Academic Senate

Reports from the Standing Committees:

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Reports from Standing Committees

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Capitol Watch
Report on September Meeting of the Board of Trustees
Resolution Summaries

Academic Affairs Committee

Christine Miller (Sacramento), Chair
Five compelling themes and issues emerged from our September meeting:

BA/BS Degrees from Community Colleges: The Committee learned from Associate Vice Chancellor Christine Mallon that a “study group” had been convened to provide the California Community Colleges (CCC) Board of Regents with recommendations regarding the awarding of baccalaureate degrees by the CCCs.  This was the first that the ASCSU had heard about this prospect, and we discovered that the University of California (UC) Academic Senate was similarly not informed, nor had it been placed on the published agenda of the Intersegmental Committee of Academic Senates (ICAS).  In addition, legislators had been invited to the study group meetings.  Given the profound implications of such a move, the Academic Affairs Committee wrote a resolution asserting that baccalaureate degrees are the purview of CSU and UC in public higher education, and asked the ASCSU to waive its first reading rule. It was passed unanimously by the ASCSU (See Resolutions Summary).

Quality in Online Learning and Teaching: Gerry Hanley, Senior Director of Academic Technology Services (ATS) for the CSU, discussed with the Committee several quality assurance and faculty development initiatives that are a high priority in the Chancellor’s Office (CO), among them Quality Online Learning and Teaching (QOLT), “Quality Matters,” and “Digital Ambassadors.”  Most of these initiatives are targeted toward online education.  The outcome of the Committee’s conversation was a formal request that Director Hanley, AA Committee Chair Miller, ASCSU Chair Guerin, and Institute for Teaching and Learning (ITL) Director Tikkanen confer to establish a strategic planning session that would bring together representatives from ASCSU committees (Academic Affairs and Faculty Affairs), ATS, and ITL.  The goal of such a strategic planning session is to explore the dimensions of quality teaching and learning, using technology, and the outcome is to develop a draft project plan for implementing the strategic directions identified by the group.

Statway Pilot Extended: Senator Mark Van Selst, Chair of the General Education Advisory Committee (GEAC), informed the Academic Affairs Committee about the status of the pilot program related to proficiency in quantitative reasoning known as “Statway.”  GEAC recommended that the pilot be extended, and AA approved a resolution based on that recommendation that was offered to the ASCSU in first reading (See Resolutions Summary). 

Bottlenecks, the CO, and the Board of Trustees: The Committee discussed two information items that appear on the Board of Trustee’s Educational Policy agenda (http://www.calstate.edu/bot/agendas/sep13/EdPol.pdf).  Both items relate to the issue of “bottlenecks.”  In agenda item one, Executive Vice Chancellor Smith says, “Anything that limits a CSU student’s ability to make progress toward a degree and graduate in a timely manner can be called a bottleneck.”  The Committee believed this definition to be overly broad, to the point of losing its utility, since issues such as parking, depression, work schedules, pregnancy, etc. could thus be considered “bottlenecks.”  Instead, the Committee believed the definition offered by Associate Vice Chancellor Vogel to be much more useful.  Paraphrased, Vogel delineates that a bottleneck is defined as a course 1) students are required to take to complete a degree in 4-6 years, but that wasn’t offered last year, that 2) might cause course sequencing problems delaying graduation, and 3) occurs in the major, a pre-requisite, and/or GE. In particular, the Committee noted that Vogel’s study revealed the top three reasons for the existence of “bottlenecks” are directly tied to faculty hiring.

Campus Autonomy vs. System Sovereignty: The Committee noted that several references in that narrative on bottlenecks feature system-wide solutions when local ones may be more appropriate.  The tenor of such references appears consistent with another key shift articulated by Executive Vice Chancellor, Ephraim Smith: Where the mantra of the CSU in the past has been to emphasize “access” and “quality,” the Chancellor’s Office has shifted its emphasis to a “completion agenda.”  This “completion agenda,” to the extent that it may compete with a “quality agenda,” is worrisome to the Academic Affairs Committee, and it will be monitored closely.

For more information, contact committee Chair Christine Miller or visit the committee website.