Academic Senate Update: Senate Modifies Dismissal Policy, Expands PLA and Discusses Abraham’s Future

By Justin Wier

Youngstown State University’s Academic Senate voted to modify the policy for dismissing students on academic probation. They also voted to expand the prior learning assessment program.

In addition, Chet Cooper, chair of the Academic Senate, said President Jim Tressel is interested in making Interim Provost Martin Abraham’s position permanent. The Senate’s executive committee will be meeting with Abraham next Wednesday and reporting their observations to the president.

Cooper said he and Tressel arrived at the idea of involving the Academic Senate in Tressel’s decision together.

The new student dismissal policy requires that students maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 to remain in good standing. If a student’s GPA drops below a 2.0, they receive a warning. If it remains below a 2.0 at the end of the following semester, they are placed on academic probation and required to meet regularly with a counselor. If the student fails to bring their cumulative GPA up to 2.0 the semester after being placed on probation, and their GPA for that semester is also below 2.0, they will be suspended.

This new policy specifies the length of each suspension.

The first suspension results in a student having to sit out a fall or spring semester. A second suspension would result in a student missing an entire academic year. A third suspension would result in a two-academic-year ban and no guarantee that the student could return.

The policy will go into effect in the fall.

The expanded prior learning assessment program is aimed at allowing adult learners to turn life experience into college credit. Adult students will be able to take standardized exams to receive credit for prerequisite course equivalents. If a department is not satisfied with the standardized exams, they are able to craft departmental challenge exams.

Students seeking to avoid standardized exams will be able to create a portfolio to be reviewed by two faculty members who will assess the breadth of the student’s learning.

The portfolio would be created during a one-semester-hour course that will be credited at the 2600 or 3700 level — depending on the level of experience the portfolio represents.

Students pursuing a bachelor’s degree are eligible to receive up to 30 semester hours, and students pursuing an associate degree are eligible to receive up to 15 semester hours.

Jack Fahey, associate vice president of student affairs, presented an update to the senate on student retention and completion efforts.

He reported an “upward trend” in course completion, retention and student GPAs. He attributed this to a decrease in withdrawals and a decrease in nonattendance.

He said he would like to see the trend continue going forward.

“One of the best things we can do to continue that progress is to increase the quality of students that are coming in,” Fahey said.

Kevin Carmody, associate director of student life, also announced the IGNITE program, which is a two-day orientation for incoming students that will build on the SOAR — Student Orientation, Advisement and Registration — program. It would introduce students to the campus community and provide them with information about sensitivity to LGBT students, diversity and conflict resolution while promoting student success and experience.

IGNITE will take place on Aug. 17 and 18 of this year.