New USP program to continue development over summer

A University Senate committee will work on proposed changes to the Universities Study Program requirements over the summer.

Provost Kumble Subbaswamy scrapped an initial USP proposal in the fall after three faculty forums, in which professors expressed concern about the lack of increased foreign language requirements, the possibility that students couldn’t finish their majors in four years and the potential changes in workload.

In March, the University Senate approved a list of eight general education principles and a timetable that calls for the Senate to look at the General Education Steering Committee’s recommendations for curriculum and learning outcomes by the fall.

Kaveh Tagavi, president of the University Senate, said while he wasn’t certain, he thinks the Senate could reach an agreement on USPs if a proposition was brought forth.

“If I had a dollar to bet, I would bet that in the next proposition, if that comes to a vote in the Senate, they will converge,” Tagavi said. “That could be 2008-09, that could be 2009-10.”

Susan Carvalho, the head of the University Senate committee charged with developing USP changes, said if little revision to the current USPs is needed, the program could begin in 2009-10. However, more work would mean a longer wait until students have to take the new USPs.

Going back to the drawing board and creating a new proposal most likely won’t happen, Tagavi said. What could happen is that the University Senate could reject a committee proposal, and the committee would return to the eight principles to begin work again, he said.

The general education principles echo some of the requirements in the old proposal. In both the old proposal and the new principles, incoming freshmen must complete 30 hours of general education courses that, with few exceptions, would be outside major and pre-major curriculum.

Unlike the old proposal, the general education principles do not mention specific courses but do call for classes that make students more aware of the global community and ethical decisions.

“What is not up for negotiation, at least in the foreseeable future, is the general education principles,” Tagavi said.

Even if a new proposal goes through the University Senate, the faculty body has no control over obtaining additional funding if needed. The provost and president’s offices would handle any changes in funding or in the number of faculty.

Many details still have to be worked out for much of the USP changes, meaning it might not be possible to get the USPs ready within the University Senate’s timetable, said committee member Ernie Yanarella.

“While everyone is shooting for the new general studies program, I think there’s a considerable amount of realism that there might be a little bit of slippage,” Yanarella said.