ECS approves degree program plan

GVL/Bo Anderson

Provost Gayle Davis speaks at the ECS meeting

Bo Anderson

GVL/Bo Anderson Provost Gayle Davis speaks at the ECS meeting

Lizzy Balboa

The Executive Committee of Grand Valley State University’s Academic Senate moved March 1 to recommend approval from the UAS on a graduate council memo aimed to shorten the amount of time students spend completing a combined degree program.

The memo suggests that 12 graduate level credits count toward undergraduate degree programs when students choose to pursue degrees of different levels through an integrated curriculum. The dual-counted credits would allow students to more quickly meet the minimum credit requirements for their bachelor’s degree.

Maria Cimitile from the Provost’s Office said the University Curriculum Committee was also in favor of the 12-credit overlap, which will be taken to the UAS for discussion.

Also at the meeting, Provost Gayle Davis reported that the state of Michigan is monitoring Pell Grant recipients more closely, as there is widespread abuse among students who receive the grant and keep it despite not attending school. Davis said GVSU has not had an incident of abuse in recent years, but GVSU students could feel the effects of the so-called “Pell Grant runners” from other institutions.

“I think there’s going to be a lot more cracking down on the loan situation for students,” Davis said, adding that the post-graduation bills for student loans have been devastating for many. “There’s truly significant bills in some schools—not at Grand Valley—and it’s caused people to really worry about students’ financial literacy, and when they take the full amount they could possibly get of a loan so they have more money to live on, what that means in the long run for them—all those kinds of things. It looks like the federal government is going to be much more stringent on the requirements for getting a loan—sort of like getting a mortgage. That’ll be hard on our students and (put) pressure on our financial aid again.”

Joe Godwin, associate vice president for academic affairs, said the university does bill students who receive financial aid but dropped out before earning it. However, he added that GVSU is as ineffective at collecting unused aid as anyone else is.

Beginning last year, GVSU began requiring professors to track the last time their students participated in class so that the university could provide more accurate information to the government as it looked to monitor loan abuse.

“When we ask for the last day of attendance, it’s to see if we are in the parameters where, if students have borrowed money in addition to maybe they have Pell grants due, that we not only have to return Pell grant money but we also have to return loan money that we disbursed to students who didn’t attend long enough to earn that,” Godwin said. “So we did have a liability there of a couple hundred thousand for last fall I think, so it’s part of that more intense scrutiny from the feds about how federal funding is really being distributed.”

Davis said GVSU President Thomas Haas will meet with the House Appropriation Committee soon to testify on the university’s behalf.

In another report during the ECS meeting, Student Senate President Jack Iott said the senate passed a resolution to establish a fall break and will meet with administrators to take the appropriate next steps.

Also at the meeting, the committee:

• elected Tonya Parker as the new vice chair of the UAS, since her predecessor, Cory DiCarlo, resigned from the university after previously being on medical leave;

• discussed methods to improve digital measures as well as establish an online request form for classroom improvements;

• discussed the protocol for students in the transition year of the implementation plan for the general education program;

• and recognized all faculty members who have been awarded in their departments or achieved tenure for the following year.

The ECS will meet again March 15 at 3 p.m. in the DeVos Hall downtown. The agenda for the meeting includes a memo regarding sabbatical leave for part-time faculty, as well as a discussion on the proposed masters degree in philanthropy and non-profit leadership.

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