Millersville University, Faculty Senate
Faculty Senate Minutes
4 February 1997
Second Response to Task Force Recommendations
by the General Education Review Committee
The position of the GERC is that the general education task force was put
in the impossible position of being asked to recommend changes to improve
the present general education curriculum without having available a clear
and adequate account of the objectives of the system within the
university. Without such objectives, there is no reasonably objective way
of setting priorities, nor of deciding how to balance the costs and
benefits of possible changes.
Over the last couple of months, our committee has had several
opportunities to discuss the task force recommendations and we have
received considerable input from both individuals and departments.
Virtually all of this input has been negative. This second response,
therefore, represents the committee's more considered opinion about the
A. Overall, we find the recommendations to be premature, and in some
cases, ill-consideres. The task force does not offer support for its
claims that any of these changes will actually save any money,
which was its original charge. Further, it seems possible that some of
these changes might have a negative impact on the quality of the
general education program, and the committee offers no evidence to the
contrary. Neither common senses nor empirical studies back up these
recommendations, nor did the task force consult knowledgeable individuals
and departments who could have provided them with information they lacked.
For example, they did not ascertain the original rationale for C and Q
courses, they did not consult the English Department about the rationale
for its teaching advanced composition courses, nor did they check the
catalogue to test their assumption that all QARC courses are math and
computer science courses.
Some of their recommended changes would undoubtedly simplify advising
students, in the long run, assuming that they were adopted on a long term
basis and not likely to be changed again in the near future. Even these,
however, would temporarily make things less simple for advisors, just by
virtue of representing changes from the present system.
B. Phase 1:
RECOMMENDATION: The committee is generally opposed to making any
immediate changes in the curriculum, other than those which represent
continuing already functioning modifications of the curriculum on an ad
hoc basis. (Such modifications include deleting the 10 pages of revised
prose requirement from "w" courses, premitting students to replace one "p"
course with another gen ed course, and permitting up to four required
related courses to count in the gen ed blocks.)
The GERC has been, and will continue working on the task of revising the
goals and objectives of general education, as part of the university's
move towards outcomes assessment, as mandated by the SSHE and Middle
States. Within the next two years, this task must be completed to a
significant degree, and will clearly result in a number of recommendations
regarding how the general education curriculum should be altered to meet
these revised goals and objectives. For this reason, any changes
implemented by the faculty and administration in the next year may end up
being in conflict with curriculum modifications eventually agreed to as
part of the outcomes assessment effort; any substantial changes made at
this point, then, are likely to lead to at least some, and perhaps a
significant amount of, wasted effort and money.
C. Phase 2:
RECOMMENDATION: The committee believes it is especially ill-advised at
this point to attempt to tie the hands of those working on modifying the
general education curriculum as part of the outcomes based assessment
effort. While we have no problems with general guidelines for change
being formulated by the task force, faculty senate, administration, or
faculty as a whole, it seems premature at this time for us to mandate any
specific recommendations, such as "Eliminate labels!" or "Farm out
advanced composition courses to departments." What would be in order would
be recommendations such as, "Let us find a way that doesn't involve the
use of the cumbersome label system?" or "Costs must be considered when
recommending curricular changes. We must find ways to reduce the cost of
the average general education class."
In conclusion, Millersville University presently lacks the knowledge
necessary to make specific recommendations regarding changes in general
education. With its completion of the Performance Review of General
Education, the GERC has begun the process of obtaining some of the
required knowledge, and members of the committee have accumulated some
expertise. As reformulating general education objectives and stipulating
how our general education curriculum achieves, or fails to achieve these
objectives, is precisely the task on which our committee is now working,
it stands to reason that it is unrealistic to attempt any real reform of
our system, large or small, until this task is complete.
RECOMMENDAITON: We recommend voting against the task force
recommendations at this time.
Return to Faculty Senate Home Page
Return to MU Home Page