USP vote delayed after forum feedback

Plans to vote on changes to UK’s University Studies Program in the University Senate will be delayed until next semester, said Provost Kumble Subbaswammy in an e-mail sent to college deans Wednesday.

The postponement followed three faculty forums that took place last week regarding changes to the USP program.

“We will be digesting all the input received to the Steering Committee proposal, and will take the necessary steps and time to revise the proposal accordingly,” Subbaswamy said in an e-mail to the Kernel.

The initial plan was to discuss necessary changes to the proposal at the Nov. 12 University Senate meeting and vote on the final proposal in December.

Subbaswamy did not give a definite date for when discussion or enactment of the new USPs would take place, but did say that he expects a revised proposal to be presented in the Senate early next semester.

“More important than a particular timeline is ensuring that we put in place an outstanding general education program that has strong buy-in and support from the faculty,” Subbaswamy said.

Many faculty members appreciated that the USP program would be changing at last week’s forums, but concerns were raised about scheduling, faculty involvement and foreign language requirements, among other topics.

To address these concerns, Subbaswamy wrote in the e-mail, the USP Steering Committee should be given “more time than initially suggested” before the proposal reaches the University Senate.

“I want to emphasize that this is not the provost’s decision,” said University Senate President Kaveh Tagavi. “He is simply the messenger. The faculty is driving this decision.”

Because the USP proposal would be such a major change if approved, Tagavi said, he is not surprised that the process is taking longer than initially planned.

The new USP requirements call for incoming freshmen in 2009 to complete 30 hours of general education courses that, with few exceptions, would be outside major and pre-major curriculum.

The current proposal, which was released last month, splits requirements into two 15-credit-hour halves: Community of Learners, freshman courses focused on the liberal arts and the transition into college, and Community of Citizens, courses to take anytime before graduation that emphasize ethics and critical thinking.

“What I have learned is that this is huge,” Tagavi said. “It means 25 percent of the course load of every single student.”

Next Monday, the University Senate Council will decide how the USP proposal will be discussed at the upcoming University Senate meeting Nov. 12.

“We could decide to change the discussion,” Tagavi said. “(It could be) ‘what is the extra input the University Senate would like to give the Steering Committee?’”

Faculty and students will see a clearer plan for USP reform next year, Tagavi said.

“I don’t think Fall 2009 was ever written in stone,” he said.