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FAS Stresses Smooth Gen Ed Transition

The faculty council will vote on proposed Gen Ed legislation during their bi-weekly meeting on Wednesday.

By Melissa C. Rodman, Crimson Staff Writer

Once the Faculty approve a new program in General Education, all students will likely choose Gen Ed courses from the same, revamped offerings, according to Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith.

“I don’t want to run two programs at the same time,” Smith said, emphasizing the need he sees “to transition to the new program as effectively and efficiently as possible.”

“We know there are issues in the current program, and we want our students in the new program,” he added.

If approved, the new system—which Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay M. Harris presented at a faculty meeting earlier this month—would require students to complete classes in four new Gen Ed categories, fulfill a distribution requirement, and take one numerical reasoning-based course.

Discussions about the transition for students completing the current Gen Ed requirements anchored last week’s Committee on Undergraduate Education meeting, where administrators said students still would receive credit for completed requirements in the current eight Gen Ed categories.

Administrators and professors, however, have not finalized the details for the transition process.

The faculty council, which is the highest elected FAS body, will vote on the proposed Gen Ed legislation during their bi-weekly meeting on Wednesday, according to the meeting agenda.

Aside from customary remarks by Smith and a report presented by a faculty Docket Committee, the Gen Ed vote is the only item on the agenda. Typically the Faculty Council agenda has three or four items for discussion.

Psychology professor Jason P. Mitchell, who sits on the faculty council, said Wednesday’s meeting will allow for greater discussion of potential issues in the legislation.

“I think there will be a number of comments on the details of the legislation, and there may be some discussion about making sure that we are fixing the problems of the existing Gen Ed program by re-legislating,” Mitchell said, adding that he hopes the council will ensure that the “new revitalized program actually does address the deficiencies in the current program.”

As administrators move forward with the new program, a standing committee on General Education, chaired by Philosophy Department Chair Edward J. Hall, will have more responsibilities for streamlining Gen Ed courses, Smith said.

Hall said the Faculty have three main steps moving forward: deciding when the new program will debut and replace the old one, setting up a flexible transition, and reviewing the existing Gen Ed selections and vetting proposals for new courses.

Exactly how to execute the last two topics will become clearer after the Faculty vote on the new program, likely later this semester, Hall said.

—Staff writer Melissa C. Rodman can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @melissa_rodman.

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