Faculty Senate looks to steer undeclared students in right direction
Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Foss addressed the Faculty Senate at a meeting Dec. 12 and said that faculty should focus on undeclared undergraduates without a major in order to further the University’s progress.
"These are students that are not visible to you," Foss said.
Foss said that 5,223 students are in the University Studies Division, all without declared majors. The students, according to Foss, are not getting the guidance they need from faculty and lack the necessary requirements for individual colleges because of a lack of information.
"They do not meet the requirements," Foss said. "Many of them cannot get into the major they want."
Foss also said the situation hurts University initiatives of recruitment and retention because undeclared students do not graduate at the same rate as other colleges. Higher Education Assistance Funds, which are state funds received by the University based on undergraduate enrollment are also affected, Foss said. Enrollment, which has been relatively flat since 2004, could lead to a potential problem if students do not graduate on time or if UH cannot effectively recruit students, Foss said, as HEAF assistance could be lowered.
Foss said that new initiatives, such as requiring incoming students to declare a major after 45 academic hours instead of 60, would be an improvement. In a speech, Foss asked faculty to become involved in the process and help minimize the amount of USD students by 90 percent in the spring.
Some senators expressed concern about Foss’ plan being too ambitious.
"How do we address students that aren’t college-ready?" said senator David Mazella.
Foss responded that the senate should come up with plans and proposals to help students find an appropriate major.
"Otherwise, we’re poking a stick in our eye," he said.
Senate elections also took place for both committee appointments and a new president. President-elect Wynne Chin will become Faculty Senate president in January when Kotarba steps down. Biology and biochemistry professor Dan Wells will take over as president of the Faculty Senate in January 2009.
Mazella, the chair of the Education Policies and Student Affairs Committee, said that a report on the Quality Enhancement Plan, which focused on undergraduate research, would be finished in February and that a draft of the report would be finished on Dec. 21. The draft would have preliminary findings for the QEP, which is part of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, for the reaffirmation of accreditation of UH.
During a presentation at the meeting, project managers Ginger McFadden and Christa Howard of Studio West, a division of the Department of Plant Operations that deals with planning and construction, announced that the Faculty Senate offices would be moving in January to a suite on the third floor of the M.D. Anderson Library from the second floor of the Cullen Performance Hall.
The new location would allow for flexibility in organizing committee and monthly meetings, Howard said.