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Faculty Senate » Annual Report 2000-01

Curriculum Council

Annual Report 2000-01

Date: June 26, 2001

To: Henry Sayre, Faculty Senate President

From: Leonard H. Friedman, Curriculum Council Chair

Report of the Curriculum Council for 2000 - 2001

The Curriculum Council has three main charges:

1. To facilitate and review course and program requests (both graduate and undergraduate). These are divided into Category II proposals that are minor, such as a proposal for a new course or changes in existing courses, and Category I proposals that are major and also require Faculty Senate approval. A typical example of a Category I is a proposal for a new degree program.
2. To conduct undergraduate program reviews.
3. To formulate and implement new curricular policy.

The Curriculum Council reviewed 339 Category II proposals during the 2000 - 2001 academic year. In addition, 12 Category I proposals were also reviewed. These included: the Center for Water and Environmental Sustainability; Master of Public Policy degree; Master of Fine Arts degree; PhD in Material Science; MS/PhD in Bioresource Engineering; BA/BS in Computational Physics; study abroad programs in Tunisia and Santander, Spain; rename of the Department of Nuclear Engineering, Department of Bioresource Engineering, and rename of the BS in Biological Engineering; and drop the MS in Home Economics.

This year Undergraduate Program Reviews of the International Degree (BA), Geosciences, and Zoology were conducted. Final reports for Geosciences and the International Degree were presented and accepted. Scheduled reviews for 2001 - 02 include Agricultural and Resource Economics (in conjunction with the Graduate School), Art, Exercise and Sport Science, Health and Safety Administration (in conjunction with the Graduate School), Mathematics (in conjunction with the Graduate School), Music, Physics (in conjunction with the Graduate School), and the University Honors College.

Beyond the large volume of Category I proposals, the Curriculum Council also was asked to consider and comment on a number of other important curricular matters. These included the reorganization of the MBA degree, approval of a new policy on graduate certificates, development of criteria for a policy on non-credit, professional certificates, and recommendation of language specific to the awarding of the posthumous awarding of undergraduate degrees and certificates.

The Curriculum Council has continued to work closely with OSU Statewide. The Council's chair serves on the OSU Statewide Council. The Council has worked with various departments to offer degrees at a distance while maintaining quality and access. One issue last year that captured the attention of both the Curriculum Council as well as OSU Statewide was the notion of "branding" short courses or instructional material with the OSU endorsement. We believe that the new policy on non-credit professional certificates adequately addresses this question by inserting the Curriculum Council into the approval process for new professional certificates.

One final accomplishment of note was action on the concern expressed over the years about the length of time necessary to process and approve Category I and II requests. A task force consisting of the Council Chair, Bruce Rettig, Gary Beach, and Nan Scott convened to flowchart the Category I process. A number of bottlenecks were identified including library liaison, approval from the Budgets and Fiscal Planning Committee, and problems resulting from the construction of the request. Discussions with the Library Committee raised concerns about inadequate funding in the proposals for journals, monographs, and other materials particularly when new degrees and programs were proposed. Coupled with concerns from the Library Committee were issues from the Budgets and Fiscal Planning Committee of lack of attention to the fiscal impact of new or revised programs including sources of funds for faculty, infrastructure, and student support. Conversations with both committees resulted in a series of agreements that have the effect of enhancing communication between the proposing academic unit and The Valley Library and the Budgets and Fiscal Planning Committee when applicable. In concept, the proposing unit needs to have conversations throughout the application process to make sure that resources are identified that will be needed to support the program. The task force also recommended that the unit meet with representatives from Academic Affairs early in the proposal process to identify any potential problem areas.

In addition, the Council continued work towards automating the Category II process. In the Spring term, representatives from the Council met with Greg Scott in the College of Business to review a system that Greg developed which would allow for the on-line completion, transmission, and tracking of Category II requests. We hope to have the completed system up and ready for beta testing late this summer or early fall.

On a final note, the Curriculum Council wishes to express a concern about the trend to propose programs and degrees in a manner that has potentially negative consequences for the University at large. We do not take issue with the necessity to develop graduate programming in the College of Liberal Arts nor do we object to efforts made to grow competency in bioengineering and enlarge the strength and capacity of the College of Engineering. Strong cases have been made for each of these initiatives and the Council has been supportive in each instance. Our question is whether the integrity and quality of each and every degree or program offered here can be maintained in the face of ever shrinking budgets. If we were being asked to simply sustain and incrementally improve what is already in our book of business, that would be one good question. However, it appears as if new initiatives are being added without consideration of the possibility that programs that are either chronically low enrolled or for which there is limited faculty competency might be trimmed. We do not suggest for a moment that this effort ought to be a zero-sum game where for every degree or program added, you must take away something equivalent in size or cost. Rather, we are mindful of the costs associated with either adding new or enhancing existing degrees or programs. The cost/benefit of multiple alternatives needs to be carefully evaluated for we risk jeopardizing the quality of existing activities that may be of lower profile but are of equal or (potentially) greater value.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve the Faculty Senate for the past two years in this capacity. It has been an honor and a privilege to do so and I look forward to working with Mike Quinn next year as he moves into the Chair position.

2000-2001 Membership:
Leonard Friedman, (Chair) Public Health
Walt Loveland (v. Fritzell), Chemistry
Gerry Olson, Human Development & Family Sciences
Gary Tiedeman, Sociology
Irma Delson, Oceanic & Atmospheric Sciences
Tom Dick, Mathematics
Mike Quinn, Computer Science
Joan Gross, Anthropology
Nan Scott, Crop & Soil Science

Non-voting Members:
Budgets/Fiscal Planning Committee (Flo Leibowitz)
IS - Distance Ed. (Mark Merickel)
IS - Library (Bonnie Allen)
IS - Instructional Technology (Jon Dorbolo)
Catalog Coordinator (Madge Patterson)
Director, Undergraduate Academic Programs (Leslie Burns/Robert Burton)
Coordinator of Assessment and Academic Programs (Gary Beach)

Student Members -
- Rob Banagale