New University Curriculum gets ‘yes’ vote from SMU faculty

Dallas Hall with studentsThe SMU faculty has voted 194-74 in favor of a new University general education curriculum – the common knowledge, skills and experiences every student must accrue before they graduate.

Approval for what is now called the University Curriculum (UC) came through an electronic vote tallied March 18-19, 2010, through SMU’s Office of Information Technology.

The Faculty Senate held an open forum March 17 to allow faculty members to discuss questions and concerns with members of the General Education Review Committee, which formulated the new curriculum with input from the SMU faculty and key staff members. The new curriculum will be submitted next to the University’s administration and Board of Trustees.

> Download the final UC proposal (log in with your e-mail ID and password)

The General Education Review Committee began meeting in October 2008 to review the existing curriculum for needed changes. Its goals included “eliciting the faculty’s judgment about the core knowledge and competencies that graduates of SMU should possess,” as well as to ensure “ongoing involvement of the faculty in determining and implementing the details,” according to the proposal document.

The Committee presented its first proposal for faculty input and discussion in April 2009. The final proposal – dated March 2, 2010 – describes the faculty committees that will be responsible for further defining and implementing the new course of study.

> Proposed structure of UC committees

In addition, the latest proposal clarifies that student electronic portfolios are not a requirement for graduation and will not require faculty evaluation or certification. Instead, it recommends “that students be introduced, in their first year at SMU, to the use of e-portfolios.”

Among the goals set for the new curriculum is to make it easier for students to pursue multiple majors and minors. It also aims to accommodate more opportunities for honors programming, international study, undergraduate research options, internship experiences and service learning.

> The UC’s connections to the SMU Strategic Plan

Additionally, the University Curriculum’s structure is designed to better accommodate transfer students from other universities, as well as make it easier for current SMU students to transfer their existing credits if they change majors.

As with the current General Education Curriculum (GEC), the UC will constitute approximately one-third of a 120-hour baccalaureate degree plan. An estimated 85 percent of the new requirements will map to existing courses.

> See the short version of the UC and GEC overlay.
> See the long version of the UC and GEC overlay.

Read more about the University Curriculum under the link below.

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Faculty, staff and students discuss proposed University curriculum changes

The SMU community got its first detailed overview of proposed changes to the General Education Curriculum at a town hall meeting April 22.

New emphases on “demonstrated competencies” and broader double-counting of courses mark the proposed changes, as well as a new second-language requirement for all students. The proposals also will make the curriculum friendlier to long and multiple majors and minors and to transfer students from outside and inside the University, said committee co-chairs Dennis Cordell, Dedman College, and Tom Tunks, Associate Provost.

The University Curriculum – so called as the only course of study to be completed by all SMU undergraduates – is the result of work conducted by the General Education Review Committee. The committee was charged with completing the curriculum review, formulating recommendations for needed changes, and presenting a proposal for a new general education curriculum to Provost Paul Ludden by April 25, 2009.

Presentation of the proposal leads into the review’s next stage, in which a broad cross-section of faculty and staff members will address details such as identifying courses to keep or modify and developing metrics and other details, Tunks said. The new curriculum is expected to be in place for the 2011-12 academic year.

The length of the review process allows the University to “get it right,” as well as ensure that funds are in place for implementation, Tunks said. It also accomplishes the important objective of getting the SMU community involved and invested, he added.

“Through broad participation in developing the curriculum, what we develop is ownership of the curriculum,” Tunks said. “We tend to be more enthusiastic about the things we own than about things that were pushed at us by someone else. We look at this as a chance to build community at the University.”

Find an outline of the proposed changes and more information at The General Education Review homepage.

Complete listing of SMU’s current General Education Curriculum
Initial curriculum review planning guidelines
Essential learning outcomes
GEC opinion survey
GEC Review blog, open to the SMU community

Community members to meet for Curriculum Town Hall

SMU faculty, staff and students are invited to participate in a town hall meeting on the University’s General Education Curriculum, to take place at 4 p.m. April 22 in McCord Auditorium, 3rd floor, Dallas Hall.

The General Education Review Committee will present draft recommendations for a new University curriculum for discussion. The committee is co-chaired by Dedman College Associate Dean for General Education Dennis Cordell and Associate Provost Tom Tunks.