APC Proposal for Changes in Administrative Procedures

APC Proposals for Changes in Administrative Procedures

May 2022

Based on its work over the 2021-2022 academic year the Academic Planning Committee makes the following recommendations to the Dean of Academic Affairs for changes to SLU administrative procedures concerning independent SYE mentor compensation, minimum class size, minimum enrollment caps based on course type, and the granting of course releases.

APC SYE policy

As outlined in the APC May 2021 Report (pp.10-11) our current independent SYE compensation policy generates more course releases than the faculty who have earned them are able to take. Additionally, access of students to take and faculty to offer independent SYEs is not equitably available across departments and disciplines. Based on the goals and principles below, the APC recommends that the Dean of Academic Affairs implement the following changes to our SYE compensation policy:


  • Continue to support mentored research as a high-impact practice important to our students’ education and to our faculty  
  • Recognize that a valuable mentored experience is not only an independent research project with a faculty member  
  • Increase consistency, transparency, and equity in access to and delivery of SYE mentored research for faculty and students  
  • Devise a policy of compensation that will be more sustainable over time—meaning the number of SYE course releases earned is roughly equivalent to the number of SYE course releases taken each year  
  • Devise a policy of compensation that is the same for all independently mentored SYE research experiences, however configured  


  • This new policy will begin in Fall 2023.
  • The APC will develop a plan to prorate any SYEs banked toward a course release under the old policy before the new policy begins in Fall 2023.
  • The number of independent SYEs required for a course release will increase from 4 to 6 beginning in Fall 2023, corresponding to the minimum course enrollment number of 6.
  • Anyone who has completed 4, 1-unit independent SYEs by May 2023 will earn a CR. Anyone who has completed fewer than 4, 1-unit independent SYEs by May 2023 will be able to bank those SYEs toward the 6 needed for a CR beginning in Fall 2023.
  • Departments are encouraged to offer SYE seminars as a way to offer at least some of their majors mentored research experiences more efficiently than independent SYEs.
  • Each department should have a proposal, review, and approval process for independent SYEs and Honors projects and establish norms for faculty contact time with independent students. 
  • Departments/majors where independent SYE work is currently built into faculty workload before their completion must transition to compensation after completion of SYEs.
  • The Assessment Committee will design an assessment tool and project to evaluate the mentored research experiences across disciplines and across types of SYEs—seminars and independent studies—to administer beginning in Fall 2022.   


Minimum Class Size
The standard minimum class size will be 6 students beginning with Spring 2023 courses.

Three weeks after registration opens, if there are courses with fewer than 6 enrolled students chairs should work with instructors to either create an offset plan to propose to the Dean or work with the Registrar to find suitable replacements for those courses, preferably lower-level courses or another course likely to have higher enrollment. When useful or necessary, the chair and instructor will discuss the proposed offset plan with the Dean of Academic Affairs.


Sample Offset Plans:

1.       Offering courses that further the university's academic mission beyond the offering department. (For example, offering a 0.5 unit course or sophomore seminar.)

2.       Offering a course with a large enrollment cap; preferably one that serves the university beyond the offering department. For example, an introductory section of a course required by other majors or courses that fulfill general education requirements.

3.       Raising the cap on a currently closed-out course.

4.       Offering an additional low-enrollment course at no additional compensation. 

5.       Using accrued SYE units in consultation with the ADFA.


Course Type/Minimum Course Enrollment Caps--A Guide

Guiding Principles

  • Students benefit from learning through a variety of pedagogies, including lecture
  • Faculty benefit from developing skills in a variety of pedagogies
  • Pedagogical choices are not independent variables in determining class size
  • Some students prefer the learning environment of larger classes
  • SLU will need to offer some low-enrolled courses each semester
  • All Faculty should have access to the opportunity to teach smaller classes.

The chart below is a tool for departments and programs to use in their conversations about how to cap courses based on course type. This is not a rigid metric, but rather a guide for discussions about increasing equity and most efficiently addressing student demand/interest. Departments and programs should aim for a consistent yearly average class size within the range of 16-25, across all the types of courses taught, not in every type of course taught. 

The APC also recognizes that not every type of course taught at SLU is represented in this chart.

While most departments and programs will offer a few different course types, they should develop strategies for how they will meet an overall average within the range of 16-25. For example, a smaller department with fewer majors may have small upper-level, project-based, or writing-intensive courses, but it might offset those low-enrolled courses by offering larger introductory-level or general education courses. Departments may consult with the Academic Planning Committee, the Registrar, and/or the Dean of Academic Affairs in making these decisions. 

In an attempt to provide chairs with a guideline, the following table provides suggestions for a broad range of course types at St. Lawrence.  Chairs and coordinators should use this tool to frame conversations about equity in workload among faculty within their departments and/or programs, considering three-to-four-year averages of number of students taught, course preps, and/or course types offered. 

Course Type/Class Size/Workload Equivalents  

Course Type  

Description / Notes 

Minimum Course Caps

Contact Hours/week  


Broad topic or survey, often, but not exclusively, introductory or intermediate level—lecture, some discussion, multiple forms of evaluation of learning requiring feedback  



Large lecture  

Mostly lecture, minimal discussion  



Science Lab   

Note: Space dependent; typically built into a faculty member’s standard workload 

Dependent on size and facilities in lab  


Art Studio  

Note: Space dependent; typically built into a faculty member’s workload  

Dependent on size and facilities in studio

Project/writing/speaking intensive  

More interactive and feedback intensive at any course level. Note: FYP & FYS, CBL, some music ensembles, or courses with a focus on experiential learning, projects, or research may fall into this category. 




3 to 4.5 for FYP & FYS 

Discussion/Research or Project Course at Upper Level  

300- or 400-level, discussion-based, research or project-focused with intensive feedback  




 SYE seminar  

Seniors only, discussion-based, research or project focused with intensive feedback  





Granting of One-Semester Course Releases

To promote greater equity and provide tenure track faculty an opportunity to work on significant projects which advance the goals and mission of the University, a new competitive process for awarding course releases will begin in Spring 2023. Faculty can apply to work on a teaching, research or service project which falls outside a normal faculty member’s workload.

All other course releases not stipulated in an official appointment letter or university agreement will end in the Spring of 2023.

We propose that a maximum of 6 course releases awarded at the discretion of the Dean and President be reallocated to a competitive pool.[1] If the number of SYE course releases goes down in the coming years, we recommend that this program be increased to 8-10 courses per year, when possible.

While the Dean and President continue to have discretion to award course releases for special circumstances, such as leading a Middle States review, this new model will allow faculty to apply to use release time to complete teaching, research, or service work which clearly exceeds a faculty member’s regular workload.


Faculty must demonstrate in a 1-2 page proposal how they would use this release time, and how the benefits of their proposed course release could extend beyond a single faculty member or specialized niche on campus. Course releases will be granted to proposals that advance the goals and mission of the University.

Examples could include but are not limited to:

  • Developing a new teaching sub-field (ex: additional training needed to develop courses outside of the faculty member’s areas of expertise).
  • Service projects which fall outside of the established committee structure.
  • Applying for a major external grant.
  • Other unique opportunities that impact multiple faculty members and/or students.

Process and Eligibility:

  • All tenured and tenure track members of the faculty are eligible to apply. Preference will be given to tenured faculty for projects which cannot be completed within their regular workload and earned release time.
  • 1-2 page application letter and current CV. Applications would be due by January 15th each year and reviewed by the Academic Planning Committee for recommendation to grant course releases to the Dean of Academic Affairs.
  • Equal number of course releases would be awarded for the Fall and Spring Semesters.
  • Faculty who are awarded a course release would not be eligible to reapply for at least 1 year to increase equity within and across departments. Course release proposals for projects previously funded are not normally eligible for additional release time.
  • Course releases would be granted for one semester.


  • The first application cycle will start in Spring 2023 to award course releases for the 2023-2024 Academic year (3 for the fall, and 3 for the spring)
  • As noted above, all other course releases not stipulated in an official appointment letter or university agreement will end in the Spring of 2023 and be reallocated to the competitive pool.


[1] In AY 2021-2022- at least 62 course releases were awarded as compensation for department chair duties, SYEs, and other work across campus. Of these 62 courses, APC identified at least 13 which fall outside the normal compensation structure. These were awarded for activities such as editing a major professional journal, or working on a significant service project for the university. Several course releases were given for parental/family leave, and these are not included in the current proposal for reallocation.