Faculty Senate


April 20, 2006                                                                                                                              339 Cartwright Center

Vol. 40, No. 15                                                                                                                            3:30 p.m.


I.       Roll Call.

      Present:  Choy, Clow, Cravins, Galbraith, Gongaware, S. Grunwald, Hunt, Johnston-Rodriguez, S. Kelly, Knox, S. Krajewski, B. Riley, D. Riley, Senger, Shanks, S. Smith, R. Sullivan, C. Wilson.

      Excused: Heim, K. Hoar


II.     Minutes.

      Minutes from the April 6, 2006 and April 13, 2006 meetings were approved as distributed.


III. General Education Structure Proposal Discussion

Chair’s Opening Remarks: Chair Wilson opened this discussion with a summary of the recent history of the General Education Program.  This included pointing out that our general education program was one of the concerns of the 1996 NCA report.  Since that time the faculty senate has approved 5 year terms for members of the general education committee as well as approving a half-time director position.  In 2001, SEC charged the general education committee to review and possibly update the goals of the program and to begin the process of establishing a formal and broad assessment system to ensure the objectives were met.  Senate approved a final draft of general education learning outcomes in September 2005.  The general education committee began assessment of the program during the 2002-2003 academic year, focusing on assessment of written communication and the global perspective area.  In addition the committee has worked to establish a process to assess the proposed student learning outcomes.  Additionally, in response to faculty and student concerns that the program lacked coherence, the committee began to address the structure of the program and proposed including a first year experience. 


The general education committee unveiled the first draft of a new general education structure based on work completed by a design team during the summer 2005.  The committee hosted several listening sessions to solicit feedback from the campus at large.  The general education committee incorporated suggested changes which resulted in the proposal being discussed at this meeting. 


Wilson emphasized that the goal of this meeting was to think and dialogue about the proposal and that this issue will be addressed in the May 4, 2006 faculty senate meeting.  Wilson stated that her goal was to allow all perspectives to be shared and all people to feel heard and emphasized the need for the dialogue to focus on student learning.  She also urged senators to remember that accountability in higher education is changing.  Both internal and external constituencies expect us to use the data to make improvements.  Whether we stay with our old general education program or choose something new, we need to begin to build a culture that values a dynamic curriculum – one that responds to identified gaps and weaknesses.


General Education Director’s Opening Remarks:  Emily Johnson, General Education Director, provided some opening remarks that highlighted the recent changes to the general education structure presented to faculty senate on April 6th as represented on the current structure document.  Johnson stated that of 21 peer institution general education programs she has researched half required a FE, about half required a history while the other half did not require a history but was an option, and about half required a literature while the other half did not require a literature but was an option.  Furthermore, every single 1 required 2 science courses.  Johnson also stated that the learning outcomes were written to be cross-disciplinary.  It is up to departments who want to have courses in the program to determine what outcomes that course addresses.  Furthermore, citizenship, diversity and global understanding are 3 main themes of the general education mission statement. 


Prepared Statements: Three faculty members then presented prepared statements.


Chuck Lee, chair of the History Department, voiced the question if this proposal is an improvement over our current program.  He stated that we lack a full report on what is wrong and what needs to be fixed.  His other main points were that he favors a second science requirement, is concerned that the proposed structure cuts content in favor of poorly defined university experiences (not in favor of this), had no concern with the overall credit reduction, and believed that the proposal is not ready for action with too many undefined elements. 


Betsy Morgan, UWL 100 professor, voiced her experience with teaching UWL 100.  She stated that this course has transformed her in teaching of freshmen and stated how beneficial she has seen the course be for students.  She shared a student response to “what it means to be an educated person”, an assignment in UWL 100.  Morgan also further stated that the tiered structure of the proposal is good in that faculty will know that students coming to them in their junior and senior years will have had certain experiences.  She also expressed that there are currently national efforts, such as in the Carnegie Foundation, to help students become engaged citizens (citizenship category). 


Sharon Jessee, English Dept and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Department, stated that she believed there are three significant problems with the proposal:  diversity, civic engagement, and disciplinary.  Point 1 interdisciplinary experiences:  When done well can be very effective but when not done well can be very superficial.  To do well the university would have to provide a substantial funding for interdisciplinary experience development.  Point 2 diversity: In relation to Plan 2008 and what needs to be done with diversity cannot be accomplished with 1 diversity course.  Point 3 civic engagement: The civic engagement course requirement would be able to meet one of the SLOs, but not the other SLOS within that category.  Furthermore, where civic engagement occurs currently on campus needs to be identified before changing it. 


Open Comments/Questions: 

Questions:  A summary of the main questions regarding the proposed structure were as follows:

  • How much communication has occurred with students regarding this structure?  Johnson responded that the general education student member has brought this to the student associate in which students then supplied their input. 
  • Why is the FE being course-embedded the main model being brought forth.  This is similar to the UW-Eau Claire model and also was also due to resources.
  • What are the criteria that would be used to approve courses in these categories?
  • How do the approved student learning outcomes correlate with this structure?  How would it be assured that students get courses that deal with all the student learning outcomes?


Positive Comments:  A summary of the main positive comments of the proposed structure were as follows:

  • The addition of the FE component needed to address the NSSE data on student-faculty interaction.
  • Incorporation of requiring student experiences into the program needed for students to start the process of developing interests, views, etc…
  • The concept of civic engagement is paramount to who we are.
  • Contains depth and breath and some experiential learning.
  • A variety of history options would be good for students
  • Tiered system of the program was deemed favorable.


Proposal Concerns:  A summary of the main concerns expressed of the proposed structure were as follows:

  • Lack of a minimum of two science course requirement since national evidence has shown our society to be science illiterate and the increased need for science knowledge in our daily lives.
  • Need for more emphasis on a second language for all students.
  • Resource (both financial and staff) questions have not been addressed in this proposal.
  • Weakness of liberal arts in this structure.
  • Outcomes may not be met if not well defined what categories fit what outcomes.
  • Need for not any course being included in a category, but the need for students taking courses where the expert of that discipline is teaching that course.
  • Importance of maintaining content in the program.
  • Lack of defining what FE, civic engagement etc… would involve.  Lack of key criteria for these components.
  • Lack of criteria for courses to be included in the various categories.


Concluding Remarks:  Wilson urged senators to think about the comments that have been made and to ask for further clarification if needed.  SEC will discuss how to bring this proposal forward and in what form it will be voted on.  Senators are encouraged to communicate to SEC regarding this issue. 


VI.      Adjournment.

      The meeting adjourned at 5:25 p.m.


Respectfully Submitted,

Sandy Grunwald, Secretary