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MINUTES OF THE REGULAR FACULTY COUNCIL MEETING OF
April 14, 2008

VI. UNFINISHED BUSINESS.

A. Proposed Policies on the Recognition of Undergraduate Academic Certificate Programs on Official University Transcripts (D 6128-6130).

Professor Desmond Lawler (civil, architectural, and environmental engineering and Educational Policy Committee chair) reminded the Council that his committee’s proposal had been presented at the March meeting, where there was considerable discussion about whether certificate programs must be completed by students at the time they receive their undergraduate degrees. Although the committee had met two additional times to discuss this issue, the members had not reached a satisfactory consensus and therefore were encouraging the Council to separately handle the issue.

As a result of this impasse, Professor Lawler said Professor Desiderio Kovar (mechanical engineering) had prepared and would present an amended motion to that originally proposed by the Educational Policy Committee (EPC). See Apendix A.

Professor Lawler said members of the committee were split between those who wanted no time extension and those who were willing to include an extension if restrictions on the length of time and number of credit hours were reasonable. Although there had not been time to poll the committee members regarding the amended motion, Professor Lawler said he thought the amended motion was “in line with the bulk of the thinking of the committee.” When Professor Jon Olson (petroleum and geosystems engineering) asked whether a start date had been set and if the motion needed to include an implementation schedule, Registrar Shelby Stanfield, at the request of Professor Lawler, responded that a timeframe and implementation strategies would need to be developed and had not been included but would be determined later.

Professor Larry Abraham (curriculum and instruction, kinesiology and health education, and EPC member) said he perceived that the committee members generally preferred students to fit the certificate programs into their degrees. He pointed out that the original motion from the committee did not stipulate that the certificate program had to be completed within the degree; it said, if the program was completed at the time the undergraduate degree was awarded, then the student would receive the added benefit of certificate transcript notation. He said faculty members in degree programs where students had little opportunity to experience diversity in their programs of study due to extensive major requirements were not supportive of the original motion. If issues of limitations on electives and breadth of coursework were set aside, he felt imposing a time limit for certificate transcript notation was irrelevant. Professor Abraham said he thought the amended motion provided a needed compromise, but he thought the Council needed to understand the crux of the disagreement that caused the committee to be unable to reach a consensus about the time limitation issue. He asked that the wording in the amended motion be clarified with regard to when students must apply for the certificate notation to be added to their transcripts. His recommendation was that students would be required to apply for the certificate transcript notations at the time they apply for their undergraduate degrees or at the time they complete the certificate program requirements, whichever occurs later. Professor Kovar accepted this wording change as a friendly amendment. After saying he appreciated the explanation of why there was concern about allowing additional time for completion of the certificate programs, Professor Mark Alpert (marketing) spoke in favor of the compromise that was supportive of student interests. He said his colleagues in the McCombs School of Business and its Business Foundations Program had been very supportive of the compromise offered by the amended motion. Professor Lawler said Professor Abraham’s explanation of the tension within the committee regarding the philosophical issues was aptly portrayed.

When Professor Olson requested that the amended amendment be clarified, Professor Lawler, with the assistance of Professor Abraham, indicated there were two substantive changes to the amended motion presented by Professor Kovar:

(1) Nine credit hours replaces three courses. The last sentence in A.1. would therefore be the following: “A maximum of nine credit hours in the certificate program may be taken after completion of the undergraduate degree.”
(2) The statement in A.5. would be deleted and the following statement inserted: “Students apply for transcript recognized undergraduate academic certificates at the time they complete their undergraduate degrees or their certificate programs, whichever comes later.”


Professors Tom Palaima (classics) and Chris Bell (geological sciences) asked questions regarding the use of credit hours as opposed to courses and whether courses that were weighted differently than three hours would cause problems. Professor Kovar said the intent was that roughly one-half or more of the certificate program of study would be completed prior to graduation, and he thought that credit hours was preferable. Professor Martha Hilley (music) said credit hours correlated better than courses with a specified amount of work, but she cautioned that no
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standardized language would cover all the variations that will be likely within the certificate programs.

Professor Rob Koons (philosophy) said he would like to further explain why there was resistance among some committee members about allowing additional time for completion of certificate programs beyond graduation. First, he noted the extensive complexity that would occur if modifications to records were allowed after graduation. Second, he said many faculty members were concerned about interdisciplinary programs and believe that integration of disciplines in the undergraduate program of study is preferable to receiving degrees in separate areas of study. Third, he said the amended motion counters the general pattern at the University to provide incentives for students to complete their degrees in a timely manner.

Chair Elect Hillis called the question, and Chair Burger asked for a vote by raised hands. The motion passed to end discussion of the issue. After clarifying procedural matters, it was decided that the amendments that had been proposed during the meeting would be voted on together as a group. When Professor Pauline Strong (anthropology) requested that the motion be clarified, Chair Burger, assisted by Professor Abraham, repeated the two amendments previously listed on D 6247 of these minutes where nine credit hours replaced three courses and the change in the application procedure for transcript notation was modified. Professor Abraham also pointed out that the application process was also included in part C of the amended motion and would need to be restated similarly to the new wording in A.5. Chair Burger asked for a vote by raised hands; the amended amendment passed. Ms. Nicole Trinh (Student Government) asked for a point of order and reminded Chair Burger that the Council had not voted on the main motion after approving the amended wording in the motion. Chair Burger asked for the vote on main motion, which passed.

Return to the minutes of April 14, 2008.