The Senate Source

August 2015

Senate to Tackle Programmatic Elements of Budget Agreement

The Senate is finalizing a plan to ensure faculty involvement in the development and implementation of 14 programmatic initiatives included in the budget agreement between UC and Governor Brown that are intended to improve efficiency, access, and student outcomes.

Senate leaders have been identifying specific initiatives in which the systemwide Senate and Senate divisions should be involved or consulted, and are asking Senate division chairs to identify appropriate review bodies and experts on each campus. Many initiatives relate to efforts already underway at several campuses, while other represent new activities and in one case a pilot program and scoping study involving only three campuses. Much of the work will occur at the campus level, although BOARS and UCEP will lead efforts requiring systemwide Senate involvement and will facilitate campus reporting as well as sharing of best practices.

One initiative requiring the significant engagement of campus Senates is a review of local curricular requirements for 75% of majors, in an effort to reduce, when possible, the number of upper division courses required for a major to no more than 45 quarter units. The UCLA College of Letters and Science undertook a similar initiative known as “Challenge 45” between 2010 and 2011.

In addition, campuses will be asked to develop three-year degree specifications for 10 of their top 15 majors and to incentivize summer enrollment. The aim is to increase the proportion of students who graduate in three years from 2.6% to 5%.

The agreement asks UC to improve the transfer path to meet the Master Plan’s 2:1 freshman-to-transfer ratio for undergraduate enrollments and to adopt systemwide transfer pathways for 20 majors.

Specific campuses will be asked to expand the use of “activity-based-costing” to enhance understanding of instructional costs, “predictive analytics” to identify at-risk students, and “adaptive learning technology” to help students master challenging coursework.

Systemwide Senate committees will revisit current policies for awarding UC credit for AP exams, the College Level Examination Program (CLEP), and other placement tests, and will consider adopting a common course identification system as a supplemental numbering system for UC courses. The systemwide Senate will coordinate the next phase of the transfer pathways project.

Senate Vice Chair Dan Hare notes that many of the efforts are complicated, have clear expectations and deadlines, and will require engagement from both faculty and administrators. He says Senate divisions should focus on providing faculty input where it is most needed, rather than where it may be nice to have—for example, achieving a 2:1 ratio of freshmen to transfer enrollments is largely an administrative function, but the initiatives related to establishing transfer pathways and “Challenge 45” are in the Senate’s direct purview and authority. He notes that the Senate will rely on UCOP to compile and share data, but anything resulting in a curricular change will require approval by the appropriate Senate committees using established campus procedures.  

“We are responding to an unprecedented amount of detail affecting the academic enterprise that has been inserted into the budget,” he said. “The Governor and Legislature have been interested in these initiatives for a long time, and we have to ensure that the goals are achieved.”

The state will be monitoring progress and requesting reports according to specific schedules and deadlines. For example, the three-year degree work needs to be completed within a year, while campuses have been given two years to complete Challenge 45.

The 14 initiatives follow, arranged according to whether they require significant Senate involvement, affect most undergraduate campuses, or only some undergraduate campuses.

Significant Senate Involvement:

Less Senate involvement, but requires Involvement of all or most Undergraduate Campuses

Less Senate Involvement but requires Involvement of Some Undergraduate Campuses