The University of Maryland Senate's Education Affairs Committee introduced a move to review limited enrollment programs on the campus for the first time since their creation.
Last semester, the Senate Executive Committee asked the Education Affairs Committee to review past Senate action on these programs, including their effects on students' academic experiences and comparing them to similar programs at other peer institutions, while consulting with program faculty and staff.
The committee introduced the charge at its meeting Monday afternoon and discussed whether it will launch the review. The next meeting, on Oct. 5, will focus on learning more about the charge, and proposals for the process of the committee will be reviewed in the following meeting on Oct. 27, Committee Chair Toby Egan said.
Following the review, the committee will decide whether university-wide expectations for these programs should be revised, and will consult with the University's Office of General Counsel on proposed recommendations for revisions.
"I don't think it's unusual for a committee receiving an initial charge to have questions about the origin of that charge," Egan said. "Understanding more about the specific nature of the charge will be helpful for us in positioning the committee."
Marcio Oliveira, representative of the Ex-Officio Division of Information Technology, said, "We need to understand the context for the request."
Many members agreed with Oliveira and wanted more information about why the charge was created and what issues it aims to tackle before they start discussing a plan of action.
"It's unfortunate that we call them limited enrollment programs," said Douglas Roberts, Ex-Officio general education associate dean. "We need to come up with a different name. It sounds very negative. And [the] reality is [in some programs], there is no cap, really, on the number of students that can be in that major."
This university's 11 limited enrollment programs include majors such as business, engineering, journalism and government and politics. Architecture and landscape architecture were formerly included in the program, but were removed because they no longer required a cap, Roberts said.
The University Senate created limited enrollment programs at this university in 1990 to "aid in maintaining a balance between enrollments and resources within certain academic majors," according to the review proposal.
While the different majors are grouped under one program, each is driven by its individual needs, Roberts said. Some limited enrollment programs require an audition; others allow admitted freshmen to immediately declare a major without any restrictions, and some programs have different forms of selective admission, Roberts said.
"They are all over the map, but they are really driven by what the needs of the program are," Roberts said. "It's a very flexible way of accommodating the needs of the programs, to both manage their own resource issues and to ensure that students are going to be successful in these programs."
The Educational Affairs Committee has a deadline of March 30, 2018 to complete the review, and decide to take action.