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President Duane Nellis and former interim Executive Vice President and Provost Elizabeth Sayrs speak at the Faculty Senate meeting on Feb. 5, 2018. (FILE)

Faculty Senate: Policies for graduates students, general education courses discussed

Faculty Senate met for the first time this year Monday and announced changes in general education classes and policies for graduate students.

The Gen Ed committee determined that there was a lack of transparency within those classes as well as an unclear way of students connecting them to their major. Employers are also in the dark as to what role those classes play. 

“The next part is to propose changes to general education in order to meet the learning outcomes,” Katie Hartman, Gen Ed Committee chair, said. “This past summer, our team was formed to reimagine general education as a leadership task force and start moving toward this progress. We spent the summer meeting and discussing a plan for how to tackle this part. We also spent a week in Vermont at the AACU Institute for General Education and Assessment to learn from other institutions and to speak to experts about how to approach the task.”

It has been 40 years since there has been an updated general education, and now new models are to be proposed in October. 

Changes are also looking to be made in the form of accelerated graduate pathways. 

“Some exceptionally well-qualified undergraduate students may obtain conditional admission to a graduate degree program and begin graduate coursework during their undergraduate careers through an Accelerated Graduate Pathway,” according to the resolution. 

However, concerns were brought forth that this change would essentially lessen the credit hours of a graduate degree. 

“These pathways are not mandatory for any program,” Betty Sindelar, chair of the Educational Policy and Student Affairs Committee, said. “It’s just a mechanism for programs that want to do it. This would be setting the minimums. Any program could set anything stricter.”

Ten out of the 12 other four-year institutions in Ohio have these accelerated programs. In an effort to keep up with competitors, OU is doing the same. 

Financial questions were addressed in the meeting as well. President Duane Nellis acknowledged a dip in enrollment. 

“We need to rethink our institution and how we are building linkages with students that are coming out of high school, many of them with 15 to 30 credit hours,” Nellis said. “How are we prepared to serve those students in the most effective way?”

Due to that trend, new revenue sources need to be considered, and the university is facing downsizing in areas without lots of demand. Faculty members also expressed their feelings about President Nellis’ $72,000 bonus as well as spending money on external job searches. 

OU is also trying to recognize the effect that the College Credit Plus program has on courses. Arts and sciences classes, such as introductory sociology or English literature, are taken much less now as a result of the program.

“There are significant implications for that as far as the amount of revenue we’re getting from tuition, as those students no longer have to be here for four full years,” Nellis said.


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