Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Debbie Murray said the university’s board of directors wanted students to have “efficient pathways to graduate.”
A task force of faculty and administrators were appointed to consider the change. Advisers sought the input of students to ensure changes reflected their needs.
Approximately 83 percent of the 112 programs offered at the university decreased to 120 hours. Murray predicted most students will be able to graduate within four years by taking 15 credit hours a semester. Majors with external accreditors, like the teacher education program, might require summer courses.
According to Murray, even degrees with a larger course load are below 130 hours.
President Paul Conn shared his approval of the fast-pace and thorough task force study.
“I believe this new arrangement of required core courses is a terrific step forward. I’m very pleased by the hard work of the faculty to trim the required curriculum down to a more manageable level,” Conn said. “I think it’s an excellent way to help students move to graduation more quickly, without losing any real substance.”
Changes within the general education core resulted in a decrease of six credit hours.
Students will no longer be required to take Intro to Computer Literacy and Application (CISS 100) for two credit hours.
Murray said most incoming students already possess the skills taught in the basic computer course. She explained students learn technology skills, like Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations and ActivBoard activities, as needed in their specialized degree courses.
The course will remain as an elective for those individuals who require additional computer lessons.
The discontinuation of academic credit for service hours removed an additional two credit hours from the general requirements. All incoming freshmen will still be required to fulfill 80 hours of service. However, .5 will not be awarded to their credit hours upon the completion of 20 hours of service.
Healthy and Effective Lifestyles (PHED 100), a one-credit course, will no longer be required. Murray explained students and faculty believe the basic health course is no longer essential. This is due to society’s increased emphasis on healthy eating and physical activity. She said the university might look into ways to continue the healthy lifestyles message.
Instructors of “The Freshman Seminar: Gateway to University Success” informed the task force all work in the two-credit hour course could be completed in one credit hour. Incoming freshmen and transfer students will continue taking the course with the decreased credit.
Additional changes in general and major electives resulted in the decrease of four more credit hours.
“We felt it was really important to find ways to trim, but not sacrifice the quality of programs,” Murray said. “I feel pretty good that we were able to do that.”
She said she was proud of the faculty’s ability to work together so well.
The study reportedly helped reaffirm the university’s values: religion core, liberal arts perspective, the importance of the global perspective and service learning.
“The really good thing I think about this study is it gave us a wonderful opportunity to examine our curriculum, particularly our core,” Murray said. “It allowed us to figure out things we could tweak and try something a little different and do something better.”
Changes to the degree requirements will be reflected in the 2014-15 course catalogue released in early April.
“We felt it was really important to find ways to trim, but not sacrifice the quality of programs.” — Dr. Debbie Murray
“I believe this new arrangement of required core courses is a terrific step forward. I’m very pleased by the hard work of the faculty to trim the required curriculum down to a more manageable level.” — Dr. Paul Conn