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Scenes from Faculty Senate

Frequently Asked Questions

Course Proposal Procedures

How long does it take to get a new course approved?
In planning for the first offering of a newly proposed course, please be aware that the review and approval of a proposal is a multi-step process that can take up to a year and is not complete until the course is officially listed in e-Campus by Enrollment Services. Complete proposals must be received 14 days in advance of the CAC/Graduate Council meetings to be assured of inclusion on the agenda. New course proposals must be fully approved by the appropriate review committee, the Senate, and the President before they can be scheduled by Enrollment Services. Approved new courses will be added to the Course Schedule up to the start of the semester in which they are to be first offered.

Does the CAC/Graduate Council turn down proposals?
The committees seldom reject proposals, but they frequently table proposals pending more information or clarifications. Either the Senate Coordinator or the review committee chair will contact the proposing instructor for the necessary information.

What are common reasons for a proposal being tabled?

  • Insufficient syllabus: student learning outcomes not expressed in measurable terms, missing grading scale, missing assignments and grading policy, missing course

schedule with topics, readings, assignments, due dates, deadlines, exams; missing statements regarding accommodations for disabilities, academic enhancement center, writing center, etc.


  • Missing Library Impact Statement, Online Supplement (when applicable), Curriculum Sheet (when applicable), documentation of support from another department, documentation that overlap with another course does not exist
  • Inconsistent information, e.g. differing reference to pre-requisite or number of credits
  • Rationale for proposal (or changes) is missing or incomplete
  • Course is proposed by a non-continuing faculty member (CAC policy requires that permanent courses must be attached to continuing faculty)

How many changes to an existing course warrant proposing a NEW COURSE instead?Changes to an existing course that significantly impact the course content as well as the level (ie. 200 to 300), title, description, credits, or method of instruction likely require that you need to propose a new course and request the deletion of the existing course. Use a Course Change Proposal form to delete a course (syllabus not required).

How do I know what New Course Numbers are available?

The number for a NEW COURSE must be unused for at least five years, or never used.  Check course code and number through the e-campus catalog.  Department chairs, College Curriculum committee chairs, and curriculum managers in the deans' offices can ontain access to to e-campus Curriculum Management by submitting this form to Enrollment Services, or contact Enrollment Services.


Introducing a new course code?

Changes to the course code and number require that you propose a NEW COURSE. 

Why does the CAC care about staffing?
The CAC is well aware of the need for and use of non-continuing faculty, but believes that the integrity of the curriculum requires that permanent courses be supported by continuing faculty. Further, the university's commitment to offer the courses listed in the catalog is enhanced when care is taken to approve only permanent courses that departments are reasonably assured of being able to offer.

Why is the Library Impact Statement required?
It is the University Libraries' responsibility to assure that the University can meet the needs for materials and services required by new courses and programs. The Libraries want to work with faculty to evaluate the needs of new courses and programs in advance of their adoption. The Library Impact Statement affords the opportunity for collaboration and prospective planning to the University, its faculty, and its students. Click here for more on the Library Impact Statement.

How do I write an effective course description?
Course descriptions are written for students, not faculty, and must communicate clearly and concisely to them. Jargon and technical language should be avoided as much as possible. Anyone should be able to read the description and understand the nature and intent of the course.

An acceptable course description begins with a verb, e.g. examines, introduces, explores, investigates. Articles, adjectives and adverbs are seldom necessary. Sentence fragments are acceptable. There is a 30 word maximum.

Unacceptable - This course will introduce the basic concepts of journalism to majors. It will cover introductory material as it relates to the history of journalism, the role of journalism in a free society, and some of the ethical issues that contemporary practitioners face.

Acceptable - Introduces basic concepts of journalism, including history, role of journalism in a free society and contemporary ethical issues.

What is the CAC looking for in a detailed syllabus?
Syllabi must communicate clearly and fully to students. "Learning outcomes" should make it possible for anyone to understand what a course is about and what it seeks to accomplish. Students must be told what will be expected of them and must be given a reasonable sense of the deadlines for work. How and when their work will be evaluated is also important to students. The statement of policies, including those for attendance and plagiarism, are in the best interest of students and instructor.

Refer to the following information developed by the Faculty Senate and the Office of the Provost for guidance:

Syllabus Development
Checklist for Preparing a Syllabus

Sample Syllabi from URI Faculty

How do I know if a proposed course might overlap with an existing course outside my department?
Consult the e-Campus Course Schedule or catalog to discern related offerings. Communicate with colleagues in other departments/colleges. Contact department chairs or college curriculum committee members to discuss your proposed course idea.

What are the approved methods of instruction?
In 2007, the CAC approved a revised list of definitions for methods of instruction for courses. Consult this list when preparing your course proposal.

How do I propose an open-ended Topics course?
A new open-ended topics course is a new course. Propose the course code and number for the first offering of an open-ended course using a New Course Proposal form. Then submit subtitle and description for each topic to Enrollment Services using this form. Approval by the College Dean is required for each topic. Specific topics may be offered three times. After three offerings, the topic may not be offered unless it is approved through the appropriate channels as either a permanent course or as a permanent topic within an open-ended course and shall be included in the catalog. Departments are encouraged to include recurring topics in the open-ended course description.

What's in a title?

Keep it brief.  The title is limited to 50 characters; the abbrevaited title, used on the student's transcript, is limited to 29 characters.  Do NOT use the word "Topics" in the title unless the course is a Topics course (see item above).  Use Subjects or Issues instead.

How do I know when my course proposal has been approved?
Communication about the status of proposals is the responsibility of department, college curriculum committees, and the CAC. If you know the CAC was considering your course, contact your college representative on the committee for an update or refer to the subsequent CAC report to the Faculty Senate or subsequent Faculty Senate Meeting minutes. Curricular matters approved by the Senate go to the president for consideration. The president rarely fails to approve curricular matters.




Sheila Black Grubman

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