General Education Committee

University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
MINUTES of the meeting of Monday, December 05, 2005.


MEMBERS PRESENT: Johnson (chair), McDougal, Ragan, Fields, Udermann, Grunwald, Kraemer, Prucha, Strand, Ritterling, Riley

Consultants Present: Beyer, May, Bakkum, Schumacher, Morgan

Guests: Sheri Ross (Philosophy)


Called to order at 3:35 pm in Graff Main Hall Room 325.


M/S/P. Approve minutes of November 21, 2005.  



Philosophy 332 – Note was made of Dean Mason’s qualified signature on the LX-140 form. Discussion occurred on the matters of staffing and enrollment. The chair explained that a dean’s signature on a course being reviewed by UCC implies that resources are available. Thus resource issues are not usually a concern for courses reviewed by GEC since these courses have already been approved by UCC. This still leaves open the question of the meaning of a dean’s signature on the LX140 form. Faculty control curriculum so the content of courses and the appropriateness of courses for the curriculum should be decided by and approved by faculty.  The issue before GEC is the course’s appropriateness in the Aesthetics category.


Prof. Ross provided an overview of the course, indicating that the course was about “art in general,” including exposure to art as well as knowledge of history and society through art and its critical appreciation. The chair noted that all relevant department chairs had been notified and invited to attend the meeting. One criticism from the email discussion with Associate Dean Benson and Chairs or faculty who have courses in the Aesthetic category was that the course had no “hands on” experience. Ross said the course integrated the philosophical readings with the matter “is this art?” with students responding to specific examples of art through explication and argument. Also noted was that “hands on” was not a criteria of the category as described in the Catalog or in the objectives or outcomes for that category.  There is some overlap between the  Aesthetics and the Humanities descriptions, suggesting that some courses can actually fit in more than one category.

M/S/P – Approve Philosophy 332 as a course in category 2 II F --Art: The Aesthetic Experience. Voice vote 9-0-1 (Kraemer abstained)



Design Team Recommendations:

Handouts distributed:

  1. “Possible Motions”
  2. A Summary Comments on the D-Team’s Recommendations at the Listening Sessions
  3. Copies of emails sent to Johnson on the D-Team’s Recommendations


Johnson shared her impressions that there appeared to be little support for UWL 110.  However, most of the feedback received came from one college, SAH.  Concerns regarding this course included vagueness of the content and questions about being a common experience without a common content. There is also concern over class sizes of 60-70, running counter to the small-class principles behind freshmen experience courses and the potential impact it may have on retention.  Johnson indicated that there was no firm data on retention rates for students taking UWL 100 compared to those not taking the course.  However, nationally, studies indicate that a “coherent freshman experience” has positive effects on retention, progress to graduation, etc. There is, in addition, a great variety of content, pedagogy, use of peer mentors, etc. used across the country in freshmen seminars and freshmen experience course.  On the plus side, she indicated that several individuals were actually excited about the potential of a course like UWL 110. The D-Team’s idea was to make UWL 110 an introduction to university level academics (i.e., a rigorous course) as well as incorporate the “student success” concepts, and it would serve as an ideal venue for initial assessment.  Strand said she found it a nice idea and felt that it might be good for freshmen to be “forced” into some experiences so they are better prepared for later courses. However, the specifics remained vague and were hard to visualize. It was agreed, however, that UWL 110 was a very good site for incoming assessment, training in library use, information about campus services, etc.

M/S/F – To adopt recommendation #8: “All students complete a UWL 110 course (which will be part of the 1st year core).”

3-6-1 on a show of hands.

Kraemer distributed a set of alternative motions and presented an alternative to recommendation #8.  

M – “All students will complete an initial assessment either before or during their freshman year.

Died for lack of a second.


M/S/P – That each committee member put forth proposals for the “first year experience” to share at the next meeting.

On a unanimous voice vote after considerable discussion.


Members decided by consensus to meet next Monday, December 12, to address and vote on the other recommendations from the Design Team report.  GEC will also be meeting to further discuss and refine recommendations for program improvement on January 18, following the Chancellor’s address and Chili luncheon.


The chair indicated that if GEC chose to vote down specific recommendations made by the Design Team, it must decide whether or not to consider alternate proposals.  Alternate proposals must take into consideration the whole of a GE program, not a variety of individual motions that don’t lead to a coherent program. She also reminded members that GEC had promised faculty senate a set of proposals for program improvement in early spring. 


Further discussion focused on the purpose, scope, purpose, and content of any freshmen seminar/experience course.  What essential or foundational knowledge and skills need to be addressed in this first year?  What is the role of assessment in the course? GEC needs to be mindful of the relative or varying needs of students, from those that have a clear sense of their major area to those that are truly undecided.  Members were reminded that students at UWL change their majors 3-4 times.  Strand emphasized the benefits of first-year students having better knowledge of the campus, of student services, etc. much earlier in their career here. Riley distributed “Suggested First Semester Schedules for Math/Science Students” dated September 2003, gathered from the chairs at the time.   


Johnson urged members to carefully review the Design Team report and the other information provided at the meeting. She indicated that, according to the work of the Design Team, “UWL lacks a culture of support,” and that this must be addressed in any recommendations for improvement of the program. Based on some of the feedback received and other comments, she asked members to consider the following questions:  What is the University Core? What number of credits outside the major ought students take? What proportion of the required credits for a baccalaureate degree should be truly outside the students’ majors? On what number of courses ought the outcomes assessment be based? How do we ensure diversity and flexibility of experiences within the baccalaureate degree, not just a major concentration?


NEXT MEETING: Monday, December 12, 2005, 3:30 PM in 325 Graff Main Hall – a special meeting.

Semester II “retreat”:  Wednesday, January 18, 2006 1:30-4:30.

Adjourned at 5:37 PM.


Respectfully submitted,

Steve McDougal