Cal Poly Pomona

P&R Responses for recommendation 92

Recommendation 92
Department Chemistry
Consensus Opinion 25 out of 25 faculty/staff : Con
Consensus Explanation The Faculty of the Chemistry Department unanimously agree that the current P&R process lacks sufficient justification, is based upon faulty or incomplete data, promotes a highly personal administrative agenda, and summarily disregards the university community's duty of shared governance

The P&R Committee (PRC) noted that there are no strengths in the QUALITY of the Chemistry Graduate Program (CGP).

We disagree: The CGP has undergone major revision in the past two years. We raised our admissions standards, developed a better protocol for student-advisor selection, and have a working assessment plan for the program. In January 2008, we plan to allocate over $2,000 in resources to actively recruit students from other universities within and outside of California. We also require that all faculty attending conferences spend time recruiting in order to receive matching travel funds.
Over 25% of our faculty are new hires (< 2 years) and were not present when the original P&R data was submitted. Recent hires have interdisciplinary research expertise needed to expand the CGP. Not only is the CGP critical in attracting active researchers to CPP, but the presence of a graduate program is essential for securing external funding. The sustainability of this program is critical to retaining the majority of our faculty, as well as the faculty of other departments that do not have graduate programs that use the CGP for expanding their research/scholarly activities. The CGP attracts students from multiple departments and colleges on campus and is a truly interdisciplinary research program at CPP. It is the only program with expertise in computational, biological, life, polymer, and environmental/electro-optical materials sciences.

The PRC noted that there are no strengths in the EFFICIENCY of the CGP.

We disagree: Our teaching-mandated TA program provides students with teaching experience and a broader knowledge of chemistry. Importantly, it provided a savings of over $235,000 to the College of Science by having TAs teach labs rather than more costly lecturers. We envision growing our program by over 10% while utilizing more TAs in our teaching pool.
Chemistry has numerous service courses that are impacted every quarter. Thus, chemistry requires a minimum of 25 faculty to meet its targeted demand. ALL chemistry faculty contribute to the service courses; however, not all participate in the CPG. This has given the false appearance that the graduate student to faculty ratio is lower than other departments.
The CGP has enabled us to obtain external funds from numerous prestigious agencies such as W.M. Keck, NSF, NIH, and Research Corporation. Without a graduate program in place, our proposals for external funding are not competitive with comparable institutions. Thus, removal of the CGP will significantly reduce funds for the department as well as ICR funds for the College of Science and the University.
The PRC states the CGP had no fully developed outcomes assessment plan.

We have our new outcomes assessment plan available in the Department Office.

The PRC states that the program declined in enrollment between 2000 and 2005.

Table 1 shows that the incoming GPA of our graduate students for the last three years is in line with that of CPP. This data refutes the trend presented in the P&R recommendation and is a direct result of new enrollment policies.

Table 1. CGP 3 Year Enrollment Data
2005 2006 2007
Enrollment 25 22 24
Average GPA 3.57 3.56 3.54
Number of students below 3.0 2 1 0

The PRC states that the program faculty is less diverse than the student population.

In 2007, we hired three new faculty, of which one third are underrepresented minorities. Thus, we have increased the overall diversity in the department faculty.

The PRC states that the percentage of students with a GPA below 3.0 has been very high.

Over the last three years, this is not valid. We have consistently had less than 10% of students with a GPA below 3.0 (Table 1). Furthermore, the number of these students has been decreasing from 2 in 2005, to 1 in 2006 and 0 in 2007. From summer 2006 through spring 2007, our average incoming GPA is 3.16, in line with CPP average of 3.17.

The PRC states that the cost of the program per FTES is higher than other campus programs.

Chemistry is an experimental science and requires expensive equipment and chemicals. Moreover, the safe handling of hazardous materials is costly and federally mandated. Thus, a chemistry program will naturally cost more per FTES than programs outside the physical sciences. However, chemistry graduate students often link the university to the chemical industry, resulting in collaborations with and donations from local companies.

The PRC recommends that we consider merging CGP with the Chemical Engineering Graduate Program.

There is no Chemical Engineering Graduate Program at Cal Poly Pomona. As we have demonstrated above, the CGP stands by itself and adds value and prestige to CPP.
Minority Opinion NA out of NA faculty/staff : NA
Minority Explanation

Recommendation 92
Department College of Science Curriculum Committee
Consensus Opinion 6 out of 6 faculty/staff : Pro
Consensus Explanation 92 Graduate Chemistry

After considering the structure of the College Curriculum we notice that the Graduate Chemistry Program contributes disproportionately to the undergraduate Chemistry major. Chemistry estimates that the graduate students, as part of their training, provide the department with about $300,000 of services as laboratory TA's. These same graduate students do the grunt work on the research grants obtained by faculty.

Without the students enrolled in the Graduate Chemistry program, not only would lecturers have to be hired for the undergraduate laboratories, but also the number and size of research grants would sharply decrease. This decrease would reduce overhead funds accruing to the College and reduce the amount of modern equipment available to the undergraduate Chemistry program since most of this is purchased by the research grants.

To eliminate the Graduate program would weaken the Chemistry Department and add about $500,000 per year to its budget to replace the benefits now accruing from the Graduate program. Chemistry was only recommended for stable funding. The concern of our committee is that most of these funds required to maintain the undergraduate Chemistry service courses would, in the short run, have to come from other programs in the College of Science weakening the entire curriculum.

Minority Opinion NA out of NA faculty/staff : NA
Minority Explanation

Recommendation 92
Department Computer Science
Consensus Opinion 7 out of 13 faculty/staff : Con
Consensus Explanation Computer Science Department supports Chemistry Department’s response to Recommendation #92.
Minority Opinion NA out of NA faculty/staff : NA
Minority Explanation

Recommendation 92
Department Executive Graduate Council
Consensus Opinion 8 out of 8 faculty/staff : Con
Consensus Explanation The Executive Graduate Council opposes recommendation #92 from the Academic Programs P&R to discontinue or merge the graduate program in Chemistry.

The P&R committee’s suggestion that the graduate program in Chemistry consider merging with the graduate program in Chemical Engineering is particularly impractical because there is no graduate program in Chemical Engineering at Cal Poly Pomona!

While it is true that the 2000-05 data available to the P&R committee showed an elevated number of enrolled students with low undergraduate GPAs, this problem has already been remedied by the program. In 2006-07 the Chemistry graduate program admitted nine new students with an average GPA of 3.16, essentially the same as the university average of 3.17. Six of the nine had GPAs above 3.0 and none were below 2.5.

The Department of Chemistry has a very strong history of obtaining external funding, ranking second among all departments in the total amount of grant dollars ($5,287,309) brought to campus in the period 2000-06. This placed it ahead of the following colleges for the same period of time: CLASS ($3,145,110); Engineering (3,866,488); ENV ($812,860); and Business ($544,481). It has an even greater potential for growth in the future with the very strong faculty hired in recent years and the presence of a graduate program will contribute importantly to this growth by helping retain these faculty, recruit new research-active faculty and providing graduate students to help with this research. It would be a very serious mistake for the university to handicap one of its top grant-winning departments by eliminating its graduate program.

The University needs to grow its graduate programs and discontinuing a graduate program will be counter-productive. Graduate students currently comprise only 5.8% of the students at Cal Poly Pomona. This is well below the CSU system median for the 2005-06 AY of 12%, with our campus ranking 18th out of the 21 campuses that have graduate 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.