Temple Times Online Edition
    OCTOBER 14, 2004
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Administration proposes gen-ed changes

The administration’s general education proposal at www.temple.edu/president or www.temple.edu/provost

Last week, President David Adamany and Provost Ira Schwartz delivered a proposal for a new general education requirement of all undergraduates to professor Daniel T. O’Hara, president of the Faculty Senate.

Adamany promised to submit a proposal to the Faculty Senate after the Senate’s own general education proposal — more than three years in the making — was narrowly defeated in May.

“We are pleased to have this opportunity to submit this proposal for the comments and recommendation of the Faculty Senate and the faculty at large,” Adamany said. “We share their commitment to improving the way we introduce students to the basic skills and subjects essential to shaping subsequent intellectual endeavors.”

If implemented, the administration’s proposal would be a major overhaul of the current core curriculum. Temple undergraduates would be required to complete 34 credit hours of special courses in the areas of analytical reading and writing, great thinkers, quantitative literacy, natural science or technology, the arts, human behavior, the structures and conduct of society, race and diversity in the United States and identifying and evaluating sources of information.

Temple students entering as freshmen would be required to complete the program before earning 62 credit hours (in most cases, before becoming upperclassmen). The program would be limited to a small number of courses that would be distinct from introductory courses in any individual major. And general education courses would be taught, as much as possible, by tenured or tenure-track faculty members, and the courses would be listed as a separate category in Temple’s course catalog, the Undergraduate Bulletin.

One of Adamany and Schwartz’s highest priorities was coming up with a plan that wasn’t cumbersome.

“We believe that the proposal is as simple as we could make it,” Adamany said. “It’s essential for it to be easy for students to understand.”

The administration’s proposed general education program would be overseen by a director; a coordinating committee made up of University’s chief academic officer, nine faculty members (the chairman of the Faculty Senate’s educational policies and practices committee and eight other Senate nominees) and three students; and a network of faculty coordinators representing each of the general education categories.

Every four years, all general education courses would be reviewed to ensure their effectiveness.

The administration’s general education proposal is available at www.temple.edu/president or www.temple.edu/provost. Adamany and Schwartz are eager for feedback. (See box for instructions on how to send comments to the President, the Provost or the Faculty Senate.)

“We look forward to the advice of the Faculty Senate and the faculty at large on this matter,” Adamany said.

The President and the Provost have stressed the importance of replacing the current core curriculum as soon as possible.

“It’s very important that we move ahead,” Schwartz said. “The faculty have been trying to address this matter for three years now. An entire generation of underclassmen have completed their core curriculum requirements and passed us by since deliberations began. We cannot afford any more delays.”

O’Hara, who began his term as president of the Faculty Senate in July, was not surprised by the administration’s proposal, and he is pleased that the process is moving ahead in what he calls “a spirit of cooperation rather than mutual suspicion.”

“Before the May Faculty Senate meeting, President Adamany publicly promised that if the faculty didn’t agree on a new general education proposal, after so much time, that he and Provost Schwartz would take the lead and make a proposal,” O’Hara said. “He is as good as his word. Now, it’s our turn again.”

O’Hara is also reassured by the amount of agreement between the administration’s proposal and the proposal that the Senate’s General Education Task Force brought to the Faculty Senate on May 4. He cited as areas of common ground the administration’s proposed emphasis on tenured and tenure-track teachers, its governance structure and the requirement to promptly complete general education coursework. To O’Hara, even the number of general education credits recommended in the administration’s proposal — 34 as opposed to the Faculty Senate’s recommendation of 38 or 39 credits — seems like a bridgeable gap.

According to O’Hara, the primary remaining areas of difference are the administration’s relatively low recommended credit requirements in the areas of science and the arts and the administration’s emphasis on general education courses with standardized syllabi and common exams.

“But the time has come to respond expeditiously and effectively,” O’Hara said. “The President is seriously looking for good advice, given in a timely and usable way, from the faculty and the entire University community.”

- By Hillel J. Hoffmann

Comments invited
President David Adamany, Provost Ira Schwartz and Faculty Senate President Dan O’Hara would like to know what you think about the administration’s proposal for a program of general education. After you read the proposal, you can send your comments to the President and the Provost at gened@temple.edu or to the Faculty Senate, c/o coordinator Maxine J. Chisholm, at maxine.chisholm@temple.edu.