- On September 9, 2004, the Academic Standards and Student Records Committee met in N-217 from 1:15 p.m. to 3 p.m. to discuss the suspension/probation policy of the university as outlined in the 2002-2004 Undergraduate Catalog and to continue the committee’s examination of the university’s ESL issue. The meeting was attended by the following members: Dr. Michelle Abrego, Dr. Janna Arney, Ms. Kathleen Carter, Ms. Mari Chapa, Ms. Maria Elena Valdes, Ms. Laura Villarreal, Mr. Tom Welther, and Mr. Steve Wilder. Ms. Linda Fossen and Dr. Eli Peña attended the meeting as guest speakers.
- The minutes were accepted with changes after a motion made by Mr. Wilder, which was seconded by Ms. Chapa. The changes were as follows: … currently ESL students are advised to self-select to take the EPT … (instead of) … currently ESL students self-select to take the EPT … (and) … a score of 200 into English 0321 … (instead of) … 180 to 200 into English 0321 … .
- All members present were informed by Tom Welther that The Language Institute is not being reimbursed for teaching academically enrolled students, which presents as a major obstacle in establishing a viable ESL program at UTB/TSC. Dr. Peña mentioned that ESL classes taught in The Language Institute are usually capped at five, meaning only five academically enrolled students can attend a given ESL class. All members present acknowledged that there is a dire need for a strong ESL program as many students on campus need this type of training. Dr. Arney, for example, pointed that some students in the Business Technology Program are reading at the first-grade level and have ESL-related weaknesses. Ms. Fossen observed that a viable ESL program must be put into place. Dr. Arney expressed the belief that students would be accepting of a realistic program. Dr. Peña suggested that the university should seek approval from the state for an in-house certificate related to ESL compentencies. Ms. Valdez commented that such a certificate would most likely spur ESL students on to study harder, and Ms. Fossen thought that such a certificate would be a good idea as certificates exist in technical areas, where they certify a certain competence. Ms. Valdez suggested that the university should try to secure grant money to fund ESL instruction and further suggested that Dr. Hilda Silva might be willing to work on this.
- During the discussion of the current state of ESL at the university, Mr. Welther distributed a flow chart showing a feasible placement process that international students would undergo if an effective ESL program were in place. The chart was designed by Dr. Nelson. Mr. Welther also mentioned that he had talked to the Interim Dean of Liberal Arts, Dr. Dameron, twice during the summer and was assured by him that a group, similar to the one suggested by the committee, was in the process of being formed to take on the ESL issue.
- The second major point the committee took up during the meeting was the current academic probation and suspension regulations as outlined in the 2003-2004 university Undergraduate Catalog. Dr. Peña pointed out that there are quite a few students on probation and suspension and have been so for quite a long time, as students have the right to appeal, and appeals are often granted. In addition, students can make “conditional progress”, which will allow them to stay enrolled but will not allow them to graduate unless they eventually achieve a GPA of 2.0 or better. Dr. Peña mentioned that there is a problem with many classes offered during a limited number of time slots. This problem forces students who want to have full-time status to be in compliance with financial aid regulations to take classes that they really don’t need. In addition, students in academic jeopardy accumulate many elective classes to improve their shaky GPAs. These classes and the large number of attempted classes cause many students to rack up a whopping one and a half times of what is needed in hours to graduate, according to Ms. Chapa. To make the probation/suspension rules more effective, Ms. Carter offered to introduce time constraints for students on probation to give them an incentive to improve. Ms. Chapa noted that other universities use a GPA of 2.0 as a yardstick. Mr. Welther cautioned that before any measures are going to be taken, a pilot study needs to be done to determine the number of students who are academically in trouble. Ms. Chapa promised to furnish them. The committee members also agreed that it would be helpful to look at how other community colleges, such as, EL Paso Community College, San Antonio Community College, Austin Community College, Dallas Community College System, Del Mar, Harris County Community College, and Miami Dade Community College deal with probation and suspension.
- A few minutes shy of 3 p.m., Ms. Valdez motioned to adjourn; Ms. Villarreal seconded the motion, and the committee adjourned.
Respectfully submitted by Tom Welther, Chair of the Academic Standards and Student Records Committee.