Millersville University, Faculty Senate
Attachment #1
Faculty Senate Minutes
March 21, 2006

Meeting Goal: to begin discussions and to frame the key issues that must be decided at later meetings before Senate might be in a position to endorse a ballot for faculty. If it is clear that there is not support within Senate for key changes in the present system, then there would be no need to endorse a ballot for faculty.

Issues (see pages 5 and 6)

  1. Change to a 3-3-3 G-Block distribution with Math as an additional Foundations course in order to provide Free Elective courses and to allow a variety of Freshman Seminars to count toward Gen Ed?
  2. Straw vote: Should we allow capstone courses to count in place of perspectives?
  3. Straw vote: Should we change the number of credits required for Gen Ed from 51 to 48?
  4. Straw vote: Should Wellness be required for all students?

Each issue will be discussed for 10 to 15 minutes. Senate may choose to extend discussion for up to 5 minutes three times for an additional 15 minutes.

Straw Votes
Straw (non-binding) votes will be taken at the end of each discussion in order to establish the relative strength or weakness of support for each of the issues. Only voting members of Senate may vote. All of these issues are complex and there is an expectation that no change would be endorsed without significant additional discussion in future meetings.

Background for Discussion of Gen Ed Proposals for April 4, 2006

"The best General Education program is not based simply on choosing specific goals or finding the perfect model. The best program is one that is aligned with the learning needs of students on a specific campus and that the faculty of that campus believe in and teach with passion, commitment, and intentionality - only then can they help students engage fully with its purposes and opportunities." (Ann Ferren, June 2002, Presentation at the Asheville Institute for General Education).

Middle States Standard 12
General Education
The institution's curricula are designed so that students acquire and demonstrate college-level proficiency in general education and essential skills, including oral and written communication, scientific and quantitative reasoning, critical analysis and reasoning, technological competency, and information literacy.

Principles to Guide the Restructuring of General Education at Millersville
(Revised 11/15/2005)

The following principles, together with the revised statement of purpose and learning objectives, are intended to provide a framework for re-visioning General Education at Millersville and for guiding the development of changes to the curricular structure. They grow out of the recommendations of the General Education Task Force and have subsequently been reviewed and revised by Faculty Senate and the Gen Ed Review Committee. It is understood that the statement of purpose and learning objectives will continue to undergo refinement as work on the restructuring of Gen Ed continues.

Principles that guide the process of reform:

Principle A: Reform will reflect what the faculty believe in and can teach with passion, commitment, and purpose.
Principle B: Change will be incremental, based on campus-wide dialogue, and well understood by the University community.
Principle C: The reform will build on and maintain current MU strengths.
Principle D: Reform of Gen Ed will be balanced by the curricular needs of major programs of study, especially as they are impacted by State mandates and/or disciplinary accreditation.
Principle E: Reform will be accompanied by sufficient faculty, administrative, and resource support.
Principle F: The reform process will be guided by meaningful evaluation.

Characteristics of a Reformulated Gen Ed Program

Characteristic 1: Clear Purpose, that is well understood by all members of the university community and that is consistent with the MU mission and the specific learning needs of MU students.
Characteristic 2: Intentional Alignment of the objectives, curricular structure, and assessment with the purpose of Gen Ed, the mission of this University, and the learning needs of our students.
Characteristic 3: Coherence and connections between Gen Ed and majors without being overly prescriptive.
Characteristic 4: Intellectual Richness, setting appropriately high expectations for students' engagement that develop as students progress through their academic programs.
Characteristic 5: Academic Community Reaching beyond the Classroom, fostering interactions between and among students, faculty, and the larger University community.
Characteristic 6: Simplicity and flexibility, promoting ease of understanding and greater choice in meeting the Gen Ed requirements.

Outline of GERC Curriculum Proposal (In-Progress)
Foundations - 9 credits

Explore and More 15 credits

Liberal Arts - 27 credits minimum

Skills across the curriculum:

Eliminate: the current requirement that: Exactly two courses must be taken from one department within G1, G2, and G3. No more than two courses can be taken from one department within G1, G2, or G3, but two courses from two different departments is acceptable.

Advisement recommendations - There are many important goals for Gen Ed that are not represented by a specific course. Instead we recommend the development of advisement guidelines to help students and faculty make decisions that best meet these goals for each student. One draft of such guidelines would be:

"Please consider each student's individual needs, interests, and skills when making the following recommendations. Most students at Millersville should:

4 Issues and Alternatives selected from the Gen Ed Proposal for discussion at April 4th Meeting

Proposal Element Rationale Possible alternatives Effect of the alternative on the overall proposal
Restructure the distributional system:
1) Modify the G1, G2, G3 blocks by moving Math to foundations, and reducing the number of courses in each block from 4 to 3.
2) Create an "Explore" block where any non-major course may count.
3) Freshman seminar to count (including 1, 2, 3 credit options and those sponsored by majors) as Exploratory credit.
This move provides more flexibility by creating "free elective" credits. These electives allow students to explore more areas of interest, make it easier for students to minor, allow students to more easily count credit for study abroad, and in general create more openings for innovative programming. Aligned with Principle D and Characteristic 6. Keep the current requirements for 4 courses in each of the G Blocks. If this choice is made the number of Exploratory courses would be reduced by 2.
   : Reduce all G Blocks to 3 courses, but don't move math to foundations because the proposal seems unfairly tilted to Math and Science. This would allow an extra free elective (i.e., Exploratory course).

Yes, the proposal does "protect" the credits for Math and Science, but in the end we believe that the great majority of students would not choose to use free electives for extra Math and Science courses. Humanities and Social Sciences would get the bulk of offerings from the 3 free electives and in the seminars. Moving to a 3-3-3 system including a required math course would most likely reduce science Gen Ed by one third to one half (keep in mind that BSE students must take 2 math courses).

  This move provides more flexibility by creating "free elective" credits. These electives allow students to explore more areas of interest, make it easier for students to minor, allow students to more easily count credit for study abroad, and in general create more openings for innovative programming. Aligned with Principle D and Characteristic 6.   Size of this block depends upon freeing up credits via changes to the Liberal Arts core (G1, G2, G3) and Foundations area and upon the total credits allocated to Gen Ed . To meaningfully contribute to enhanced flexibility, 9-credits seems to be an appropriate minimum.
  There is a growing body of evidence that Freshman seminars increase retention. There are several successful models that have been implemented on campus - each with a different purpose and serving a different student group. We don't need a one size fits all model, but we do need to count these credits toward Gen Ed. Aligned with Principles A & C and Characteristics 4 & 5. Only allow 3 credit courses with significant content outside the major to count.

Count these seminars in the G1, G2, G3 blocks.

Require all students to take a Freshman Seminar (strong minority opinion in GERC)

Current seminars offered for undecided students and seminars offered by the majors wouldn't count anywhere in the Gen Ed system or in the major.

Requiring that seminars count toward the G1, G2, G3 distribution would take away from Humanities and Social Science if the 3-3-3 G distribution model is adopted.

The majority sentiment was that if we require all students to take a Freshman Seminar, some departments may be forced to develop seminars that they don't really believe in. Requiring seminars would likely decrease their effectiveness.

Keep the total number of Gen Ed credits at 51. The GERC recommendations provides some of the breathing room that the 120 credit rule requires by allowing capstones to substitute for Perspectives, by allowing Freshman Seminars in the major to count, and by allowing up to three non-major (but potentially Required Related) courses to count as Exploratory credits. Decrease the credits to 48 (the minimum allowed by SSHE). If this choice is made the number of Exploratory courses would be reduced by 1.

Changing to 48 credits would provide further flexibility for programs facing accreditation requirements.

Allow any capstone course (including major-related) to count in place of the Perspectives course. This element provides more flexibility by creating options for majors to offer capstone experiences that fulfill some of the purposes of the original Perspectives courses but allowing the course to also count in the major. It also creates more openings for innovative programming. Aligned with Principle D and Characteristics 3, 4 & 6. Maintain current Perspectives course requirement for all students. This choice would reduce some of the flexibility of the proposal, thereby continuing some of the difficulties some programs have had adhering to the 120-credit mandate.
Make Wellness an elective course. Count it within Exploratory credits. Encourage students to take Wellness through advisement. GERC was split on whether Wellness is an "essential" course that should be required for all students. Majority Reasoning: The majority felt that a Wellness course was important, but not essential for all students. Wellness was not considered generative in the same sense as composition and mathematics. Other areas such as Civics, Music, Art, Literature, and Diversity are also very important to a well-rounded education, yet are not required. The majority also noted that Wellness is not listed as part of the Middle States standard 12 and that there was not an explicit relationship to the university mission statement. Minority reasoning: Others saw Wellness as unique in that none of the other disciplines deal with physical wellness in the same way. Wellness was considered essential for a well-rounded and holistic education. There are few areas more important than health and wellness, especially in today's society.
All agreed that more flexibility in Wellness offerings should be considered. Several members of the group felt that 1-credit sports courses would benefit students. Wellness has a variety of courses that should count toward Gen Ed. In addition, providing 3 electives would allow students more flexibility to minor in Athletic Coaching. Aligned with Principle D and Characteristic 6.
Keep the current Wellness course as is. If this choice is made the number of Exploratory courses would be reduced by 1.
    Require that all students take a Wellness course, but allow more options such as other Wellness courses or 1 credit sports courses. This choice would guarantee that all students take wellness, and would increase options. If this choice is made the number of Exploratory courses would be reduced by 1.

Return to Faculty Senate Home Page
Return to MU Home Page