regarding increasing communication between faculty and governance.  Several programs were started like the At-Large members meeting with the CAC’s and Faculty Forums.  Governance will continue to be sure that faculty are actively engaged in discussions on the issues facing the University going forward, like distance learning problems and academic integrity to name a few.

Proposed Bylaw Amendments from UCAG:
Professor Hughes, Chairman of UCAG, proposed a motion to approve the proposed UCAG amendments. The motion was seconded.  The following amendments were presented:

1) The University Committee on Undergraduate Studies (UCUS) approved the proposal that its name be changed to the University Committee on Undergraduate Education (UCUE).

2) Current Bylaw 4.3.2:
The University Committee on Academic Governance shall nominate to the University Council individuals who may be appointed to University-level Standing Committees, The Steering Committee, Advisory-Consultative Committees, and other committees as may be requested by the University Council.

The University Council (formerly the Academic Council) has never brought nominees for University-level standing Committees as the respective Colleges elect their representatives. The nominees for Advisory-Consultative Committees are elected by a number of ways, they are not all brought to University Council.  For some reason this was never caught in the revision of the Bylaws.

Proposed Amendment:
The University Committee on Academic Governance shall nominate to the University Council individuals who may be appointed to University-level Standing Committees, to The Steering Committee, Advisory-Consultative Committees, and other committees as may be requested by the University Council.

3) Current Bylaw under 3.4 The Steering Committee:
. A nomination slate will be developed by Faculty Senate. The University Committee on Academic Governance will solicit recommendations from all faculty.

Proposed Amendment:
The University Committee on Academic Governance will solicit recommendations from all faculty. A nomination slate will be developed for Faculty Senate to endorse and send to Academic Congress for election.

Professor Hughes explained the rationale for each motion. As a point of clarification, the proposed name change for the University Committee on Undergraduate Studies to the University Committee on Undergraduate Education will be changed throughout the Bylaws. Following his presentation, a motion was passed to approve the three proposed amendments to the Bylaws for Academic Governance.

Academic Year Calendar Update:
Provost Wilcox reported on the status of discussions around the Modification of the Academic Calendar.  Discussions regarding possible modifications to the academic calendar began in 2008 with a Task Force being established to explore options. After much deliberation, the Task Force found, in most cases, no compelling argument to make significant changes to the calendar.  While advantages were identified to creating a fall break, beginning the academic year after Labor Day, creating a spring sub-term, and aligning the spring break with public school breaks, each change also had negative repercussions.

In March, 2010, the Provost sought advice on three options from the University Committee on Faculty Affairs. The first was the addition of the “Spartan Session” (working title) , a sub-term of spring semester that would begin the first working day after the January 1 holiday, and end the last working day before Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  Second, was the scheduling of fall commencement at the end of final exam week, instead of the weekend preceding final exams.  Finally, was the alignment of calendars with the spring break of the public schools in Ingham County.

Subsequent investigation during the 2010-11 academic year discouraged movement on two of the three outstanding items.

  • MSU’s spring break currently occurs at the mid-point in the semester, which is deemed desirable by many.  Some investigation indicated that the school vacation schedules of public school districts is a negotiated occurrence within school districts, for a particular contract period, and that there would be some difficultly in using that information as a basis for long-term planning within the University.

The creation of a spring sub-term has significant implications for the disbursal of student financial aid.  Federal regulations determine the timing of disbursal based on the first day of spring semester.  A later start of the spring semester to accommodate the sub-term inadvertently delays the disbursal of financial aid for many thousands of students.  Numerous options were considered, from short-term loans to other administrative configurations for the sub-term, with no satisfactory solution.  While there were many other challenges and opportunities identified in the administrative review of the creation of the sub-term, the problem of financial aid disbursement well into January as the disadvantage created for students dependent on aid for their living expenses is not easily overcome, unless there is a modification in the federal financial aid regulations.       

The Provost sought advice on a final option and received strong formal and informal support.  An administrative review of the option indicated no substantial barriers, and so the scheduling of fall commencement at the end of final exam week, instead of the weekend preceding final exams is being implemented.  Fall semester of 2012, commencement is scheduled for Saturday, December 15, the Saturday following final exam week.

Provost Wilcox concluded his summary of the current status of the discussions of the modification of the Academic Calendar. He noted that there is a long tradition in universities of asking ourselves why we do what we do and that he has no doubt that the conversations about the academic calendar will be repeated, perhaps with different outcomes.  Provost Wilcox suggested that in the Fall, the Steering Committee might come back to anyone of the issues.

President Simon reported that one of the issues discussed at national meetings has been Spring Break.  Some universities are looking at Spring Break and how it relates to St. Patrick’s Day and some of the issues that are emerging around this day in addition to the NCAA tournament.

Proposed Merger of the Departments of Crop and Soil Sciences and Plant Pathology to form the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences:
Provost Wilcox reported there were discussions during the Fall in various Standing Committees regarding the merger of the two departments.  The two departments developed a mutually agreed upon and strongly endorsed plan for the future of the two departments.  The one piece that had not been decided in the Fall was the name of the new department.  There has been broad consultation outside the College but there was not as much within the College as some had thought but at this point the Provost indicated he was ready to recommend to the President that she take the recommendation to merge the two departments with the new name of the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences to the BOT.  Professor Greg Lange from the Department of Horticulture, representing the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, raised a number of concerns regarding the name proposed for the merged Departments of Crop & Soil Sciences with Plant Pathology (See attached comments).

Professor Jim Kells, Department Chairperson of Crop & Soil Sciences, reported that the faculty of the two departments are very positive about the merger.  He noted the name for the new department had been a challenge.  The two departments are very diverse and a name was needed that was descriptive of the merged Departments.  Faculty were asked to submit names for the department and over thirty nominations were received. The names were reviewed and ranked by the faculty and one name received broad support by both departments, which was the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences.  There have been discussions with the Departments of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Plant Biology and Horticulture. The chairpersons of the merged departments then met with the faculty in Horticulture to discuss the process used and the rationale for the name.  There was some criticism by a member that there should have been consultation with others before selecting a name.

Professor Buhler, Interim Dean of Agriculture & Natural Resources, addressed the Council and thanked the members for their comments.  The Dean reported that the comments from the Department of Horticulture were carefully analyzed and then met with the Department Chairperson.  The Chairperson of the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics was given voice to speak.  He responded that their Department has a long history of working with Crop & Soil Sciences and share six faculty.  Their concern about using “Microbial” is about confusion where the microbiology is on campus, but as a whole the Chairperson is supportive of the name.  The Provost noted that there is separable notions here and one is the merging of the departments for which there has been no criticism and the other is the name.  The Provost will make the recommendation to the President.

Proposed Change to the Dual Enrollment by Undergraduates Policy:
Professor Stanford, Associate Provost for Academic Services, made the motion to request approval of the revised Dual Enrollment by Undergraduates Policy effective 2012.  The motion was seconded.  The revised Policy was reviewed and endorsed by UCUS, UCGS and the UCSA.  The University has had such a Policy since 1956 and is a Policy for individual students.  During this sixty-year time period, there have been several significant changes at Michigan State University that have led to increased student interest in dual enrollment.  For example:

  • The number of students who arrive on campus with substantial numbers of Advanced Placement (AP) or transfer credit has grown.
  • In certain fields, a master’s degree is essential for employment and professional advancement.

The proposed Policy changes are summarized below:

  • MSU’s commitment to providing dual enrollment by undergraduates as an individual’s student’s choice, assuming the student is admitted to a graduate program.
  • Changes eligibility from “within 15 credits of graduation” to “junior standing.”
  • Deletes limitation of a maximum time limit of two semesters for dual enrollment.
  • Removes the requirement of no more than 16 credits in a semester.
  • Changes number of credits that may be applied from the undergraduate degree program to the graduate degree program from 12 to 9. This change aligns with transfer policies and with other existent policies, such as the Requirements for a Linked Bachelor’s-Master’s Degree, http://www.reg.msu.edu/AcademicPrograms/Print.asp?Section=6253.
  • Clarifies financial aid rulings that apply to this policy.

A motion was passed to approve the Revised Dual Enrollment by Undergraduates Policy.

Proposed Revisions of the Drop and Withdrawal Policy, Pending UCSA Endorsement:
The Provost presented Proposed Revisions to the Drop and Withdrawal Policies.  These are known as the “Change of Enrollment” and the “Withdrawal from the University” policies.  These proposed changes will simplify processes for students, advisers, and others engaged in student support services. The proposed revisions will provide clarity to both practice and policy and will eliminate current ambiguities and the enactment of these policies can occur with accuracy and timeliness.  The Office of the Registrar recommends making the deadline to drop a course and to withdraw from the university the same and this new deadline will be the middle of the term of instruction.   The various Standing Committees have endorsed the revisions.  The UCSA is in agreement will formally endorse this on Friday, April 27, 2012.  A motion was passed to approve the revisions pending the letter from UCSA.

New Business:
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 4:14 p.m.


Jacqueline Wright
Secretary for Academic Governance

Tapes of complete meetings of the Academic Council are available for review in the office of the Secretary for Academic Governance, W32 Owen Graduate Hall, 355-2337.

Committee Meeting Date: 
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - 3:20pm
Committee Type: 
Minutes Status :