UAF core change for fall 2016

Zack Sherman / Sun Star

Changes slated for the 2016 fall semester will do away with the Perspectives on the Human Condition (PHC) requirements.  The requirements will be replaced with a list of classes to choose from in each of three disciplines that will make up the new requirements. The UAF Faculty Senate will not provide a list of qualifying classes until after the spring semester begins, leaving no time for current students to adapt their schedules to take advantage of the changes that are coming.

UAF Advising Center director Ginne Kinney talks about upcoming core changes. - Zach Sherman / Sun Star

UAF Advising Center director Ginne Kinney talks about upcoming core changes. – Zach Sherman / Sun Star

The changes are rooted in a pair of motions passed by the UAF Faculty Senate during its Nov. 9 meeting, one that changed the undergraduate core requirements by removing the current PHC for fall of 2016, and another removing the oral and written intensive upper division requirements beginning in fall of 2017.

The new core system is being implemented to comply with the UA Board of Regents resolution to adopt a common general education requirement for the UA system. The result is three areas of study, within which students will be required to complete courses.  Unlike the current system, students will not be given the option to replace PHC requirements with foreign language credits.  The new program will retain the upper division ethics requirement.

“No, there are no plans to make available the courses that will satisfy the new requirements in time for spring semester registration,” Rainer Newberry, a member of the Curricular Affairs Committee (CAC) said.  The CAC is a subcommittee of the Faculty Senate and is tasked to complete the new list of qualifying courses.

“To make a long story short, we were concerned about being rushed into making courses decisions in time for November pre-registration,” Newberry said. “By giving ourselves a deadline of early in spring semester, we’ll be able to present a better product.”

But, some students would prefer to have the information sooner than the CAC is prepared to release it.

“It’s awful, the way that [UAF notifies] students is about keeping us here longer. It’s not about helping us graduate,” Nick Wells, a student majoring in geological engineering set to graduate in spring of 2016, said.

While the motion creating these changes is fairly new, the mandate is not. The Faculty Senate had already resolved on May 7 of this year to adopt the new bucket system.  That gave seven months for the faculty senate and its sub-committees to both prepare a class list and inform students of the upcoming change prior to the Nov. 9 resolution.

“The delay in moving towards the ‘pick among these offerings’ approach was caused by two competing problems.” Newberry said.  He said that the issues were based upon bureaucratic changes at UAF as to what sub-committee would create the class lists and foot dragging on the part of UAA in following the board of regent’s motion. “So we (CAC) had to start from scratch in late September.”

The new changes to the core will begin in the 2016-2017 catalog and will not be forced onto existing students. Degree seeking students at UAF work under the catalog year when they enrolled at UAF in a degree program, or when they declared their current major. For example, a student who began a civil engineering degree in fall of 2011 works under the 2011-2012 catalog even during the 2016-2017 school year.  Catalog requirements for each degree can vary from school-year to school-year. Students may opt to change their catalog through the Registrar’s Office.

“Changing the catalog can change graduation requirements,” Ginny Kinne, director of the Academic Advising Center, said. Kinne attends both the Faculty Senate and the CAC meetings due to her position but is not a member of either committee.  While Kinne has not been provided any listing of the new core class options, she said that the new system was based on the current UAA, undergraduate core system, however the UAA core list would not be a good representation.  “We are moving to a similar… system, but not the same [subjects].”

In addition to the changes to the PHC, the second motion passed calls for the removal of the upper division written and oral intensive core requirements, more commonly referred to as the O and W requirements.  Instead, each UAF department will be required to prove that the intent of the oral and written intensive requirements are met by required classes within each degree track.  The change is slated to take effect by the fall 2017 semester. Current O and W class designators will remain in place for two years from implementation to accommodate students in catalogs that require them.

“I would have liked that better,” Chelsea Jones, a student majoring in business, said. Jones explained that she had been planning to take a single course within her major that met both her O and her W requirements but that the class had not been offered since she had met the prerequisites, and would not be offered before her graduation in the spring. “I’m taking an entire extra class in the spring to meet my W class.  They haven’t offered the one that would do both in two years.”

 

Corrections:  This article has been amended to reflect that the meeting during which these changes were confirmed took place on Nov. 9, not Sept. 9 as was originally written.  It has also been changed to clarify that while there will be no foreign language alternative to the new Perspectives on the Human Condition requirements, the foreign language degree paths will be otherwise unaffected.

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