Advice Regarding Unit Limit Exception Requests

AS-3166-14/AA (Rev)

ATTACHMENT 1 TO AS-3166-14/AA (Rev); ATTACHMENT 2 TO AS-3166-14/AA (Rev)
ATTACHMENT 3 TO AS-3166-14/AA (Rev); ATTACHMENT 4 TO AS-3166-14/AA (Rev);
ATTACHMENT 5 TO AS-3166-14/AA (Rev); ATTACHMENT 6 TO AS-3166-14/AA (Rev);
ATTACHMENT 7 TO AS-3166-14/AA (Rev); ATTACHMENT 8 TO AS-3166-14/AA (Rev)
ATTACHMENT 9 TO AS-3166-14/AA (Rev); ATTACHMENT 10 TO AS-3166-14/AA (Rev)
ATTACHMENT 11 TO AS-3166-14/AA (Rev)

RESOLVED: That the Academic Senate of the California State University (ASCSU) reaffirm its stance on unit limits as outlined in AS-3158-14/AA, “Recommendation to Amend Title 5 to Re-establish Appropriate Unit Limits for Engineering Degrees”; and be it further

RESOLVED: That the ASCSU strongly urge Chancellor White to ensure that faculty requests for exception to unit limits be allowed to move forward to the Office of the Chancellor without obstruction from campus administrators; and be it further

RESOLVED: That the ASCSU strongly urge ChancellorWhite to prohibit campus administrations from unilaterally imposing alternative unit limits on requests for exception; and be it further

RESOLVED: That when exception requests are reviewed, the ASCSU recommend the following conditions apply:

    a. the charge, composition and timelines of any advisory group to be convened be established prior to the commencement of the group’s deliberations;

    b. the curricular impacts on degree programs, General Education, and other initiatives be assessed;

    c. the review process not be based on separate consideration of discipline
    impacts and GE impacts;  

    d. programs not be required to compare their curricula with similar programs on other campuses when submitting requests for exception;

    e. programs be subject to only one review process to avoid multiple requests for resubmission based on the application of subjective or changing criteria

; and be it further 

RESOLVED:  That the ASCSU distribute this resolution to CSU Chancellor, CSU Board of Trustees, CSU campus Presidents, CSU campus Senate Chairs, CSU Provosts/Vice Presidents of Academic Affairs, and CSU Engineering Deans.

RATIONALE: The ASCSU has reviewed a letter from Chancellor White to Chair Guerin and others dated March 19, 2014 concerning Title 5 unit limits.  In the letter, he invites input regarding the processes for reviewing unit limit exception requests.  This resolution offers a partial response to Chancellor White’s invitation that we engage in further discussion. 

There appears to be a two-pronged approach to addressing exception requests: the commissioning of an advisory group, as contrasted with “procedures underway articulated in a February 11, 2014 staff memo titled, “120 Review and Exception Process.”1  The Chancellor conceives his advisory group to be “supplementary and complementary”2 to these existing procedures, but nothing in the Chancellor’s letter indicates the procedures will be constrained by the timelines or activities of the advisory group, or vice versa. The ASCSU believes it is necessary to bring into alliance the efforts of the advisory group and the efforts of the Chancellor’s Office staff so that the two can, in fact, be complementary. In the spirit of shared governance and faculty curricular control, we offer our objections to the procedures outlined in the February 11 memo, and suggestions for moving forward.

Our objections include:

1. The use of a comparative standard that dismantles campus autonomy.  Campuses will be asked to compare their programs a) to the range of units across all campuses collectively,3 and b) to counterpart degree programs who have achieved compliance.4Such comparisons are counterproductive in ways too numerous to list here.

2. The use of an iterative process with no discernible limits.  The procedure outlined calls for programs to resubmit exception requests after a program compares itself to others.  However, it places no bounds on how many times a program may be required to resubmit.  Instead, extremely troubling criteria will be used to determine if further iterations of a program’s exception request are required.  The Chancellor’s Office will require resubmission “if a campus program seems uncharacteristically high5 (emphasis added), but such a determination is quite subjective.  Similarly, iterative resubmission will be required until “it is clear that a campus has exhausted all strategies for reducing units in a degree program”6 (emphasis added).   How it will become “clear,” and when all strategies will be considered “exhausted” is, of course, unknown, giving license to an unlimited iterative process that promises to exhaust faculty in order to exhaust strategies.

3. The perpetuation of an existing process that has not been corrective.  The process that has been used thus far is characterized by intense pressure on faculty to conform, and by administrative abuses such as blocking of exception requests and setting of alternative unit caps. The ASCSU has repeatedly brought these issues to the attention of the Chancellor’s Office, whose staff asserts that their inquiries do not reveal problems they can do anything about.

Our recommendations include:

1. The data gathered should be aggregated, such that all exception requests in particular disciplines would be considered holistically, en masse, prior to further consideration of individual program exception requests.  Such an approach is entirely consistent with Chancellor White’s desire “to assess more accurately and completely what we have in front of us”7 after the submission deadline.

2. Relatedly, based on a holistic review, the ASCSU recommends to the Chancellor that he explore the full range of available options afforded by Title 5, in particular discipline-based system-wide exceptions.  Chancellor White indicated “nothing is off the table,”8 when queried about such a prospect.

Finally, the ASCSU would like to offer specific suggestions on such issues as the charge, composition, and timeline of any advisory group to be convened.  Assessment issues may also warrant advice, i.e., exploration of the ways in which unit reductions impact programs, general education, and other initiatives such as SB 1440.  Participating in the procedural decisions affecting these important matters maintains the faculty’s curricular control and fosters shared governance.


Approved Without Dissent– March 20-21, 2014


1February 11, 2014 memo from Christine Mallon to Ephraim Smith
2March 19, 2014 letter from Chancellor White
3February 11, 2014 memo from Christine Mallon to Ephraim Smith
4 February 20, 2014 memo from Ronald Vogel to Diana Guerin

5February 11, 2014 memo from Christine Mallon to Ephraim Smith
6February 11, 2014 memo from Christine Mallon to Ephraim Smith
7 March 19, 2014 letter from Chancellor White
8Remarks at the ASCSU plenary, March 20, 2014



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