Academic Probation and Dismissal

[Advice to Divisional Chair Bruce Madewell and Undergraduate Council Chair Joe Kiskis 6/6/03]

This analysis was the result of a request from Professor Quirino Paris (Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics).  Professor Paris made the following points:

1. A large number of students (16 percent in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, for instance) are on the list for academic probation, disqualification, and dismissal.
2. There is some confusion among faculty, administrators, and in the catalogue about who has authority over who qualifies for this list and who decides policy and its enforcement.  The bylaws are, however, clear:  policy and enforcement are Senate matters, which may be delegated to an agent (for example, a dean) acting on behalf of the Senate.
3. Policy and implementation varies considerably between colleges.
4. Various associate deans have agreed to ignore the minimum progress requirements adopted several years ago by the Representative Assembly.
5. Transcript notations are confused, saying for example:  "Subject to academic disqualification" and "Good standing" on the same transcript referring to the same term.

Independently, Professor Paris informed CERJ that Associate Dean Fred Wood (College of Letters and Science) refused to supply him with data about academic disqualification.

The issues raised call for two different sorts of response.  First, to clarify what rules govern academic disqualification.  Second, to consider whether the discretionary elements of the policy and its implementation are working as they should.  The first CERJ can supply.  The second falls under the purview of the Undergraduate Council.

A. Rules.  Professor Paris also is correct that both Senate and Division Regulations give to the faculty responsibility for determining disqualification (Academic Senate Regulation 900; Davis Division Regulation A552), although it is likely that the faculties of the undergraduate colleges and divisions willingly have opted to allow their Deans to be their "agents" -- and that they would do so again, were the question put to them.  However, if Professor Paris's information is correct, some colleges/divisions appear to be out of compliance with one provision of ASR 902 (C):  "Annually, the appropriate officer of each college shall report to the Faculty concerned a summary of all actions undertaken under these regulations" (those dealing with probation and disqualification).  Those data should be supplied routinely, rather than waiting for the occasional conscientious faculty member to raise the hue and cry.

ASR 900.A.2 is clear regarding the conditions under which a student is "subject" to disqualification for failure to meet performance standards:  (a) if at the end of any term the student's GPA for that term is less than 1.5, or (b) if the student has completed two consecutive terms on academic probation without achieving a cumulative GPA of 2.0.  Students also are subject to disqualification if they fail to meet a minimum progress standard, but the Academic Senate Regulations leave to the Divisions the determination of what that specifically shall mean.  Davis Divisional Regulation A552 establishes that to qualify for minimum progress a student must pass an average of 13 units per quarter, calculated at the end of every quarter for the preceding three quarters.  The practical problem is that neither the Academic Senate nor the Davis Division Regulations state specifically what will happen when a student is "subject to academic disqualification."  Nowhere do Regulations say, beyond implication, that students who are "subject" shall not be allowed to register for additional coursework; and the Davis Division Regulations even allow students to take work on a Passed/Not Passed basis while disqualified!  This suggests that the Deans are not the only parties at fault; the faculty needs to get its house in order.

B. Actions.  CERJ strongly advises that Professor Paris's suggestions with respect to both the rules governing academic disqualification and its implementation be given careful consideration.  In particular:

(1) As Chair of the Division, Bruce Madewell should insist that Associate Deans Wood, King, Rost, and Ford provide the Senate with those reports on probations and disqualification in their respective units required under ASR 902 (C).  (Those reports should reveal the extent of the problem to which Professor Paris draws our attention.)
(2) The Undergraduate Council should determine what ought to happen when students are "subject to academic disqualification" -- how long we really want to keep poorly performing students around when others are beating at the door.
(3) Once the Regulation is clarified by Undergraduate Council, the Senate should insist that the Deans comply with it, with respect both to GPA and to minimum progress requirements.  (In fact, CERJ is supposed to advise the Registrar with the responsibility of explaining to the Registrar on the Administration of Senate Regulations (DDR 71.B.7).  The committee would be happy to take an active role so long as the regulations are clear.)