WKU proposes changes to Gen. Ed. requirements

Natalie Hayden

A proposed change to WKU’s general education requirements will lower the number of general education hours required to graduate from 44 to 39.

If passed, these changes could go into effect as soon as 2014.

Of the 39-hour program, 30 hours will be lower-division classes and will be divided between two categories, while 9 hours in a third category of upper-division classes will be added.

According to WKU’s General Education Review Task Force report, the first category of the lower-division classes will be 18 hours and includes English, communications, math and history.

The second will be 12 hours and includes arts and humanities, social and behavioral sciences and natural and physical sciences.

The third category will be called Connections and “theoretically can be in any subject,” said Larry Snyder, associate dean of Potter College of Arts and Letters.

The purpose of the Connections courses is to help students understand “individual and social responsibility,” according to the report.

“The idea behind these courses is as the name suggests,” Doug McElroy, associate vice president for Academic Enrichment and Effectiveness, said. “They should help students make connections between courses, between their majors and gen. ed. requirements.”

McElroy said the classes that may fulfill the Connections requirements are yet to be determined, and will be decided upon by a committee just as the gen. ed. courses now are.

The proposal was presented at the University Senate meeting Monday night to determine when it will be brought to the senate floor, Snyder said.

What happens after the senate discusses the proposal cannot be determined yet, McElroy said.

Snyder is chairman of the task force, which began work four years ago to change the requirements. He said  were three reasons for the changes.

First, the number of general education hours is not proportional to the total number of hours required to graduate.

Brian Meredith, associate vice president of Enrollment Management, said that in 2010 WKU changed the total number of hours required to graduate from 128 to 120. However, there was no change to the number of general education hours.

“This upped the percent of gen. ed. hours, so now we’re proposing a reduction in the number of gen. ed. hours to even it out,” Snyder said.

Additionally, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools was concerned with the current general education program.

SACS is the institute that accredits the university and does a report every ten years.

 “The program was not coherent enough as a program. It didn’t function well and was random,” Snyder said. “We couldn’t document consistent student learning.”

Finally, the changes also came because the state passed a new general education transfer agreement in June, which will allow for more collaboration between two-year and four-year universities.

For more information on the general education changes, the report can be found on the University Senate’s website.