Cal Poly Pomona

P&R Responses for recommendation 87

Recommendation 87
Department Biological Sciences
Consensus Opinion 39 out of 41 faculty/staff : Con
Consensus Explanation Recommendation 87. Biological Sciences Graduate Program. Stable funding.

The Graduate Program in Biological Sciences is rapidly growing and dynamic. The Department argues that the Graduate Program should be designated for enhanced funding. Primary reasons for this opinion are:

• Although Recommendation 87 recognizes that the program “…grew at an above average rate compared to other programs on campus between 2000 and 2005.”, this fails to recognize that the growth rate over this period is 5% per annum. At this rate the doubling-time would be 15 years, and indeed, the program has doubled its enrollment in the past 15 years.
• Over the past three years, the program has had to deny admission to over 130 applicants, often because the department lacks the resources to provide the educational opportunity these students are seeking.
• The main area of growth within the program is in the areas of cell/molecular biology, and biotechnology. Approximately 75% of the students in the program are in these or closely related areas, which are among the most expensive areas of study.
• To maintain “stable funding” for a program growing so rapidly and with such high demand in a very expensive area of inquiry will not provide an appropriate priority to one of the most viable programs on campus.

Under “Recommendations”, the report stated: “Enhanced funding at the Undergraduate level should be the priority and this funding will also impact the quality of the graduate program.” This approach fails to recognize the impact that increased funding at the graduate level has on the undergraduate program. Research opportunities for undergraduate students are often in labs with graduate students who provide mentoring and technical training. This research experience not only enriches the undergraduate education, but often provides the foundation and expedites the transition of the undergraduate student to graduate studies. Therefore, by enhancing the graduate program, the undergraduate program also receives enhanced opportunities.

The report recommends that “…commonalities with other programs be investigated…”, using “food and biomedical related programs” as an example. These commonalities and collaborations already exist. The Biological Sciences Department graduate program often collaborates with departments such as Human Nutrition and Food Science, one example being participation of Nutrition faculty in the NIH SCORE grant received by the department. Thus, the potential for sharing, collaboration, and fundraising is already being realized.

Another area identified by the Committee is the study of the environment. The Biological Sciences Department has recently implemented an Environmental Biology major, and the department hopes to recruit new faculty to support and develop this major. At a June 2007 faculty retreat the need for new faculty hires in the area of environmental biology was confirmed as a priority. New faculty will have active research programs and attract graduate students that are essential for a successful research program. In addition, we are working on a new graduate student exchange agreement with the Instituto Ecología in Mexico, to promote environmental education and research. Therefore, environmental emphases will increasingly contribute to the growth of and demand for the graduate program, which will require enhanced funding.
Minority Opinion NA out of NA faculty/staff : NA
Minority Explanation

Recommendation 87
Department College of Science Curriculum Committee
Consensus Opinion 6 out of 6 faculty/staff : Pro
Consensus Explanation All proposals 87 through 103 GPA

The Curriculum Committee of the College of Science feels an obligation to comment on issues that affect the curriculum of the entire college.

All programs in the College of Science were faulted for an excess of students with GPA's of 2.2 or lower. This concerns the Curriculum Committee of the College of Science. By itself a GPA cannot distinguish a good program with vigorous standards from a poor program. In fact, a poor program is likely to have a higher GPA. There is frequently an unspoken agreement in poor programs where the teacher agrees to give higher than normal grades if the students do not demand much effort or resources from the teacher.

If it would induce the P&R Committee to provide more resources to the College, we could instruct all teachers to give a letter grade higher for the same student work. This would eliminate the GPA concerns of P&R, but would be rather silly. In the end, higher grades for the same work would only weaken these programs.
Minority Opinion NA out of NA faculty/staff : NA
Minority Explanation

Recommendations not submitted through the forms are available in this folder. They mainly consist of Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat documents. If none were submitted for this recommendation, the folder will be empty.