Subcommittee Management

3.1 – Click here to see GEOC Subcommittee Membership

3.2 – Overview and Co-Chair Responsibilities

The co-chairs of each GEOC subcommittee are responsible for directing activities for their subcommittee and submitting relevant reports and paperwork to the GEOC Program Assistant.  This includes the following:

  1.  Verify the membership of their subcommittee at the beginning of each academic year and notify the GEOC Program Assistant of any changes to membership
  2.  Oversee review course requests in designated area in a timely manner
  3.  Communicate with course proposers in case of questions or concerns related to the approval of a course
  4.  Write reports on courses reviewed for each GEOC meeting
  5.  Coordinate alignment review for their subcommittee
  6.  Write alignment report for their subcommittee
  7.  Attend biweekly GEOC meetings
  8.  Maintain periodic communication with subcommittee members to keep them engaged and informed
  9.  Act as liaison between colleagues and GEOC
  10.  Contribute to conversation about general education

Click here to view the Main Course Proposal Workflow Chart or the Subcommittee Workflow Chart.

3.3 – Sample Report

See below for a sample subcommittee report. The write-up of subcommittee discussions is longer than needed (one paragraph generally suffices), but this is a good example of a thorough report.

3.4 – Recruiting for and Managing Subcommittee Membership

If needed, subcommittee co-chairs can recruit their own members. If they have trouble recruiting members, they should ask the GEOC Chair and Program Assistant for help. Subcommittees should be mostly faculty. While non-faculty university staff can serve on GEOC subcommittees, a subcommittee should limit membership to one or two staff members at most, and the subcommittee should always maintain a faculty majority.

Members for subcommittees may be recruited from any discipline within the university.  It is not necessary that the member have a specialization within the subcommittee’s area, so as to encourage diverse perspectives.  However, co-chairs should invite members who are interested in the topical area and who will provide diligent and informed service to the subcommittee.  Ideally, subcommittees should have between 3-5 active members. Writing (W) and Environmental Literacy (EL) may often have more than 5 members given the volume of work they do throughout the semester.

Once a member has accepted a position on a GEOC subcommittee, co-chairs must notify the GEOC Program Assistant and GEOC Chair.

If co-chairs find their fellow subcommittee members repeatedly unresponsive to e-vote requests or continually absent from face-to-face meetings (if those are conducted regularly) they should reach out to the unresponsive member personally to determine what the issue might be.  Allowances for particularly busy semesters or sabbaticals will be taken into account.  However, co-chairs should inform subcommittee members that continued unresponsiveness to subcommittee business after one full academic year will be considered a resignation from the subcommittee, and a replacement member will be found.

3.5 – Conducting Subcommittee Business

The general procedure for reviewing Course Action Requests (CARs) is as follows:

  1. Co-chairs receive the CARs from Karen and forward them to or otherwise share them with their subcommittee members as soon as possible with a request to review them by a certain deadline.
  2. Subcommittee members review the CARs and respond (as in GEOC) with an aye, nay, or abstain. The subcommittee members may also provide feedback or notes that the Co-Chairs can then incorporate into a report.
  3. The subcommittee Co-Chairs write the reports to GEOC. Reports may vary on how detailed they are, depending on how the subcommittee felt about the course. For example, courses that all members fully agree fulfill criteria may have fewer details in the report. Conversely, courses where members disagreed or had minor concerns might require a more detailed explanation.
  4. A different scenario: If there is disagreement on a course after subcommittee (e)voting has taken place, Co-Chairs may want to convene a meeting to further discuss the course in question.
  5. If a course receives a negative recommendation by the subcommittee, the subcommittee chairs contact the course proposer(s) to inform them of the problems before the report goes to GEOC. The goal is to discuss whether the problems can be addressed within the current submission. The subcommittee may ask for further documentation or changes to the course syllabus. If there is disagreement between the subcommittee chairs and the course proposer(s), i.e. if the chairs decide that they need to make a negative recommendation to GEOC, the proposers will be invited to the GEOC meeting in which their course will be voted on. They will have the opportunity to present their case and answer questions GEOC members may have. They will not be present during the vote.
  6. Once final decisions have been made in the subcommittee, the Co-Chairs draft and send a report to Karen and Manuela, incorporating any feedback or comments they think might be relevant.

There are some variations on subcommittee operations:

  1. When urgent requests for review are received (e.g. intensive session requests in particular), some subcommittees may default to a Co-Chair only review. This is acceptable given the time constraints.
  2. In general, we strongly recommend that smaller subcommittees engage all members for all courses, as much as possible. The exception to this rule is W, which is a larger subcommittee (with currently 10 members) that reviews a large number of courses. W breaks up the work and sends some CARs to some members and some CARs to other members for review. Members then report back their results to the Co-Chairs who write the reports. The W Co-Chairs themselves review all CARs. (For example, if W has eight members in addition to the co-chairs  and 16 CARs, they may send eight CARs to one group of four members and eight CARs to the second group of four members for review.)

NOTE: If Co-Chairs want to mentor subcommittee members who might eventually take over as Co-Chair, the subcommittee member could be encouraged to work on drafting parts of a report. The Co-chairs  have the ultimate responsibility over the report and are the ones presenting the report in the GEOC meeting.

Subcommittee co-chairs can conduct asynchronous votes on course proposals via email or Teams chat as long as they believe that members are making good-faith efforts to review agenda items and send informed responses.  Co-chairs should provide members with a deadline to respond to e-vote materials with the stipulation that the member’s abstention will be assumed after that deadline has passed with no response. At times, synchronous virtual or in-person meetings may be required, but the majority of course business is generally conducted over email.

After any subcommittee meeting (electronic or face-to-face), co-chairs are responsible for submitting a written report detailing the subcommittee’s decisions and any discussion there was. Reports should be submitted to the GEOC Chair and the GEOC Program Assistant before the meeting packet is distributed to the full GEOC for the next meeting, normally 3-4 days prior.

We understand that subcommittee co-chairs are volunteering their time and that they have other obligations to the university that may occasionally cause delays in course review. That being said, timely review of proposals is critical, especially at certain times of year when departments are attempting to make the catalog deadline (February 5 each year) or trying to get a new course approved before registration starts. Subcommittee co-chairs should therefore not let course proposals sit in their dockets for more than two GEOC meetings unless they have actively engaged with the proposer and are awaiting updates.

3.6 – Communicating with Course Proposers

If a subcommittee has questions or determines that a course does NOT meet the guidelines for its particular content area or competency, co-chairs should contact the proposer and detail what changes, additions, or actions are needed. The course proposer should always be given the option to address the subcommittee’s concerns.

If the course proposal still does not meet Gen Ed designation guidelines after revision, or the proposer indicates that the course cannot be changed to meet the guidelines, then the subcommittee may decline the course for their area. All issues with the course and discussions with the proposer should be detailed in the subcommittee’s report. If the full GEOC votes to accept the subcommittee’s report and decline the proposal, the GEOC Chair will contact the proposer(s) to let them know that the course was declined.

3.7 – Course Recommendations to GEOC

The subcommittee’s reports are ultimately recommendations to GEOC, and GEOC can choose to accept them or not. Please note that, while very rare, the full GEOC can vote to overrule the subcommittee and approve a course proposal that had been declined, or vice versa. GEOC’s recommendations then go to the Senate Curricula and Courses Committee, which can also chose to accept the recommendations or not. In some cases, again very rarely, the Senate C&C may choose to return a course to GEOC for further consideration. (Please note that GEOC is technically a subcommittee of the Senate C&C.)

There have also been instances where a subcommittee was deadlocked on a decision related to their course recommendation. If the subcommittee is unsure of whether a course proposal should be approved, or if members are evenly split on whether or not to approve, the subcommittee co-chairs may bring the course to the full GEOC and ask them to make a decision. In this case, the subcommittee co-chairs should detail the subcommittee’s discussions, concerns, and issues in their report so that other GEOC members can adequately assess the course or situation. At least one co-chair of the applicable subcommittee must be present at the GEOC meeting in order for GEOC to consider the course in question.

Under extenuating circumstances, GEOC may be called upon to vote on a proposal via email if business is particularly urgent and a subcommittee was not able to submit a report until after the full GEOC has formally met.