ACADEMIC PLANNING COUNCIL
Minutes of October 17, 2005
3 p.m., Holmes Student Center – HSC 505
Present: Bose, Cassidy, Hartenhoff, House, Johnson, Legg, Levin, Munroe, Otieno, Payvar, Prawitz, Russo, Seaver, Williams
Guests: Donna Askins, Research Associate, Office of the Provost; Carolinda Douglass, Acting Coordinator, Assessment Services; Joe Grush, Acting Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Judy Ledgerwood, Chair, Department of Anthropology; William Minor, former Chair, Department of Sociology and Associate Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Jamie Rothstein, Assistant to the Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
The meeting was called to order at 3:10 p.m. It was moved and seconded to approve the minutes of October 3, 2005, as distributed, and the motion passed unanimously.
Legg introduced Judy Ledgerwood, Chair, Department of Anthropology; William Minor, former Chair, Department of Sociology and Associate Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Joe Grush, Acting Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Jamie Rothstein, Assistant to the Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Legg turned the meeting over to Prawitz for the presentation of the subcommittee report.
Grush provided a brief overview of the two departments in the college being reviewed this year. The Departments of Anthropology and Sociology are both masters’ level departments, which is a misdesignation when you think about the caliber of faculty and instruction. Both departments offer outstanding instruction at the undergraduate level and provide a great deal of individual attention to their students.
In the Department of Anthropology most of the undergraduate teaching is provided for non-majors (90 percent). This is important for the university in terms of centrality. The undergraduate lower-division teaching is done by tenured or tenure-track faculty. At different times there has been a ½ time instructor and maybe one more non-tenure track instructor who have been teaching at the lower division. These individuals have doctoral degrees. The departments have active scholars teaching throughout the entire curriculum, and the quality of instruction is extraordinary. Anthropology faculty provide majors with strong instruction by interacting one-on-one or in small groups in a hands-on fashion. There is a high level of faculty participation in URAP, and the faculty have participated in this program for the longest time period. Field schools are offered at various sites, which provides good opportunities for students. The department has a vertical research team structure. This includes undergraduate and graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and faculty members working together. The advantage is that all people learn from one another. The program is noted for preparing master’s level students who go on and get a Ph.D. elsewhere. Occasionally the incoming master’s students have some deficiencies in their background preparation, but when they finish here, they are highly competitive for doctoral programs.
The Department of Sociology has many of these same characteristics. It has impacted courses and is an impacted department. The growth in majors has been astonishing. The department is strong on centrality; 70 percent of the credit hours are taught to non-majors. This is even higher at the lower-division level. A particular strength of the department is the number of undergraduate degree recipients per faculty member. During the five-year period, 540 students graduated and 60 percent of them were female and 27 percent were minorities, and this department has 18 faculty members. We take great pride in this. Some students are not prepared for college-level work and this requires additional work on the part of the faculty. The department provides hands-on direct experience opportunities through its internship program. Approximately ¼ of the students in the department participate in the internship experience, and the department would like to increase this number. The department also has a good track record of master’s students who pursue Ph.D. degrees.
Prawitz thanked the subcommittee (Lori Hartenhoff, Amy Levin, and Carol Thompson) for its hard work, and she thanked the department for a well-written report.
The Department of Anthropology departmental strengths include the excellent job the department is doing given its limited resources, the benchmark targets and best practices sections are especially good, the museum and library holdings and resources are among the best in the country, and the students have strong writing skills. The faculty receiving $1.26 million in grants and the Digitized Tonga project are also departmental strengths. Ledgerwood said that Giovanni Bennardo worked in Tonga and uses GPS technology to map villages and the land outside villages for an interactive project. The letters collected during his tenure review describe his research as a very innovative anthropology study. The project also involves students in URAP, computer science, geology, and anthropology. Prawitz said this department probably provides the most multicultural-focused curriculum on campus. The outreach and external programming, advisement of undergraduates by the department chair, student involvement in faculty research at all levels, and all part-time instructors have Ph.D.s are also departmental strengths. Seaver added that anthropology students have received a significant number of USOAR awards too.
Prawitz turned to the departmental discussion points. The conditions in the Stevens Building are unacceptable and repairs need to be made. There have been problems with flooding from broken pipes, the building is not able to meet health and safety standards, and it does not provide accessibility for students with disabilities. All of these problems are affecting students and faculty, and could affect recruiting. Ledgerwood said that water continually runs down a wall where there are phone lines, and this has been an on-going problem. Williams asked if there were mold issues. Ledgerwood replied yes, there have to be. The phone wire box needs to be moved. Stevens has been on the capitol development list for repair for many years.
Bose asked why the college was so diverse, and what do you do to make this happen. Grush replied that this is a multidimensional question, and there is no easy answer. At an early stage, for example, the Department of Sociology got to a critical mass of faculty from underrepresented groups, and it is easier to attract more diverse students to the programs. If a department is partially diversified, it is easier to continue the trend. These are qualified people and the department knows this, which makes it easier to do more. Minor added that part of this is the nature of the pool. One thing the department can take into account when filling positions is what position would be more likely to help us out with diversity. Some areas are better positioned than others with respect to female and minority candidates. Some of sociology’s best recruiting years were when Kay Forest was in charge of recruiting. Some candidates at first glance didn’t seem to fit, but if you look closely at them, they are a good fit. We have broadened how we look at the candidates. Legg added that Forest has been a leader in the Faculty Diversity Planning Group. Grush stated that if there are two candidates (one a minority and one a non-minority), and both are excellent candidates, we try to let the department hire both by advancing the department a position. This has helped with diversity too. Seaver said that we shouldn’t take Bose’s comments lightly. The percentage of minority graduations is what is important. We need to have diversity in terms of graduates. Once the word gets out that you will help students, it helps attract more students. Cassidy added that sociology is a particularly attractive major to students too. Levin noted that another thing about sociology is that the non-minority faculty are committing themselves to diversity issues; the department has a high percentage of faculty participating in the Multiculturalism Transformation Institute.
Williams asked what opportunities are available to anthropology B.A./B.S. graduates. Ledgerwood replied that they are the same opportunities that are available for other liberal arts students. There are some jobs specific to anthropology, such as working at the Burpee Museum and the Field Museum. Our students are also well prepared to work in social service agencies. Williams asked if you have to have a master’s for forensic anthropology. Ledgerwood said that you would need a Ph.D. degree. You would become a police officer first, and then you would work into this type of position. We do have students who have become crime scene investigators.
Prawitz said that the recommendation for the future is to have university resources and support to improve the infrastructure of the Stevens Building. Cassidy noted that in the President’s State of the University Address he made a comment about Stevens, and this was the only Capitol Development project mentioned. Prawitz asked what the timeline was for the Stevens project. Cassidy responded that the Stevens Building has been on the Capital Development Budget for more than a decade.
Prawitz turned to the review of the undergraduate program. The strengths include the high-quality faculty; the excellent faculty/student interaction, which provides opportunities for students to work with professors; and students are well prepared for graduate work.
Prawitz said that one point for discussion is the wording changes in the objectives so that outcomes are measurable. Also a discussion point is the fact that the department now has larger classes and is offering fewer upper-division classes. Curricular changes may be necessary in order to graduate students in a timely manner if there is no additional staffing. Increasing diversity of students and faculty was also a discussion point. Ledgerwood noted that the department is working on trying to strengthen the diversity of the student body. We are cooperating with the new Asian American program and we have an African specialist who is attracting a number of black students. One of the goals of this review is to increase the number of minority students. We are also looking at increasing the number of diverse students who participate in the field schools. Prawitz said that it was not clear if the exit interview includes questions specifically to assess “basic knowledge of the factors that are responsible for human biological, linguistic, and cultural diversity,” and the department should review this assessment tool. Other points were about modifications in the document. The ISBE exam should be used as an assessment tool, add more information about Career Day in the report, and make revisions to the table on page 22. Given the present economy, is the projected 90 percent of graduates employed one-year after graduation realistic? The department does have more than this now. Ledgerwood replied that this is of the people who responded to the survey. Cassidy added with that goal in mind some of the things you are doing to help students understand career options is good. Ledgerwood said that anthropology stole that idea from sociology.
Askins asked for clarification about students seeking teacher certification. Ledgerwood said that there was an error in the report. During the review period approximately one student per year in anthropology was seeking teacher certification, and students pursuing teaching certification go through the history program for this certification. Seaver added that this is certification in social sciences. Askins stated that under your assessment findings you should include NCATE. Ledgerwood replied yes, and this was one of the recommendations.
Prawitz said that the recommendations for the future include revising the assessment methods, and the department should proceed with the program changes that were outlined in the review document.
Prawitz turned to the strengths of the master’s program. The master’s program has high-quality faculty, provides excellent preparation of students for Ph.D. programs, and has field schools in the U.S. and worldwide.
Discussion points include summarizing the program objectives and activities used to meet each objective in a table. This would help clarify this information. Employer feedback needs to be included in the review, and it is acceptable to use evaluations from internship supervisors as employer feedback. Cassidy added that we ask for information on employer feedback because we are expected to report this to the IBHE. We broadened the definition of employer feedback to include things like internship experiences, advisory committees, etc. We have a statement regarding employer feedback that we can send to you. Prawitz said that other discussion points include adding assessment through employer feedback to planned program changes, and talk about the reasons why graduate credit hours taken by non-majors has declined. Ledgerwood replied that we are teaching more large undergraduate courses so faculty can’t teach as many of the upper-division courses. The upper-division courses are large now too, approximately 30 students per course. Cassidy asked if there were courses at the 400 level that accommodate both undergraduate and graduate students. Ledgerwood replied yes, and we have cross-listed courses. Cassidy asked is it that non-majors are not seeking courses at the master’s level or you can’t accommodate these students. Ledgerwood responded that I don’t know why this is the case. I think in some cases the course is just full. Rothstein noted that the percentage of graduate credit hours taken by non-majors has gone up. There is still a good deal of service going on. Grush stated that if you look at the numbers, the total numbers are down, but the percentages are up a tad. Prawitz said that the recommendation for the future was to make changes to the assessment methods section and add information about employer feedback.
Prawitz turned to the review of the Department of Sociology and announced that Kay Forest is not able to be with us today. Bill Minor, former chair of the Department of Sociology, is here to represent the program.
Departmental strengths include off-campus programming, public service, and faculty outreach (Pilsen program). Minor stated that Jack King is the internship coordinator and got us active with the Pilsen Neighborhood Project. NIU students tutor students in the Pilsen neighborhood, and this is an outreach community service type of project serving us well with the Hispanic community. Prawitz noted that the multicultural approach to teaching and learning is a departmental strength. A number of faculty members are active in the MCTI and they bring this into the classroom. Other departmental strengths include most faculty are active in research, the internship experience, the decrease in credit hour costs, and the interest in core knowledge.
Department discussion points are to clarify the counting of majors, move the internship discussion from the resources section to the student learning section, and list the publication outcomes for students. Minor said that he will ask Forest to look into this issue. I know we do have students who are involved with faculty members in collaborative projects. There are some faculty members who publish with students on a regular basis. Prawitz stated that the department should emphasize the number or percentage of projects that result in publications or presentations. The last discussion point is the fact that faculty resources are strained. The department has eight junior faculty members.
The recommendation for the future is that when it is possible, the department should seek creative ways for staff in non-faculty positions to administer non-faculty type tasks that are currently being done by the faculty. Minor said that the department cannibalized a secretarial position to hire someone in an extra help position to handle advising, and this has worked very well for the department. Cassidy asked if there was an undergraduate advisor. Minor replied that there is a Director of Undergraduate Studies who oversees the advising. The bulk of undergraduate advising is done by the extra help person, who is a former master’s student. Grush added that sociology has received a new faculty position under the Office of the Provost initiative, and we are now conducting a search to fill this position.
Prawitz turned to the strengths of the undergraduate program. The program is cost effective, the cost ratios are close to the state average, and the emphasis on research within course work is good.
Some of the discussion points are that the increase in majors has placed a strain on faculty resources and could the department explain how restructuring or eliminating the emphases will not disadvantage students in the job market. Minor said that before pursuing eliminating the emphases, the department did talk to employers and individuals in career services and concluded that the elimination of the emphases would not serve as a disadvantage. The department has voted to do away with the emphases, but to not just say OK you have to take the courses but you have to take 15 or 18 hours of something else. This part is in process. The department plans to develop a certificate in criminology. This has been the biggest draw for students, and they don’t want to loose that identity. The elimination of the emphases was in large part recognition of the reality the department faces. With four emphases and so many students to deal with, it is getting harder and harder to offer all the courses needed. Some courses are really dependent on one or two key faculty. Eliminating the emphases does create some degree of stability for the department. Bose noted that many institutions have different programs for criminology. The criminology area is growing in leaps and bounds. Could this be made into a criminal justice program. Minor replied no, the proliferation of criminal justice programs was initiated in the mid-70s when the government started allocating funds to these types of programs. Many of these programs broke off from sociology programs. Many of the criminal justice programs are taught by police officers and others who are not qualified to teach within the discipline of sociology, and therefore many of the programs were not very good. At this university there were significant discussions within the university, and it was clear that this university did not want a separate criminal justice program. Consequently, the criminology emphasis was developed as a liberal arts academic pre-professional program. This is a very harmonious kind of relationship, particularly with faculty. Separating these programs would create administrative overhead.
Askins asked how the department would be affected by the development of the homeland security certificate. Minor replied that it is hard to say, but probably not much. The first tract is being reviewed by the college curriculum committee now, and I don’t think many of the sociology faculty have joined in this effort at this time.
Prawitz noted that the ISBE exam pass rate should be added as an assessment measure. Also, discuss the use of SOCI 280 as a prerequisite for other requisite courses. Minor responded that a 2.0 is required and a grade of at least a “C” in some specified courses. The department wants to add SOCI 280 as one of those courses. It will be a new course for majors that focuses on theorizing, critical thinking, and writing in the discipline. It is really a foundations course for majors. I think this will be on the college curriculum committee agenda this Wednesday. The curricular revisions are designed to establish a greater sense of sequencing. The department has been working on this curricular revision effort for a couple of years. I am impressed at the way the department has been proceeding to develop a curriculum that it can support and maintain and fits in with reasonable practice. Grush added that this new course will be a substitution for another course, and will be targeted toward the majors. Cassidy noted that we talked about the research methods course and students postponing taking this course. Moving students into this new course will be beneficial so students understand the methodology used in the discipline. Prawitz said another discussion point was the statement in the report that you plan to reduce the number of majors by 200. Prawitz stated that there needs to be a discussion in the report on how our program compares with the programs at the comparison schools.
The recommendation for the future was that the department go forward with the proposal to start sequencing courses.
Prawitz said that the strengths of the graduate program are that the document is well written, the program is cost effective, and faculty and student minority representation is increasing. Other strengths are that the core curriculum offerings are grounded in research methodology and theory, and graduates find employment in the field.
Discussion points include that grades in course work cannot be used as an assessment tool, but you can do course embedded assessment. The faculty are overtaxed by large sections of undergraduate courses, and this impacts the number of graduate-level elective courses that can be offered. Other wording changes have been noted by the subcommittee that should be made in the document.
The recommendation for the future is to continue to seek ways to alleviate strain on faculty resources. Undergraduate course sequencing should help ease some pressure on graduate faculty. Also, the new faculty hire will help ease some of this pressure.
Legg thanked the subcommittee for their thorough review.
The meeting adjourned at 4:35 p.m.
Carolyn A. Cradduck