by Melissa A. Collett
Call it the Congress of the University of La Verne. The representatives do not come from different states, but from different departments within the University.
This is UGAP, the Undergraduate Academic Policies Committee, a faculty committee where presentations are made for changes in policies that affect the undergraduate students at the University. It is in their meetings that important decisions are proposed, discussed, changed and passed on for a signature or veto, not from the president, but from the faculty. UGAP deals with anything that has to do with a policy, a change in policy and the interpretation of a policy.
Once a policy change is passed in UGAP, it goes to the faculty assembly for a final decision. “We try to set up something fair, something we think the faculty will approve,” says Dr. Michael Frantz, associate professor of mathematics, and chair of UGAP.
Nine voting members, the chair, plus other administrators who participate in the discussions and decisions but do not have a vote make up the Committee. At any given meeting, as many as 20 people may attend to ensure they have a voice in the important decisions the Committee makes. Administration members can attend and are sent agendas, but they cannot vote.
“It’s a wide variety. The general task of the Committee or responsibilities are to review, evaluate and recommend undergraduate policies, curriculum and academic standards. That’s the general statement that encompasses almost anything that has to do with academic life here. If somebody wants to bring in a new major, it’s going to come through UGAP,” says Dr. Frantz.
Dr. Frantz has been involved with the committee since he first came to ULV as a teacher in the fall of 1983. He has been re-elected for three-year terms ever since, though he did take a three year break from the Committee at one time.
UGAP meets Wednesday, every two weeks from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Depending on the agenda for that week, a meeting might run over 10 a.m., or it might be waived for another two weeks during slower periods.
To be on the agenda, faculty or administration members call Dr. Frantz to request agenda listing. At the meeting, the issue is presented and discussed but usually is not voted on immediately. Often, an item re-surfaces at subsequent meetings for further discussion and a vote. Changes often need to be made, or more research needs to be done before further discussion can occur. Sometimes, final decisions are made months later.
“The University, in a way, is kind of like a huge computer program; it’s so complex that you can never test all the possible outputs. So, constantly there are problems that are coming up, and you go to the catalog to try and figure out the rule that applies, and, it turns out, this exact situation has never quite come up before, or we don’t really have a rule that covers this one specific case on how to interpret the policy,” says Dr. Frantz.
“UGAP is only a feeder to the faculty assembly,” says Dr. Al Clark, assistant vice president. Dr. Clark has been involved with UGAP for almost 15 years as an administrator. If the Committee feels the occurrence is something that is going to happen frequently it will try to adopt a policy to add to the catalog, he says.
UGAP is a filtering system, according to Dr. Frantz. “We have representation from all different aspects of the University.” As incidences occur, policies also change.
Of the nine voting members, there are four faculty members from the arts and sciences, two from the school of business and economics, one from the school of organizational management, one School of Continuing Education representative and a student ASF representative.
“We try to get a broad sampling of input on all the different issues, so that if we, as a committee, approve a certain policy, then we are hoping that the faculty as a whole will approve it, too,” says Dr. Frantz.
If there is discrepancy within the committee on a policy, and the vote goes through five to four, or six to three, that is a sign that the faculty might not approve. If this happens, UGAP will try to rework the policy changes until it reaches a point where the whole Committee can agree before it is sent to the Faculty Assembly.
UGAP is busiest toward the end of each semester, when curriculum revisions are made by faculty. Dr. Frantz believes that, because of the new general education requirements, questions about the new policies will begin to arise.
The Committee has already dealt with some of those issues within the past year, including how to fit transfer student credits into the new general education curriculum. “What appears to be a very simple policy-general education transfer-took us a total of about a year to hammer out before it came to UGAP,” says Dr. Clark.
Part of being a faculty member at ULV is partaking in committees such as UGAP. Wednesday is the day for committee meetings at ULV. Like many faculty, Dr. Frantz has four meetings, each right after the other, until 3 p.m. on that day.
“Students and family members have somehow come to think that Wednesdays are vacation days for faculty. Actually, I get less done of my school work on Wednesdays than I do any other day of the week,” says Dr. Frantz, “It’s a committee-intensive school. There is a lot of work to be done.”