General Education Committee

Fall Retreat Meeting Minutes

August 24, 2005


Members Present:  Sandy Grunwald, Emily Johnson (Chair), Eric Kraemer, Stephen McCougal, Cris Prucha, Robert Ragan, Bruce Riley, Soojin Ritterling, Brian Udermann

Consultants Present: Diane Schumacher

Guests Present: LeeAnn Futura, Melissa Schultz, Carmen Wilson


II.  Announcements/Handouts/Updates

A.   Emily welcomed new and old members, guests and consultants.  She hopes there will be student representation on the committee this year.  If you have suggestions, please let Emily know.  Melissa Schultz will be added to our committee as a consultant. She is the Academic Advising Center’s liaison for General Education.

B.   Members agreed to meet on Monday, September 12th.  Meetings will be held on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Mondays of the month in the Faculty Senate Room, 325 Graff Main Hall.  Meeting time is 3:30 p.m.

C.   Included in the packet of information from Emily were:  

ü      Updated Version of Learning Outcomes:  The design team used the 5/16/05 update

ü      Executive Summary and Full Report to Faculty Senate

ü      General Education Handout  given to first-year students at registration

ü      Summer Newsletter

ü      5 Year Plan: This needs to be revised with more specific short- and long-term goals


D.     GEC Commitments.  Emily reviewed the GEC commitments found in the spring 2005 Faculty Senate Report.    Members discussed whether we want to define what baccalaureate degree outcomes   looks like vis-à-vis  the general education outcomes at this point in time. Consensus was that although conversations with Faculty Senate and Undergraduate Curriculum Committee should take place, GEC needed to focus on getting learning outcomes approved and movement toward revisions based on the work of the Design Team. 

E. Other announcements and updates. GEC is continuing to ask faculty to use the  human rights theme for another year.  Emily will contact Cary Heyer  or Bob Seaquist to see if a story can be done about how various courses addressed this theme.  The quantitative data from the faculty and staff survey sent out last spring via email has been entered.  Our budget/fund has about $2000.00 remaining from the original balance of $30,000.00.   A law has been passed at the federal level that requires campuses to recognize Constitution Day (Sept 17) and UW-L will do this with a presentation on Sept. 14.  NCA Assessment (Emily I was lost during this discussion). 


III.  Working Session

A.  Over the summer the Design Team examined quality of program issues which included an analysis of all available information.  The main concern of the Design Team is that UW-L lacks a culture of support.   The Executive Summary was discussed highlighting the concern and recommendations of the Design Team.  The four concerns are as follows:

1) Perceptions of the Program by Faculty and Students: The quality of instruction in general education classes are not as high as in those associated with a major

2) Assessment: There needs to be regular assessment of curriculum, however the barriers to this are the faculty resistance to assessment and the absence of outcomes to be assessed

3) Program Quality and Organization:  In general, students are not performing at a high level

4) Student Credit Hour Distribution:  Departments may feel a need to “pat” general education courses

The recommendations include (see Design Team Report for recommendations in each area):

1)  Structure: A mission was drafted by the Design Team, which includes a name change to University Core

2)  Assessment: Outcomes need to be established 

3)  Communication:  Inconsistent information is being provided on all levels

4)  Student Credit Hours (SCH):  An overall reduction of credits from 48 to 45

Discussion:  It may be a good time to team up with Bill Cerbin (Scholarship of Teaching and Learning) to develop some assessment tools.  The new alignment of SCH allows students to explore areas outside of their major.  It is important to note that Emily was not involved in any way with the Design Team.  Ground rules for discussion and presentation will need to be set when this is presented to the campus.  The proposed new course (UWL 300) is not intended to be related to the capstone course within the major.  The Design Team has developed a timeline that is included in the report.  There could be collaboration with the International Education Task Force to develop different tracks for students.  Despite the fact that we do not have a Writing Emphasis Coordinator, we still need to find a way to increase the level at which the students are writing.  The creation of a course named UWL 110 would not be UWL 100 upgraded, nor would it be a new class with a string UWL 100 emphasis.  This would allow for current courses to become a UWL 110 course (eg: an English course with writing emphasis).  It is projected that the enrollment in UWL 110 will need to be over 70 per section.  The Sept. 29 meeting for Faculty Senate will (hopefully) include the adoption of the learning outcome, which will get the ball rolling.

IV.  Other

A.  The SENCER grant is a $5 million project from the National Science Foundation that introduces science into other classes.  We are looking at developing a learning community between microbiology and political science with a focus on activism.  It is proposed that this would begin in the fall of 2006.  These would be linked classes.  There were several people from UW-L who attended a conference on this program and all are interested in becoming involved in the project.  A grant will be submitted to NSF, in addition to one to general education.  A lot of the SENCER classes are essentially general education classes.   

B.  Does GEC want to set a deadline for funding proposals?

C.  We need to get an idea who is working on WIMP proposals and set aside some dates to review these.

V.  We will meet on September 12 to discuss the Design Team recommendations with close attention to the learning outcomes.  First year students will be registering online at summer orientation beginning summer of 2006.