Provost pitches core curriculum to faculty

By Amanda Hunt

Arizona Daily Wildcat

A handful of faculty had an opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of the core curriculum proposal with administrators at an open forum Monday afternoon.

The Office of Undergraduate Education is holding two forums to discuss and explain the proposal, which could go into effect as soon as the fall of 1997. The next forum will take place May 4 from 9 a.m. to noon in Economics Room 110.

Only nine people attended Monday's forum, including University of Arizona Provost Paul Sypherd, Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education Michael Gottfredson, Vice Provost of Undergraduate Administration Susan Steele and several professors.

Faculty responded to an insert detailing the proposal from a recent issue of Lo Que Pasa. Sypherd introduced the proposal by saying that it is important that the university move toward this kind of undergraduate education.

"We need to have a foundational educational experience for our students," Sypherd said, in addition to a common undergraduate experience.

He and Gottfredson referred to discussions that took place last summer that began the thought process for the proposal. Sypherd wanted to dissipate any myths that the plan is "a conspiracy" by the administration. He said the idea for the plan was born out of the discussions in the summer and the faculty has been "thinking, chewing up and arguing" about the proposal all year.

Under the core curriculum proposal, students would take 30 units of common classes fulfilling the requirements of two levels of general education. The first tier would consist of 18 units, taken during the freshman year, in the subject areas of general science, individuals and societies, traditions and cultures, and one composition course. The second tier, to be completed anytime, would require 12 units from those areas and another composition course. Students would end up taking two courses from each area, except their major course of study.

The majority of the faculty in attendance agree that proposal is good in theory but that it still needs to be tuned and clarified.

Richard Hallick, professor of biochemistry, said the proposal as it was summed up in Lo Que Pasa was unclear and poorly written.

Some of the issues brought up by faculty on Monday included the possibility of piloting the proposal to decide whether it will address critical issues facing undergraduates and how well it will serve "good students."

Although Sypherd and Gottfredson said it would be impossible to offer both the general education courses as they are prescribed now and the core curriculum, Gottfredson said there will be some core courses piloted.

Another faculty member, who did not want to give his name, said the proposal will not address such issues as students having teachers who speak English unclearly, have great difficulty in receiving academic advising and have problems with professors not meeting office hours.

Gottfredson agreed that these problems are "not acceptable." But Sypherd said the proposal is aimed at preparing students for when they leave the university, not for comfort reasons while they are here.

William Faris a mathematics professor, said good students who prepared for their education in high school and are eager to take such courses as introductory physics or biology will not be satisfied with a general science course, for example.

"It will be an imposition on their time and they are going to walk," he said.

The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences will also be holding a public discussion concerning their relationship to the core curriculum today at 4 p.m. in Economics Room 111.

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