The Faculty Senate met Tuesday to discuss the general education program, but put off formal voting on the issue until a later date. Instead, the Senate debated amendments to be added to the document. The general education program, which has been two years in the making, would go into effect in the fall of 2006 once passed.
The idea behind the general education amendment is to alter the undergraduate program at Temple. It would put a stronger emphasis on delivering a basic education to the student body.
Specifically, general education will set goals to increase students’ writing skills throughout their education. The Senate Faculty received the initial document last month. The bulk of the meeting discussed the formal proposal and focused on three amendments proposed by the student faculty.
History and criminal justice professor Mark Haller was the first to propose a change. He asked that the new director of general education be a Presidential Faculty member, appointed by the Provost in consultation with the Faculty Senate Steering Committee.
He also asked the same of all coordinators in each area of the general education program. Both amendments were passed without incident.
The second amendment, proposed by history professor Richard Immerman, expressed concern over a motion in the general education program to drop the second requirement in the world section. The world section attempts to broaden students’ views by exposing them to world culture and issues.
“I think that it would be counterproductive for Temple to go public with the fact that we are reducing the number of world or international studies,” Immerman said.
While many agreed in principal, some echoed statements President Adamany made at last month’s meeting concerning the size of the general education program.
Adamany argued increasing the number of classes required would motivate students to find courses that would count for both general education and fulfill major requirements and “get out of as much as possible,” which he felt went against the spirit of the program.
“I get nervous when any schools and colleges bring forth proposals for courses that are in their area of expertise because everyone thinks, and probably rightly so in most cases, that the subject their school or college focuses on is really important,” said Jeff Sollow, of the College of Music. “If we go by that particular criteria we’re going to have a core that will completely use up all of the credits people will be taking as undergraduates.”
The amendment was tabled until next meeting when a written version will be made available.
An amendment was then proposed by acting Vice Provost for Academic Planning and Administration Richard Joslyn. Joslyn wished to remove the first general principal from the program, which states, “introductory courses in a major are inappropriate for general education purposes.”
“The courses can both prepare and educate the generalists and introduce students to their major,” he said.
This argument strikes at the heart of the program, which attempts to set clear boundaries between basic education and major-specific education. After heavy debate it was obvious the amendment would need a second reading, and a vote was put off until the Senate’s next meeting March 16.
The last amendment of the day came from Senate Faculty Vice President Michael Goetz who proposed that 75 percent of all courses in the foundation area of the general education program be taught by either Presidential Faculty or special appointment faculty.
Many Senate members expressed concern that the plan would not be feasible, as it would take away from the number of upper level classes faculty members could teach.
Once these amendments are resolved, the Senate Faculty will vote on the entire program. That vote should take place March 16.
Charles McCann can be reached at email@example.com.