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Faculty Senate » 2009-2010 Annual Report

Academic Requirements Committee

2009-2010 Annual Report

To: Jack Higginbotham, President Elect, Faculty Senate
From: Sheila Roberts, 2009-10 Chair, Academic Requirements Committee Advisor, Educational Opportunities Program
Re: Annual Report for 2009-2010

The Academic Requirements Committee (ARC) met biweekly during the summer term, 2009, and weekly during the academic year. The committee considered 639 petitions which is an 8% decrease over the previous year. Meetings during the academic year generally lasted less than the two hours set aside, except during weeks eight, nine, and ten of each term. Occasionally they went beyond the two-hour time frame during these weeks. Summer meetings generally lasted less than two hours.

Late Course Withdrawals (193) and Late Course Drops (216) were the most common actions requested, but the committee was also asked to consider 82 late course adds and 57 requests to "late change the grading basis" from A/F to S/U or vice versa. The ARC also considered 48 withdrawals from the university and a few petitions dealing with potential waivers of graduation requirements and exceeding 24 credits. We approved late course withdrawals at a 56% rate, late course drops at a 63% rate with an additional 17% being approved as late withdrawals, and late course adds at a 95% rate. Late course withdrawals tend to be less clear cut and require more documentation, thus the lower approval rate. And the approval rate on late changes of grading basis, 30%, reflects the fact that there are not many circumstances that justify approving these requests.

The number of petitions which resulted in deferrals, typically for clarifying information, documentation and/or appropriate/required signatures, dropped slightly from 8% in 2008-09 to 5% in 2009-10. But we have also made a change in how deferrals are handled which has reduced the work load for the Registrar’s Office. See below under "Form to Provide Feedback to Students."

Notes on Guidelines
We continued the practice of making notes and consulting them in our decision-making process in interpreting the external guidelines that are provided to students. This served us well when faced with a petition to waive graduation requirements by a student athlete. The student’s major advisor had signed off on an NCAA form stating that he had met graduation requirements, but he had in fact not met requirements from the College of Liberal Arts.

Our notes on waiving graduation requirements prompted us to consult with the Registrar, since we see so few of these cases. We had a prior case where the advisor had made an error and the student requested a waiver of the graduation requirement. We met with the Registrar and it was his opinion that we would be straying too far from best practices in granting this exception. The petition was denied in spite of the clear documentation of advisor error.

This year, in the case of the student athlete, the Registrar once again weighed in with his opinion that the exception was too major. So, whether or not the responsibility for the problem was on the shoulders of the student or the advisor, we decided to deny his petition. The student appealed to the Associate Provost for Academic Success and Engagement, Susie Brubaker-Cole, and she called a meeting with the Provost, the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, the Director of Academics for Student Athletes, the student’s counselor from Academics for Student Athletes, the student’s major advisor, the ARC ex-officio representative from the Registrar’s Office, and with me. Susie Brubaker-Cole ultimately decided to uphold ARC’s decision and stated that maintaining consistency with prior decisions was a key factor in this situation.

Another issue that broke new ground was whether to treat a distance student on active military duty whose duty assignment changes, in the same way we treat students who are deployed in the middle of a term. As long as we had proper documentation of the change, we decided to take into consideration the guidelines used for students who have been deployed to allow for greater flexibility. The policy for students who are deployed is as follows:
  • Full withdrawal from all courses at any point during the term without academic or financial penalty. Tuition would be refunded in full.
  • Partial withdrawal from some (but not all) courses at any point during the term without academic or financial penalty. Students who have completed a significant portion of their course work may be eligible to: a) receive the grades earned in courses up to that point in time and/or b) request incomplete grades according to existing guidelines. Tuition would be refunded for withdrawn courses.
  • No withdrawal from any courses. Students who have completed a significant portion of their course work may be eligible to: a) receive the grades earned in courses up to that point in time and/or b) request incomplete grades according to existing guidelines. No tuition would be refunded.
Whether or not this is processed as withdrawals or drops is decided on a case-by-case basis.

OSU Cascades Petitions
We were asked by Leslie Burns to consider a change in membership of the committee to include a faculty member from Cascades, and that individual could join us remotely via Skype, Polycom or conference call. Finally, it was decided to get Cascades input by having Dianna Raschio, their Academic Advisor, sign Cascade’s students’ petitions as Head Advisor. So there has been no change in membership.

Distance Students
It seems as though there is a disproportionate number of petitions coming from distance students, particularly students who sign up for the first time, never log on to Blackboard or check their ONID email account, and assume they have been dropped. Perhaps we should track these numbers in the future and make some recommendations for better communication if the numbers bear this out.

Form to Provide Feedback to Students
We continue to use a form that was created to give students more information on deferrals or denials. This was prompted by the amount of time the Registrar’s Office was spending following up with students who failed to include documentation or other key points of information. Except for rare situations, follow-up on deferrals is the responsibility of the student.

We feel that the practice of making notes on our decisions and providing feedback to the students creates more consistency in our decision making and a better understanding of the process by students and advisors. I personally appreciate the opportunity to serve on this committee and am going to miss it this coming academic year.

2009-10 Academic Requirements Membership
Sheila Roberts ‘10, Chair Educational Opportunities Program
Joy Jorgensen ‘11 Enrollment Management
Tjodie Richardson ‘11 Agricultural and Resource Economics
Andrea Wirth ‘11 Library
Richard Halse ‘12 Botany & Plant Pathology
Kelly Kneece ‘10 Liberal Arts
Maureen Childers (v. Alexander) ‘12 Disability Access Services
Dee Dee Overholser Graduate Student Representative

Ex-Officio:  Registrar’s Office Representatives: Tom Watts and Amy Flint

Executive Committee Liaison: Jack Higginbotham