Academic Senate

Academic Affairs (AA) Committee
Christine Miller (Sacramento), Chair

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Speakers for the November Academic Conference Announced

Collective wisdom often tries to speak in one voice. Such is the case with three resolutions sponsored by the Academic Affairs Committee at the May plenary. After some slight revisions before and during the meeting, they were approved unanimously by the ASCSU. These resolutions collected the wisdom of senators on exceeding Title 5 unit limits for degrees, on modifying Title 5 requirements for earning a master’s degree, and on defining modalities of instruction. That these weighty issues resulted in the ASCSU speaking in a unanimous voice ought to signal the Senate’s level of conviction. What such a result may not telegraph is the careful deliberation and examination of all points of view that took place before arriving at that singular voice vote.

The three resolutions referenced above are summarized elsewhere in this newsletter, and their text as well as attachments are available on the ASCSU website. It may be worthwhile, though, to touch briefly on the range of issues discussed during deliberations.

With regard to 120/180 unit limits, the tension between GE requirements and major requirements received quite a bit of attention. Requests for exceptions to unit limit requirements include GE waivers that begin to call into question the viability of a transferrable GE program and open up philosophical questions about the meaning of a baccalaureate degree versus preparation in a major field of study. Myriad process questions about how to evaluate requests for exceptions are also unresolved.

The second Title 5 resolution relates to master’s degrees. The Senate’s collective wisdom was that more rigor in degree requirements was appropriate, but a special concern was noted for smaller degree programs, and for the autonomy of campuses to define what is appropriate for master’s degree programs within the parameters of Title 5. The Academic Affairs Committee also briefly discussed additional changes to Title 5 regarding master’s degrees, such as increasing the number of units for culminating experience work, but such changes were beyond the scope of the resolution and may be taken up later.

Finally, the Committee compiled half a dozen designations for instructional modalities to be assigned to every course taught in the CSU. Using (or adapting) these designations will help students know during the registration process what kind of class they’re considering and will help data collection and analysis of different course modalities, a difficult process when campuses use various (and sometimes idiosyncratic) course designations. After examining definitions and policies across the system, the Committee suggested (and the Academic Senate adopted) a set of abbreviations and definitions for a range of modalities of instruction.

On these three resolutions and several others, the ASCSU spoke with one voice. Senators take their responsibilities to represent their constituencies quite seriously, and are mindful of the implications of their votes as an expression of their collective wisdom.  Speaking on behalf of the Academic Affairs Committee, it has been an honor this year to be entrusted with the responsibility to express the faculty’s voice in shared governance.