College Senate Bulletin

Bulletin 19
Pages 590 - 604
25 February 2000







Next Senate Meeting and All-College Meeting


Upcoming Committee Meetings




Executive Committee (17 February)


Student Affairs Committee (15 February)


Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (8 February)


Correspondence: Becky L. Glass, Department of Sociology, Sturges 122C
E-mail: Phone: 245-5336



Next All-College Meeting

Tuesday, March 7

4:00 pm, Newton 204

The Nominations Committee will present the slate of nominees for Senate officers, Senators At Large Over and Under 6 Years, and Professional Leave Review Committee.

Nominations may be taken from the floor.

A Constitutional amendment about Faculty Personnel Committee elections will be presented, as well as nominees from Business/Libraries and Natural Sciences/ Math/Computer Science for two vacancies on the General Education Committee.

Next College Senate Meeting

Tuesday, March 7

Immediately following the All-College Meeting in Newton 204

Upcoming Committee Meetings

Executive Committee

12:45 pm

Mar. 2

South 110

Faculty Affairs Subcommittee on Student Evaluations


4:00 pm

Feb. 29

Ask Helena Waddy

Agenda: to make a recommendation about adopting a local or national SOFI form

Faculty Affairs Comm.

4:00 pm

Mar. 14

South 309

Agenda: to discuss the report of Subcommittee on Student Evaluations


4:00 pm

Feb. 29

Ask Terry Bazzett


Every great movement must experience three stages: ridicule, discussion, adoption.

-John Stuart Mill

Minutes of Senate Executive Committee
February 17, 2000

Present: B. Glass, C. Leary, J. Ballard, M. Mohan, A. Gridley, N. Schiavetti, B. Gohlman, J. Bushnell, T. Bazzett, E. Wallace, K. Cylke, C. Dahl, B. Dixon.

Guests: B. O’Donnell, K. Broikou.

Call To Order: Chair B. Glass called the meeting to order at 12:50 pm.

Adoption of Agenda: The agenda was approved as printed.

Approval of Minutes: The minutes of the Executive Committee Meeting on February 3, 2000, were approved as printed on pp. 567-571 of College Senate Bulletin #17.

New Business:

1. K. Cylke noted that Tom Bell has given up his own office space as part of the effort to create a new faculty lounge area in Blake. K. Cylke will offer a Senate resolution thanking CAS and T. Bell for their contribution to this effort.

2. B. Glass had previously circulated the interim report from the Summer School/Intersession Task Force, whose members include B. O’Donnell (Chair), K. Broikou, L. Sancilio, B. Ristow, R. Vasiliev, J. Coate, G. Drake, B. Evans, J. Allen, K. Jones, C. Haddad, K. Sugarman, and student representatives John Ghidui and Qurrat Kadwani. B. Glass opened the floor to discussion of the report, with Bob O’Donnell and Kathy Broikou serving as representatives of the task force to address questions and comments:

A. Gridley noted that both she and Kevin Lee had reviewed the report and had no specific concerns. She asked whether more polling of students could be done. B. O’Donnell reported that students were polled last semester in an Envr 124 class and in one senior-level Biology class. The task force intends to do more surveys of student opinions.

B. Glass suggested that we focus first on discussion of Intersession, then move to discussion of Summer School. C. Leary noted his agreement with the point that each program should have the purpose of enhancing/strengthening/improving the education of our students, but felt that this issue was not addressed in the report on intersession. He asked how, if at all, intersession enhances the educational program. B. O’Donnell reported that this issue was a focus of discussion in the task force. The task force members were concerned with the relatively small number of students who benefit from intersession, and they sought ideas for increasing the number of courses offered and the number of students involved. The task force felt that if these goals were not possible, the intersession should be discontinued. The task force also addressed monetary and pragmatic issues, such as the difficulty of making a 3-credit course comparable to a regular-semester 3-credit course, the appropriate recompense for faculty offering a 1-credit course, the living expenses of students, etc. B. Glass suggested that the "burden of proof" should be to determine what we would gain by eliminating intersession. For example, if 200 students currently use the time for study abroad and other enriching experiences, what will be lost from the educational program if this time is no longer available? B. Dixon agreed that it is important to consider what will replace the current possibilities if intersession is discontinued.

M. Mohan asked about the history of the development of the lengthy intersession. J. Bushnell noted that the "Energy Crisis" was one of the factors prompting a longer winter break, which allowed the campus to save on heating costs. B. Dixon noted that it is not unusual for a liberal arts college to offer an extra session in May or in winter, usually for experiences that enhance the academic experience. Some colleges require their students to have one or two such experiences. C. Leary agreed and suggested that such requirements may be typical.

M. Mohan noted that both faculty and students perceive that the intersession has gotten longer over the years. N. Schiavetti recalled that energy savings were the first reasons for increasing the length of the break between fall and spring semesters. Intersession was then offered as a good use of the time between semesters, and the length of intersession has increased over the years. N. Schiavetti cautioned against the argument that eliminating intersession would allow an earlier start for Spring semester and a longer Spring break. This argument does not indicate a greater benefit for the students who are currently well served by the intersession.

K. Cylke suggested examining the real benefits to students. Enriching experiences such as study abroad and production of theatrical plays are clearly of benefit. However, core courses during intersession cannot be offered in a way that is comparable to the same courses during the regular term. For example, fewer readings can be completed. B. Glass suggested that data also are needed to answer two other questions. First, why do students take intersession courses? (e.g., to graduate on time, to fill core requirements, to gain supplemental experiences) Second, how can we entice students to take, and faculty to teach, more non-traditional courses during intersession? K. Cylke emphasized that intersession students who take core courses get less than students do during regular term. J. Bushnell agreed, and noted that the same is a problem for the three-week summer term. K. Cylke added that it may be necessary to offer some options to help students graduate on time, but noted that two 3-week terms per year are too many. A. Gridley acknowledged the importance of determining how to improve intersession, but noted that it is important for students to have options for taking extra courses at alternate times such as intersession and summer school.

N. Schiavetti asked about the selection of courses offered and the feasibility of covering the course work well in a short session. E. Wallace replied that the Math department does not offer courses during short terms because they feel they cannot adequately cover the material, but knows other departments' courses may be more adaptable to the shorter length. C. Dahl, speaking as a member of the English Department faculty, agreed with concerns and expressed some skepticism about the ability to cover the material for some classes even within a five-week summer school session. He suggested exploring creative options for offering certain classes during short terms, perhaps in a different format than is usual. Students do need a pressure valve for filling gaps in their course requirements, but also could gain from special purpose courses with academic integrity. B. Gohlman noted that students appear to want core courses during intersession, but he questioned the adequacy of the three-week session for covering these courses. C. Dahl suggested that some core courses (such as Engl 142 Intro to Poetry) could be covered, while others (such as Humn) would be more difficult. T. Bazzett noted that students feel a real benefit of a short session is the ability to focus on only one course at a time. In addition, a curricular issue related to the School of Education’s new course of study is the very tight schedule required of Education students. Intersession may become more popular among such students for "catching up" or taking extra courses, and therefore may see an increase in numbers. K. Cylke returned to C. Dahl’s suggestion of the potential for creative options. He noted that the current use of intersession by only a small number of students and faculty may be at the expense of the remainder. It may be useful to discuss the possibility of moving to a trimester system. B. Glass disagreed with the feeling that the non-users of intersession are suffering. Although there may be some who are discontent with winter break seeming too long, even faculty who are not teaching during intersession are at work revising lectures, preparing class materials, or working on research. K. Broikou also noted that even students who do not take intersession courses here may be involved in valuable experiences elsewhere.

B. Dixon suggested that the task force explore further the question of how to enhance the academic experience of students. For example, if intersession were discontinued and the start of Spring semester were moved up to about January 8th, we could offer special opportunities during a three-week term in May. It will be important to explore the options for creating these possibilities. If the short term is moved to May, what will happen to the currently provided experiences? What other kinds of experiences could be offered? What would draw both students and faculty to participate?

B. Glass asked whether any public liberal arts colleges require any short session experiences. C. Dahl noted that many private colleges do so, but he does not know of any public colleges that do. A. Gridley pointed out that if extra tuition were charged for these required experiences, many students would find the increase impossible. B. Gohlman noted that such a requirement would have contractual implications for faculty.

N. Schiavetti asked how many students study abroad during intersession. K. Broikou noted that we generally send approximately 50 students during sessions when we offer all three of our intersession study abroad programs (Engl 250, Thea 290, and Hist 213). B. O’Donnell suggested that the January event in Sienna could be offered in a May short session, but the travel expenses would be greater per student. K. Broikou estimated that costs could be up to $1000 more per student during the high season. B. Dixon noted that early May might still be before the high season. K. Cylke emphasized that the travel opportunities for some students did not make up for other students taking inadequate versions of core courses during a short term.

N. Schiavetti suggested a need to assess the overall benefits and costs of the current intersession offerings, to determine a possible alternative, and to assess what is better about the alternative. B. O’Donnell noted that some students would like to have an earlier option for starting summer jobs. B. Dixon asked how many students had been surveyed. B. O’Donnell responded that only informal surveys had been conducted. K. Cylke emphasized the need for data other than anecdotal information. C. Dahl suggested that the Survey Research Center could help with gathering information.

B. Glass suggested that the committee turn to a discussion of the Summer School section of the interim report. E. Wallace noted that the calendar changes of the last few years had left summer school classes with more minutes than during regular term classes.

C. Leary asked, referring to the interim report, why it was logical to assume that offering more courses during Summer School (or intersession) would increase demand. B. O’Donnell replied that the idea was that students would have more options to make summer residence worthwhile. K. Cylke requested data on what students prefer given the option of summer school at Geneseo or a summer job plus summer classes at a hometown community college. B. Dixon also would like this information. In addition, she noted that we currently have more people to offer courses in summer school than we have courses. Perhaps the need is for better planning, along with a guarantee that specific courses would be offered. Planning should be based on programmatic needs. N. Schiavetti pointed out two sides to the summer school question: supply and demand. He reported that the CDSc Department surveys its students each year to determine the demand for summer classes, and then matches the course offerings to the demand. A. Gridley noted that advance planning for both intersession and summer school would help students decide what to take during regular terms. B. Dixon suggested that a two or three-year projection would be ideal, and K. Broikou added that even a one-year advance plan would help with advisement. B. Gohlman asked whether such planning would allow guaranteed salaries for summer and intersession courses. B. Dixon responded that all these issues are tied together. We could probably take the risk for one or two summers of guaranteeing about 60% of courses, if careful planning took place.

B. Glass reiterated the need for data on what would entice students to take summer school courses at Geneseo. N. Schiavetti suggested surveying students first to illustrate demand, then guarantee those courses in highest demand. K. Broikou noted that long-range planning may lead to greater departmental investment in advisement and in offering summer courses. It may be helpful to consider a monetary return to departments that meet a predetermined enrollment goal for summer classes. However, she cautioned that surveys can be misleading, as with a recent experience when 30 students indicated interest in a specific course, but only one actually registered. It is important to remember that students cannot always follow through on their interests. A. Gridley commented that advertisement of summer school possibilities is important; intersession also is a mystery to most students.

B. O’Donnell asked for feedback from the Executive Committee on the possibility of offering Geneseo-based distance-learning courses for our students to take during the summer from their homes. Students currently can do so through SUNYLAC. C. Dahl referred to the statements by the ad hoc Committee on Distance Learning, and noted that safeguards against faculty exploitation would be needed. B. Dixon noted that nothing in our college policy or guidelines would prohibit a faculty member from designing and offering a distance learning course to our students. She noted that there is no data on the effectiveness of the D.L. format. Anecdotal evidence suggests that D.L. courses can be even more rigorous than regular course formats in terms of writing requirements. B. O’Donnell asked whether the task force should continue to discuss the D.L. option. E. Wallace, former chair of the Committee on Distance Learning, noted that the ad hoc committee was more concerned about courses transferring in than about locally produced and offered courses. He also stated that Provost Salins says that local faculty senates should approve courses that are transferred in. K. Broikou noted that it is sometimes difficult to know from a transcript whether or not a course was a D.L. course. She also reported that Buffalo State College offers D.L. courses to its students during summer school but have found that students who choose to take these courses are local students and not students who live at a distance, which was the targeted and anticipated audience. However, some academic and pragmatic problems are specific to D.L. formats, and faculty offering such courses would need support and guidance. B. Dixon suggested surveying students about interest in taking distance courses if they were offered by a "favorite instructor" from Geneseo. C. Dahl emphasized that distance learning options must arise from a department’s or faculty member’s desire to offer them, not from an administrative decision. B. Glass suggested that polling students via paper/pencil surveys usually produces a low response rate, and she encouraged the task force to consider using focus groups or group interview formats as well.. C. Dahl suggested that the college could provide support for information-gathering efforts via people who do this type of research. A. Gridley offered access to three student forums for the task force to gather information on student opinions.

B. Glass noted that many members of the Executive Committee had to leave to teach classes. The committee agreed to defer remaining business until next week. The committee will meet again on Thursday, February 24, 2000, at 12:45 p.m.

Adjournment: The meeting was adjourned at 2:00 pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Joan C. Ballard, Secretary of the College Senate