March 29, 2016

Faculty Senate hears proposal for four-year degrees at state community colleges

The Cleveland State University Faculty Senate met for the second time this semester Wednesday, March 9 in the Student Center Ballroom to discuss topics including changes set forth by the University Curriculum Committee and legislation to introduce certain baccalaureate programs at community colleges. 

            The University Curriculum Committee proposed changes to several programs, including the addition of a 33-credit hour, course-only track in the masters of science in chemical engineering; removing the requirement of a project from the non-thesis track of the masters of science in mechanical engineering; and reorganizing specialization courses in the masters of science in civil engineering transportation and water resources track, including replacing specific core courses with a menu of specialization-relevant courses that students can choose from. These moves hope to help students reach their graduation requirements easier.

            Changes proposed to eLearning course requirements for students and faculty caused some concern among senate members. Fears of academic dishonesty prompted heightened security features like requiring proctored exams and the use of anti-plagiarism sites such as Several senate members raised concerns regarding policies that were already in place, inconsistencies in using anti-plagiarism sites and the proposed eLearning fee for proctored exams.

            Along with new measures to maintain academic integrity, a section on quality outlined recommended requirements for faculty teaching eLearning courses. These included four different options of continuing education or certification programs.

            Due to the vagueness of the document and concerns of senate members for the impact these changes would have on adjunct and part-time faculty, the policy was sent back to the committee for revision and creation of a second draft.

            Class capacity was also discussed, with a memo to set WAC courses to 35 and other diversity requirement and general education courses to be scheduled at 40. This blanket statement caused some concern among Trustees, though the memo stated that the capacity requirements did not apply to studios, practicums, clinicals, field placements, tutorials, independent studies, theses, labs or eLearning courses.

            “Are we really effectively teaching writing if there are 35 students in the classroom — I think that’s the really important question to ask,” Robert Kreb, professor and senate member said. “If we want our students to write, we have to teach them to write. And I’m not sure we can do that with 35 students in the classroom.”

            Due to continued dissent, the proposal was sent back for further consideration by the university curriculum committee.

            President Berkman then addressed the Senate. He discussed pending legislation from the governor that would allow community colleges to have selective baccalaureate degree programs. This move is intended to lower the cost of college education, as the colleges are not allowed to raise tuition for upper-level coursework.

            He also touched on the three-plus-one degree programs, where a student takes three years at a community college and one at a senior institution — like Cleveland State — to complete their program. This move to further include community colleges as alternatives to traditional four-year institutions is part of the Governor’s higher education reform plan, according to Berkman.


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