Senate Committee on Educational Policy
Minutes
October 10, 2011

Present: Gay Miller, Chair; Paul Diehl, Bettina Francis, Phillip H. Geil, Prasanta Kalita, Michael Krassa, Jerome McDonough, Steve Michael, Damani Bolden, Cody Chalkey, Trevor Eagle, Shana Harrison

Ex Officio: Brenda Clevenger, Andrea Golato, Kristi Kuntz, Faye Lesht, Charles Tucker

Guests: Carol Malmgren, Mary Lowry

A regular meeting of the Senate Committee on Educational Policy (EPC) was called to order at 1:10 pm, on Monday, October 10, in 232 English Building, with Chair Miller presiding.

  1. Introductions – No introductions were given.
  2. Approval of Minutes – Minutes from September 26, 2011 were approved as written.
  3. Chair’s Remarks – Chair Miller requested that if a committee member is unable to attend a meeting that he/she send an email to Chair Miller and copy Senate Staff person Jenny Roether.

Chair Miller also indicated that the campus population of international students is at its largest and that students would benefit, especially our international students, if there were activities we could provide that would help improve their integration into American and campus culture, and also improve and encourage their conversational English. Kristi Kuntz suggested that Peter Mortensen, Associate Provost for Academic Affairs, be invited as a guest speaker at a future EPC meeting to speak about international student issues. Charles Tucker added that a subcommittee of the Council of Undergraduate Deans created a report that discusses English preparation for international students and other related issues. Tucker will share this report with the EPC.

Chair Miller shared a newspaper article written about the true cost of college. An assumption is made that private institutions are more expensive than public institutions.  With the newly required cost estimators available on the web, prospective students can estimate their costs in advance (NOTE: the estimator for UIUC is located at http://www.osfa.uiuc.edu/aid/ifac/IFAC.asp).  The article suggested that private schools may often be less expensive than the comparable public school in a state, given the ability of private colleges to give scholarships.

  1. Provost’s Office Updates - (K. Kuntz) – No report given.
  2. Graduate College Updates - (A. Golato) – No report given.
  3. Old Business
    1. Subcommittee A—Michael Krassa, Chair; Cody Chalkey, Brenda Clevenger, Prasanta Kalita, Keith Marshall, Eric Meyer, Richard Mintel, Catherine Murphy
    2. Subcommittee B—Phillip Geil, Chair; Trevor Eagle, Andrea Golato, Shana Harrison, Jerome McDonough, Steve Michael, Paul Prior, Charles Tucker
      1. EP.11.04 Proposal from the Graduate College to revise the policy regarding how repeated courses are factoring into graduate GPA's

        Andrea Golato gave a brief history of this proposal stating that the general plan of this proposal is to update the Graduate College Handbook to be in line with the current Student Code. Upon the committees consent, Andrea withdrew the proposal.

    3. Subcommittee C—Bettina Francis, Chair; Damani Bolden, Pradeep Dhillon, Paul Diehl, Kristi Kuntz, Faye Lesht, Chris Royer
    4. EPC Proposal Flow – (G. Miller) – Chair Miller has circulated the document to the sub-committee chairs for initial review, and will send it out to the entire committee for review once the subcommittee chairs have provided feedback.
    5. Academic Calendar Subcommittee - Trevor Eagle, Bettina Francis, Kristi Kuntz, Carol Malmgren, Steven Michael, Gay Miller, and Charles Tucker
      1. EP. 12.11 Revisions to 2012-2013 Academic Calendar

        Chair Miller reviewed the proposal for the committee:  The current 2012-2013 academic calendar would create a substantial hardship for timely submitting of grades. Numerous options were considered by the subcommittee and the most workable solution was one which shared the burden among the students, faculty and staff.  The subcommittee proposed to hold final examinations on Saturday, December 15, 2012 with exams ending on Thursday, December 20, 2012. Grades would then be due at noon on Wednesday, December 26, 2012. This allows 5.5 days for grading examinations, determining and reporting of grades after final examinations end including holidays.

      The floor was then opened for discussion of the proposal. 

      Cody Chalkey conveyed some student responses. Most students wondered how a week seemed to be lost which was explained by the later start date of the semester. Chalkey mentioned concern over different faiths that celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday. Another concern was increased cases presented at McKinley Health Center due to the increased stress of final examinations. It was not determined if there would be a direct impact, but there could be increased cases. A way to handle the increase in cases would be to make a better effort of informing students of the resources that are available. 

      Kristi Kuntz responded by pointing out that Thanksgiving Day is the date on which all other decisions hinge.  There are other matters to consider such as standing orientations and the start date for academic contracts. 

      Paul Prior pointed out that it seems final exams are held very late and presses into the holidays. Prior asked if the rule is written the only way it can be written. Prior also pointed out that this problem will occur regularly in future years.  Chair Miller responded that the subcommittee was aware of the recurrence and decided to put forward a solution for just this next occurrence.  Miller stated that changing the rule should be avoided because it was difficult to orchestrate when it was originally set, it generally works well, and it is better to develop single exceptions to the rule (as is being done with this proposal) than to modify the rules that govern how the calendar is developed. Steve Michael responded to Chalkey’s concerns about a Saturday Sabbath that students, faculty, and staff, are granted exemption/modifications to Saturday finals upon request. 

      There was general discussion about other options: starting the semester earlier, shortening Thanksgiving week, delaying the beginning of spring semester, Saturday classes during the semester so that finals could be started earlier, eliminating reading day.  These had all been discussed by the subcommittee and disadvantages of each were provided. 

      Kristi Kuntz reminded everyone that with the proposal, there is a 10-day window prior to the first day of classes for spring semester to distribute financial aid. If this 10-day window is shortened, it limits a student’s ability to pay for essential items such as rent. Charles Tucker mentioned there is also a need to notify students if they are dismissed from the university in a timely manner so they can pursue other options. In particular, the option to attend Parkland is a common one for dismissed students and the sooner they are aware of this, the more likely they can take needed actions to successfully enroll in courses that will be useful to them. 

      Kuntz also mentioned that the fall semester hinges on the week of Thanksgiving and how it falls on the calendar. Carol Malmgren pointed out that if graduation is later than normal, students could be disadvantaged applying for jobs and internships. Trevor Eagle asked if it is required to have a certain number of days for final exams and if it can be shortened by one day. Kuntz replied that shortening the exam schedule has facility implications. Carol Malmgren talked about the 6,000 sections and the complexity of finals schedule to fit everything in. It was also brought to the committee’s attention that a student cannot have 3 exams in 24 hour period.

      A motion was made and seconded to approve the subcommittee’s recommendation. Proposal discussion continued. Carol Malmgren indicated that the Office of the Registrar will try everything possible to schedule in consideration of the deadlines and modified schedule. Charles Tucker stated that there was no elegant solution, but that a solution was needed to make it possible to complete the aspects of the process.

      Faye Lesht mentioned that online examinations and remote proctoring of examinations were being tested, but that it is not a viable solution at this time.

      Jerome McDonough and Steve Michael suggested that information or reports be compiled to determine if this solution was successful.  Such reports could reveal if this solution can be used in future years when this issue arises. Reports should be solicited from the Council of Undergraduate Deans, Office of the Registrar, Office of Student Financial Aid, and The Graduate College on the effectiveness and impact of this calendar adjustment. Chair Miller stated the proposal will be revised to include the request for follow-up from the offices mentioned above.

      The proposal with the suggested revision passed with one objection, and will be placed on the November 7, 2011 Senate consent agenda.

      Steve Michael suggested that this situation could be used to increase moral on campus by requesting that the Provost Office give a charitable donation in the name of the faculty if grades are submitted at the same rate as they have been in the past. This only rewards one portion of the process and may not be possible.

  4. New Business
      1. Subcommittee A—(M. Krassa) – No new business was discussed.
      2. Subcommittee B—(P. Geil) – No new business was discussed.
      3. Subcommittee C— (B. Francis) – No new business was discussed.
  5. Other New Business – No other new business was discussed.
  6. Adjournment – The meeting was adjourned at 2:06 pm.

Jenny Roether
Senate Staff