ACADEMIC PLANNING COUNCIL
Minutes of October 31, 2005
3 p.m., Holmes Student Center – HSC 505
Present: Bose, Cassidy, Hartenhoff, House, Johnson, Legg, Munroe, Musial, Otieno, Prawitz, Russo, Schoenbachler, Thompson, Waas, Williams
Guests: Donna Askins, Research Associate, Office of the Provost; Sarah Cosbey, Coordinator, Textiles, Apparel, and Merchandising area; Carolinda Douglass, Acting Coordinator, Assessment Services; Mary Pritchard, Associate Dean, College of Health and Human Sciences; Shirley Richmond, Dean, College of Health and Human Sciences; Laura Smart, Chair, School of Family, Consumer and Nutrition Sciences; Josephine Umoren, Coordinator, Nutrition, Dietetics, and Hospitality Administration area
The meeting was called to order at 3:05 p.m. It was moved and seconded to approve the minutes of October 17, 2005, as distributed, and the motion passed unanimously.
Legg introduced Laura Smart, Chair, School of Family, Consumer, and Nutrition Sciences; Sarah Cosbey, Area Coordinator, Textiles, Apparel, and Merchandising; Josephine Umoren, Area Coordinator, Nutrition, Dietetics, and Hospitality Administration; and Shirley Richmond, Dean, College of Health and Human Sciences. Richmond noted that Mary Pritchard, Associate Dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences would be here shortly.
Legg indicated that the department overview was presented at the October 3, 2005, APC meeting and asked the college and school to provide a brief overview. Richmond said that this is a very complex unit, but the programs fit together very well and are a real success in the college. Smart noted that there are three academic areas within the school: nutrition and dietetics, apparel and textiles, and family and child studies. The school houses four undergraduate and two master’s programs. The Chandelier Room serves the nutrition, dietetics, and hospitality administration program. The dietetics internship is part of the M.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics. You do not have to complete a master’s degree to participate in the national internship program, but many of our students enroll in the master’s program.
Legg turned the meeting over to Johnson for the presentation of the subcommittee report. Johnson said that all of the reports are clearly written, and the programs are very integrated. The programs in the school also provide many cooperative activities to their students.
Johnson turned to the review of the B.S. in Textiles, Apparel, and Merchandising. Strengths of the program include the dramatic increase in enrollment in general and minority enrollment too. NIU has a strong program in comparison to other programs offered at Illinois schools. A discussion point is the future growth of the program, and Johnson asked what if the growth is bigger than expected. Cosbey responded that in the last two or three years the growth has been in a holding pattern. The program has been working on getting new faculty up and established, and we have proposed offering a master’s degree. Cassidy added that at the time of the last program review, the program was challenged to increase enrollment. The program addressed this, and now enrollment is leveling off. Cosbey added that the program was actively doing things to increase program awareness. Johnson asked Cosbey if she could talk about the addition of the master’s program and how it will affect staffing and facilities. Cosbey replied that we have enough resources right now to offer the program. Some graduate courses already exist. We are hoping that having a master’s program will increase the number of teaching assistants. We may have graduate students and part-time instructors teach at the lower-division level as a means of providing additional course work at the master’s level. Cassidy asked for an overview of the proposed master’s degree. Cosbey added that the demand for teacher certification in family and consumer sciences is high in this part of the state. This is a very popular certification and would be a viable option for our students. The master’s program would have two specializations: family and consumer sciences and textiles, apparel, and merchandising. Richmond noted that the core courses would serve both areas. Smart said that some of the resources used to teach elective courses in textiles, apparel, and merchandising every semester could be freed up by teaching them on a yearly basis. This would free up the faculty to teach other courses. Pritchard added that school districts want students to obtain a master’s degree within several years after they have been hired. Musial said she was impressed with how well the program responded to the request to have more students. How did you succeed in increasing your enrollment? Cosbey replied that the program selected several introductory courses to market the program, and we got people outside the major to enroll in the program. We also have a bulletin board display outside the lab that contains information about things that are going on in the program. There are also courses offered in remote off-campus locations, such as New York City, that are attractive to students.
Johnson said that textiles, apparel, and merchandising wants to develop a product design program, and asked if there was enough technology and faculty support to make this happen. Cosbey responded that a program goal is to offer courses in the product design area, which would provide great options for students. We are not as rigorous in this area as we want to be, so we have been looking at ways of building up our courses in this area. We hired a faculty member last spring who has expertise in the product design area. Ideally we should have some computer related design technology. We would like to bring more of this into the classroom. Currently students use Photoshop, but we would like to see if we could have our own computer design lab. Some companies will donate software, and we are looking into this.
Askins asked if the program was considering technologically advanced products. Cosbey said that this would be included in the curriculum.
Musial noted that teacher certification is very complex in Illinois. You have a certification program only and graduates would have to be certified to teach in high schools. Pritchard said that there are family and consumer sciences certified teachers, and there is a state shortage in this area.
Johnson said that the B.S. in Nutrition, Dietetics, and Hospitality Administration is the next program to be discussed. The addition of the courses to help students with internship applications and the increase in enrollment are strengths of the program. Umoren added that the program has grown tremendously, and the classes are now overflowing. We have a strong advisory board, and they advised us to streamline courses, which we are doing. We have also received a new faculty position. The program has been able to attract a pool of part-time faculty. Recently we had an individual from Hyatt come to visit the kitchen in the Chandelier Room and provide ideas on streamlining the kitchen.
Johnson asked about geriatric dietetic needs, and how is the university positioning itself to address these needs. Umoren replied that the college has a gerontology minor, and our program has a three credit hour elective that allows students to take a geriatric nutrition course. We also have a graduate certificate in eating disorders and obesity. Richmond added that the interdisciplinary minor in gerontology is reviewing its curriculum, and we would like to offer a practicum and seminars for students who are interested in geriatrics. We are hoping to get this through the graduate level curricular process this year. Cassidy asked if the goal of streamlining the curriculum is to make more options in gerontology and eating disorders available for students. Umoren replied that this is one of the goals. The most pressing goal is to allow more students to move through courses that currently require the use of the Chandelier Dining Room.
Johnson asked if the faculty and facilities resources would be able to support the increase in enrollment. The program used to have limited enrollment, but now it has open enrollment. Umoren stated that the program was not growing as fast as we needed it to, and this was the reason for changing to open enrollment. One issue is that our foods lab only holds 10 students at a time, and this fall we have 30 students in the food lab. We can’t offer the courses in the summer because the kitchen in the Chandelier Room does not have air conditioning. We want the curriculum to include more courses that support the hospitality administration emphasis.
Waas asked if the practice of dietetics is governed by the state or another agency. Umoren replied that dietetic registration is governed by a national accreditation body. The State of Illinois also has a licensure examination for Registered Dietitians, but this varies state to state. Waas asked how NIU students do on the licensure examination. Umoren replied that the pass rate has been about 80 percent. At the master’s level we offer a dietetic internship, and our pass rate is quite high (83 – 87 percent). Johnson noted that the courses prepare students with theoretical knowledge, but the internship experience factors into how students perform on the test. Umoren added that the undergraduate program prepares students didactically for the Registered Dietitian exam. Students must apply for the internship experience through the American Dietetics Association (ADA). Waas asked if this was a standard format. Umoren responded that for this type of program this is standard.
Johnson turned to the review of the M.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics program. Strengths of the program include the fact that students value the availability of faculty as indicated in the assessment results and the addition of the intensive metabolic support course that was added to the curriculum in 2005 in response to ongoing assessment processes. A discussion point was the issue of degree completion, specifically finishing the thesis. Johnson asked about the long-term plan to deal with this issue. Umoren replied that since the students can complete the internship, sit for the Registered Dietitian examination, and then seek employment; they often do not finish the master’s program. The master’s degree is not needed to practice. Beginning with the fall 2006 class we will not allow students to take the Registered Dietitian examination until they complete the thesis. Other universities that have programs similar to our program are set up this way. Students value the program because of the dietetic internship and the variety of experiences we provide.
Thompson asked where the master’s students come from and about their undergraduate preparation. Umoren replied that most of the students have an undergraduate degree in this area. Internships are accredited by the ADA and students can apply to our program. Some programs are strictly internships. Thompson asked what type of student goes in one direction or the other. Umoren replied that some students want a master’s degree and this enables them to start employment at a higher salary. Students are interested in a graduate degree and our program is a generalist program. Students take all the courses and leave the thesis until the end. Thompson asked how long are students here. Umoren replied typically 18 months to 2 years. Williams asked if the program had a course that helped students work on the development of the thesis. Umoren replied that most of the students take a statistics and research methods course their first semester, and this has helped a little bit. Prawitz added that in the research methods course students work on their research proposal. Cassidy asked if it was standard practice for students to do an internship and a thesis. Umoren replied no, this is not standard practice, and we are trying to develop a non-thesis option. Pritchard added that there are a large number of theses produced, and if you compare our program nationally with other non-Ph.D. programs, we would be ranked third or fourth. Thompson said that if the thesis didn’t have to be done before the examination, what percentage of students completing the program would you be comfortable with. Umoren replied that recently there were 39 students in the program and 6 graduated. We would be comfortable with at least a 33 percent completion rate. Richmond stated that if you look at your numbers, it looks like you don’t have good completion rates. By requiring the completion of the thesis prior to taking the exam, we hope we are going to push students to finish the master’s degree. This would benefit the students.
Cassidy noted that in the family and consumer sciences master’s degree proposal a thesis would be required. She asked if there had been any discussions about challenges that this requirement might pose and about having a non-thesis project/option for students. Cosbey replied that the program feels strongly that there should be a thesis in part because the faculty energies would be used for scholarship. Some programs have a professional degree and do not require a thesis. We want to use our resources efficiently, but we may want to look at this down the road. I don’t think it will cause a stumbling block in either specialization. Our students will probably be working full-time and studying on a part-time basis. Cassidy asked if Cosbey was saying the requirement for students to do a thesis would drive faculty scholarship. Cosbey replied this would put more energy into faculty scholarship. It is a more efficient use of faculty time if the work is leading to a scholarly product for both faculty and students. Smart added that faculty could organize research projects so students could be involved in them. Students would work on pieces of the projects, and this is a way of professionalizing students. Some students also want to pursue doctoral work. Bose asked how many students publish. Cosbey said that at this time we don’t have a graduate program. Richmond added that the product design initiative would provide plenty of research opportunities. Cassidy said that this sounds like it is not necessarily a thesis. Cosbey stated that the students are more interested in behavioral sciences. In the past, we had a project option and this does not characterize our program any more. Munroe asked if the library could help with the thesis completion goal. We could do a seminar. If students are finding the research process difficult, we could help with this. Umoren added that in the seminar course we work with the library and students are required to meet with a librarian. Waas stated that when he thinks about a thesis, he thinks of it as a prerequisite for a Ph.D., and asked if it is normal to have a thesis requirement in a non-Ph.D. department. Cosbey answered that most programs require a thesis. Smart added that we are in the Chicagoland area, and we are serving place bound students. Pritchard said there would also be students who go into doctoral programs. Thompson noted that she would have thought that this was the other way around.
Cassidy asked if the faculty were able to get grants to support graduate assistants and students’ research projects. Cosbey responded that grants are not plentiful, but sometimes grants are offered through professional organizations.
Johnson said the strengths of the Chandelier Room include the excellent hands-on experiences provided to students, the great service to the university community, and the industry leaders that advise the faculty on future directions and resource issues. The industry leaders highly value the experiences provided to the students.
Johnson stated that one discussion point is due to the success of the increase in enrollment in the hospitality administration program, which has caused a bottleneck in the Chandelier Room. What are the future goals for the Chandelier Room? Umoren responded that we are working on the curriculum so we can accommodate the students. This year we offered the food service timeslots three times a week instead of two times a week. We have requested that the kitchen facility be examined to see if air conditioning could be installed so we could possibly offer the lab in the summer. We have tried to be creative: we rotate our students through the residence halls dining services, VAC, and the Chandelier Room. Cassidy asked if there had been any progress with receiving donations through your work with Hyatt and Marriott. Umoren replied that the program is still working on this. Richmond added that this is still in the networking stage. Businesses have commented that they would like to see this program be a premier program. We have a vice president who serves on the college advisory committee, and at these meetings we talk about all program areas in the college. We don’t have money in hand right now, but we have received some hotel management software. Pritchard said that businesses are also donating scholarship money and money to pay for students to attend national meetings. Richmond stated that the department did an excellent job working with the Hyatt representatives. Our key thing now is to show that we could develop a partnership. We told the company that if it provided the software, we could find the hardware. This is a young relationship, and I feel the school has done a great job moving this forward.
Cassidy asked how the new specialization in consumer sciences would affect what is happening with the distribution of faculty resources related to dietetics. Smart replied that there is a research methods class shared by all graduate programs in the school. Cosbey said there are eating disorders courses available for students too. Smart added that there is a 500 level textiles, apparel, and merchandising course in the eating disorders certificate that has not being taught at this point. Richmond noted that the college as a whole is looking at a college-based research methods course and this could help with the distribution of teaching loads.
Thompson asked if the Chandelier Room was a public contact lab, and what the other labs in the school were. Smart replied that this is a public contact lab, and the school has two other labs: the Child Development Laboratory and the Family Center.
Legg thanked Johnson and the subcommittee members for their thorough review.
The meeting adjourned at 4:15 p.m.
Carolyn A. Cradduck