Changes in general ed examined

By Joseph Barrios

Arizona Daily Wildcat

UA colleges and departments are starting to examine how a proposal to change general education requirements could affect their area of study.

Under the proposal, presented to faculty at the University of Arizona on Monday by Provost Paul Sypherd, every UA freshman would be required to take six units in three areas: natural sciences, arts and humanities and individuals and societies.

During the meeting, Sypherd asked professors and department heads to give feedback to administration about the idea. College faculty will meet during regular meetings to discuss what the proposal means to them and what role their department will play in the transition process.

"A great deal of what the provost presented to us is already done in the journalism department. We certainly have senior faculty members teaching lower-level classes," said Jim Patten, journalism department head.

Patten said ranked faculty interacting with entry-level students is not new. Part of the new proposal is to have more ranked UA faculty teach more entry-level classes and advise a group of undergraduate students to increase communication between students and professors.

Patten also said he thinks the proposal is a good idea because it tries to answer "what it takes to be educated in the 21st century."

Others looked forward to the transition process.

"I think that what the provost has presented is excellent, and I think that change is needed. Engineering can work into this very nicely," said Ernest Smerdon, engineering and mines dean.

There was some speculation the core classes would hinder engineering students trying to complete their degree in four or five years. Engineering majors have to begin taking their required courses in their first year at the university.

But Smerdon said it was too early and there were not yet enough details to address the issue specifically. He said he was confident engineering could adjust to the new structure.

The college would have to address questions about accreditation with a new set of academic guidelines, Smerdon said.

"This won't really change the amount of teaching we do for undergraduates and first and second year students. It won't affect the history major," said Helen Nader, history department head.

The department already handles a large number of the freshman class by teaching History 101 and 102, Nader said. She said the department hopes to play a role in deciding how the core classes are structured.

"But we haven't come up with anything for the department. It takes a lot of throwing ideas around and discussion," Nader said.

The deparment will have a faculty meeting today to discuss the proposal.

Bill Barrett, vice dean in the college of business and public administration, said that the college supports the idea and feels business majors would not be affected by the change. Business students take most of their department courses in their fourth and fifth years at the university.

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