Faculty Council amends rules on academic renewal, withdrawal policy

For the first time in weeks, possible cuts to 'low-producing' programs wasn't on the agenda.

Faculty Council approved two changes to the faculty handbook Thursday.

The first change deals with the university’s academic renewal policy. The current policy says students returning to MU after more than four years can request to have an academic term removed from their cumulative GPA.

“Although this applies to transfer students coming in from other institutions, it doesn’t apply to students coming from other UM campuses,” said Victoria Johnson, chairwoman of the Faculty Council Academic Affairs Committee.

The approved change allows transfer students from other campuses in the UM system to apply academic renewal to have some grades stricken from their GPA.

“We’re just looking for equality for the other campuses equal to what we would give any other transfer student,” Faculty Council chairwoman Leona Rubin said.

The next change to the faculty handbook was in regard to withdrawal policies and was requested by Rafael Gely, School of Law associate dean of academic affairs.

According to a letter from Gely, the request was to exempt law school students from the constraint the registrar’s withdrawal date puts on them. In most courses, law students do not receive any feedback until the final exam. It has been the practice to allow students to change to hearer status, where they pay for credit but receive no grade, up until the day before the final exam.

Some Faculty Council members were wary of making a change for only one department.

“It’s OK for the law school, but why not for the rest of the school?” School of Journalism professor Clyde Bentley said. “Why don’t we look at doing it for the entire school?”

Rubin said the professional schools have several variations from the norm because of how they handle their courses.

“I’m looking at student responsibility for knowing where you are in the class before it gets to that point,” Undergraduate Studies in Russian Director Nicole Monnier said.

Monnier’s concern for student responsibility was a concern in line with the possibility students could take advantage of this. This was not seen to be a problem by others.

“There’s no real incentive for a student to do this because when they change to hearer status it shows up on their transcript,” Rubin said.

Gely’s letter showed multiple hearer statuses on a transcript would hinder a students’ job search.

Next on the agenda was a discussion over possible changes to the General Education Curriculum. The previously proposed diversity course requirement was not discussed at this meeting. It is being revised and a new proposal written and will be discussed at another meeting.

A change in the structure of classes that are typically only prerequisites was one issue addressed by the council.

“What they’re proposing is that any 1000 or 2000 level course be acceptable for general education,” Johnson said.

Normally, there is paperwork required for a course of this type to count towards general education requirements, and the concern is that in some cases the course might have been left out intentionally.

The issue was tabled pending further consideration.

The council then considered the current Writing Intensive and Math Reasoning Proficiency Requirements. The suggested change is that English 1000 and College Algebra no longer be a requirement to receive this credit, but that the courses can be taken in any order, as long as performance is satisfactory.

“It seems a lot more cumbersome to be fiddling with withholding credits than to prevent students from enrolling in the first place,” Nursing professor Rebecca Johnson said.

She argued allowing students to take these courses out of order would violate the curriculum determined by university faculty.

This issue was also postponed for further discussion.

The last change discussed was also not passed but centered on the graduation requirement of a capstone course. The current requirement is that every student must take one of these upper level courses, but the recommended change is that this requirement be up to each individual department.

Concerns from council members included the fear that students in departments that retained the requirement would have another general education course in its place. The issue was not whether capstones were effective or not, but whether the requirement should be university-wide.

“I think there should be some sort of rite of passage course for a university at this level.” said Bentley, “I’m just not sure calling it a capstone makes any sense when it doesn’t work for some departments.”

The Academic Affairs Committee will take the concerns voiced into consideration and the issue will be discussed again at a later time.

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