To:     Faculty Senate

From:  General Education Committee

Date:   September 20, 2005

Re:     Proposal to change program name

The General Education Committee is proposing to change the name of the General Education Program to University Core Curriculum.  This was identified as one of the commitments for program improvement as found in the Spring 2005 Faculty Senate Report and passed as a motion at the September 19, 2005 GEC meeting. This proposal was also endorsed by the Summer 2005 General Education Design Team.

 

The reasons for this proposal reflect concerns over students’ (and shared by some faculty) perception that the program is irrelevant to students’ majors, careers, and future lives. Students responding to the 2004-2005 senior survey frequently indicated that “general education is something you do in high school” and that the courses often are a “repeat of high school.”  Furthermore, student responses also reflected the idea that one’s major and minor are the essence of a college education; thus, they had difficulty articulating the role that general education could or should play in their baccalaureate degree.  Similar comments occasionally came from faculty who responded to the Spring 2005 Faculty and Staff General Education Survey.  

 

The Design Team argued that “’University Core’ provides a clearer message [than General Education Program] to students about the purposes of General Education.” As per the select mission of UW-L, one of the goals of our institution is to “provide a broad base of liberal education as a foundation for the intellectual, cultural, and professional development of the students.”  Clearly, General Education is an essential piece of the baccalaureate degree that is “uniquely concerned with the broad education of the whole person, and [that] plays a vital role in preparing students for life beyond the university.”  University Core better reflects the important role that general education should play in the baccalaureate degree. Furthermore, the strategic plan includes several strategies for improving the General Education Program, including:

·         Delivery of a broad-based, rigorous program

·         Promoting General Education as a four-year endeavor for all students

·         Expanding the first year experience and exploring the development of a capstone course.

 

These strategies speak to a vision of general education as a “core component” of a student’s undergraduate educational experience. The General Education Committee believes that a change in name to “University Core”  better reflects the importance of the program in the baccalaureate degree.  This in turn can help improve the perception of the program and move us toward a campus culture that values general education as an essential component of a broad-based liberal education.