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Course review process streamlined

December 5, 2013 By Käri Knutson

A single University Curriculum Committee will now review course changes, following a unanimous vote of approval by the Faculty Senate Monday, Dec. 2.

The decision came after an ad hoc interdivisional curriculum committee was established in June 2012 to review course proposals across the four faculty divisions and recommend whether a standing University Curriculum Committee should be established.

“Having a single University Curriculum Committee will allow us to consider course and curricular issues at a campus level and establish consistent patterns and standards across all disciplines,” says Andrea Poehling, secretary of the faculty. “With the ad hoc committee in place we are already seeing a big increase in the ‘why are we doing this?’ questions. The University Curriculum Committee gives us a single faculty committee that will consider these questions for policy discussion.”

Previously, four executive divisional committees reviewed course changes. These committees represent the faculty in the biological sciences, physical sciences, social studies and arts and humanities disciplinary divisions. They are responsible for reviewing approximately 120 tenure cases a year.

This single committee will look at new courses, course changes and the discontinuation of courses.

“There should be no noticeable changes for students – but over time the improved experience for faculty and staff who are making curricular changes will accrue as a positive impact on students,” says Jocelyn Milner, director of Academic Planning and Institutional Research. 

Milner credits Poehling’s leadership for advancing these changes through all the necessary steps. Milner’s office will provide support and coordination for the new committee and the course proposal process. The change is effective immediately.

“The University Curriculum Committee gives faculty a clearer voice in curricular matters, particularly in those that cross divisions, schools and colleges.”

Jolanda Vanderwal Taylor

The University Curriculum Committee consists of 12 faculty members – three from each division of the university, and is chaired by Professor Jolanda Vanderwal Taylor from the Department of German.

“The University Curriculum Committee gives faculty a clearer voice in curricular matters, particularly in those that cross divisions, schools and colleges,” Taylor says. “Because we value the diversity of practices that are appropriate to different fields and as we re-think our approaches in order to better prepare our students for a world which requires them to be able to think across disciplinary boundaries and to practice their learning in real-world applications, it is important that we more fully understand how our colleagues across campus do their work, and to work together to offer our students the best possible opportunities for learning.”

In July, administration of the course proposal process moved from the Office of the Secretary of the Faculty to the Office of Academic Planning and Institutional Research. More information can be found online here.