The Arts and Sciences Council, January 22, 2015, 3:30-5:00 pm, UMC 415/417


Representatives present: Michela Ardizzoni, FRIT; David Atherton, ALC; Julio Baena, SPAN; Daniel Barth, PSYC; Paul Beale, PHYS; Giulia Bernardini, HUMN; Robert Buffington, WGST; Andrew Cain, CLAS; Brian Catlos, RLST; Cathy Comstock, RAPS; Vanja Dukic, APPM; Erica Ellingson, APS; Weiqing Han, ATOC; Ruth Heisler, IPHY; David Jonas, CHEM; Moonhawk Kim, PSCI; Amma Ghartey-Tagoe Kootin, THDN; E. Christian Kopff, HNRS; Catherine Labio, ENGL; Lonni Pearce, PWR; Markus Pflaum, MATH; Greg Odorizzi, MCDB; Matthias Richter, ALC; Rob Rupert, PHIL; Greg Tucker, GEOL; Bianca Williams, ETHN;

Representatives not present: Reece Auguiste, FILM; Bert Covert, ANTH; Daniel Kaffine, ECON; Andrew Martin, EBIO; Bhuvana Narasimhan, LING; Elizabeth Root, GEOG; Neeraja Sadagopan, SLHS; Joo Woo, AAH

Also in attendance: Steven Leigh

Catherine Labio called the meeting to order at 3:37 PM.

Dean’s Remarks

Dean Leigh recognized David Jonas for his election to the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Undergraduate applications were due last week. All the data are not in yet. However, we do know that some 31,000 students have applied to CU Boulder. This is the highest quality and most diverse pool we have attracted. The recent switch to the Common Application is probably a factor.

Following up on a request to address the contents of the article published on January 8 in the Daily Camera regarding the creation of online degrees in English and Psychology, Steve Leigh noted that it misreported what the campus is trying to do, namely to develop online courses to help students who need a few credits to complete a degree.

David Jonas (CHEM) expressed concerns that the article in question has the potential to make parents and alumni question the value of a CU degree and argued that it is important that a highly visible campus administrator issue a retraction or correction to the Camera. Steve Leigh responded that he believes the administration did respond but that the Camera chose not to include a correction. David Jonas countered that the way this matter was handled shows, at a minimum, that Communications is not doing what it should, and proposed going to another paper, issuing a press release, and/or putting something on CU’s website. Several representatives supported David Jonas’s suggestion. Catherine Labio (ENGL) and Daniel Barth (PSYC) stated that the Camera article had taken their departments by surprise. Robert Rupert (PHIL) argued that the faculty need to have any incorrect claim made in the article rebutted in writing by the administration and noted that the absence of a formal written response would allow faculty distrust to build.

Steve Leigh announced a couple of new policies: campus is rolling out a summer course substitution program that will allow summer courses to “count” towards teaching requirements the same way that fall and spring courses currently do. This innovation will be particularly useful to faculty and students in fields such as Geology that rely heavily on outdoor research. Another new policy is designed to encourage entrepreneurial activities.

Finally, Steve Leigh mentioned that Campus has a new endowment program: the Flatirons Fund. Starting with 10K contributions that can be scheduled over 5 years, it is accessible to more donors than the previous lowest possible endowment contribution of $25,000. Paul Beale (PHYS) added that contributions to the Flatirons Fund generate unrestricted funds that can go directly to departments, where they can be used as discretionary assets.

Chair’s Remarks

Catherine Labio gave a report of the January 8 campus-wide chairs meeting devoted to improving retention and graduation rates. To reach the Chancellor’s stated goal of an 80% 6-year graduation rate by 2020, we need a 2 percent per year improvement, a percentage that is 5.5 times the current rate of improvement. If we continue at our present rate of improvement, we will reach our 80 percent graduation goal for the 2038 start cohort. The key to retention and to reaching our goal by 2020 is the first year. CU Boulder loses 16 to 17 percent of each first-year cohort. In the College of Arts and Sciences, by the end of fall 2013, 17.3 percent first-year students (694 students) were on probation. For each of these 694 students, the chance they would be dismissed by the end of 2013-2014 was 42.5 percent. When it comes to the entire campus, 31 percent of 953 students on probation by the end of fall 2013 were lost by the end of the first year.

Catherine Labio noted that these are issues that the newly appointed ASC ad hoc Core Revision Committee will probably want to keep in mind. She took this opportunity to announce that the composition of the Committee has been finalized (see Appendix) and thanked all those who had volunteered and/or agreed to serve. She added that while all departments could not be represented in the Committee, the ASC, which does represent the entire College, will have further opportunities to meet with its chairs, Cora Randall (ATOC) and Ann Schmiesing (GSLL), and noted that the Executive Committee has also nominated a pool of alternates in the event that current members have to step down.

Cora Randall and Ann Schmiesing have begun meeting with all the departments/units around the College. Matthias Richter (ALC) stated that Cora and Ann had already visited his department and expressed the view that Professors Randall and Schmiesing are the perfect colleagues to bring the core revision process to a successful close. David Jonas noted faculty in the Department of Chemistry were already more optimistic about possible changes to the core following a visit by Cora Randall. Catherine Labio relayed that the Committee has been asked to submit its report by December 2015 to the ASC for consideration and certification that the committee has met its obligations. Following precedent, small changes to the core could be approved by the ASC; larger changes would require a two-thirds majority of the voting members of the FAS. The ASC will have to decide how to proceed once the report has been issued.

A discussion followed that centered mostly on how to retain first-year students. Clearly, more face-to-face interaction with “at risk” incoming and currently enrolled students is needed. Catherine Labio noted that the faculty mentoring program launched by the BFA is being rethought. Steve Leigh added that Academic Advising will try out a new software starting in March and that orientation will be reconfigured to be more student-oriented and allow for earlier personal interactions with potential majors, RAPS, and so on. In addition, probation letters have been rewritten and are now more positive and offer more guidance and resources. Steve Leigh also pointed to a program in place in the Department of Physics. Paul Beale explained that “CU Prime” allows graduate students in physics to meet with potential majors. The program, supported financially by a TA fund, has been quite successful. Lonni Pearce (PWR) asked if there are any demographics on the students we lose. Catherine Labio noted that it was mentioned at the chairs meeting that the in-state vs. out-of-state divide does not appear to be a useful distinction and that one should instead think in terms of state clusters. She referred representatives to the reports section of the Office for Performance Improvement, which includes various retention reports and suggested inviting Associate Vice Chancellor Jeffrey Luftig of the Office for Performance Improvement to a forthcoming ASC meeting.

Catherine Labio relayed three key principles offered by Michael Grant, Vice Provost and Associate Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education, at the January 8 meeting:

  • Keep academic standards,
  • Keep diversity goals, and
  • Keep enrollment numbers up.

Before a fire alarm forced participants in the chairs meeting to disband, Michael Grant noted that CU Boulder has purchased software called SalesForce CRM, a system that will allow us to mostly build what we need. Since one demographic tag alone cannot tell us what students will be at risk—there may well be 3-6 factors at play for any given incoming student—it is hoped that the new system will allow us to mine the data so that we can identify at risk students even before they enter and reconfigure advising, including the faculty mentor BFA program, accordingly. David Jonas cautioned that a recent article in Physics Today (volume 67, issue 5, 2014, pp. 43-49) submits that some strategies for increasing diversity can backfire.

Catherine Labio noted that she was not sure she agreed with Michael Grant’s claim that we know why students leave and do not need to research that issue further. As the report on Improving Retention and Graduation Rates issued last year by the Planning Committee argued, there may well be reasons for leaving that are specific to CU. Moreover, the research done at the national level was based on self-reporting. As Mike Radelet has shown in the report, using peer-reporting may well yield different results.

Steve Leigh added that several changes in advising, including paying advisors better, clustering cognate disciplines, having walk-ins available from 1 to 2 pm every Monday, and reconfiguring first-year advising appear to be working.

Bylaws, Catherine Labio

The existing bylaws date back to 2006 and need some updating. As noted previously, the Executive Committee is working on drafting revised bylaws for consideration by the ASC. Catherine Labio will be bringing key “sticking points” to the ASC for preliminary discussion.

The first such “sticking point” is the definition of voting members of the FAS, the body the ASC represents. On April 17, 2014, the ASC voted to approve the following motion:

Be it resolved that the term “voting members” in the sentence “The voting members of the FAS are the voting members of primary units in the College of Arts & Sciences.” (article II of the ASC bylaws) must be interpreted as follows:

 ‘Voting members’ refers to those faculty members who have voting rights in their own department or unit according to its bylaws.

 It is up to each department or unit to define the term “voting rights.”

Be it further resolved that each year (in late spring or some time during the summer) the ASC will ask each department or unit to provide a list of faculty members with voting rights. 

Be it further resolved that each department or unit will be asked to confirm its list of faculty members with voting rights before any FAS vote.

With respect to the Bylaws revision, the ASC will need to decide whether it wishes to keep the current method for identifying voting members of the FAS as approved on April 17, 2014 or whether it wishes to modify it, perhaps by defining membership by rank, in a fashion similar to the membership definition adopted by the Faculty Senate.

Two basic principles emerged from the discussion that ensued: equity on the one hand and departmental autonomy on the other. Practical considerations included: 1) keeping track more easily of who makes up the FAS and 2) factoring in the fact that different departments have very different customs when it comes to hiring people outside the tenure track.

Cathy Comstock (RAPS) noted that equity was of particular concern to instructors. Robert Rupert noted that voting members should be faculty with a vested interest in the long-term success of the institution. While there seemed to be general agreement that senior instructors with a 50% or more appointment should have voting rights, the same was not true in the case of other categories. David Jonas noted, for instance, that the dividing lines between lecturer and instructor mean very different things in different departments. Further discussion brought out that there does not appear to be a commonly accepted definition or set of roles for adjoint faculty and artists- and scholars-in-residence either (all membership categories in the Faculty Senate). One representative noted that ASC representatives and other faculty members can push for greater equity in their own unit and that it should thus be possible to leave the definition of “voting rights” to each department while also working towards minimizing instructor disenfranchisement. Catherine Labio, in her capacity as representative of the Department of English, observed that the recent ASC request for a list of faculty members with voting rights has led her department to hold a vote that has given instructors voting rights.

Discussion of the bylaws will continue in subsequent meetings.

The meeting was adjourned at 5:03 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Janice Jeffryes

Catherine Labio


ASC ad hoc Core Revision Committee Membership (Spring – Fall 2015)

Cora Randall, ATOC, and Ann Schmiesing, GSLL, Chairs, 1/21/2015

  1. Kirk Ambrose, Prof., AAH
  2. Suzanne Anderson, Assoc. Prof., GEOG
  3. Kathryn Arehart, Prof., SLHS
  4. Fran Bagenal, Prof., APS
  5. John R. Black, Jr., Assoc. Prof., Computer Science
  6. Giulia Bernardini, Inst., HUMS/Libby RAP
  7. David S. Brown, Prof., PSCI
  8. John Cumalat, Prof., PHYS
  9. Anne Dougherty, Sr. Inst. & J.R. Woodhull/Logicon Teaching Professor of Applied Mathematics, APPM
  10. Lori Emerson, Asst. Prof., ENGL
  11. Elizabeth Fenn, Assoc. Prof., HIST
  12. Stefanie Mollborn, Assoc. Prof., SOCY
  13. Celeste Montoya, Assoc. Prof., WMST/ETHN
  14. Lonni Pearce, Sr. Inst., PWR
  15. Robert D. Rupert, Prof., PHIL
  16. Michelle Sauther, Prof., ANTH
  17. Carol A. Wessman, Prof., EBIO/ENVS


A&H: Kirk Ambrose, Giulia Bernardini, Lori Emerson, Elizabeth (Lil) Fenn, Robert D. Rupert

NatSc: Suzanne Anderson, Fran Bagenal, John Cumalat, Anne Dougherty, Carol A. Wessman

SocSc: Kathryn (Kathy) Arehart, David S. Brown, Stefanie Mollborn, Celeste Montoya, Michelle Sauther

PWR (cross-divisional for the purposes of this committee): Lonni Pearce

Computer Science: John R. Black, Jr.

ASC Representatives: Giulia Bernardini, Lonni Pearce, Robert D. Rupert