The presidents of all four academic councils have teamed up to establish an inter-school academic council, which they hope will ease coordination on issues affecting all undergraduate students.
First conceived during the fall 2009 semester, the idea led to a series of group meetings beginning last fall. This summer, the presidents of each council drafted a constitution for their proposal, which was then accepted, although not yet granted official university support, by University Provost James O’Donnell.
In addition to broadening the scope of issues discussed by the respective councils, ISAC will streamline certain efforts that each of the councils already pursues. The collaborative assembly will focus on including major GPAs on students’ transcripts, extending the add-drop period, creating a professor rating system that would move the existing system of student evaluations online and addressing other policy concerns shared by the four schools.
“I look forward to working alongside the other schools on university-wide issues mainly because I have found in my experience on the College Academic Council that oftentimes issues that would affect more students than just those in the College are put aside because of the relatively narrow scope of each council,” said Bettina Bergoo (COL ’11), president of the College Academic Council, in an email. Bergoo has served on the College Academic Council since her freshman year.
“In practicum, each of the four academic councils regularly discusses academic issues in their respective schools and the issues that plague students. ISAC discusses those issues and sees if there is any overlap, and if so, if anything can be done by us to affect positive change,” said Lowell Karr (MSB ’11), president of the McDonough School of Business Academic Council, in an email.
The founding council presidents hope the Inter-School Academic Council will be greater than the sum of its parts. “Together, the four schools can achieve a lot more than just working alone, and all schools will benefit,” said Josh Mogil (SFS ’11), president of the School of Foreign Service Academic Council, in an email.
Each individual academic council currently holds open weekly meetings to solicit input from the greater student body. ISAC uses this information “to gain a broad understanding of student perspective,” ISAC representatives said in a joint statement.
“If it is determined that it seems like a school-wide issue, then the council will act upon it, but it must be agreed that it is a large enough issue and not just one school wanting something done,” said Kevin Durbin (NHS ’11), co-chair of the School of Nursing and Health Studies Academic Council, in an email. “I think this will give the whole undergraduate population a means by which they can have a louder voice than in the past on academic issues, and hopefully changes can be made quicker with open lines of communication already established.”
While ISAC is not an official group under any university-sponsored umbrella, it has received wide support from the administration as a whole.
“I’m still waiting on a formal proposal from the Inter-School Academic Council, but I’ve met with the proponents and was impressed by their arguments,” O’Donnell said in an email.
Still in its early stages of formation, ISAC aims to become officially recognized as a formal group this academic year, Mogil said.
According to Karr, in order to become officially approved by the university, the Provost must grant the ISAC formal recognition after they submit the final draft of their constitution.
ISAC will also work with the Council of Associate Deans, the Council of Deans, the Registrar and the Main Campus Executive Faculty.
“It was never approved nor does it need to be [in order to function], but it has been well received by the Registrar, Vice President [for Student Affairs Todd] Olson, the Provost and Council of Associate Deans. We are in the process of introducing it to many administrators on campus. All the groups we’ve talked to are supportive of our efforts and agree that there needs to be a central group of students addressing academic policy,” Mogil said.