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SENATE RECOMMENDS ADDING FALL BREAK TO UNIVERSITY CALENDAR

The issue of adding a fall break to the academic calendar was revived at the final meeting of the 1999-2000 Faculty Senate. But instead of proposing a plan for such a break, senators voted to recommend that the administration come up with dates for a break that would be acceptable to faculty and students.

The vote to revive the issue, however, came on the heels of a committee recommendation that it be terminated. After Sen. Mark Elliott, chair of Committee J (Faculty Remuneration), reported that the committee had voted 3-1 to recommend the fall break issue be terminated, due to the fact that it would be "disruptive to scheduling of classes, laboratories and overall continuity of learning," Sen. Robert Wojtowicz introduced a substitute motion in favor of a fall break, an idea that originated in the Student Senate.

Wojtowicz's recommendation, which elicited only one negative vote, suggests that the administration implement a fall break no later than fall 2002. It concludes, "The final decision as to which schedule most appropriately meets the needs of the university, its students and employees should be left to the administration."

The recommendation's rationale statement credits the Student Senate's research on the matter and states in part, "A four-day fall break over the Columbus Day weekend is highly desirable and many faculty on campus favor a fall break for
students . . . ."

Student body president Tommy Smigiel, who spoke to the Faculty Senate, pointed out that other state schools in Virginia have a fall break and said students could spend the extra time off studying for midterms, catching up on papers or visiting their parents. "A lot of students feel burned out when October comes around," he said.

The senate also recommended that proposed revisions to policies on grade forgiveness and repeating courses be returned to the provost for further study with the following comments:

*The two classes of students covered within these policies are essentially different: those using grade forgiveness come from a group in danger of not graduating while the other group wants to raise a satisfactory grade still further.

*Grade forgiveness was originally designed to help students who otherwise might have to use ARC (Adjusted Residency Credit) to get a degree. Under the newly proposed program, only courses with grades of C- or less can be retaken for credit; however, the grades count only toward graduation, not toward university honors or other special benefits. In these cases, retaking courses with lower grades provides more benefit to the overall QPA than retaking classes with higher grades. (Note: To raise a B to an A adds three quality points; to raise an F to a C adds six quality points.)

*The present regulation on Repeating Courses (adopted in February) is quite strict, admitting only two exceptions to the general provision that no student can retake a class where a C or better grade was earned, and then requiring the approval of a chair or a dean.

To totally abandon this would be to invite constant retaking of courses, some in fields where classes are already filled, and would serve little larger academic purpose, since neither graduation nor admission to graduate school would be affected.

*A quest for growth in student enrollment would not be a justifiable reason for changing the present policy.

*Several senators have already noted their opposition to the proposed changes.

In other action, the senate voted unanimously to endorse minors in modeling and simulation and computer engineering. The senate also voted to recommend revisions to the policy on minors. One revision clarifies that, to complete a minor, an undergraduate student must have a minimum overall cumulative GPA of 2.00 in all courses (not a 2.00 in each individual course) taken toward the academic minor. The other revision produced the following statement: "A minimum of six hours in upper-level courses in the minor requirement must be taken through courses offered by Old Dominion University." Previously, the policy had indicated that the six hours had to be taken on the main campus.

The senate also voted to recommend revisions to the policies on experiential learning credit options. Among the proposed changes was the addition of the following sentence to the section on Departmental Examinations: "A course may be challenged only one time. For courses in which there are no final examinations, other experiential learning assessment options may be explored."

Another recommendation that received support from the senate had to do with the issue of attendance at open houses and bus tours. The recommendation reads, in part: "Should faculty feel unwanted pressure to attend bus tours and open houses, they should discuss their specific situation with their department chair and/or dean. Failing satisfactory resolution, the faculty can take further steps; e.g., file a grievance, knowing that attendance is not mandatory."

While the recommendation elicited a unanimous vote, it was also noted in the rationale statement: "The system by which faculty are requested to volunteer for these events, and the response by the faculty, appears to be working well and should be maintained."

In other matters, the senate voted to endorse proposed revisions to the policy on General Education Upper-Division Requirements -- WI Course in Cluster. The revisions are intended to clarify that six hours of courses must come from Old Dominion and that cluster courses from another discipline may not be used to fulfill a WI (writing intensive) requirement for a major.

The senate also voted unanimously to recommend that the Perry Library funding be increased, especially in the area of new journal acquisition.

In its rationale statement, Committee A (Undergraduate Studies) notes: "There has been a 16-year moratorium on new journal acquisitions. This trend has been of considerable concern . . . . It is felt that such a policy at an institution which possesses so many undergraduate and graduate programs is unacceptable."

The senate voted to continue two issues to the next academic year for further study: Interim Policy and Procedures for Responding to Allegations of Scientific Misconduct, and Salary Inequity.

All of the recommendations passed by the senate will be forwarded to the administration.

This article was posted on: May 12, 2000

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