Present: Bose, Cassidy, Hartenhoff, Johnson, Legg, Levin, Miller, Munroe, Musial, Pappanduros, Payvar, Prawitz, Robinson, Russo, Schoenbachler, Seaver, Thompson, Waas, Williams
Guests: Donna Askins, Research Associate, Office of the Provost; Craig Barnard, Coordinator, Assessment Services; Gerald Gabris, Director, Division of Public Administration; Daniel Kempton, Chair, Department of Political Science; William Minor, Associate Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Jamie Rothstein, Assistant to the Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
The meeting was called to order at 3:05 p.m. It was moved and seconded to approve the minutes of October 18, 2004, and the motion passed unanimously.
Legg introduced Daniel Kempton, Chair, Department of Political Science; Gerald Gabris, Director, Division of Public Administration; William Minor, Associate Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Jamie Rothstein, Assistant to the Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Legg turned the meeting over to Schoenbachler for the discussion of the subcommittee report. Schoenbachler thanked her subcommittee for all their hard work.
Schoenbachler stated that the program review might be easier to follow with some minor writing revisions. The strengths reported in the departmental context section are the national reputation as noted in publications such as the U.S. News and World Report, the training provided to support teaching assistants, and the curricular foci on four primary areas within the discipline. Other strengths include the library resources and the focus on students, including mentoring, the residence halls political science floor, the student newsletter, and advising.
One of the discussion points is that computer resources may not be adequate, particularly at the Ph.D. level. Kempton said at this time political science students are sharing a lab with sociology because the political science lab is not adequate. Schoenbachler said that faculty diversity and faculty concentration at the senior level are also areas noted for improvement. Cassidy asked for clarification about the computer lab joining forces with sociology. Kempton said that political science still has its own lab in Zulauf, but it is not used for classes with graduate students. The department’s computing fees are sent to sociology, and students in both departments share the lab facilities. Cassidy asked if any plans had been made about the future of the political science lab. Kempton replied that the department is still working on this issue.
Schoenbachler turned to the recommendations for the future. The department should make an effort to diversify its faculty. The current faculty is heavily male Caucasian, with the majority of faculty tenured at the upper professorial ranks. The department would like to address this issue, but its ability to do so depends on resources. Another recommendation is to work on balancing course offerings with faculty resources. The department provides a great deal of service to majors and non-majors with current resources.
Schoenbachler turned to the strengths of the B.A./B.S. in Political Science section of the review. The strengths are the high program standards, particularly in its requirements for writing; the assessment plan is well laid out; there is strong focus group activity for assessment; and the service to the university. Students across the university can take elective courses in political science.
Discussion points include reconsidering the wording of learning outcomes so that the focus is on what students can demonstrate in terms of knowledge and skills. The department said that it would look at how the outcomes are stated. The emphases at the undergraduate level do not match the areas within the discipline the department has chosen to emphasize. This doesn’t seem to be a real issue, but given the resources, the subcommittee expressed concerns. Kempton stated that there are 16 faculty in political science and 8 in public administration. It is difficult to choose what not to staff, but the department has found a good balance. In 1999 it hired three external reviewers to evaluate the department, and one thing that they looked at was the match between faculty expertise and what the department wanted to accomplish; a five-year plan was developed from this review. The four undergraduate emphases don’t line up with the specializations in the master’s program. At the undergraduate level, 37 percent of the students are in public law, preparing to go to law school. The department balances the expertise among the four undergraduate emphases: public law, international politics, public administration and service, and politics. Cassidy added that some courses that serve majors also serve students outside the major. Rothstein clarified that the different emphases and the four focus areas are not mutually exclusive. The emphases do encompass some of these focus areas. Kempton added that all of the emphases have a requirement for breadth of knowledge within political science. Students must take one course in five of seven fields: American government, comparative politics, empirical theory, international politics, public theory, public law, and public policy.
Seaver asked if the department eliminated one or two courses from the general education program. Kempton replied that one course (POLS 450-American Political Thought) was not resubmitted for general education, and the content of POLS 181-American Foreign Policy was redundant with another course at the 300 level. The department is trying to substitute POLS 285-Problems of International Relations for general education credit. Seaver said the concern is that the removal of the 100-level course might reduce the department’s enrollments in service courses: students may not opt to take 200- or 300-level courses for general education. Kempton replied that this is possible, but POLS 285 is a true introductory course and is used by other majors as a required course. The department has increased staffing for POLS 285 so that it can accommodate a larger number of students. The best part of its assessment process is focus groups. The department gets clear information about what students like and dislike from the groups, and one of the things that students said was that the department was teaching some of the same material in 181 and 285. Seaver asked if business or health majors were likely to explore taking this course at the 200 level instead of the 100 level. Kempton responded that he didn’t think this would be a problem.
Schoenbachler stated that assessment efforts should have more external measurements, and the discussion of career prospects should indicate opportunities with a B.A./B.S. degree only. Kempton said that many graduates with a baccalaureate degree are employed by the State Department. Schoenbachler said that the recommendation for the future is to continue working on enrollment management. The department is doing a great deal with its resources, and it is very student focused.
Schoenbachler said that the strengths of the M.A. program include the growth in the number of women students, preparation of graduate students for teaching, and the responsiveness to students’ needs. An additional strength of the program is that costs are improving. The costs were high, but they are now decreasing.
The discussion points and recommendations for the future for the M.A. program include the time to degree completion is high, but there are quite a few part-time students. Cassidy asked if the high completion time was due to students enrolling part time or to course availability. Kempton replied that at the Ph.D. level one of the required courses is offered every two years. If students don’t enroll at the appropriate time, they have to wait two years before it is offered again. At the master’s level this is not the case. Many students in the master’s program are teachers, and they enroll part time. Williams asked what the percentage was for part-time vs. full-time students. Kempton replied that he would estimate that about ½ of the students in the Ph.D. program are part time and more than ½ of the students at the master’s level are part time. Schoenbachler said that the course offerings and the availability of courses are also discussion points. The curriculum has seven fields and the department has focused on four fields. These items have already been discussed, and this should be clarified in the review. Schoenbachler stated that the recommendations for the future are to continue to manage the costs and course offerings and curriculum flexibility.
Askins stated that many students are political science professionals and asked what kinds of jobs they obtain upon graduation. Kempton replied there are not direct career paths for the B.A./B.S. and master’s programs. As stated before, 37 percent of the undergraduate majors select the emphasis that prepares them for law programs, 5-10 percent enter graduate programs, and 5-10 percent enter the M.P.A. program. There are a variety of government and international business positions that employ graduates. The numbers are relatively small; some work at the State Department, some are already teachers and stay in this profession, and some international students go back to their home countries to continue in their previous positions. The department works with students on career options by using employment guides for business opportunities. Legg asked if the master’s program serves as a consolation prize for students unable to complete the doctoral degree. Kempton replied that it does. The stipend is a little larger for Ph.D. students. Legg asked if students can get a Ph.D. without receiving a master’s degree. Kempton replied that it is rare for the department to admit students with a baccalaureate degree directly into the doctoral program, but it can be done. However, the department doesn’t recommend it.
Thompson asked what the thesis option was in the department. Kempton replied that students have two options: the thesis option, which is rarely selected by students, and the non-thesis option. In the non-thesis option students submit two starred papers. A starred paper is a research paper for a class that is revised under the direction of a faculty member and the student presents an oral defense of the papers, which serves as the comprehensive examination.
Schoenbachler turned to the review of the Ph.D. program. The strengths include the low costs, good job placement rates, performance reviews of students, teaching preparation for graduate assistants, and the program size. This program is one of the largest in the state. Discussion points are the graduation rates for women and minorities and managing the size of the program with regarding to the number of faculty. The recommendation for the future is to manage enrollments to match resources. Kempton explained that the number of women and minorities awarded degrees is five to seven per year, and some of this decrease is due to the small number of degrees awarded overall. Bose asked if the program had a problem with recruiting minority students. Kempton replied that the department makes use of minority tuition waivers. Right now it does not have an African-American faculty member, and this does affect recruitment. It always has minority students in the program, however.
The discussion turned to the review of the M.P.A. program. Schoenbachler said the strengths of the M.P.A. program include its ranking as third in the U.S., the alumni satisfaction ratings, job placements, the internship program, and the use of a board of advisors. The discussion points are the drop in enrollment, particularly among women, and the costs. The costs are coming down. Gabris said that this year enrollment has increased 25 percent and that the enrollment dips seem to be cyclical. It also has more women in the program. Schoenbachler said that was a very strong program.
Cassidy stated that the documents were well written. Having reviews in such good shape for this part of the process eliminates many questions to clarify information. Barnard added that the benchmarking indicators were very well done. Schoenbachler said that this department was not afraid to say what its challenges were and that the department had done a great deal of self assessment.
The meeting adjourned at 3:40 p.m.
Carolyn A. Cradduck