Thursday, June 23, 2022
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Faculty Senate sets stage for Gen Ed requirement reform

Following recommendations from the General Education Oversight Committee (GEOC), the drive for a revision of the general education program will begin in the faculty senate, before moving to individual academic units for approval.

At last week’s faculty senate meeting, members of the GEOC presented an update of the committee’s report, which will serve as the outline for a new general education curriculum for all students throughout the school.

It became clear during the meeting that such a university-wide change requires debate and deliberation from a multilateral body.

“I don’t think anybody wants it to come back to a full senate,” Associate Professor of Biology Jerry Wyckoff said. “But right now, because general education is scheduled in units, there would have to be a university-level group that dealt with some of the same things that, currently, undergraduate schools could handle.”

Although the GEOC isn’t expected to deliver final recommendations yet, it is currently preparing steps of implementation. The committee will look for an endorsement of those recommendations by the faculty senate, before sending them on to individual academic units for their approval.

Concern about the quality of general education at the school motivated administrators to organize a revised plan of study for undergraduates in their first 30-something hours two years ago.

“Part of the idea of doing this, is we want to make the program more competitive,” Associate Professor of Biology Jerry Wyckoff said.

Tasked with reviewing and recommending improvements, the GEOC is preparing drafts of revisions to the program’s framework.

Last January, the GEOC submitted a revised draft document of expected learning outcomes for students, consisting of: learn methodologies, gain broad knowledge, apply knowledge and gain contextual awareness.

A few senate members at the faculty senate expressed apprehension about the maintenance of accreditation for individual academic units, once they conform their respective curriculums to a university-wide general education program. As a solution, schools want to ensure input in the process, or even lessen the number of required hours that will become part of the general education program.

However, Provost Gail Hackett diverted focus back to the status of the university. Although accreditation of individual academic units is crucial to the university’s reputation and appeal, general accreditation of the university is critical she said.

“Most other universities have at least 36 hours of Gen Ed,” Hackett said. “In fact, the 30 hours that we’re talking about is fewer than what most Gen Ed’s are.”

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