The University of Texas at Arlington

Undergraduate Assembly



The Undergraduate Assembly met in regular session on Tuesday, November 1, 2005, at 2:15 p.m. in the UC Rio Grande B.  Provost Dana Dunn presided.









Dana Dunn





Michael Moore





Amy Ables





Jane Ahrens





Deborah Behan





Bill Carroll





Jinny Choi





Tom Christie





Andrew Clark





Phil Cohen





Richard Cole





James Epperson





Donald Gatzke





Jeanne Gerlach





Karen Given





James Grover





Robert Gunnip





Todd Hamilton





Andy Hansz





D. L. Hawkins





Santos Hernandez





Melinda Hiemenz





Dan Himarios





Karen Johannesson





Peter Lehmann





Carl Lovely





Dennis Marynick





Robert McMahon





Sung Seek Moon





Jim Munch





Jaimie Page





Paul Paulus





Lynn Peterson





Karl Petruso





Elizabeth Poster





Anand Puppala





Steve Quevedo





Dennis Reinhartz





Allen Repko





Lana Rings




Aimee Israel-Pelletier

Jamie Rogers





Zac Sanders





Josh Sawyer





Gerald Saxon





Marilee Schmelzer




Jackie Michael

Chandra Subramaniam





Saibun Tjuatja





Mike Ward





Tom Watts





Alison White





Judy Wilson





Beth Wright





Kai Yeung





Lara Zwarun






Gary McMahan represented the Plus Minus Task Force.  Numerous students were also in attendance.


Approval of Minutes.  The minutes of the regular meeting on September 20, 2005, were approved as published.


Report of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee.  Kimberly van Noort presented the following policy recommendations approved by the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee.  The recommendations were approved by the Undergraduate Assembly.


Agenda Items Approved by the Committee on Undergraduate Curricula

Fall, 2005


School of Architecture

Course change:

ARCH 3553 Design Studio: Architecture I – change in prerequisites


College of Business

Course Change:

ACCT 3304 Software Tools – change in course description


College of Engineering

Catalog text change:

Insertion of full text of accreditation agency wording for the catalog for Civil, Electrical, and Industrial & Manufacturing Systems  (rather than the present abbreviated version)


Course Changes:

EE 1105 Introduction to Electrical Engineering – change from 0-3 to 1-2 lecture/lab to facilitate lecture portion prior to lab and project portions


College of Liberal Arts

Department of Art

Course Adds: 

ART 4367 2 D Animation


Department of Communication

Catalog text change:

Computer & Oral Competency statement to be placed at beginning of text, rather than after teacher certification


Text material to clarify changes in required courses for journalism, communication technology, news-editorial journalism and visual journalism majors


Course Changes: 

COMM 3320 Internet Graphics Communication – new course prerequisites

COMM 3350 Web Site Communication – update of course description

COMM 4309 Internet Marketing Communication 

COMM 4321 Advanced Web Authoring – new course description to reflect changes in course numbers and prerequisites.

COMM 4323 Interactive Media Authoring – change in prerequisites

COMM 4331 Interactive Website Communication – change in prerequisites

COMM 4350 Advanced Website Communication

JOUR 2340 Photojournalism – change in prerequisites

JOUR 4325 Specialized Reporting – adding prerequisite

JOUR 4326 Feature Writing – adding prerequisite

JOUR 4327 Opinion and Persuasive Writing – adding prerequisite

JOUR 4346 Public Affairs Reporting


Course Delete: 

JOUR 3346 Introduction to Translation


Department of Modern Languages

Catalog text change:

Change from “Ibero-American” to “Latin American”.

Text change to reflect change in prerequisites for Spanish majors.


Course Adds: 

FREN 3391 Conference Course

GERM 3391 Conference Course

GERM 4393 Internship in German

PORT 3391 Conference Course

RUSS 3391 Conference Course

SPAN 4340 Introduction to Translation

SPAN 4341 Specialized Translation


Course Changes:

GERM 4321 Topics in Literature and Culture – change in prerequisites

GERM 4322 Special Topics in German Studies II – change in prerequisites

GERM 4334 The Culture of Business – change in prerequisites

GERM 4335 Business German – change in prerequisites

SPAN 1442 Level II – change reflects requirement of C or better in prerequisite

SPAN 2313 Level III – change reflects requirement of C or better in prerequisite

SPAN 2314 Level IV – change reflects requirement of C or better in prerequisite

SPAN 3311 Spanish Culture and Civilization – change in course description

SPAN 3312 Latin-American Culture and Civilization – title change to reflect current usage

SPAN 3315 Composition Through Literature – changed title to reflect a more rigorous concentration on composition

SPAN 3319 Introduction to Spanish Linguistics - changing prerequisites

SPAN 3320 Introduction to Hispanic Literature & Culture – change in course description and  prerequisite

SPAN 4310 Topics in Peninsular Spanish Literature and Culture to the Eighteenth Century – changing prerequisite

SPAN 4311 Topics in Peninsular Spanish Literature and Culture, Eighteenth Century to the Present - changing prerequisite

SPAN 4313 Topics in Hispanic Culture - changing prerequisites

SPAN 4314 Topics in Latin-American Literature and Culture to Modernism - changing prerequisite

SPAN 4315 Topics in Contemporary Latin-American Literature and Culture - changing prerequisite

SPAN 4317 Chicano Literature - changing prerequisite

SPAN 4318 Mexican Literature - changing prerequisite

SPAN 4327 Women in Hispanic Literature - changing prerequisite

SPAN 4335 Business Spanish - changing prerequisite


Course Deletes:

SPAN 3318 Selected Readings

SPAN 3321 Introduction to Hispanic Literature


Department of Music

Changes in catalog text:

Change in instrumental conducting option (under “Emphasis in Music/Business, Music/Theatre, and Music/Media”) to reflect changing a course’s credit hour production (MUSI 3208 to 3308) to add in all of the basic technical conducting skills – no change in credit hours


Changes in the catalog text under Teacher Certification portion to reflect changing 3208 and 4208 to two 3-hour courses (3308 & 4308) to cover all of the basic technical conducting skills, and deleting the lab ensemble (0172) and applied conducting (4192) – no change in credit hours


Change in instrumental conducting option (3208 to 3308) under Jazz Studies Option – no change in credit hours.


Substitution of prerequisites for All-Level Choral Option Teacher Certification – no change in credit hours


Course Adds:

Music 3308 Instrumental Conducting I (replaces 3208 and 0172)

Music 4308 Instrumental Conducting II (replaces 4208 and 4192)


Course Deletes: 

MUSI 0172 Instrumental Lab Ensemble

MUSI 3208 Instrumental Conducting I

MUSI 4192 Instrumental Applied Conducting

MUSI 4208 Instrumental Conducting II


College of Science

Department of Biology

Course Adds: 

BIOL 3340 Medical Entomology

BIOL 3427 Plant Science (BIOL 3327 lecture & 3183 lab combined as one 4-hour course)


Course Delete:

BIOL 3183 Plant Science Laboratory 


Department of Math

Course Add: 

MATH 4313 Applications of Mathematical Statistics (previously taught – to add back in after dropping from inventory)


Van Noort then presented the following items approved by the committee for consideration by the Undergraduate Assembly.  Both items were approved.


Agenda Items Approved by the Committee on

Undergraduate Curricula Fall 2005

For Consideration by the Undergraduate Assembly

November 1, 2005


School of Nursing


Catalog text changes:


Inclusion of text requiring TOEFL for Nursing majors

Revision of requirements giving choice of computer competency or literature – this was approved with admonition to ensure that computer competency is addressed in other ways


Robert McMahon raised a question about the first requirement, whether it included American students or not.  Van Noort clarified by reading the proposal exactly as written.  “Official TOEFL scores are required from international students from non native English speaking countries.  Applicants who graduate from secondary schools from English speaking countries as defined by the university are exempt.  No other university exemptions apply.”


Report of the Academic Standards Committee.  A motion was passed and seconded to reconsider the 75 hour rule that was tabled at the last meeting.  David Gray presented the following proposal which was revised after the last meeting to incorporate issues that were raised. 


Undergraduate students must be admitted to a major before they accumulate 75 semester credit hours including transfer credit.  An enrollment hold will be placed on students exceeding this limit who have not been admitted to a major.  To have the enrollment hold removed students must see an academic advisor in the University Advising Center.  The decision to admit a student to a major resides with the academic department and the department may establish independent admission criteria, prerequisites, and other admission conditions.  Students who have reached 60 hours and have not declared a major will be notified of this policy.


Students transferring to UTA with 75 or more hours should be admitted directly into a major.  The decision to admit a student to a major resides with the academic department and the department may establish independent admission criteria, prerequisites, and other admission conditions.  Students who are unable to be admitted to a major of their choosing must see an academic advisor in the University Advising Center for special permission to enroll.


Allen Repko asked who would make the notification, referring to the statement, “Students who have reached 60 hours and have not declared a major will be notified of this policy.” 


Michael Moore responded that it would be the University Advising Center.


The revised rule was approved as presented.


Report of the UTA Task Force Investigating Plus Minus Grading. 


Provost Dunn introduced the issue by stating that there would be no need to take a vote on the issue today.  A survey will be sent to all tenured and tenure-track faculty at the university in the next several weeks.  The intent today is to have a discussion of the issues.  This discussion has already occurred in other venues on campus.   Gary McMahan of the College of Business, a task force member, is available to answer questions on how the committee conducted its work and the conclusions they reached.  The floor was then opened for discussion and questions.


Paul Paulus, College of Science:  The main concern in my departments seemed to be an increase of complaints about grades.  Some expressed their experience at other universities where this was the case.  Some felt it was a nice way to be more precise and fair while others felt it was primarily going to provide more complaints and work for faculty.  Some questioned why some other major universities in Texas have not done gone to this system.


Gary McMahan:  From what we’ve learned at other universities, on initial implementation you will see greater transaction costs.  More complaints would be expected early on just because of the change.

Sometimes in describing student performance, greater accuracy is needed.  Especially in graduate school where you have a 5 point scale, but looking at the use, it seems that A and B are the only ones we use.  We don’t make that great of a distinction.  On the undergraduate level, we do see more of a use of A

through D for granting credit.

            If you look beyond Texas, nationally, you see a variety of things.  We see that those schools that define themselves as Carnegie based research institutions are seemingly moving that way and about 80 percent of those are using finer distinctions.  What kind of company do we want?  Are we a research based university or are we like what you find at the community college and other four-year institutions?


Donald Gatzke, School of Architecture:  The faculty of Architecture discussed this at some length.  We took an advisory vote and it was unanimous in support of it.


Josh Sawyer, Student Congress President:  Student Congress passed a support resolution against the proposed system.  It passed Student Congress 32-1-0 against the Plus Minus Grading System as it was proposed from the Task Force and that if the university did go to this system that the grade of A be investigated.  We want to make it known that the Student Congress is not against the Plus Minus Grading System as a whole but against what was proposed to be used here at UTA.

            Some of the concerns from the students include lack of benefit to the student.  How does this benefit the student without a significant grade change?  It has been said the change would be about .06 of a grade point, either up or down, which is very insignificant overall when you look at the university. 

            Academic representation was brought up.  Research is not tied into the grading system.  The tier one Carnegie research institutions that use this grading system are not getting research dollars because of their grading systems.  They’re getting research dollars because they have faculty and students involved in research, getting those dollars into the university, not because a student is graded a certain way.

            One other issue that came up is that this came from the graduate school.  It would primarily be beneficial to the graduate school.  There’s not much research done at the undergraduate level.  Using that argument with undergraduate students is difficult.

One of the biggest issues is the affect on the traditional A students.  A lot of the arguments that have been brought up are that there is a big difference between an 89 student and an 81 student or a 79 student and a 71 student.  Why has that argument not been brought up for an A student?  According to a study done by Wake Forest University in 1997, students with an old GPA of 3.5-4.0 saw a decrease of from .05 to .08 GPA pts.  You’re going to punish your smartest and brightest students with this system.

The next issue was the affect of UTA students going into the job market.  Most universities in the state of Texas don’t use this system so we’re competing against students in our region who do not have this system.  When you’re sending students out there that would traditionally have between a 3.5 and 4.0 GPA, you’re now lowering their GPA.  You’re also giving them a disadvantage over the other students from the other universities. A student from UT Austin or Texas A&M or Texas Tech who don’t have this will have a leg up because our students will have a lower GPA.

We at Student Congress do not think this is a bad idea.  We think it is a bad time.  Unless the other universities in the state of Texas decide to switch to this system, why should UTA be the first to do it?  Why should we be the ones to change the system and put our students at a disadvantage in order to make a statement?  Reinvestigating this idea in the future when some of the other institutions start switching is going to be a better idea than doing this now and effectively hurting a lot of student s here at the university.


Zac Sanders, Vice President of Student Congress:  We passed the resolution in Student Congress but we wanted to know what the average student thought.  We wanted to talk to your top students, your bottom students, students from every major that we could find.  Within two weeks we gathered 2,510 student signatures against the Plus Minus Grading System.  We’ve never had that many students involved in anything here at UTA.  Our last election we had 1700 students.  We tried not to be biased so we looked for a student or an organization that would start a petition for it but we could not find anyone who felt that strongly in favor of it.  In two weeks, we got 10 percent of the student body to sign the petition against it.  Also, we started a web group and in two weeks, 500 students joined the web group.  It went before the Graduate Student Senate and two were for the proposal as is, two were for the proposal if there were no A-, and 13 were against it.  Overwhelmingly students are against this.


Dana Dunn:  Just one point of clarification in respect to a comment about the average student’s grade not being affected.  What the research really shows is that overall we will not see significant grade inflation or deflation but individual student grades will change.  Approximately half will go up and half will down.  Those who argue in favor of the proposal often use that as justification because they believe that there will be more grading accuracy and a clearer reflection.  Whereas, for some students it will be a higher grade for others it will be lower.


Gary McMahan:  This is a very emotional issue because it impacts us all.  There is natural resistance to change.  There are still issues to be worked out.  The committee was somewhat split.  There was a majority was for it.  This process is good to get further input.


Dana Dunn:  I anticipate that the survey that will be conducted will address some of the different implementation scenarios and some of the issues that have emerged from both student and faculty comments.  For instance, the different possibilities in respect to implementation in terms of the A or the possibility of doing this at one level and not the other – graduate versus undergraduate.  When we conduct the survey, we will include some different implementation scenarios to gauge whether there is support for those scenarios based upon the issues that are surfacing in this discussion.


James Munch:  If the goal in this is to reduce variance or to be more accurate, was there any discussion given to percentages?


Gary McMahan:  There was some discussion.  What we’ve mainly been talking about is giving professors the opportunity to use plus minus grading.  It is still open to discussion.


D.L. Hawkins:  What are grades?  Grades don’t exist to help students.  They exist to help people outside the university understand what you know.  They are not here to help or hurt you.  Some fields are not as assessable as others.


Robert McMahon:  Employers or graduate schools don’t just look at GPAs.  They look at other things, such as GRE scores, involvement in campus activities.   I don’t think the difference in a 3.65 and 3.70 is going to make that much difference.  We’re talking about very minute changes for students.  For the average student, this will not be a huge impact.


Zac Sanders:  There are a lot of other issues that this will affect such as scholarships and financial aid.  A lot of these require a 3.0 GPA.  These are based on the current grading scale.  Are we going to change scholarship requirements?  Numbers matter in today’s society.


Student visitor:  I want to thank those that have worked so hard on this.  I think this is great.  I think that this conversation that we’re having is exactly what this university needs.  I’ve heard several great ideas.  Let’s take this and move forward and come up with a plan that we can all live with, one that will advance UTA’s academic standards.


Kenneth Roemer:  I think it would be nice if UTA could lead in some areas rather than waiting for other universities to do it.  Why didn’t the committee look at plus minus all the way to include A+?


Gary McMahan:  It was a judgment call.  The majority don’t use the A+ just because it goes over the 4.0 system.  However, there are ways that you could look at it that a 98, 99, 100 could be an A+.  The majority of the ones we could find did not use that.  It is still open to discussion.  


Student visitor:  I understand this policy would not be retroactive.  How will it affect the student who has been here under the old system and is now changing to the new system?  When it is implemented could it apply to new students only so their grading would be uniform throughout their career?


Dana Dunn:  Certainly there are many different implementation scenarios and those will be explored in a survey that will be conducted with the faculty.  There are also some implementation constraints regarding expense and investment of time.  It remains to be seen if it is possible to simultaneously operate with multiple grading systems for the same levels.


Additional student visitors expressed similar concerns about the system.


Other Business.  No other business was presented.


Adjournment.  The meeting adjourned at 3:40 p.m.


Michael K. Moore