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March 12, 2007

Academic Senate debates writing courses, professional schools

By Guy Lasnier

The Academic Senate heard reports on the "W" writing intensive requirement and the possible creation of professional schools at its March 9 winter meeting.

Senators approved a resolution calling for increased resources for the W writing courses, which at their current level, "place an unacceptable burden on students' advisers and faculty," the resolution stated.

Jaye Padgett, chair of the Committee on Educational Policy, presented the report and resolution, saying a shortage of courses has led to "crashing" of writing courses outside their majors by students needing to complete the requirement for graduation.

In a separate report, Susan Gillman, chair of the Committee on Planning and Budget, outlined the status of various proposals for additional professional schools. The most fully developed and fully funded is a proposal for a school of management that would likely be affiliated with UCSC's Silicon Valley Initiatives.

Other professional schools being studied are Architecture and Design, Education, Environmental Science and Policy, Library and Information Technology, and Public Health, suggested by faculty and deans. Also Climate Change, Coastal and Marine Policy, Public Media, and Public Policy.

Earlier in brief remarks to the Senate, Acting Chancellor George Blumenthal talked about progress to establish a new child care center on campus. "We need to accelerate our efforts," he said. UCSC is the only UC campus that has yet to use money granted 10 years ago from the Office of the President for a child care facility. At the Senate's fall meeting Blumenthal said he was committed to getting it done.

The campus is in the final stages of finding a location, he said. "We are going to make that happen." Blumenthal also thanked faculty members who have already donated money for a new child care center.

In comments about faculty housing at Ranch View Terrace where ground was formally and officially broken March 5, Blumenthal said he is looking forward to "some breathing room for faculty housing." (See related story)

Paul Ortiz, chair of the Committee on Faculty Welfare, commended Blumenthal and Campus Provost David Kliger for their work in getting Ranch View Terrace under way. Faculty are primarily interested in three factors about campus housing, said Ortiz, a community studies professor: “Affordability, affordability and affordability.”

Steve Houser, assistant director for faculty and staff housing, told the Senate that sale prices have risen as the cost of building materials--lumber, concrete and steel--have increased 33 percent since 2004. High infrastructure costs--sewer, utilities, and roads--also make building costs higher per square foot on campus than in town, Houser said.

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