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Course Approval (Superseded by 1.08C)

U N I V E R S I T Y   O F   C A L I F O R N I A
November 29, 2007
Formal Ruling
The Rules Committee has been asked by Professor Shawn Kantor, Faculty Chair of the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts, to rule whether delegation course approval authority to a subcommittee of a Faculty is consistent with Academic Senate Bylaw 55 voting rights of the members of the Faculty. The current chair of the Undergraduate Council (Professor Peggy O’Day) has requested that “schools . . . delegate some group of faculty (either school-wide, or sub-sets within the school) to do local approval of CRFs and programs before it comes to UGC.” Professor Kantor requests advice on the manner by which Schools could delegate course approval authority and whether it would take a 2/3 vote. Although Professor Kantor did not explicitly limit his question to undergraduate courses, this Ruling will only address undergraduate courses.
Currently the practice of course approval differs between schools.
Regents Standing Orders, section 105.2(b) provides:
The Academic Senate shall authorize and supervise all courses and curricula offered under the sole or joint jurisdiction of the departments, colleges, schools, graduate divisions, or other University academic agencies approved by the Board, . . .
The faculty of each School officially operates as a single Bylaw 55 voting unit, i.e., the faculty is not divided into separate departments for purposes of conducting the business of the faculty. Thus, in exercising the responsibilities of the faculty as members of the Academic Senate, each Faculty operates both as a department, which is the first level of faculty decision-making and voting rights within the meaning of Academic Senate bylaw 55, and as the intervening governing body of the School or College, which acts as an agency of the Divisional Academic Senate.1
Page Two
Academic Senate Bylaw 55A.1. provides that,
According to the Standing Orders of the Regents, ‘. . . the several departments of the University, with the approval of the President, shall determine their own form of administrative organization . . .’ No department shall be organized in a way that would deny to any of its non-emeritae/i faculty who are voting members of the Academic Senate, as specified in Standing Order 105.l(a), the right to vote on substantial departmental questions, excepting only certain personnel actions as detailed in Article B of this Bylaw.2
Academic Senate Bylaw 312A provides that,
Each Division shall approve and supervise all courses of instruction and curricula in the colleges and schools of the Division, except as otherwise provided in these Bylaws or the Standing Orders of The Regents [See Bylaw 51.] In the discharge of this duty the Division shall provide for appropriate consultation with the Chancellor or a designated representative.
Academic Senate Bylaw 51 provides that,
[Protected -- see Bylaw 116.E] No change in the curriculum of any college or school shall be made by any legislative agency of the Academic Senate until the proposed change has been submitted to the formal consideration of the Faculty concerned.
UC Merced Divisional bylaws, Part II. Section 4.B. III, ninth bullet,3 describes as a duty of the Undergraduate Council:
Reviews, coordinates, and takes final action on all matters relating to courses of instruction, including approval of new courses and modification, withdrawal, conduct, credit valuation, and classification of existing courses. Consults with and advises departments and individual members of the Division on courses of instruction.
Because the Schools do not have any departments below the level of the Faculty, the Faculty itself comprises the Academic Senate Bylaw 55 voting unit for the members of the School. Thus, the voting requirements of SBL 55 apply to decisions of the Faculty. In addition, in the absence of separate departmental bylaws, departmental voting is undertaken in accord with the Faculty bylaws. The delegation over course approval is one of the fundamental authorities of the Academic Senate. Thus, we conclude that course approval is a substantial departmental question that cannot be delegated away from a bylaw 55 voting unit. Therefore, under the structure of the governance of Faculties under the UC Merced Divisional bylaws, course approval authority is subject to approval by a Faculty. That does not restrict a faculty, under the terms of its own bylaws, from creating a subcommittee of the Faculty to advise the Faculty on course approval.
Academic Senate Bylaw 51 is not applicable to this case, as the Academic Senate is not proposing to change “the curriculum of any college or school”.
Page Three
Courses are subject to approval by a Faculty acting as an Academic Senate Bylaw 55 voting unit. The committee structure envisioned by the Undergraduate Council, under which Faculty approval be delegated to a committee, can only be advisory to Schools, as such delegation can only be done within the Schools.
UC Merced Committee on Rules and Elections:
Martha Conklin, Chair
Daniel Simmons, Vice Chair (UC Davis)
Teenie Matlock
Jean Olson (UC San Francisco)
1 There is an unofficial division of the School of Social Science Humanity and Arts, which is not addressed in this ruling.
2 Article B details voting rights in academic personnel actions and is not at issue in this ruling.
3 First through eighth, tenth and eleventh bullets provide for other duties of the Undergraduate Committee