Academic Senate Delays Votes, Again
Up to 12 university programs may be shut down or suspended
October 21, 2004 11:25 AM
A trio of students unfolded a homemade banner made of computer paper during the Oct. 19 meeting of the academic senate.
It said in red marker, “Save BSIT.”
And they stood there, in the back of the Nob Hill Room in the Seven Hills Conference center, drawing curious glances from more than one senator as they decided the fate of the Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology degree.
Ultimately, the SF State Academic Senate avoided a vote to shutter the program and chose instead to pass a motion introduced by Senator Oswaldo Garcia, that sent the measure back to the Educational Policies Council for further review and a later vote.
The Senate is in the midst of hearing proposals that would permanently shut down or suspend up to 12 of the University’s academic programs. One program, the Bachelor of Social Sciences was not lucky enough to get a second look as the senate voted to recommend its discontinuance.
During the first reading before the Senate on Oct. 5, Raymond Miller, a professor of international relations and social science, defended the Social Science program.
“The argument for discontinuance [of the social science degree] is uninformed,” he said during the open-floor period of the senate meeting.
It is important to have generic interdisciplinary programs, Miller said. He also pointed out that 11 of the 12 degree programs being considered for discontinuance are interdisciplinary.
“Suspension is a possible solution to discontinuance,” he said. “That way (the program) can be resuscitated later.”
The social science program is comprised of five required core courses and another 27 -36 units of courses chosen by the student in consultation with an advisor. The university reported that 72 students were enrolled in the program last year.
At the latest senate meeting, Professor Miller once again spoke in defense of social science.
“The curriculum in social science… is still the national model and standard. It’s a very basic and simple curriculum that is not costly,” Miller said, adding shortly after that the persistent personal and management problems that have plagued the program can be addressed during its suspension.
Senator Darlene Yee supported the motion to cut social science. She based her support on statistics showing weak demand for the program and the lack of a formal rebuttal from the program’s faculty.
Enrollment figures rank the degree 13th out of the 16 offered by the college of Behavioral and Social Sciences.
The senate voted to recommend discontinuance of the program to SF State President Robert Corrigan who will make the final decision.
“I asked several times, but never received compelling reasons for keeping or suspending this program in social science… I don’t see support for this program,” Yee said.
Last year the university reported that 57 students, 10 percent of the department of Design and Industry, were seeking a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology.
It is a program built around technical and management based course offerings from the departments of DAI, information systems and business analysis, mathematics and management. According to the program’s website, “the degree prepares students for leadership across a broad variety of technical industries.”
The process that led to the proposal to cut BSIT bothered at least one senator.
He also expressed concerns that lecturers were not fully free to express their views in the process.
“It is most disturbing to me that the vote to discontinue the program was not taken by secret ballot. Considering that the department is both, as others, contains faculty who are tenure track and lecturers, I think that it is a significant flaw in the process when votes are not taken in secret, people are not fully free to express their opinions.”
Twenty-seven of his fellow senators agreed that another look at the program was necessary and voted in favor of his motion. Eleven senators voted against the motion and four senators abstained.
The decision to cut the Industrial Technology degree was based on current and future budget pressures that require the university to prioritize its mission.
“The BSIT, though a fine and important degree, is now on the margin of the mission of our department and the College of Creative Arts,” said a memorandum to the Educational Policies Council from Richardo Gomes, DAI chair and Jane Veeder, the spring 2004 acting chair of DAI.
But the memo also said, “Without the university’s request, we would chose to retain this program because it still produces a small, but well prepared number of students for the community”
The Educational Policies Council will review BSIT on Oct. 26, with a vote scheduled before the Senate on Nov. 2.
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