Academic Council

Minutes for September 21, 2001



Present: Lisa Carloye, Jeff Clark, Joyce Davis, Gerry Francis, Don Grady, Pam Kiser, Leo Lambert, Todd Lee, Yoram Lubling, Buck McGregor, Becky Olive-Taylor, Tim Peeples, Jean Schwind (chair)

Guests: Vicki Hightower, Barth Strempek



I. The meeting of elected members convened at 2:30 p.m. The meeting of all members was called to order at 2:55 p.m.


II. Minutes from the August 24th meeting were approved.


III. At the request of a faculty member, Council discussed the problem of classes missed by student athletes due to game schedules. Vicki Hightower, faculty athletics representative and Elon’s Big South Conference representative, participated in this discussion at Council’s request. Hightower noted:


§         Student athletes are asked to review their game schedules with professors of every course in which they will miss one or more classes due to competitions;

  • Athletic schedules are determined primarily by the conferences, not the individual schools;
  • Conferences make avoiding final exam periods a high priority when creating schedules;
  • The NCAA sets the maximum number of possible athletic contests, which typically becomes the number of contests scheduled for most schools;
  • It is unusual for an athlete to miss more than four sessions of any class due to athletic contests;
  • Elon has an “excused absence” policy for athletes who miss class due to athletic contests, though some professors do not consistently honor this policy;
  • Athletes have missed games and competitions to take exams and meet other deadlines in their classes;
  • Athletes have a higher 5-year graduation rate than the student body as a whole;
  • Golf team members have an especially difficult time with missed classes because golf competitions cannot be scheduled on weekends.


Points raised in the ensuing discussion included:


  • Clear student/professor communication is essential;
  • Some student athletes seem to consider athletics—and not academics—as their primary focus; Hightower stresses that this is not the view of the athletics program; she and the coaches actively discourage this attitude;
  • Academic departments might take athletes into consideration when scheduling courses required for majors;
  • When student athletes miss classes, they are not the only ones harmed. Classmates are negatively affected as well. This is especially true when students work in collaborative groups that depend on the full participation of all members;
  • Classes with heavy service-learning components are problematic for student athletes when their game schedule forces them to squeeze all of their service-learning hours into one or two post-season weeks. It is difficult for these students to synthesize their experiences with material presented throughout the course.

IV. Council heard a report from Barth Strempek on behalf of the School of Information Technology Feasibility Task Force.


Strempek, who chaired this task force with Gerry Francis, presented a detailed summary of the task force’s work and explained their final recommendations. The task force identified three options with regard to the development of information technology at Elon:


  • Status quo: Elon can decide to do nothing. The task force feels that given the current demand for technological skills in many fields and Elon’s commitment to preparing students for the “new century,” this option isn’t viable;
  • Establish an IT school: Elon could immediately establish a new School of Information Technology. The task force believes that Elon is not appropriately positioned to do this at the present time;
  • Enhance and expand current programs: Elon can work to enhance its computer science and information systems programs and develop the information technology components in other programs, such as digital art and professional and technical writing. The task force recommends this option, leaving open the possibility of establishing an IT School sometime in the future.


Council had several questions for Strempek and Francis. Council also made these observations and suggestions:


  • Liaisons should be appointed from each department and program that will be affected by information technology enhancements;
  • A large-scale enhancement of information technology components of our current curriculum will require administrative leadership. Francis says that several members of the faculty could assume this role; in the future there might be an appointed coordinator or director;
  • We should be careful that Elon does not become so enamored with technology that this “tail” is permitted to “wag the dog” in our liberal arts and sciences programs.


V. Council discussed at length faculty responses to its proposed inappropriate relationships statement. The statement submitted for faculty discussion in September is being revised to incorporate suggestions offered at faculty meeting and via email.


Council agreed that faculty should vote on amendments to the Statement of Professional Standards. We will propose an amendment to the by-laws (Article VI. Section 3. Section g.) in the October faculty meeting to ensure this right. We will also review the faculty grievance procedure (Handbook III-17) to make sure that it covers alleged violations of the proposed policy and suggest revisions where necessary. We will complete this work by the October Council meeting and return to the faculty with a revised inappropriate relationships policy in November.


VI. President Lambert presented a draft of his proposal for establishing Distinguished University Professorships at Elon. The rationale, criteria, and process of selection for this honor were examined and discussed. Council expressed support for this initiative, and promised to send specific suggestions about revising the draft to President Lambert by the end of September.

The proposal will be presented to the trustees in October.


VII. The meeting adjourned at 5:55 p.m.


Respectfully submitted by J. Todd Lee