FACULTY SENATE MEETING
September 2, 1998
CHAIR ELDON WEDLOCK - I call the meeting to order.
I. Correction and Approval of Minutes
CHAIR WEDLOCK - There was no quorum at the June 30 meeting so we need to first approve the minutes of April 28, 1998 meeting. Do I hear a motion? Do I hear a second? All those in favor of approving the minutes of April 28th signify by saying aye. Opposed. Thank you. The minutes of June 30, 1998 which consist mostly of the Provost's report. All those in favor of approving the minutes. Any amendments? All those in favor signify by saying aye. Opposed. Thank you.
II. Reports of Officers
CHAIR WEDLOCK - Any further report Mr. President?
PRESIDENT JOHN PALMS - No additional report other than what was given in the General Faculty meeting. Thank you.
CHAIR WEDLOCK - Any additional questions for the President? Provost Odom do you have a report?
PROVOST JERRY ODOM - I did have one item. There was one dean's search that I did not mention and I want to name that. This will be an internal search but this will be a search for the Vice Provost and Executive Dean for Regional Campuses in Continuing Education. Interim Dean Carolyn West is doing a wonderful job and I don't worry about that job being done at all. So it is not something that is really right on top of my radar screen. We have the advertisement that will go out to all campuses very soon. We are constituting the search committee right now. Dr. John Logue at the University of South Carolina - Sumter is going to chair that committee. Each campus has elected their representative for the search committee. I will be making additional appointments and we will be soliciting applications within a couple of weeks. So that is one additional search that is proceeding. Carolyn, I apologize and at the same time thank you for what you are doing.
CHAIR WEDLOCK - Thank you.
III. Reports of Committees
A. Faculty Steering Committee - Professor Sarah Wise, Secretary:
PROFESSOR WISE - I would first like to provide some information to the Regional Campuses so that we can make sure that we get the report on the attendance. The phone numbers for Regional Campuses to report to the Faculty Senate are:
777-6073 - This is the number for Regional Campus Senators to call and leave a message indicating whether or not they "attended" the Faculty Senate meeting via closed circuit broadcast the day of the meeting.
888-531-0685 - This is the toll-free number for Regional Campus Senators to call for speaking directly with the Faculty Senate during a meeting. There is one incoming line -- so please be patient if it is busy. Your call is important and will be switched to a PA system so everyone at the meeting can hear your input. Also, this is the number to call if a quorum is being called for (we have had that situation), but you still need to call the 777-6073 number to report your attendance. Thank you for your help in making the closed circuit broadcast work for all parties.
I also have some nominations from the Steering Committee for some of the committees on which we have vacancies because of departures or sabbaticals for the Fall semester. The first one is the Board of Governors - Faculty House, Dr. Robert Beamer (PHAR) retired. We are nominating two people so that we will have two on the Board for the year 2000 term. The names that the Steering Committee is putting forth are: Ann Dreher from Theatre, Speech and Dance; and Gary Luoma from the College of Business Administration.
CHAIR WEDLOCK - Are there any further nominations?
PROFESSOR MORGAN MACLACHAN (ANTH) - Sally Boyd from Continuing Education.
PROFESSOR RICHARD CONANT (MUSC) - This is my year off the Senate so I can't nominate right?
CHAIR WEDLOCK - Yes, you can.
PROFESSOR CONANT - May I ask how you picked those two nominees? I hold them in high esteem so there is nothing personal.
PROFESSOR WISE - These were on the committee list that we received last spring of faculty who were willing to serve.
PROFESSOR CONANT - Have they actually ever used the facility? This is, of course, as you know has been an on going concern of some of us.
CHAIR WEDLOCK - That inquiry was not made.
PROFESSOR CONANT - Do we know whether they were members for three years because we just passed that last Spring? To be nominated you have to be a member for three years.
CHAIR WEDLOCK - Well, no we didn't make that inquiry either.
PROFESSOR CONANT - May I suggest that the nominations are out of order?
CHAIR WEDLOCK - The nominations are in order, but the nominees might be disqualified.
PROFESSOR CONANT - I'd like to nominate Bruce Dunlap (CHEM) who we know ran Cellars Restaurant and is also a regular attendee. Again, I respect Ann Dreher and Gary Luoma mightily it is nothing against them at all.
CHAIR WEDLOCK - We will check on their qualifications. We have four candidates for these two positions. That is fine. There will be a ballot mailed.
PROFESSOR WISE - The next one is the Committee on Curricula and Courses. David Berube (THSP) will be away for the Fall semester so the committee is nominating Dan Berman from Media Arts for one semester. Janet Nussbaum (NURS) has left the University. Francisco Gonzalez from the School of Medicine is being nominated for that vacancy for a one-year term.
CHAIR WEDLOCK - Are there any further nominations for those positions? The nominations will remain open for the remainder of the meeting.
PROFESSOR CONANT - We also voted to have a corporate member (on Board of Governors - Faculty House).
CHAIR WEDLOCK - You need to put that process into place. I believe that you nominate someone to the President who makes a selection. Or, does the President make selections and you choose one from them? I am not sure but there is complicated process. You need to get the by-laws of the committee in shape to do that.
PROFESSOR WISE -
The Steering Committee also made an appointment, this is not a nomination, to the Bookstore Committee. That appointment is Thomas Stanford from Chemical Engineering.
The nominations will remain open until the end of the meeting. I have passed the attendance sheet and I would encourage you to sign and pass. Sometimes we get complaints that the attendance sheet does not move and I would appreciate it if you would pass it through the Senate section.
CHAIR WEDLOCK -
And, sometimes if you don't sign people come back later and use it as a challenge to the existence of a quorum. It is evidence of the existence and non-existence but if there is not a quorum, it is not conclusive proof because some people may not have gotten around to signing it who were actually here. So if you would make sure to sign the roll. It will be up here even after the meeting. If it doesn't come by you during the course of the meeting, please come forward at the end of the meeting and make sure you sign it.
Even though it is not printed on the printed agenda of the meeting the Faculty Manual provides for nominations of the Chair-elect of the Faculty Senate to be made at this meeting. In light of the fact that it was not put on the agenda here I am going to leave the nomination for that position open for two weeks. Nominations can be made for Chair of the Faculty Senate therefore by sending a nomination to the Faculty Senate Office up until September 16. So nominations are open for Chair-elect of the Faculty Senate.
PROFESSOR MARGIT RESCH (GERM) - I nominate Caroline Strobel from Business Administration.
CHAIR WEDLOCK - Are there any other nominations? Nominations will remain open until the close of business on September 16, 1998. That is two weeks from today. Is that all from Steering? Thank you.
B. Grade Change Committee - Professor Ernest Wiggins, Chair:
PROFESSOR WIGGINS - Mr. Chairman the Grade Change Committee moves the acceptance of the grade changes listed pages 13 through 19 of the agenda materials.
CHAIR WEDLOCK -
May I inquire if these grade changes include the grade changes that were submitted at the June meeting. There was a Grade Change Committee report at the June meeting that we could not act on. They are printed in the back of the agenda, so we could move those separately. Right now we have the grade changes considered by the Committee as of August 17, 1998. Coming from a committee it does not need a second. Questions, comments, or amendments? Hearing none all those in favor of the Grade Change Committee report signify by saying aye. Opposed. So ordered.
The grade changes on pages 83 through 92 are coming from the committee and they do not need a second. Any questions or comments? All those in favor of the Grade Change Committee report signify by saying aye. Opposed. The students are grateful.
C. Committee on Curricula and Courses - Professor John Winberry, Chair:
PROFESSOR WINBERRY - The report of the Committee can be found on pages 20 through 47 of the Senate agenda. I request approval of these and I would like to do them in three separate parts. The first part is I through V can be found on pages 20 through 31. Some curriculum changes and course changes.
CHAIR WEDLOCK - You have heard the motion are there any comments, questions, or amendments? Hearing none are you ready for the vote? All those in favor of the committee report signify by saying aye. Opposed? Ayes have it.
PROFESSOR WINBERRY - The second part VI College of Liberal Arts pages 32 through 43 with one change. That is found on pages 39 through 40, we would like to withdraw the proposal from the Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese.
CHAIR WEDLOCK - You have heard the report. Do you all understand about the deletion of that one proposal? Are there any other questions, comments, or amendments? Hearing none are you ready for a vote? Those in favor signify by saying aye. Opposed. The ayes have it.
PROFESSOR WINBERRY - And the last part VII through IX pages 43 through 47.
CHAIR WEDLOCK - Any comments, questions, or amendments? All those in favor signify by saying aye. Opposed. The ayes have it. Thank you very much.
D. Faculty Advisory Committee - Professor Margit Resch, Chair:
CHAIR WEDLOCK - What are you going to be doing this year.
PROFESSOR RESCH - I am Margit Resch I am now the Chair of the Faculty Advisory Committee and I would like to invite all of you to bring your concerns to our Committee. So that you know what we do I thought I would read you at least part of our charge in the Faculty Manual on page 12: The Faculty Advisory Committee "shall advise the faculty and administration on all matters pertaining to the general policies and operations of the University which lie outside or cut across the responsibilities of other standing committees." So if there is anything that refers to issues of University policy, please bring them to our attention. This year we would like to tackle the enormous task of revising or certainly editing the manual. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. We have various other issues we want to discuss pertaining to tenure and promotion, to relationships between faculty and students, and perhaps issues of nepotism. So if you have any other concerns, let us know. I have e-mail under: email@example.com. E-mail me, write, or call at 7-2915.
CHAIR WEDLOCK - Thank you Margit. I think we are not going to revise the Faculty Manual substantively it is going to be more of a codification. So that you can find what you are looking for when you are looking for it. Rather than have to search under some obscure reference.
E. Faculty Welfare Committee - Professor Caroline Eastman, Chair:
PROFESSOR EASTMAN - I am Caroline Eastman from the Department of Computer Science, and I am the new Chair of Faculty Welfare Committee, which is charged with issues of concern to faculty and our welfare as concerns our employment conditions and similar issues. We have a number of items that we have been looking at and will continue to be looking at. Provost Odom has already described what is going on in terms of the Child Development Center. This is one of our major concerns. It appears that the matter is under control and we are hopeful that we will achieve satisfactory resolution at least of the academic issues if not the child care issues before the children who are currently in the center show up at our doors as freshmen. We are also continuing to monitor and address some of the perennial favorites: salary, benefits, and parking. Monitoring these issues has some of the same morbid fascination as watching the tropical update on the weather channel. You watch the tropical storms and the hurricanes approaching you -- there is not much you can do about them in most cases. Sometimes you can prepare a little bit; sometimes you can adjust what you are doing but basically if they are going to get you, they are going to get you. We welcome people bringing concerns to us. We will listen to them and try to address them as best we can. We will also be glad to listen to complaints and allow you to let off steam. In many cases there is not much we can do but we will do what we can. Thank you.
CHAIR WEDLOCK - Thank you Caroline.
F. Committee on Admissions - Professor Stephen McNeill, Chair - None
G. Committee on Scholastic Standards and Petitions - Professor James Day, Chair:
PROFESSOR DAY - Our committee moves the approval of the report that you will find on page 48. The first part of this in fact was included in the report approved and put forward by the Committee on Curricula and Courses. The second part contains the substantive proposal for changing the grading system.
CHAIR WEDLOCK - Does everybody have the report in front of them? As I understand it, this was on the June 30 agenda?
PROFESSOR DAY - The meeting that did not have a quorum. This was to have come up at that meeting.
CHAIR WEDLOCK - Are there any questions, comments, or amendments?
PROFESSOR FRED MYHRER (PHYS) - We [The Physics Department] had a short meeting yesterday. The whole department is very much against this changing grades. It is very difficult for us in big classes or in small classes to distinguish between a B, C+, and a C. If you are now going to throw in a B- to even make a finer scale, it becomes even more difficult. We don't know where to put the distinction between B and C+, between C+ and C, because you can put it anywhere. It is rather arbitrary where you put the lines. It depends on how you grade. So I think this proposal is not acceptable. I would rather propose that we drop the B+ as well and have A, B, C, D, and F. Thank you.
PROFESSOR JAMES BUGGY (MEDC) - Out of curiosity what was the Committee's rationale for proposing this change? Do other major universities use such a grading system? What are the advantages? Can we have any explanation of why this is being put forward?
PROFESSOR DAY - Absolutely. This proposal arose in response to requests by the GINT department that we institute a newly revised grading system allowing for minuses as well as pluses. The rationale proposed by the GINT department was that we live in an age of grade inflation where there are many high-end grades. Everybody seems to be getting A's and B's and yet some of those A's and B's are better than others, and this proposal allows for more discrimination among those high-end grades. So that is pretty much the rationale. The Committee did study what other institutions are doing. There are institutions that have grading systems very much like our current system. There are others that have a system identical to the one here being proposed. For example, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It is really the will of the professors that should determine this. We responded to this appeal by the GINT department by looking into this and came up with this proposal that is very close to the one that the GINT department sent to us.
ROY SCHWARTZMAN (THSP) - There were a couple of concerns that my colleagues, in my department, had about this. One they actually shared with some comments that were made earlier questions precision. Particularly for my colleagues who teach large numbers of performance courses, for example in Theatre and Dance, it is thoroughly difficult to make distinctions this fine is one of the objections that they had. A second concern that some of us had was the asymmetry involved in this particular proposal considering the fact that we do have the fine tripartite distinction of B+, B, B- and all of that but we don't have it on the high end for the A's and we don't have it on the low end for the D's. To that extent I would suggest the rationale regarding grade inflation is not taken into account with this current proposal. Because if there is a degree of grade inflation, then why not add particularly the D- at the low end which would seem to take care of some inflation at that end? If we are going to address the issue of grade inflation, it would seem that it would need to be done both by recognizing performance at the low end and at the same time by proportionally recognizing performance at the high end as well. Under this proposed system it seems like we don't get significant recognition of truly outstanding performance or truly marginal performance either.
PROFESSOR DAY - I'll respond to that and then we can continue. In fact without the A+ and without the D-, we do have a certain symmetry. The A+ presents the problem that you would have to have a 4.3 grading scale instead of a 4.0 grading scale. This would make it hard on the Registrar to harmonize the old and the new systems. In fact I think the absence of a D- will encourage people to give out well deserved F's in their classes. Rather than say a D- is already so bad, I'll let the person eke by with a D-. So we pondered this seriously. Some universities have this system with a D-. Others, like Chapel Hill, have this system without the D-. Our feeling was that in fact offering the D- would probably promote grade inflation rather than the contrary. We didn't have documented evidence of that.
PROFESSOR BOB FELLERS (BIOL) - It is my understanding that no faculty member is obligated to use a plus or a minus unless they so desire. Is that correct?
CHAIR WEDLOCK - That is correct. The grading is within the discretion of the faculty member cutting fine lines. If you want to cut fine lines, you can cut them. If you don't, you don't have to.
PROFESSOR JOHN RICHARDS (PSYC) - But this changes the meaning of the plus grades. So the plus grades are no longer half between they are a third of the way.
CHAIR WEDLOCK - That is correct.
PROFESSOR DAVID WILES (THSP) - I have two issues. One if we are going to include them and in order not to give them, if I chose not to give them, I'm in the odd box of then having (if I am working on a 100 point scale or a 1,000 point scale) to refigure what that is in order to fit in the new grades. If I calculate the grade honestly, I give the grade that the points call for. And, if I don't want to use the minus system, them I am stuck because I have to figure that into my scale. If somebody is there, then I either have to change -- basically I have to say alright you didn't get these points because I don't want to give you that grade. The fact that I have the discretion doesn't really help all that much since I've got to fit it the scale somewhere or another and then end up playing with it in order to make it do what I want it to do. The other thing is it is really unclear to me why adding another grade of A and adding another grade of B how that deals with grade inflation. Because now people who were getting C's in my class will get B-'s, people who were getting B+'s in my class will get A-'s, and that is grade inflation.
PROFESSOR DAY - There is no logical reason for the B+'s to be translated to A-'s. The top half of those B+'s might very well be A-'s under the new system, the lower half of those B+'s may very well still be B+'s.
PROFESSOR WILES - But the thing is I use a 100 point scale and very often the difference between one grade and another may be a single point. And, now I've got to try and fit in that same scale.
CHAIR WEDLOCK - What we get paid for is making those hard choices.
JONATHAN SHARPE (Student Liaison to the Faculty Senate) - A concern among students is this -- that by creating more possible ways of getting an A with a lowered GPA it seems that it is going to be more of a problem of grade inflation for the better students. They feel like they are sort of being cheated out of the achievement that they have created already. The question is how is this going to affect students if you are going to implement this? How would it effect upper classmen who are trying to calculate whether or not they are going to receive honors with their degree?
CHAIR WEDLOCK - What are the transition rules?
PROFESSOR DAY - This would be worked out by the Registrar. John Lopiccolo, who was head of the Committee under the ancien regime, should feel free to chime in because he has a lot of experience as chair. The current system has A, outstanding; B+, very good. You have a lot of A's and the people who just missed the B+ are up there with the people who have perfection. The truly outstanding people are not being recognized under the current system. They are lumped in there with people that are hard-working but not truly outstanding, but better than very good, if that is your definition of a B+. This would reward those who are truly outstanding by giving them the distinction they deserve.
PROFESSOR THORNE COMPTON (THSP) - I am also concerned about the other end of this. Is a C- a C or is that below a C? Is a B- below a B or is it a B? If somebody needs to have a B average to do something is a B- average a B average or not? If you have to have a C average to stay in school, which is currently our rule that you have to have a 2.0, if you have a C- is that under a 2.0 or not? Are we going to have to reconfigure the suspension system?
CHAIR WEDLOCK - It says right here that a C- is a 1.7 that is less than 2.0 last time I checked.
PROFESSOR DAY - This is addressed on page 48. In fact the Committee was worried about this and it suggested that departments routinely add just three or four words saying that to maintain standing in the program a grade average of C (2.0) or better will be required. Then the C- would not put the person in good standing.
PROFESSOR JIM STIVER (Honors College) - Have any empirical studies been done by any universities which have switched from one scheme to the other to see how it affects grade inflation?
PROFESSOR DAY - I wish I could recite the bibliography. There are some studies that suggest that universities with these additional discriminations have less grade inflation than those that have a smaller number of broad categories.
PROFESSOR JOHN LOPICCOLO (JOUR) - I was chair when the current proposal was discussed and Thorne was chair the first time this came up, about three years ago. There are some studies that compare different grading scales. I don't know of any that compares one university's experience before and after the change but there were some studies that said the minus did in fact produce lower averages. Mathematically it probably will because of the B+ being worth more on the grade point average and the C+ is worth less. So mathematically is will probably force the grade point averages lower. It could be a problem with honors. Student's who have a 4.0 average because they have all A's could lose that 4.0 average when they get an A- and they might say "Well I still have all A's". But I think just goes with grading -- that is a different grading scale.
PROFESSOR MIGUEL GONI (GEOL) - I have a question. It seems to me that the GPA is the most important -- that is what is common among all these grading systems. Why have letter grades? Why not just do 4.0 all the way down? When I look at my graduate students coming in, I look at their GPA rather than their letter grades.
CHAIR WEDLOCK - Do we then give honors when you get pi?
PROFESSOR DAY - The Committee worried about this. We worried about a lot of things including that. Many of us operate with three grading scales. A grade from 0 to 100 on tests, you give an A to a 98, you tell somebody that a 92 is A or an A-, an 88 is a B or a B+, and then that gets transferred into the 0 to 4.0 system. Three separate systems, which is not efficient. And that is what we are stuck with. We could head out and stake out some new territory. There might be a few institutions out there that do it the way you suggest. I see logic in that, but A to F, everybody knows what that means, and then the fine discriminations are what get translated last into numbers (the 4.0 scale). I think we are probably stuck with this inefficiency.
PROFESSOR GARY PETREE (Military Science) - I have a concern from a student's perspective. I see your point, that has already been made. That quarter of a point reduction in the grade point average could add up over a couple of years. My real concern there is that it may cut some people out of an opportunity, particularly for Army ROTC scholarship, in the later part of their sophomore year. A quarter of a point adds up. They are going to find themselves on the margin or on the bubble in terms of being competitive for scholarship. ROTC cadets are giving all they can in terms of making the grades in all the classes that give them the undergraduate degree, but they are also putting a lot of time and energy into ROTC preparing themselves to become officer leaders in the United States military. So, from that perspective, I guess what I am saying is I think it is probably going to hurt some of our cadets, and for that reason I am against it from a student's standpoint.
MARCIA SYNNOTT (HIST) - I have been giving pluses and minuses in my grade book for years. It is just that I translate them into B+ or B or whatever and it is very easy. Is it a low B or a high B. When I write letters of recommendations, if the person just squeaked over to an A, I will say that. I think it is more honest.
PROFESSOR ROBERT WILCOX (LAW) - With regard to the concern about the grade point, you can equally argue that it will average out over the course of their college career. Some high B+'s will be A-'s some will be B+'s and they will end up with the same average they would have had if they had all been B+'s under the current system. I think in large classes, I teach a lot of large classes, you tend here toward a C+ curve, and there is a huge distinction between my lowest C+ and my highest C+. It would benefit me tremendously in a large class, particularly, to be able to differentiate a little bit more. We are worried about the absolute numbers, but what we are really doing is telling graduate schools and telling employers a relative order of rank. Here are our best students, our next best students, on down. The more distinctions we can draw, within some reason, I think, the better able we are to give an honest evaluation of how they stand relative to each other.
PROFESSOR INA ROY (PHIL) - Two concerns about the current dialog. One of them is that it seems to me that some of the comments have held a bit of the idea that maybe we are giving grades for the purposes of people getting certain honors or being in ROTC and my understanding is that grades are supposed to indicate how the students are doing in their classes. So it seems to me that those concerns may be ones that we want to give slightly less weight to. The second thing that I might wonder about is with the understanding that this University is hoping to become an AAU University in the reasonably near future, I think out of the top 20 of those universities of the 60 (I don't remember exactly) but I believe something like 16 of them have basically the grading scale that you are suggesting. So for what that is worth, it would be easier to compare our students to the students at these other universities to say we've got the same quality of student, the same caliber.
PROFESSOR MIKE SMITH (HIST) - I just wanted to clarify the point about this being at the discretion of the professor. Does that mean that a professor can pick and choose among the menu of minus and plus grades? Like I am going to give B+'s but not B-'s, I am not going to give C+, in other words it is not apparently an all or nothing situation.
CHAIR WEDLOCK - Well I suppose you might have trouble explaining it to your students. But that is your problem if you choose to do that. Nobody is going to look over your shoulder and say you gave some B's and C's but you didn't give anything in between.
PROFESSOR SMITH - But what I'm saying is, if I am hearing this correctly, it is totally to the discretion of the professor however he wants to construct it out of the number of grades available.
CHAIR WEDLOCK - I would suggest that is correct.
PROFESSOR MORGAN MACLACHAN (ANTH) - It seems to me as I listen to this debate it really comes to a question of whether or not you think that grade inflation is a problem. If you think that grade inflation is a problem, inevitably it would be the case that if you deal with that problem you will make it more difficult for people to get ROTC scholarships, you will make it more difficult for people to graduate cum laude, and that is the idea.
CHAIR WEDLOCK - Are there any amendments to this proposal?
PROFESSOR CAROLINE EASTMAN (CSCI) - I have one question for the committee. Could you comment on any formal or informal student input that you may have gotten on this proposal?
PROFESSOR DAY - John, could I invite your comment on that?
PROFESSOR LOPICCOLO - We at times have had student members on the committee but, I think, that in the last year we never had any at the meetings that discussed this. I don't know how some of the other committees are, but there are sometimes problems with the student attending or the student finding out that they are in fact on the committee.
I will mention one other point. If there is a grade change, it would be a system wide change. There has been one joint committee with Regional Campus, Spartanburg, and Aiken represented that they favored this and in fact, I think, Spartanburg has already passed it. Whether the Registrar will implement or not is another question, I guess. Our understanding was that if the various campuses passed the resolution they will have to get together and coordinate it with the Registrar's Office in terms of exactly what the grades are and what each grade is worth. And, it probably would not go into effect before the year 2000. The assumption being it would take that much time to coordinate system wide. The Registrar would not do one set of grades for Columbia and a different set for Aiken or Spartanburg.
CHAIR WEDLOCK - In response to the question, John was giving a reason why they had not had any student input on this question. I might say that I was supposed to get nominees or appointments from Student Government last year as to who was to be on various faculty committees on which they have seats, and I received none.
PROFESSOR KEITH DAVIS (PSYC) - Eldon, I would like to take issue with your interpretation that whether or not one uses the categories in the grade system is purely at the judgement of the faculty. My understanding of this from having the issued raised in the case of specific faculty members was that if you offer a grading system which does not allow a possibility that has been officially endorsed by the University faculty as the grading system, you are not allowing the students the opportunities that they expect. And, you literally can't do that. Now you may end up not giving certain grades, but you can't tell the students -- AYou can't make a B+ in this course, because I ain't using B+'s."
PROFESSOR VANCE COWDEN (LAW) - I agree with the benefits of having greater differentiation between the grades from top to bottom. But I suggest to offer this as a cure to grade inflation discounts the human factor that is entered into the problem of grade inflation in universities across this country. A new grading system is not going to correct that. If we are willing to do it as individuals we can correct it with the grading system we have right now.
PROFESSOR FRED MYHRER (PHYS) - Just one point that goes to large classes. In Physics there are large undergraduate classes of 100 to 150 students. You give exams, you try to grade fairly, and have this same type of scale every year. But judging from the exams you always have to rescale the whole thing because some years have too many F's or too many A's, so you have to reshape the whole curve and change it. So if you start to give very fine tuned grades every
year. That means an A- one year does not mean an A- the next year. You don't have an absolute scale so why do it so fine tuned, because you cannot justify it?
RICHARD BAYER (REGISTRAR) - I think it is important to note that we looked at the data last year, I think there was something published in the University Times, that appeared to indicate that there was really no grade inflation on this campus. I think that this is what is driving this plus/minus grading scale issue. I think we need to go back and look at the data and look at whether or not there truly is grade inflation here. I don't think that is the case and I think we went back as far as 12 years. I think what you will find is, if you do move to this new grading scale, that our students are becoming more and more savvy and the student in the B+ range is going to argue and fight to get that changed to an A-. I think there will be additional pressure on faculty to comply with their desires. The last thing I want to say is that programming wise it doesn't matter we can put an A+ in there just as easily as we can add a D- or D+ grade.
PROFESSOR MICHAEL SMITH (HIST) - Could we break the tie on whether we have to use this or not? We have a former provost saying you will have to use it and the chairman saying that you don't.
CHAIR WEDLOCK - That is not the issue on the floor.
PROFESSOR SMITH - Well I think the way people might vote on this will depend on whether they think it is going to be mandatory or not.
CHAIR WEDLOCK - I think they are going to have to make up their own mind on that.
? - Can we just vote on this thing?
CHAIR WEDLOCK - I will take that as a call for the question. Is there a second for the motion to call the question? Second? All those in favor of calling the question signify by saying aye. Those opposed. The ayes have it. The question is on the floor. All those in favor of the motion of the committee signify by saying aye. All those opposed. The ayes have it.
? - I would like to request a count on that last one.
CHAIR WEDLOCK - All right, a division has been requested. All those in favor would you please stand. Are all the senators in the center? Sarah could you help me? I got 53, she got 52 will take 52. All those opposed? 26. The motion carries 52 to 26.
H. Other Committees - None
IV. Report of Secretary - None
V. Unfinished Business - None
VI. New Business - None
VII. Good of the Order
PROFESSOR RICHARD CONANT (MUSC) - I called to try and get an agenda for the meeting and I was told I could not get one because I am not a senator any more. I really like it. I know it is on the Internet but you know that laser printers are more expensive than xeroxing. Any chance you can get a copy before the meeting?
CHAIR WEDLOCK - Peggy, send Richard a copy.
PROFESSOR CONANT - Thank you.
CHAIR WEDLOCK - Any more nominations for these open committee slots? Remember the nominations for Chair-elect of the Senate are open until September 16th. Any remarks for the Good of the Order?
PROFESSOR JOHN SPURRIER (STAT) - Could you explain when this new grading system will go into effect or where it goes from now?
RICHARD BAYER (REGISTRAR) - We are conferring with computer services now. Given the fact we are still working on complying with the year 2000 conversion with database -- we need to test it. My recommendation is that we don't put this into effect until the Fall of the year 2000. I think Professor Lopiccolo indicated that was discussed last year with the Standards and Petitions.
CHAIR WEDLOCK - And, of course, if it is system wide, the Regional Campus Senate will have to approve it and I think Aiken would have to approve it as well before we could make the change. Any other remarks for the good of the order?
CHAIR WEDLOCK - Are there any announcements? Richard?
PROFESSOR CONANT - No.
CHAIR WEDLOCK - Let's go to Faculty House. Meeting adjourned at 4:40 p.m.
This page updated 29 September 1998 by the Office of the Faculty Senate,
and copyright 1998, The Board of Trustees of the University of South Carolina.