Present: Bruce Nauman,
Guests: Provost Bud Peterson, Dan Sperber, Tom Apple
Discussion on Parliamentary Rules and Procedures – Achille Messac, VP of the Faculty
Discussion on Depth Sequence in the Core
Subject to two modifications, the Minutes were passed, 12 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstention.
Achille Messac, VP
Vice President of the
Joel Plawsky, Recording Secretary, made the following motion: In order to ensure that the core curriculum provides depth, students must take at least two courses within a single area of H&SS and two courses within a single area of Science other than Mathematics.
Provost Peterson stated that on May 3, 2004, the
Cheryl said there are two kinds of core requirements: the Institute core requirements and school-based core requirements. For school-based core requirements, the school can grant a waiver but for Institute-based core requirements the waiver request has to go to the standing committee that looks at anomalies and is empowered to grant a waiver. One of the implications of this motion is that a waiver of the depth requirement would have to go to that Institute standing committee rather than to the school.
Cheryl sees two issues:
one is the specific depth requirement and the other is the process
issue. She thinks the
Christoph said that one thing the FSCC has been considering
is the generic question of who can change what, what needs to be approved by
whom, or voted on by whom. The FSCC has
it on strong authority that the departments in the School of Engineering are
supposed to have a biology course in their templates by fall 2005. The FSCC is supposed to come up with a plan
on how to do that. He thinks the current
motion is only addressing one issue.
Roger Wright asked who made the request and in what capacity the FSCC
should respond to the request. Senator
Sandy Sternstein added that since the Curriculum Committee is a standing
committee of the
Cheryl said the Constitution holds the right for a vote of the full faculty to approve core curriculum changes. It may be the case that the Senate requires the FSCC to not make any significant curricular changes without discussion with the Senate and that the FSCC would become a more advisory group. Provost Peterson said it is not clear what happens and how changes are made. The Provost stated that biology in the curriculum has been discussed for a long time and he thought it had been voted on and approved. Cheryl said it was voted on to approve the course, not to approve it as a requirement.
President Nauman said that there is a memo being circulated
in engineering, which essentially states that the Dean, the Provost and the
President require that biology be included.
His opinion is that each department is free to include biology if they
choose. The item under discussion for a
two-depth sequence seems to be an area that only the individual departments
would have the answer to. The
Provost Peterson said that based on what was conveyed in the last meeting, there is support for life science in the school of engineering. The issue has been and continues to be, whether it can be done in 128 credit hours. He was told by the Chairs that if the cap goes to 132 hours, it can be done, if it remains at 128, it will not happen. Now the issue is how this can best be incorporated into the curriculum and whether there is a need to increase the hours. The cap was put in place by a previous Dean of the Faculty. The Provost assumes that if a department presented a degree plan that made a strong case for increasing the cap and it was approved by the curriculum committee, that cap could be changed and it does not require the vote of the faculty.
Senator Keith Nelson said that it seems the motion is intertwined with the issue of biology and feels it is immature to put it before the faculty and that it should be tabled. In his departmental level discussions on the inclusion of biology, there is a feeling that the only way biology will be included is if something is taken out of the H&SS requirement. Bruce said the motion is to remedy an ongoing discrepancy on whether or not there is a two-course requirement rather than raise new issues.
Cheryl stated that the activities last year were suggesting that for the benefit of three schools, the core depth requirement might be waived in order to fit in the biology requirement. She asked for discussion on whether or not there should be a depth requirement. She said there are strong reasons for having depth in H&SS and science. If the only way to accommodate biology is to release the depth requirement, she thinks it should be discussed.
Provost Peterson said that one of the issues that needs to be resolved is where the core curriculum is going to be defined. The catalog does not require the two-course depth sequence since it was removed last year according to what he thought was the proper procedure. Cheryl said that if the faculty voted on the motion and passed it, that the requirement would be added again. The Provost responded that he does not think so and he thinks he would have to ultimately approve it. He thinks a change should come through the FSCC as opposed to a general vote of the faculty.
Senator Sandy Sternstein thinks it is either appropriate to
remand the motion to the FSCC to consider the ramifications and to report back
to FS on what their recommendation is, or to table the motion until it can be
looked at in further detail. He believes
the way to get the curriculum issues under control is to return the power to
the individual departments with their individual curriculum committees. He suggested that a process be put in place
where the outcome of those individual department curriculum committees be
filtered into the FSCC for consideration when Institute wide requirements are
considered. Christoph said he thinks it
can become something to discuss if it means it will get more input from the
faculty and the departments. Christoph
agreed to report back at the
Roger has agreed to be chair of the Committee for his third year of the term. He said there are two items on the agenda for the Committee. The first is clarifying the rights of faculty to timely information on Rensselaer’s major planning and resource efforts to avoid situations where faculty input is too late or situations where there is a perception that major decisions have been made without proper faculty notification or consultation. The other item is the development of a “corporate interface initiative” aimed at re-establishing Rensselaer’s traditionally strong interface with the corporate world, including areas such as tuition, fellowships, internships, research funding, university-government-industry programming, education for professional practice, and related university culture issues. He believes that Rensselaer is at risk of losing visibility and historic leadership in that area. There will be a more extensive P&R report at a future meeting.
Christoph stated the Committee is still in the process of
addressing the agenda and prioritizing items.
One item that has been discussed is the writing requirement. The summer task force recommended a
communications requirement rather than a writing requirement. This requirement will eventually go to the
The meeting was then closed to Senate members only with no recording of Minutes.