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UWRF general education requirements change

March 11, 2015

Soon it will be time to sign up for fall classes and the Degree Audit Report (DAR) will look slightly different because of impending general education budget cuts.

Budget cuts to the UW System could be enacted in July, so UWRF is faced with the potential of a major cut from the state and must find ways to offset the loss of funds. One of the first financial figures students heard was a loss of $4 million in funds. Now, it seems the figure is estimated to be well over that amount.

The cuts are a topic of conversation with students and faculty alike. No one knows quite what to expect. Every department will have to tighten its belt and make some sacrifices.
Professor Donovan Taylor, chair of the general education University Requirements Committee, explained how general education requirements for graduation will change.

“It’s going to be very hard, but we are trying to make it,” Taylor said. “Part of it was to make it more flexible for students so that they are not delayed in being able to finish their program. It’s going to hurt, we are losing some things for sure, but we are really trying to make it so that students still progress in a timely way.”

One major change will be in general education requirements for graduation. Certain areas in all but goal one on the DAR will change.

Goal one will remain a priority for the university, and goal two will require only one course in humanities and fine arts and one in social and behavioral sciences. Previously, students had to take two courses in each.

Goal three has the same math requirements as before but the science requirement has changed. Previously, a student must take one science class and take one science lab. There will be no lab requirement in the future but two science classes will be necessary. Science classes will incorporate enhanced scientific inquiry into the classes to make up for the lab.

In the fall of 2016, in goal four, the multidisciplinary requirement and the ethical citizenship requirement will be eliminated.

Finally, goal five will no longer require two credits of physical education. One credit of health and wellness will now be the only physical education credit needed for graduation. Students will no longer need to enroll in physical education classes with activities.

The most glaring change is that starting next fall students can double-count courses for multiple requirements. So a class could, in theory, count in a major, minor, and a general education requirement. Students will still need to take 120 credits to graduate, however.

Taylor said students may notice the course catalog offers fewer classes and sections.

“This means some sacrifice for all,” Taylor said.

Not all students agree with the changes in physical education.

“How is it really physical education? Obesity is already a problem in our society,” said Taylor Polka, sophomore animal science student. “I feel like that’s going to get worse, especially in the college setting. We aren’t as active as we probably should be.”

“It’s definitely not a good thing that they are cutting down on the requirements,” said Sam Kirmis, junior geology student.

Polka does believe UWRF is struggling with the budget shortfall.

“I think it’s okay,” Polka said. “I think they just need to look at it and make sure they think they are doing the best for everyone in the long run.”

Taylor said none of the changes were made lightly. All departments were able to be represented in the negotiation process of these changes. He went on to say it was a difficult process and UWRF is still committed to providing the best education possible.

There will be ongoing developments of the changes as soon as the university works out the details. In the meantime, look over your DAR carefully and note the changes that affect you.

Clarifications

A March 13 Student Voice story, titled “UWRF general education requirements change” and written by Christine Marriott, had some errors due to the fact that Marriott interviewed her sources prior to the March 4 Faculty Senate meeting where the general education changes were discussed.

Shortly after the March 4 meeting, Chancellor Dean Van Galen signed the motions that were passed by Faculty Senate and here are the official changes:

1) Beginning in the fall 2015 catalog year, courses will now be allowed to count wherever they meet a requirement. Thus, a course can count in general education, university requirements, liberal arts, majors, minors and certificates if it meets that outcome.

2) Beginning in the fall 2015 catalog year, in “Goal One” there is a test-out/placement score mechanism for incoming students that will allow students to obtain three to six credits for reading and writing (CW) and advanced communication (CA).

3) Beginning in the fall 2015 catalog year, “Goal Three” scientific investigation (SL) and sciences (S) categories will be replaced by a single scientific inquiry (SI) category. All past S and SL courses are being put into the SI category until their next review by the General Education Committee. Students will still need to take two science courses, but one does not necessarily have to be a laboratory course.

4) Retroactive to the fall 2014 catalog year, “Goal Four” multidisciplinary inquiry (MD) has been completely eliminated.

5) Retroactive to the fall 2014 catalog year, “Goal Five” personal health and wellness courses (HW) have been completely eliminated. The health class (PE 108) and ethical citizenship still remain.

The following motion was passed at the March 25 Faculty Senate meeting, but the motion hasn’t been signed yet:

6) Retroactive to the fall 2014 catalog year, the requirement for students to complete a minor is removed, with the provision that the provost will be authorized to exempt those programs that must have a minor.

All changes to the fall 2014 catalog have been made by the Registrar’s office.

College of Arts and Sciences Associate Dean Tricia Davis said that the changes give students great flexibility of choosing courses, according to her March 26 email. Davis also said that the changes will help promote Study Abroad opportunities. As a reminder, students still need to meet the 120 credits requirement to graduate.