- The Academic Standards and Student Records Committee met on Dec. 1, 2005 from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. in N-217. The following members were attending the meeting: Ms. Kathleen Carter, Dr. Charles Dameron, Ms. Ana Linville, Dr. James A. Telese, Dr. Maria Elena Corbeil, Mr. Steve Wilder, and Mr. Tom Welther.
- Upon reviewing the minutes of May 3, 2005, Mr. Wilder motioned to approve them. His motion was seconded by Dr. Telese, and the minutes were accepted by the committee.
- To inform the two new members of the committee, Ms. Linville and Dr. Telese, Dr. Dameron briefly summarized the probation/suspension issue on campus. Because academically floundering students have been allowed to accumulate failing grades for three consecutive semesters, many of them have ended up facing a nearly irremediable dilemma: Not only have they been barred from receiving financial aid, but they also have become saddled with a substandard GPA that would be difficult to improve, even if the students in question suddenly converted into A students during subsequent semesters, a scenario not likely to happen. Mr. Welther pointed out that by permitting students to dig themselves into an academic hole, the university, in its pursuit of large enrollment numbers, has not helped these students.
- Dr. Dameron mentioned that a different approach is needed to prevent students who are accumulating bad grades from going this route. He further mentioned that Mr. Ron Woolfolk, the new Director of Advising, had proposed a contract-based approach that would allow advisors and faculty members to intervene much earlier than the currently practiced model. However, to implement an early intervention system that would make effective monitoring of students at risk possible, more advisors will have to be hired; therefore, the advising fee will be increased in the future. Mr. Welther added that Ms. Chapa, the Director of Financial Aid, had conveyed to him in a probation/suspension subcommittee meeting that HEAF money in the amount of $46.000 was going to be used to hire student mentors to help students who have been put on probation. Ms. Linville noted that even in her on-line classes some students stop to attend but fail to drop or withdraw from the class and, thus, end up getting a failing grade.
- Dr. Telese told the committee that student orientation should inform students of the consequences of failing grades and a low GPA. Dr. Dameron observed that orientation already included a section about this topic. Ms. Carter wondered whether it had any effect on students at the time of orientation as they often only become aware of negative circumstances when they are hit by them. Dr. Corbeil added that the Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Mari Fuentes-Martin, was calling a meeting to determine if additional financial workshops were needed to alert students of the impact negative grades have on the their financial aid benefits.
- Dr. Telese informed the committee members that his son had access to counseling services at A&M. These services could be used for academic or other reasons, and Ms. Carter also said that when she was attending college, departmental faculty counselors had been helpful to her. Dr. Corbeil informed the committee members that there had been talk in the Developmental Subcommittee about requiring all students to take the University Experience again. Currently, some of the topics that used to be taught in the University Experience classes are now taught in speech classes.
- Next, the discussion shifted to topics and issues to be addressed in the spring 2006 semester. The committee members agreed to invite Dr. Lackey to discuss graduate standards. Dr. Corbeil inquired whether the ESL situation had improved at UTB/TSC. Mr. Welther replied that further changes had been undertaken to work towards better results. At the beginning level, some courses were funded by financial aid once again after they had been completely cut off from financial aid funding. The reason for doing so was the fact that in an effort to receive financial aid benefit, beginning ESL students had asked to be enrolled in intermediate ESL courses. Needless to say, these courses were not at all beneficial to the linguistic progress of the beginning ESL students, thus, the changes. Mr. Welther also mentioned that exit ESL ceilings still needed to be established to logically and effectively link up with English Developmental Writing Courses. Dr. Dameron noted that unfortunately, students were only funded for a total of 27 hours of developmental work. Mr. Welther offered that as long as ESOL students didn’t take regular academic courses along with ESOL courses, there was only the 30 hour state-mandated clock, which, however, wasn’t much of a better deal. In reply, Dr. Dameron pointed out that there was a problem with the AESL and ESOL distinction as the latter label, that is, ESOL, was used to name courses that were listed by the Texas Coordination Board of Higher Education as academic courses, possibly triggering the 27 hour clock to tick away as soon as a student enrolled in an ESOL course.
- At the end of the meeting, Mr. Welther promised the committee members that he would invite Dr. Lackey, the Dean of the Graduate School, to their next meeting and that he would contact Mr. Joel Garz, the Director of the Language Institute concerning any progress in the ESL Program. The meeting was adjourned at 2:30 p.m.