Academic Council Minutes 5-6-16


Academic Council
Friday, May 6, 2016
2:00 – 3:30 pm
109 Friendly

Voting Members: Tory Herman, Lars Skalnes, Alison Schmitke, Mark Horney, Julie Hessler, John Chalmers, and Frances White.
Ex Officio Members: Doug Blandy, Susan Anderson, Randy Sullivan, Sue Eveland, and Mike Urbancic.

Guests: Cheryl Ernst,Steve Robinson, Chuck Triplett, Bill Harbaugh and Kurt Willcox (Minutes Recorder).

Minutes: There were no additions or corrections to the minutes from the April 1 meeting.

TOEFL Scores and AEI Programs for International Students:

At the UO, students need an 88 TOEFL score to take regular university classes. The UO’s admission standard, however, is 61, while many comparable universities require a 76 for admission. For those with scores in the 61-68 range, the UO provides an intensive 18 hours/week program. Even though students with scores below 87 are admitted to the UO, many may need to take American English for International Students (AEIS) courses before getting into regular classes. In addition, regardless of TOEFL score, the UO tests all international GTFs for English language proficiency when they arrive here, if they are from a country where English is not the first language.

Committee members expressed the following concerns: international students getting into regular UO classes when they’re not language-ready, which affects their participation and how classes are taught; the impression that the UO is a gateway school where you can learn English and then go elsewhere to study; the impacts involved if we raise our admissions score to 71 as is currently being planned; and the fact that most international students with a TOEFL score of 88 who are admitted to a graduate program are not ready for graduate work in English. Several committee members asked what the UO is doing to attract more skilled American undergraduates, so it won’t have to put so much effort into dealing with the problems created by admitting high tuition-paying international students who don’t possess the English language skills needed for regular UO classes. 

Cheryl Ernst reported that beginning in Fall Term 2016, all international students with TOEFL scores 87 and below will be required to take a low level AEIS course and will need to test out successfully in order to attend regular classes. Students earn credit for AEIS classes, which led to discussion about whether there should be a limit on the number of such credits that can be applied to a bachelor’s degree. Several committee members suggested instead that these language classes should be treated like a minor in English language proficiency. Others noted that earning credit for AEIS classes helps international students maintain their visa status and reduces the pressure to take classes they’re not ready for.

Disallowing Students to Count Introductory Classes in Their Own Native Language as a Second Language:

Council members decided to postpone this discussion until someone from Admissions could be present to provide needed information.

Academic Continuity Plan:

Susan Anderson reported on her conversations with the deans. They were looking for a more specific definition of an “emergency” and what would trigger implementing procedures to deal with one. They also were interested in strengthening the report’s recommendation about revised language for department-head appointment letters. After some discussion, the council decided to forward the report to the Senate as is, given the lengthy process it’s already been through, and to look more closely at specific emergency situations at future council meetings.

Regularizing Experimental Classes after Repeated Offerings:

Frances White reported that the Committee on Courses is looking to develop a process by Fall Term 2016 to regularize experimental courses that have been offered three times. Council members briefly discussed how much a course must be changed for it to be considered a new course.

Online Courses and Student Engagement:

Tory Herman reported that the Graduate Council has begun putting together its own policy in this area now that the Senate has adopted an undergraduate policy. Frances White noted that the Committee on Committees will need to be included in the review of the draft policy that is developed.

Next Meeting:

The next Academic Council meeting will be on Friday, June 3 from 2 – 3:30 pm in 109 Friendly. Agenda items will likely include regularizing experimental courses, rolling out the new undergraduate online course policy, and how credit should be handled when students take introductory courses in their native languages.