CAA approves recommendations, neurobiology major

Jason Hardimon, Staff Reporter

The Council on Academic Affairs approved 22 items on its agenda Thursday, including its recommendations to President David Glassman concerning program elimination and reorganization, as well as revisions and additions to the catalog.

The CAA voted 7-0 with two abstentions to approve its recommendations to Glassman for programs documented in Provost Blair Lord’s letter to the Academic Program Elimination or Reorganization Review Committee. The CAA also unanimously approved a new bachelor’s in neurobiology, a collaboration between the psychology, biological sciences, mathematics and computer sciences, and chemistry departments. Finally, the Council approved revisions and additions to the catalog for the music department, the department of family and consumer sciences, and the biological sciences department.

The CAA recommended that the administration retain the bachelor’s degree in philosophy, reorganize the bachelor’s degree in Africana studies and put the bachelor’s degree in adult and community education on hiatus, following an independent review of the programs documented in Lord’s letter to the Academic Program Elimination/Reorganization Review Committee. Also, the council cited CAA bylaws in a letter to Glassman as grounds for supplying the recommendations.

According to a letter from the CAA addressed to Glassman that included its recommendations, “As per CAA bylaws (VII.A.1.a.2.), ‘The Council on Academic Affairs shall have the responsibility and authority for making recommendations to the President relative to: addition, deletion, or revision of all undergraduate programs other than teacher preparation programs…”

The CAA’s recommendations come as the Academic Program Elimination/Reorganization Review Committee plans to submit its report opposing elimination or reorganization of the bachelor’s degree in philosophy to the provost Monday.

The council unanimously voted to approve two new neurobiology courses for the biological sciences department, as well as revisions of the biological sciences major and minor and a new neurobiology major.

John H. Mace, psychology department chairman, said his field is trending toward neuroscience.

“Going back about ten years, psychology departments nationally – and probably internationally by now – have begun to offer degrees in neurobiology at the undergraduate level,” Mace said.

Gary Aylesworth, a CAA member and philosophy professor, expressed his concern that changes for the interdisciplinary neuroscience minor Eastern offers, which incorporates philosophy, may also be ahead. Aylesworth stressed the importance of philosophy in neuroscience.

“How do you separate the cognitive from the neurological?” he asked.

Jonelle DePetro, chair of the philosophy department, also expressed her concern that philosophy was not being included in the programs.

“There is a neuroscience minor right now, and philosophy is a required component of the minor,” DePetro said. “I’m here because I didn’t learn until about ten minutes before CAA today that a new neuroscience program was coming forward and that philosophy wasn’t going to be a part of it.”

DePetro said the department was not presented with a rationale for philosophy’s omission from the new program.

“This conversation we’re having, we should have had before this meeting today,” DePetro said.

Mace said he believes the college curriculum committee has plans to change the neuroscience minor as well, and he later suggested that he had said too much about what was on the minds of the committee. Mace concluded his statements by saying this was a topic that needs further discussion.

The music department’s major, minor and course revisions — and two proposals for new courses — follow an accreditation review this fall by the National Association of Schools of Music. The music department’s self-study provided the department with valuable insight. Shellie Gregorich, music department chair, said the proposed courses would help the department to meet its accreditation standards.

“When any department goes up for accreditation, you generally write a self-study where you essentially ask yourself a bunch of questions,” Gregorich said. “As we wrote the study, we came across things we could do to improve the curriculum.”

The CAA approved also four course revisions for the department of family and consumer sciences, all of them nutrition courses.

Jason Hardimon can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]

Edit: This story has been updated to reflect that the Academic Program Elimination/Reorganization Review Committee will submit their response Monday.