During my last class session for a course on the American College and University, my professor had us write some proposed amendments and she sent our suggestions to two state legislators. I am posting the letter here which was authored by my professor Dr. Del Favero.
May 6, 2011
The Honorable Conrad Appel, District 9 Lousiana Senate (email@example.com)
The Honorable Jim Tucker, Louisiana House of Representatives (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Re: Suggested amendments to SB 183: UNO/SUNO Consolidation
Dear Representative Tucker and Senator Appel:
With respect, the purpose of this letter is to suggest amendments to the subject bill currently under consideration by the Legislature. The study of higher education is my specialty. I have extended experience as a senior administrator all three systems of higher education in California and more recently as an academic in Louisiana. I am currently an associate professor of higher education at the University of New Orleans. The following four concerns, and related amendments have emerged from many discussions I have had with my colleagues, and also with my graduate students in a course I am currently teaching entitled The American College and University. A chart is attached to this email further describing the proposed amendments.
- Potential applicants to ULNO undergraduate programs, particularly those interested in the “research-focused college,” may be reluctant to consider the institution if its gateway is through a community college. Students in my graduate class overwhelmingly echoed this sentiment as have many other graduate students and faculty with whom I have spoken.
Amendment: The shared admissions function located on the ULNO campus should be perceived as “college-neutral” by potential applicants, i.e. not affiliated with Delgado as currently specified in bill.
Rationale: Despite our belief that all institutions, whether they are technical colleges or research universities, make unique and important contributions to the higher education landscape, we would be foolhardy not to take into account the prestige factor which guides the college choice of many students. If ignored, we risk losing the interest of potential students who are qualified to attend other research-focused institutions in the state (or out-of-state), which over the long run may compromise the quality, if not the prestige, now associated with UNO’s research function and its instructional programs.
The recommendation is that it be referred to as the Metropolitan Center and would house admissions and related functions as well as student support services functions. As such the center would also communicate a culture which fosters opportunities for academic advancement, continued learning, and professional development. The Admissions and Recruitment Services unit of the Metropolitan Center would be staffed with individuals who are uniquely trained to assess the credentials of applicants with a wide range of interests and academic potential. Counselors would work together with applicants, and with each other, to ensure applicants were supported through the admissions process and appropriately placed. There is precedent for such a structure – - the Metropolitan Recruitment Center in New York City which services all campuses of the State University of New York (SUNY).
- The differentiated admissions requirements are seen by many as having the potential to denigrate the value of a degree earned at the “research-centered” college currently described in the bill.
Amendment: Instead of locating graduate programs in one of the two colleges proposed in the current bill, the ULNO academic structure would be comprised of three colleges, two of them devoted to undergraduate study. Degree programs would be differentiated in the two undergraduate colleges. Based on student academic performance and interests, students may transfer from one college to another:
- University College. Admissions requirements would mirror those of SUNO. The college would offer BA degrees only in a limited number of programs, i.e. those now offered by SUNO (human development, liberal arts/sciences, public administration, social work). Delgado’s current offering of the AA degree might also be administered out of this college, thereby freeing up space on Delgado’s current main campus for technical programs.
- The Undergraduate College. Admissions requirements would mirror those of UNO. BA and BS degrees would be offered in this college. Faculty would be housed in academic “schools” structurally positioned in this college, i.e. schools of business administration, education and human development, engineering, liberal arts, sciences, and social work.
- The Graduate College. Will offer the Ph.D., MA, MS, MFA, MEd.
Rationale: Similar to the arrangement of Tulane University’s two main units serving their differentiated undergraduate population, i.e., Newcomb-Tulane College and The School of Continuing Studies, ULNO’s two undergraduate colleges will accommodate students with a wide array of qualifications, academic interests, and talents. Graduates of both ULNO undergraduate colleges will receive ULNO degrees, however the awarding college will be specified on the diploma.
- Many, including some of your colleagues in the legislature, have expressed the concern that the consolidation will compromise the unique character of SUNO as an HBCU.
- Bill may include language which denotes the importance of preserving the unique history and traditions of SUNO and UNO, possibly through naming opportunities. For example, the University College might carry the name of a notable such as A.P. Tureaud or Avery Alexander, while the Undergraduate College would carry the name of someone such as Homer Hitt.
- SUNO’s strengths in student support would be highlighted in the inclusion of a second functional unit, Academic Support Services in the Metropolitan Center described in #1 above. This unit would capitalize on the HBCU’s unique capability of providing a level of support and nurturance to college students not found in other institutions. The Academic Support Services unit would include the functions of academic advising, developmental education, and a student success program not unlike what is currently being planned at UNO. Co-locating these related functions as an institution-neutral entity, with a visible presence on the ULNO campus would communicate a philosophy of support for the success of all students, not just community college students where such services are most common.
- The composition of the New Orleans Postsecondary Education Advisory Committee described on page 10 of the bill includes no faculty which is seriously problematic given the committee’s role in advising on the creation of an academic institution.
Amendment: The composition of the advisory committee described on page 10 of the bill should be modified to include “faculty from each of the three institutions”.
Rationale: The success of the new institutional form will most assuredly rest on the integration of academic expertise and cooperation of the current faculties of Delgado, SUNO, and UNO. Thus the creation of a formal planning structure to frame this new academic enterprise is imperative, lest legislative and other administrative timeframes eclipse the need to craft an intentional, well coordinated academic entity that has been appropriately considered and ultimately supported by all faculties.
I appreciate that some of the above suggestions may be to a level of detail that goes beyond what should be included in the bill. However, we hope a more in-depth expression of the thinking behind the proposed amendments will be useful. Along with my doctoral students Amy Boimare, Lindsey Jakiel, and Rachel Spencer who helped craft the above amendments, I thank you for considering them. We appreciate too, the leadership you have shown in supporting the postsecondary education needs of citizens in the Greater New Orleans area.
Marietta Del Favero, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Higher Education
Coordinator of the Education Administration Ph.D. Program
Department of Educational Leadership, Counseling, and Foundations
University of New Orleans
cc: Acting Chancellor and Provost King
Vice Chancellor Kincaid