Professor calls for curriculum changes


STOP THE PACHECO-SYPHERD CURRICULUM JUGGERNAUT by endorsing this alternative 10-point plan to improve undergraduate education:

1. The single greatest problem facing undergraduates today is having to earn money for their education; often they work outside the university, sometimes 20 to 40 hours weekly. Although the university cannot compensate for all cases of poverty or poor parenting, it can dramatically reduce in-state tuition, furnish funds for faculty to hire undergraduates as research assistants and give more scholarships for room and board.

2. Good teaching is not well rewarded. Many of our excellent undergraduate instructors would teach more if such a move did not imperil promotions and raises. The University should establish a distinguished teaching faculty composed of people who excel in teaching undergraduates. Members of this group would have light research loads and would receive the same promotions and monetary rewards as distinguished researchers.

3. Despite the construction boom over the past 15 years, the university has a serious shortage of classrooms. More space must be made available for teaching.

4. Many existing classrooms, especially small ones, have a fixed seating arrangement that inhibits student participation in discussions. Classrooms must be remodeled to enhance the learning experience.

5. Instruction is occasionally compromised by faculty and teaching assistants whose spoken English is poor. Such people should not teach lower-division courses.

6. Students enrolled in an excess of large lecture classes may become soured on the university experience. Building on the Freshman Colloquium program, the university can expand offerings of small-enrollment, lower-division classes by furnishing appropriate incentives to the faculty.

7. The Honors Program is undistinguished. This program should be improved so that it at least measures up to ASU's program.

8. Many freshman feel overwhelmed by a large and impersonal university. A freshman mentoring system, voluntary for both students and faculty, should be put in place.

9. The academy is fragmented into departments, disciplines, and colleges between which there is little communication or integration. The UA should encourage the development of new undergraduate courses, upper and lower division, that creatively bridge traditional subject matters. Successful courses, like those in culture, science, technology and society, can be publicized.

10. The administration has become a bloated parasite, sapping resources, energy and morale from departments and faculty. Enamored with corporate fads, administrators place onerus demands on teaching units to supply information used in justifying decisions already made. The administration must be pruned by at least 30 percent and its activities must be confined to fostering, rather than hampering, research and teaching.


Michael Brian Schiffer

Anthropology Professor

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