Administration intolerant of debate on core curriculum


As you may recall, I have attempted to rally the campus community against the imposition of the administration's core curriculum. My principal objection is that it does not address the real problems of undergraduate education at the University of Arizona. Moreover, the core curriculum is especially insensitive to diversity in student and faculty abilities and interests.

I have also taken exception to the high-handed and autocratic process that led to the creation of the proposal during the summer by a 44-member committee appointed by the provost. According to the provost's letter to the faculty of Oct. 21, this committee "included faculty, students and academic administrators." In fact, it has only two student members and only 10 others are rank-and-file faculty those who do not also have administrative titles. This committee of the administration, by the administration and for the administration, has been dictating the structure and content of the core curriculum, allowing the faculty in the provost's own words to "provide clarity and fill in the details." Open debate on the general proposal itself has not been tolerated or encouraged by the administration. (Fortunately, they do not yet control the Wildcat.) This is not the kind of process that befits a fine university like the UA.

The administration has now appointed nine committees, consisting mainly of the faculty volunteers, to work out details of implementing the core curriculum. I volunteered for two committees in the belief that their work of integrating diverse disciplines involved some exciting intellectual challenges. I had also hoped to raise general issues, but that has not been permitted. My involvement should not be considered as an endorsement of the core curriculum. Unfortunately, members of the administration have taken my participation on these committees as an indication that even their severest critic is "now on board." I wish to make it unequivocally clear that, despite the appearance of complicity, I support neither this corrupt process nor a universal core curriculum.

Michael Schiffer

Anthropology Professor

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