Faculty Senate 2007-08

University of South Alabama
Faculty Senate
June 20, 2007
University Library, Rm.110

Approved Minutes


Present: Aliabadi, Allison, Amare, Aucoin, Baggett, Brown, Bru, Burnham, Carnahan, Carter, Estis,
Doran, Falkos, Fresne, Green, Haas, Heins, Hubbard, Irion, Johnsten, Z. Khan, King, Kinniburgh, Lauderdale, Li, Loomis, Major, Morris, Porter, Prendergast, Prescott, Prokhorov, Rivers, Rowell, Santoli, Simpson, Tate, Woodford, Tony Wright, Tootie Wright

Excused: Britt, Dardeau, Douglass, Engin, Hamilton, Perez-Pineda, Robinson, Sachs, Teplick
Unexcused: Crumb, McNair, Pettyjohn, Phelan, Rego, Schamburger, Sherman, Vrettos


I. The meeting was called to order at 3:05 by Chair Tate. Lacking a quorum, Chair Tate tabled the approval of the minutes and proceeded to agenda item 3 “Chair’s report.” A question was raised regarding the use of proxies for those excused. The Chair stated that this was possible as long as we post the minutes on the computer beforehand.

A quorum was achieved at 3:09

II. Chair’s Report (written report attached). Chair Tate summarized points from the written report:

III. Having achieved a quorum, Chair Tate returned to agenda item 2: “Approval of Minutes” for the March 21, April 18, and April 25 meetings.

IV. Chair Tate reported that there was no Old Business.

V.  Under New Business, the chair of the Policy and Handbook Committee, Loomis, presented the proposal for a change in the Late Course Withdrawal Policy (handout attached).
According to Loomis, the proposal is the product of last year’s committee and recommends that between the drop/add date and the drop date students will need the faculty’s signature in order to drop a course. Drawing from the handout, Loomis provided an overview of the problems with the current system and the rationale for the proposal from the committee. Loomis noted that the committee looked at the policy of around 30 institutions and found USA’s withdrawal policy to be one of the most lenient, easiest, and latest. Students can withdrawal at any time until the last day – which has ranged from 12th week to last day of class in recent years – just by going into PAWS. The student suffers no penalty for doing so. Loomis also noted that about 38% of institutions examined require some form of signature by the advisor or instructor. Some institutions put limits on the number of WD’s a student can have during his/her career; some allow instructors to fail students even if they WD by using a grade of WF; some have financial penalties. The committee found a variety of problems with our current policy: 1) It is too easy for students and may be a spur of the moment decision without reflection. By requiring a signature, it would no longer be an impulsive or uninformed decision; 2) Withdrawing students are not aware of their standing in the class – chance for additional credit, underestimating their grade, etc. – or are unaware how often the course is offered or how easy it is to get into the class in the future. Consultation with faculty would help make sure they are aware of these things; 3) For instructors, if many students drop, the instructor may not know why, making it hard to make changes or adjust. The change would thus provide feedback to the instructor; 4) Though students withdraw for a variety of reasons, this would at least slow down the process and force students to provide a rationale for dropping; and finally, 5) Withdrawals make it more difficult for students to proceed toward graduation, so the policy should have a positive effect on retention. Students at academic risk will have a chance to interact with faculty at a crucial point.
-- Q: Hall asked if faculty will be able to deny students the right to withdraw.  
-- A: Loomis argued that there is no motivation for faculty to deny it. We could add something to the policy regarding appeal, but the assumption is that faculty will sign the form.
-- Q:  Bru asked if we are saying there is no compromise. Rowell posed a question about where the paperwork would originate. Aliabadi asked if only the instructor’s signature or the chair’s should be required. What happened if s/he is not around?  
-- A: Loomis explained that the form would come from the Registrar’s office and that the chair or dean can make a judgment call, but the instructor should be around since there is a class.
--Q: Irion asked about web-based programs.
-- A: Loomis suggested perhaps an e-mail version or a web-based form, etc. that students could download.
--Chair Tate asked everyone to take the proposal back to the faculty for discussion and that the Senate would discuss the proposal at a future meeting.

6.  Committee Reports.

7.  Caucus Leader Reports.

8.  Adjourn – thanks everyone for attending – adjourn at 4:04 pm


Minutes taken by Steve Morris

University of South Alabama  -  Faculty Senate -  Mobile, AL 36688-0002
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