Committees Educational Policy and Governance Macalester College

Educational Policy and Governance (EPAG)


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

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

  1. The minutes from the last meeting were described as lovely, and were therefore approved. 
  2. Report on the Joint Committee of EPAG and RPC:  A survey has been emailed to faculty and a Town Meeting scheduled for Dec 14th.
  3. There’s been some discussion of the Human Rights & Humanitarianism concentration proposal.  There will be a meeting tomorrow of the Brian Rosenberg, Diane, Kendrick, David Moore, and Jim Dawes to discuss it and concentrations in general.  There is an interpretation of the bylaws that says that EPAG is solely responsible for the approval of concentrations without need for faculty approval.  Anyone with questions should contact Kendrick.
  4. We returned, briefly, to the discussion of overlap between majors.  Kendrick distributed the chart he and Jayne worked on.  We corrected it to reflect the combined theater and dance major, and clarified that the dance program by itself has a minor, but no major.  We agreed that Kendrick should proceed with letter to the Math & CS Department about the proposed AMS major.   
  5. Our next meeting on December 11th is our last for this semester!
  6. Our spring meeting time will be Tuesdays, 4:30 to 6:00, starting January 29th.  [NB:  We will meet in CC214, our current room, every Tuesday except during spring break, through May 6th.  The first two meetings in March will be “marathon” meetings with dinner, lasting until 7:30.]
  7. The CST review and response will be ready soon so those documents can inform the crafting of the job description for the Director position. 
  8. Allocations letter will go out in mid-December (last year it was 12/17).  The deadline is approximately February 15th.  We have set aside extra time in March (see Item 6 above) for our deliberations.  Students do not participate in these meetings.  Kendrick will contact Jane Rhodes who will join us in her role as Affirmative Action office for those meetings. 
  9. There will be a January round of requests and approvals for spring 2008 courses to meet the General Education Requirements.  We decided on a February 1st deadline for spring 2008 courses.  We also asked that chairs encourage their faculty to make application by that deadline, particularly adjunct faculty.  Subcommittees need to notify the applicants of approval or disapproval, and notify the Registrar by the 8th at the latest. 
  10. Academic Structure of Concentrations:  We received feedback about this from chairs of existing concentrations, a potential concentration and an existing interdisciplinary minor.   We don’t really have feedback from people who aren’t part of concentrations.  We would like to be ready to make some recommendations (for handbook changes) in February.  Diane distributed a copy of the motion and the minutes from the faculty meeting.  We then launched into a general conversation on the topic.  It was noted that it is important to separate criticisms about the structure of concentrations from particular concentrations which might be connected to the Mellon grant.  It’s clear that there are two very different visions of concentrations on this campus – we could describe them as either important curricular programs or bubbles of interest that wax and wane.  If it’s the latter, what happens when a bubble bursts (i.e., a key faculty member leaves)?  Are concentrations similar to tracks within majors – that is, they don’t need the approval of the entire faculty?  Does examining the structure of concentrations require us to review the entire academic structure?  We need to evaluate the structure of concentrations first and then decide if change is necessary.  Is it the structure or the implementation that is really the problem?   How do existing interdisciplinary (or disciplinary) departments deal with the demands on them from concentrations?  What about the possibility that concentrations might encroach on existing work in disciplinary programs?  Perhaps we need to define what a concentration in more positive language than it is currently described.  What about the possibility of interdisciplinary majors among existing disciplines (such as Philosophy & German).  How do departments feel about concentrations – are they important? Are they a drain on departmental resources?  Do departments identify themselves as participants in a concentration?  What stake do they have in the academic structure?  Diane will bring a copy of the Mellon proposal so that everyone can see it, perhaps dispelling some rumors.   We discussed breadth, common experience, horizontal structure, among other things.  What’s the best way to proceed?  How do we survey those with who might have that “other voice”, who don’t have great interest or excitement about concentrations?  Is there a way to get departments to sign off in agreement?  Is individual faculty involvement always discussed at the department level?    These questions are about both structure and process.  How can concentrations serve the needs of the students, faculty and college and yet not be perceived as encroaching on departmental structures?  Can we ask the department chairs to help answer these questions?  Let’s pare down the list of questions to what we consider “essential” – we’ll do this by email and discuss it next week.  Kendrick will kick off the email discussion. 
  11. Next week we’ll discuss voting issues.  Course changes will be reviewed. 

Adjourned 6:10 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Jayne Niemi, Registrar


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