State universities propose plans for improving college education

By Beth Silver

Arizona Daily Wildcat

PHOENIX "Did Adolf Hitler come before or after World War II?"

Not a question one would expect from a recent university cum laude graduate, much less a soon-to-be social studies teacher.

But it was this very question that Sen. Randall Gnant, R-Scottsdale, was recently asked by a friend of his daughter.

The friend had just completed the teaching program at the University of Arizona.

"So what are you doing about the quality of education at your university?" Gnant asked UA President Manuel T. Pacheco at a State Senate Education Committee hearing yesterday after relaying the anecdote.

Pacheco said he had heard similar complaints before and has been working to remedy it in his three years at the UA.

Recently, it has meant revamping general education requirements, he said.

"We're trying to define the basic knowledge all students should have for the 21st century," he said.

UA Provost Paul Sypherd has proposed creating a core curriculum where various general education requirements are replaced by required yearlong courses in social science, natural sciences, and traditions and cultures. Details of the proposal, which has been controversial, are currently being set by faculty committees.

Pacheco and the other two state university presidents made their annual pitch to the Education Committee yesterday, citing accomplishments in improving quality and warning of expected skyrocketing enrollment.

Pacheco also listed efforts in downsizing the UA, including the elimination of the physical education and landscape architecture programs.

He told the legislators, who have been asking the universities to do more with less money, that the number of UA administrators, faculty and staff has been shrinking.

"We're pretty serious about cutting bureaucracy and red tape," he said.

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