Rutgers University
NEW BRUNSWICK FACULTY COUNCIL

FIRST RESOLUTION

ON THE REPORT OF THE TASK FORCE ON UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION


Unanimously adopted, as amended, by the NBFC
October 28, 2005

The New Brunswick Faculty Council supports a large majority of the recommendations of the Report of the Task Force on Undergraduate Education. The Task Force report gives a thorough analysis of many of the strengths and weaknesses of the undergraduate educational and administrative structure, services and programs on the New Brunswick/Piscataway Campus at Rutgers, and proposes many important changes and improvements. Specifically, we support or propose the following:

1. We strongly support the creation of a single Rutgers School or College of Arts and Sciences, as proposed in the Task Force on Undergraduate Education Report. We also agree that the available majors and minors for arts & sciences students should be the same at all of the residential colleges (or campuses).

The college fellows system has failed to attract all but a few dedicated volunteers, and the remaining faculty in those disciplines that offer majors through the liberal arts colleges (Douglass, Livingston, Rutgers, and University Colleges) have no responsibility and, unless they volunteer to become college fellows, no opportunity to participate in the normal faculty responsibilities of setting academic standards, admissions policies, scholastic standing requirements, and graduation requirements in those colleges. Also, the individual graduation and other academic requirements vary from college to college sufficiently so that most faculty seem to have given up trying to understand the resulting complicated system well enough to participate in advising of undergraduate students, or even to become aware of undergraduate academic issues on the campus.

2. We support common admission standards for all traditional-age arts and sciences applicants, appropriately modified for transfer, EOF, and non-traditional students.

The standards for separate admissions to Cook, Douglass, Livingston, Rutgers, and University Colleges have, over the years, gotten seriously out of balance, which the faculty view as damaging, unstable, and misrepresentative since the same faculty teach the students in all of these colleges.

3. We strongly support the proposal that there be a single, coordinated set of academic and student-life policies, guidelines, and implementations across the New Brunswick/Piscataway Campus.

The confusion and red tape in and among the various colleges due to different policies, guidelines, and requirements for such issues as the formation of student clubs and organizations, use of student centers and recreational facilities, allocation of student fees, reservation of facilities for events, job descriptions and pay scales for student-life staff, implementation of academic integrity policies, and general academic advising are destructive and a substantial part of what has become known as the "Rutgers Screw."

4. We support the formation of a single honors program for all colleges and schools on the New Brunswick/Piscataway Campus, with appropriate variation in requirements to meet the needs of the various professional schools as well as of the School or College of Arts and Sciences. We also support the recommendation that honors communities should continue to exist in the various communities to provide the local advising, mentoring, and co-curricular activities that students value so highly in our current college honors programs.

Having totally separate honors programs in the various colleges and schools has been confusing and certainly not optimized for attracting the very best students to the Campus.

5. We propose the continuation and enhancement of the role of the residential colleges (or campuses) [Busch, Cook, Douglass, Livingston, Queens, and University], their deans, and decanal staffs in providing local programs and services such as local delivery of pre-major academic advising, co-curricular activities, academic learning communities, student-life programming, and inter-college (or inter-campus) intramural sports, under the direction and coordination of the Executive Dean of Arts and Sciences, the Vice President for Undergraduate Education, and the Vice President for Student Affairs.

The undergraduate colleges on the New Brunswick/ Piscataway Campus do offer and have historically offered many advantages for undergraduate students in this large, comprehensive, and complex research university. Once here, undergraduate students, at least in the smaller residential colleges, generally seem to identify with and find a home at their respective colleges. The colleges provide many opportunities for small coherent groups, leadership positions, and personalized attention from staff members that enhance the quality of the educational experience. A critical issue is the provision of appropriate budgets for carrying out these programs, a portion of which now come from such areas as gifts and donations and revenues generated in the student centers.

6. We propose a substantial increase in the numbers of full-time tenure-track faculty and of TAs, a corresponding decrease in the number of large lecture classes, and the provision of meaningful incentives for faculty to become more involved with undergraduate teaching, advising, curricular development, both within and outside their disciplines, research projects, and co-curricular activities outside the classroom.

While the Task Force Report recognized many barriers to faculty participation in undergraduate education, it failed to recognize sufficiently the need for more full-time faculty and TAs, the over-dependence on coads and contingent faculty, the need for smaller classes, and the need for incentives to get faculty more involved in undergraduate education.