Annual Report 2005-2006
The Education Committee has met a total of eight times during the past academic year. From the start, the committee agenda has been substantial and it will continue to keep many of the members busy well into this summer.
Several members of the committee reviewed the draft of the self-study report, which had been prepared for the accreditation site visit in the spring of 2006 by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and they provided feedback for the final version of this document.
During the academic year 2005-2006 the committee, with assistance from the Office of the Vice-Provost, continued to implement the process for the “evaluation after 5 years” of newly approved educational programs. Only one program was scheduled for such a review this year:
The certificate has never been awarded. After review, the committee decided not to keep the program available “in suspended animation,” but to require a new proposal for review and approval if its sponsors wish to start up the program at some time in the future.
The committee received proposals for a total of eleven new degree programs and, after subcommittee and committee review, submitted ten resolutions for approval by the senate:
Social Sciences/ MPA (GSAS/SIPA) approved 11/17/05
under subcommittee review during summer recess
Two other resolutions were submitted to the senate for approval.
A proposal was received in April 2006 for the
under subcommittee review during summer recess
Report on the four existing MS programs in the School of Continuing Education
In anticipation of an expected submission of four new MS degree program proposals by the School of Continuing Education, the committee requested a report on the status of the four MS degree programs that have been launched since 2002.
Based on admission and enrollment data, these programs appeared to meet their goals. The first program (Strategic Communications) was started in September 2002. It has graduated a total of 51, while its current enrollment is 129.
The second and third programs (Technology Management and Fundraising Management) were started in the fall of 2004. Current enrollment is 89 and 42, respectively.
The newest program (Landscape Design) started in June 2005 and has an enrollment of 23. While the percentage of admissions is high (50-60%), admission standards are adhered to. The yield of admitted students who actually enroll is good; excellent, in fact, with a 100% yield in Landscape Design.
The two major concerns the committee continues to have are the awarding by Columbia of MS degrees, rather than “Professional Masters Degrees,” and the quality and quantity of the faculty that is available to teach and supervise these programs. The two largest and longest running programs now have been granted a total of 5 FT renewable term lectureships (4+1), while the professional faculty for SCE program-specific SCE courses is adjunct faculty.
From time to time the committee has met with the Dean of GSAS to review the status of the MA only programs. In recent years several student complaints had been referred to the committee. Since they seemed not to be limited to one single program, a subcommittee reviewed the complaints and subsequently met with Dean Henry Pinkham and Assistant Dean Darice Berg. Dean Pinkham indicated that he would follow up by seeking input from GSAC.
The committee invited the following for consultation
Each of these guests provided valuable input into the committee’s efforts to establish a set of guidelines for distance-learning program proposals.
A preliminary set of proposals was generated and tested against the first distance learning program proposal that has been reviewed by the committee: the Exec MS in Biomedical Informatics. The draft of these guidelines was distributed to all senators for comment on February 20, 2006.
Some members of the committee will continue a dialogue with Mr. Todd Hardy during the summer recess on the issue of partnership with outside private firms in the creation and delivery of on-line degree programs. Serious concern was expressed in committee about the desirability of such an approach.
The Academic Calendar is reviewed and approved by the Education Committee. Previously the calendar had been approved for a ten-year period through 2011.
However, a recurring problem is faced in the fall semester of certain academic years: when a late Labor Day (September 7) can cause a reduction in study days and final exam dates that are very close to the Christmas holiday. Since NYSED requirements are for a 15-week term, there are few solutions to this problem, other than starting the academic year the week before Labor Day during certain years, discontinuing the election break, etc. Since the students seemed to be the primary victims of this scheduling problem, the committee asked the Student Affairs Committee to generate suggestions for discussion with the other members of the academic community.
The committee wishes to express its sincere appreciation to Trustee emerita Anna Longobardo, Trustee observer, and James Li, Alumni representative, for their genuine interest and efforts on behalf of the committee, as well as their participation in the committee meetings. Their advice and perspectives have greatly assisted the committee in its activities.
Chair, Education Committee