College Senate Bulletin

Bulletin 16
Pages 551 - 559
4 February 2000

Page  Topic
552-553 Announcements
  Call for Nominations for Senate Officers and Senators at Large
  Spring Senate Meeting Schedule
  Forums on the Future of the SOFIs

Graduate Academic Affairs, 1 February
556-559 Alphabetical Listing of 1999-2000 College Senate Membership


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



Call for Nominations
Candidates for Spring College Senate Elections

The Committee on Nominations is compiling a slate of candidates for the following College Senate positions:

Vice Chair



Senator at Large (over six years)

Senator at Large (six years and under)

Please suggest candidates for these positions by Monday, February 21 to a member of the Nominations Committee: Jim Allen (Psychology), Randy Bailey (History), Rachel Hall (English), Pat Murphy (Sociology), Wendy Pogozelski (Chemistry), Anne-Marie Reynolds ( SOPA). The Committee on Nominations will present its slate of nominees at the All College Meeting, March 7, 4:00 pm, Newton 204.

Spring College Senate Meetings

February 22
March 7 (All College Meeting)
March 28, if needed
April 11
May 2

All at 4:00 pm, Newton 204


 Results! Why, I have gotten a lot of results. I know several thousand things that won't work!
-Thomas Edison

Open Forums on

The Future of the SOFIs

Part 1

Wed. Feb. 9 7:15 - 9:30 pm

or (attend the day convenient for you)

Thurs. Feb. 10 12:45 - 2:00 pm

Part 2

Wed. Feb. 16 7:15 - 9:30 pm

or (attend the day convenient for you)

Thurs. Feb. 17 12:45 - 2:00 pm

All meetings in Newton 204

Presentations and discussion to be led by the FAC Subcommittee on Student Evaluations(S. Bandoni, L. Bosch, B. Falk, B. Haskins, M. Lima, B. McCoy, L. Sancilio, N. Schiavetti, H. Waddy)

Students, faculty, and other interested parties are encouraged to participate!

Minutes of the Graduate Academic Affairs Committee Meeting

February 1, 2000

 Members Present: K. Broikou, J. Bushnell (Chair), A. Coleman, A. Gu, D. Hill, T. Hon, B. Joshi, R. McEwen, D. Metz, P. Pacheco, S. Salmon, M. Teres.

Chair Bushnell called the meeting to order at 4 p.m.

The only agenda item was a proposed policy change from the School of Education. The School of Education faculty voted 11 to 6 to eliminate the following policy found on page 13 of the 1998-2000 Guide to Graduate Studies: "Failure on the second attempt of all or any part of a comprehensive examination will subject a student to academic dismissal."

S. Salmon was asked to provide background on the policy recommendation. She said that graduate students have the option of writing a thesis, passing a comprehensive examination, or completing a comprehensive project. The majority of students take the comprehensive exam; it is difficult to promote the other options because each thesis or comprehensive project requires two faculty advisors, a major time investment for a relatively small faculty that is fully involved in the large undergraduate program. The comprehensive examination is a local exam, written by full-time School of Education faculty. The present policy means that students who fail the comprehensive exam a second time are removed from the graduate program, and without the master's degree, they cannot have permanent certification. The few people who failed the exam twice often appealed and in some cases were allowed to take the exam a third time. Students who fail the exam are not allowed to change options; a student who failed the exam would not be allowed to make a last-minute decision to write a thesis.

Since D. Showers was unable to attend the GAAC meeting, he had sent an e-mail message expanding on the justification for the proposed change. Chair Bushnell reviewed the points raised in that message and in the original memorandum suggesting the proposal: the unfairness of dismissing students after they have committed time and money to the program, often doing very well in coursework; other professions with certification exams do not limit the number of times their candidates may retake the exam in order to pass; no other SUNY education program has such a policy; the requirement that students complete the degree within six years will limit the number of times they may take the comprehensive examination, thus adding pressure for them to pass.

S. Salmon mentioned another concern that was voiced in the School of Education meeting. Many graduate courses are taught by adjunct faculty who are given course syllabi and information on expected course learning outcomes, but there is no way to guarantee that all of the intended material has been covered. Some students may take the majority of their courses from adjunct faculty, which may place them at a disadvantage when they take a comprehensive exam written by full-time faculty who assume each course completely adhered to the syllabus. One GAAC member suggested that adjunct faculty should become involved in writing and evaluating the exams, but that seems unlikely to happen. S. Salmon noted that the exams were made more global and less course-specific last semester, but it is too early to know the change's impact on students' ability to pass the exam.

A lengthy discussion began. Questions were asked about comprehensive exams in other Geneseo graduate programs. Speech Pathology graduate students must pass a national exam in order to complete their degree, and there is no limit on the number of times they may take it. Questions were asked about the exam grading and appeals processes. S. Salmon said that two faculty members read and evaluate each question. If both of them fail the student's reply to the question, the student fails that question. If one faculty member fails a question and another passes it, a third faculty member evaluates the question. R. McEwen stressed the amount of faculty time and effort involved in evaluating the comprehensive exam results. In response to a question about what happens to students who do not complete the master's degree within six years, S. Salmon replied that they would apply to the State Education Department to have their temporary certification extended, and that a one-year extension is usually granted to allow more time to complete the degree.

GAAC members expressed concern about the message the proposed change would send about program quality. The following were among the points discussed. Since Geneseo prides itself on its high standards, is it appropriate to make a policy change that would lower our standards? We should probably strengthen our standards rather than loosen them. Giving a student more than two chances to pass the comprehensive exam devalues the judgment of the faculty members who were involved in evaluating the student's first two attempts. Some graduate programs at other institutions give students only one chance to pass such an exam. We should expect students who have invested time and money in the program to pass the exam on the second try. Since there are apparently few students who fail the exam twice (D. Showers recalled six in the past two years), and since there is an appeals process that may allow them to take the exam a third time, the proposed change seems unnecessary.

GAAC members raised questions about the impact of external agencies. B. Joshi asked whether the graduate education program is certified by any nationwide accrediting body. S. Salmon replied that the program is not currently certified, but the new standards call for external accreditation. The School of Education is considering several accrediting bodies. One possibility is NCATE (National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education), and this policy would not meet their standards. M. Teres suggested that in light of the changes in state standards, it might be better to wait and make any policy changes after the graduate program is changed.

K. Broikou was asked why the Dean's office had not expressed concern about the proposed policy change. She replied that the curriculum is owned by the departments, so proposals are not blocked by the Dean's office unless there are administrative issues such as the need for hiring more faculty. The decision on whether to accept or reject curriculum or policy proposals is left to the Senate and its committees.

The committee's vote on the proposed policy change was none in favor, eleven opposed, and one abstention.

The meeting adjourned at 4:40 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Judy Bushnell