Committees Educational Policy and Governance Macalester College

Educational Policy and Governance (EPAG)


EPAG Minutes
November 13, 2007
4:30-6:00, CC 215

Fahima Aziz, Kendrick Brown (chair), Pete Ferderer, Terri Fishel, Ellen Guyer, Dan Keyser, David Martyn, Paul Maitland-McKinney, Diane Michelfelder, Jayne Niemi, Manoj Vemula, Peter Weisensel, Eric Wiertelak

Guests:  Danny Kaplan, Victor Addonna, Karen Saxe

  1. The minutes from the last meeting were approved.
  2. Representatives from the Mathematics and Computer Science Department responded to some of the concerns that EPAG had expressed.   Karen Saxe responded first, as chair of the department.  They have considered and don’t think there is a problem with students taking too many credits in one discipline.  The closest model for tracks, given the variations in other departments, would probably be Classics.  The department is also concerned about the proliferation of programs at Macalester and strives to be a good example of a big, strong department that uses its resources well.   Student support has been coming in, and seems to cross disciplines.  Karen left copies of the emails with Kendrick, as well as a petition from students.  The department feels that the AMS major does fit well into our liberal arts mission; it is interdisciplinary at its core, and gets students out into the community.  Victor Addonna also stated that interdisciplinarity is already reflected in the department, and that the proposed major supports the mission of the college.  Students are demonstrating their interest by enrolling in statistics courses and declaring statistics minors.  He cited the fact that six majors currently require a statistics course, and many new hires teach quantitative methods courses in other departments – this indicates a high value is placed on hiring people who have this background.   Danny Kaplan stated that the disapproval of this major sent the message that what a lot of people do on campus is not valued, and that a large, efficient, administrative unit may not regulate its own affairs.  In regard to questions about labeling issues – he feels it’s important to signal to students what the faculty do.   There were only a few minutes left for questions from EPAG:   David Martyn expressed his extremely positive impression of the Mathematics and Computer Science Department.  He asked if with this group of courses and two majors with different requirements, are there some courses that only apply to one major?    One answer was that the other departments with emphases take the core courses and add electives, and the AMS major would take totally different courses than a math major.  Another question was about which are the courses that are applicable to only one major.   Courses like Linear Algebra, Combinatorics, and Topology, for example, would only apply to the math major.  At this point, the allotted time was up, and our guests left with our thanks.
  3. We then discussed our next steps.  There was concern on several fronts:  absent  committee members, the length of time needed to deliberate thoughtfully, the students possible impression that the question was not being dealt with in a timely manner, the kinds of precedents that might be set.  This might be a very good opportunity to set some principles down on paper.  We will have a more robust discussion next week.  One procedural question was raised:  May any EPAG member gather more information?  Yes, that’s certainly something individual EPAG members may do.  We should be sure that it’s clear that EPAG had no hostile intent in its denial.  The chair thanked all EPAG for their willingness to do the difficult work of the College.
  4. Kendrick reported that the Joint RPC/EPAG/Chairs Committee is moving forward on process issues.
  5. Kendrick reviewed what he plans to report at the Faculty Meeting.  There is still concern about the quorum motion including voting members who are not included in the constitution.  We discussed plans to deal with objections and friendly amendments. 
  6. Some questions were suggested for the Geography Department reviewers.  Kendrick will pass them on to Lynn Hertz.
  7. The student representatives were excused for the discussion of the Allocations process and the possibility of a new position for academic year 2009-10.  Diane then distributed a request for a strategic hire.  EPAG’s role in the strategic hiring process is to determine whether the proposal fits with the general priority of the College and curriculum.  Hopefully, we will discuss this next week or the following week.  We then discussed the allocations process in general, as well as whether or not to recommend proceeding with a new position allocation in 09-10, or hold off for the work of the joint committee to have some results.  That will be in April at the earliest.  After discussion, it was decided that allocation requests should be for conversions and replacements only, no solicitation of new positions.  The request will only be for one year out.
  8. We reviewed Mike Schneider’s memo from last year that made some recommendations about the allocations process.   In it, he recommended that all replacements be handled by Provost instead of EPAG.  After discussion, we decided that there would be a streamlined process to fill those positions vacated by people who leave prior to gaining tenure, or who are denied tenure, unless the area of specialization is going to change for the new hire.  Then the full process would be observed.  The streamlined process will be a pilot project this year, and those situations will be dealt with on a rolling basis.   The streamlined process will still allow for faculty oversight of the process, but will allow the department to move more quickly to fill the position.  The second recommendation, that the Provost not participate in the deliberations, but only be the recipient of EPAG’s recommendations, seemed to be one that was about a particular situation and may not be applicable any longer.

Adjourned 5:59 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Jayne Niemi, Registrar


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