- The Academic Standards and Student Records Committee met on March 31 from 1:30 p.m. till 3:00 p.m. The following members were attending the meeting: Dr. Janna Arney, Ms. Kathleen Carter, Ms. Mari F. Chapa, Dr. Charles Dameron, Dr. Eldon Nelson, Mr. Tom Welther, and Mr. Steve Wilder.
- The minutes were accepted with the following change in paragraph #6. The sentence “If they exceed the required credits by 150 %, they will lose financial aid.” was changed to “Students cannot go beyond 150 % of their credit hours. If they do, they will lose financial aid.”
- Mr. Welther briefly informed the committee members that beginning in the summer, the upper instead of the lower levels of The Language Institute’s ESL Program will be supported by financial aid. This change will hopefully be an incentive for local ESL students to stay with the program longer and, thus, be better prepared to switch from ESL to the university’s academic components.
- The remainder of the meeting focused exclusively on revamping the university’s suspension/probation policy. During the long discussion, it became clear that the university’s policy needed to shift its focus from trying to rescue students who had fallen on hard times academically to preventing them from doing so in the first place. Dr. Nelson wanted to know whether it was possible to alert students of the consequences of their poor performances during their first semester in which they were failing academically. According to Mr. Barreda, with the present registration mechanism, students could be stopped from registering during the second semester. Ms. Chapa told the committee that the Financial Aid Office warns students via a letter of their poor standing. However, as Dr. Dameron observed, doing so will not catch the 30 % of the students who are not receiving financial aid. Mr. Barreda also mentioned that in the past the Registrar’s Office had been quite active identifying students on suspension and voiding their registration until they had talked to a counselor, but during the past two semesters this practice had no longer been carried out. When asked by members whether statements could be delivered to students via Scorpion on line, Mr. Barreda acknowledged that many things could be done. Mr. Wilder pointed out that for students to receive any message via Scorpion on line, they would have to log on, which many don’t do.
- When Mr. Barreda distributed data documenting the fact that the majority of the students who fell below a 2.0 prior to fall 2004 continued their poor academic performance at below a 2.0 during fall 2004, the committee members realized that the probation/suspension rules have to be changed to focus more on prevention than on rehabilitation. Mr. Barreda pointed out that it would help to convince students with low GPAs to refrain from taking on a large course load. Dr. Dameron and Dr. Nelson concurred with this observation, and Ms. Chapa declared that students had to be prevented from getting to a GPA below 2.0. Dr. Nelson wanted to know at what point in a semester students should be alerted of their poor performance. Ms. Chapa replied at ten weeks the latest, and Dr. Dameron observed that at the end of the semester might be feasible. Dr. Arney inquired whether already registered students can have courses taken away and money refunded. Mr. Barreda answered in the affirmative. He and Dr. Nelson pointed at a possible four-point approach to help students who are academically in trouble: 1. Academically troubled students are blocked from registration via Scorpion. 2. To register, they have to see an advisor. 3. The advisor registers the students. 4. The students can neither drop the assigned courses nor sign up for others or for additional ones. Dr. Dameron added that some guidelines would have to be established for advisors to follow, and Mr. Wilder remarked that such extensive advising might be difficult to undertake during the Christmas period. Finally, Mr. Barreda pointed out that an alert system could also be developed to establish at-risk profiles prior to students enrolling. High risk categories could be based on the THEA scores.
- The committee agreed to have another meeting soon and to invite counselors and Aspire representatives to help design a feasible approach to preventing students from failing academically.