The Arts and Sciences Council, February 19, 2015, 3:30-5:00, UMC 415/417

Meeting Minutes

Representatives present: David Atherton, ALC; Julio Baena, SPAN; Daniel Barth, PSYC; Paul Beale, PHYS; Giulia Bernardini, HUMN; Robert Buffington, WMST; Bert Covert, ANTH; Amma Ghartey-Tagoe Kootin, THDN; Weiqing Han, ATOC; Ruth Heisler, IPHY;  Daniel Kaffine, ECON; Moonhawk Kim, PSCI; E. Christian Kopff, HNRS; Catherine Labio, ENGL; Andrew Martin, EBIO; Greg Odorizzi, MCDB; Lonni Pearce, PWR; Markus Pflaum, MATH; Rob Rupert, PHIL; Neeraja Sadagopan, SLHS; Greg Tucker, GEOL; Bianca Williams, ETHN; Joo Woo, AAH

Representatives not present: Reece Auguiste, FILM; Andrew Cain, CLAS; Brian Catlos, RLST; Cathy Comstock, RAPS;  Vanja Dukic, APPM; Erica Ellingson, APS; Michela Ardizzoni, FRIT; Mike Haffey, SOCY; David Jonas, CHEM; Bhuvana Narasimhan, LING; Mark Pittenger, HIST; Artemi Romanov, GSLL; Elizabeth Root, GEOG

Also in attendance: Steven Leigh

Catherine Labio called the meeting to order at 3:35 PM.

Retention and Graduation Rates in the College of Arts and Sciences

Jeffrey Luftig, Associate Vice Chancellor for Process Innovation, presented data on retention and graduation rates in the College of Arts and Sciences. The slides, which included answers to questions raised prior to the meeting by ASC representatives, can be found in Appendix I.

The following points were made in response to questions raised by representatives:

  • 17 percent of students in A&S are on probation by the end of the first semester. One cause may be that too many students are taking classes for which they are insufficiently prepared (as in the case of Calculus I and II). We need better and enforceable guidelines for course placement. (Parental advice should not trump advisors’ advice on such issues.)
  • The academic indicators that best predict retention are high school GPA and, more unexpectedly, whether the housing application is submitted before or after June 1. Students who submit their application after June 1 are often first-generation students and/or students waiting to hear about financial aid. Predictive GPA is not as useful in predicting retention of first year students as H.S. GPA.
  • The 17 percent of students who are on probation are not the 17 percent we would eliminate if we took out the bottom 17 percent of students. 52 percent of the fall 2013 cohort who did not return after their first academic year had a cumulative GPA of 2.00 or more; 25 percent of those who did not return had a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or more. These students were not necessarily unsuccessful because they could not manage academically; many have indicated they felt lost. Also, we know that some students on probation leave CU for another university and succeed there. If we want to get better students, we should improve the retention rate of the students we have. High retention rates attract better students.
  • A key persistence factor is the amount of contact undergraduate students have with faculty members, staff members, and advisors.
  • More than half of the students do not see advisors or often do not pay attention to the advisor’s advice. Centralized advising has been shown to improve retention rates in many institutions.
  • Mentoring programs that attract self-selecting students do not significantly help with retention rates, unless the highest risk students volunteer. The BFA mentoring program is being reconfigured.
  • Class size was not factored in in the data presented at the meeting. The focus was on those indicators that students brought with them. The campus needs to be proactive in identifying the students who will be most likely to need help and giving them that help before they are lost. By the time class size becomes an issue (if it even is), a window of opportunity has already closed.
  • Student behavior such as partying etc. may well play a role in retention rates, but we should perhaps be more concerned about those students who say they never party because they feel completely isolated. Moreover, we need to focus our efforts on identifying “at risk” students before they arrive so that we can provide the help they need right away, i.e., before they are ever on probation, which tends to lead too predictably to dismissal.
  • A potentially significant number students come to CU with the intention of transferring to another school after the first or second year. We should ask incoming students if they intend to transfer and factor in the data in the way we calculate retention rates.
  • Our campus is siloed and resistant to change. We have to start talking to each other, see what works and doesn’t, follow the data, and be honest about what it is we are trying to do.
  • When we accept a student, we are saying that we believe s/he will succeed; we therefore have an institutional responsibility to help our students graduate.

Dean’s Report

The number of applications rose significantly this year; the number of admissions and confirmed students has risen since last year. Changes have been made to the admissions process to solve some of the retention issues presented earlier in the meeting.

The College has raised a total of 16.66 million dollars this (against $9.8 million last year). This represents a significant increase, even if we discount the large gift that went to Economics and Music.

Several candidates have applied for the position of Associate Dean of the Arts and Humanities. A faculty committee formed by the dean in consultation with the chair of the ASC is reviewing the applications. Faculty will have opportunities to interview the final slate of candidates.

A new funding system has been adopted for the campus. See Appendix II, “A Model for Undergraduate Enrollment Funding.” The existing model is historical: each college gets about what it got the year before. In that model, the fewer students A&S had, the better. The new system is based primarily on student enrollments, but does not completely do away with the historical approach. If enrollments suddenly drop, commensurate cuts won’t happen right away.

Overall Steve Leigh believes the new system will benefit the College of Arts and Sciences, which subsidizes all other colleges and campuses. For instance, business students take about 50 percent of their classes from A&S. A&S will now be compensated for that. We thus have an incentive to teach students from other schools and retain our students.

The Budget Committee is studying the new funding system and will report back to the ASC.

Chair’s Report

Erica Ellingson (APS) is the new chair of the Diversity Committee.

The ad hoc Core Revision Committee has begun meeting. Its co-chairs, Cora Randall and Ann Schmiesing, may hold a town hall for all faculty on Thursday, April 23 at 3:30. ASC representatives are asked to pencil in that day and time. If an April town hall is premature, a town hall will be held in the fall instead and the chairs will simply give a preliminary report at the last ASC meeting of the year, scheduled for April 16.

The Executive Committee is working through the bylaws revision. The plan is to have a draft out to representatives in time for the March meeting. If there is general agreement on the revision, the ASC could then decide to hold a vote of the entire Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

The meeting was adjourned at 4:59 pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Catherine Labio

Janice Jeffryes

Appendix I:

The Current State of Retention & Graduation Rates at the University of Colorado Boulder – Presentation to the Arts & Sciences Council by Jeffrey Luftig

Appendix II:

A Model for Undergraduate Enrollment Funding (Planning, Budget & Analysis, January 2015) — note: this file is not accessible to screen readers