DOCUMENTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY
MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF THE GENERAL FACULTY FOR 2005-2006
Following are the minutes of the General Faculty meeting of Thursday, October 27, 2005.
Sue Alexander Greninger, Secretary
The General Faculty
MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF THE GENERAL FACULTY FOR 2005-2006
The regular meeting of the General Faculty for the academic year 2005-2006 was held on Thursday, October 27, 2005, at 2:15 p.m. in the Main Building, room 212. President Larry R. Faulkner presided.
| APPROVAL OF MINUTES.
Minutes of the regular meeting of the General Faculty for 2004-2005, October 20, 2004, which were published as D 3648-3649, were approved by voice vote.
|ANNUAL REPORT OF THE FACULTY COUNCIL, 2004-2005.
Secretary Sue Greninger presented a brief overview of the annual report, which was published as D 4041-4064.
|DISCUSSION OF ANNUAL REPORT — None.
|COMMENTS BY AND QUESTIONS TO THE PRESIDENT.
Following recent practice, the President’s State of the University Address was given as part of the University’s anniversary celebration, The University at 122, on September 14, 2005. The Address is reproduced in D 4142-4149.
President Faulkner briefly highlighted major points he had made in his State of the University Address. He encouraged the faculty to take pride in the important accomplishments achieved over the 122 years the University has existed, to remain faithful to the academic values and standards that have resulted in UT Austin reaching its current standing, and to use these same values and standards to determine how to provide the best education for its students, especially undergraduate students. He said he thought the time was right for the faculty to think deeply about ways the University can distinguish itself. Saying both the members of the Commission of 125 and he had no specific recipe for how to best address the educational needs of students, he emphasized that this was an important task for the University’s faculty leadership to address.
|UNFINISHED BUSINESS — None.
| REPORTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY, COLLEGES AND SCHOOLS, AND COMMITTEES.
||Update from the Presidential Search Advisory Committee.
Professor J. Strother Moore (computer sciences and faculty representative on the committee) began his report by emphasizing the importance of confidentiality for applicants involved in the
||presidential search process. He said that unsuccessful applicants in other presidential searches had lost their jobs and/or had ended up with diminished employment opportunities when their names had been made public. He also said the University’s recruitment process can be adversely impaired by premature publicity that results in increased competition for top candidates by other institutions.
Professor Moore listed the names of the search committee members and explained that the committee’s composition was determined by Regents’ Rules. Executive Vice Chancellor Teresa Sullivan and President Emeritus Peter Flawn are co-chairing the committee and a professional search organization, Greenwood and Associates, is assisting with the search. The committee’s charge is to forward the names of five to ten candidates to the Board of Regents, who will then have full discretion regarding the final choice. Professor Moore said the committee had received approximately 200 nominations, and about 50 of the nominees had submitted the required documents for consideration. Initially, the committee was divided into three subcommittees, each chaired by one of the three faculty representatives; each subcommittee reviewed and discussed one third of the applicants. The committee of the whole then reviewed the candidates who had been classified as nonviable by the three subcommittees. Once this screening was completed, the entire committee continued to pare down the list by reviewing transcripts of telephone conversations with the candidates’ references. The viable candidates were then interviewed and voted upon by the entire committee. Professor Moore said that most of the committee votes were close to unanimous, and no candidate was eliminated based on a close vote. He said he was confident that the Regents would have an outstanding group of candidates from which to make their choice. He expected the Regents to make public the names of a small number of the finalists. He said the Regents cannot make their final choice until twenty-one days following the announcement of the names of the finalists. After Professor Moore said he thought President Faulkner had sufficient flexibility in his retirement date to accommodate the needs of the future president, President Faulkner announced that his plans had changed.
In answer to questions raised by Council members, Professor Moore said he thought the finalists would be announced within a month, he was uncertain if campus interviews would be held, he was not at liberty to announce the actual number of candidates the committee was forwarding to the Board of Regents, and he was not sure if the names had already been forwarded. President Faulkner then clarified that he could no longer adjust his departure date from the University because he had agreed to begin his new position with the Houston Endowment on February 1, 2006. He said he was hopeful that a direct hand-off to the new president would still be possible.
||Report on recommendations from the Task Force on Curricular Reform
President Faulkner said it had been twenty-five years since the core curriculum of the University had been examined, and both the Commission of 125 and the Task Force on Enrollment Strategy had agreed that a serious review was needed. Although the review process belonged to the faculty, he said the initial proposal needed to be drafted by a smaller group for presentation to the faculty. President Faulkner, Provost Sheldon Ekland-Olson, and former Faculty Council Chair Linda Reichl had established the Task Force on Curricular Reform in fall, 2005 and charged the group, which was chaired by Dean William Powers, Jr. (law), to produce a report by November 1, 2005. President Faulkner complimented task force members on meeting the deadline. He said the report’s recommendations would be considered by the Faculty Council through its normal governance process. He expected the process would take considerable time and involve the departments, colleges/schools, and the campus at-large. He said he hoped the University would be able to adopt a revised core curriculum “sometime in the reasonably near future.” He then invited Dean Powers to present the report of the Task Force on Curricular Reform. See Appendix A for the presentation.
Following the presentation, President Faulkner thanked Dean Powers and task force members for their hard work, which he called “a great collegial gift to a university looking to define its own stamp on the future.” As he commended the report to Faculty Council Chair Alba Ortiz (special
|| education), he urged faculty members to read the document and noted that the Faculty Council was now responsible for guiding the discussion. Chair Ortiz thanked the task force members and said everyone’s input was needed as the governance process proceeds forward.
|| Committee to Nominate a Candidate for Secretary of the General Faculty.
Chair Ortiz (chair of the nominating committee) reported that Sue Alexander Greninger (associate professor, human ecology) was the committee’s choice for the secretary position. Also serving on the nomination committee were Linda Reichl (physics), Linda Golden (marketing administration), Martha Hilley (music), Archie Holmes (electrical and computer engineering), Pauline Strong (anthropology), and Janet Dukerich (management).
|| NEW BUSINESS.
||Election of the Secretary of the General Faculty.
Chair Ortiz asked if there were any nominations for secretary from the floor. There being none, she called for the vote. Professor Greninger was unanimously elected to serve for the calendar year 2006.
REMAINING QUESTIONS TO THE PRESIDENT.
Chair Ortiz asked if there were any nominations for secretary from the floor. There being none, she called for the vote. Professor Greninger was unanimously elected to serve for the calendar year 2006.
On behalf of the General Faculty I would like to thank you for your efforts to enhance the standards and the academic environment for the faculty, particularly in terms of your efforts to diversify the faculty and the student body, to recruit and retain outstanding faculty, to reduce the faculty student ratio, and really to enhance the resources available to do our research, teaching, and outreach activities. I think your actions reflect a belief that you articulated in the very first State of the University Address, which is for a university to achieve greatness it requires a superb faculty. I think that you have really been outstanding in terms of supporting our work. I think you leave us with an outstanding legacy, in terms particularly of the recommendations that are embodied in the Commission of 125 report and the activities that are already underway, or will soon be underway, to implement those recommendations. I would like to ask the audience to join me in thanking you for your superb leadership.
After receiving a standing ovation, President Faulkner thanked Chair Ortiz and the Faculty Council for the expression of support. He said it had been a “great privilege to stand in a position of leadership of a university of this quality and a university of this ambition.” He said he thought he was leaving an agenda for the University that he hoped the faculty would perceive as important and embrace with great commitment.
The meeting adjourned at 3:39 p.m.
Distributed through the Faculty Council Web site
on April 24, 2006. Copies are available on request from the Office of the General Faculty, FAC 22, F9500.
Introduction and Overview — Dean William Powers (law and chair of the task force)
Report of the Task Force on Curricular Reform
Last November, the Faculty Council (headed then by Linda Reichl), the provost, and the president established this Task Force on Curricular Reform. Jointly, they appointed our members. They charged us with delivering our report by the end of October of this year. Madame Chair, Mr. President, Mr. Provost, we are delighted to be here to say that we have completed our work. After we give our report, we will deliver the report to you as directed. Mr. President, I note that we are four days early.
Our Task Force consisted of eighteen members of the faculty. They are eighteen of the most respected and hard-working members of our faculty and two truly outstanding students. Their names are listed in the report. Five of them are here with me today to help give this report or this description or summary of the report. Several others are with us in the audience today, and I’d like them to stand — those who are in the audience as well as the people with me. We owe these people a great debt of gratitude.
I can tell you that we took our charge very seriously, and we worked very hard. We met in committees and subcommittees for 99.5 hours. We estimate we spent 2,600 person hours on this project. We spoke with faculty, with administrators, and with students. One of the things that was gratifying to find is that UT has many, many wonderful programs — programs across the campus, programs in the individual colleges and departments, and programs in college and department advising centers — to enrich the educational experience of our undergraduate students. We worked very hard to make recommendations that compliment and build on these programs — not recommendations to replace them. We had near unanimity on our committee. We did have one member dissent from some of our recommendations, and you’ll find his report in the materials you received today. We did find many very wonderful programs. Nevertheless, we do recommend change, and we want to describe what those changes should be.
UT has great strengths as a large, diverse, and nationally — and internationally — recognized research university. It has an outstanding faculty across many disciplines. It has exceptional research facilities, world-renowned museums and collections, and performance centers. But, we found that all too often these strengths play a limited role in the experience of our undergraduate students, especially those students in the first two years of their study. The Boyer Commission Report, several years ago, recognized that this is true for large research universities across the country. The Commission of 125 recognized that this is true at UT.
We’ve made a set of recommendations that we believe will give our students a richer and more coherent undergraduate experience. Specifically, we make five recommendations, which you’ll hear more about each one of them in a moment. First, we recommend two special courses, one in each of the first two years students are here. We call these signature courses that will expose all of our students from the moment they set foot on this campus to some of our most gifted teachers and scholars and give them exposure to some of our wonderful collections, museums, and performance centers. You’ll hear more about these signature courses in a moment from Paul Woodruff.
Second, we recommend new approaches to our core requirements so they provide undergraduate students with a more coherent and integrative structure for undergraduate education — so they equip our undergraduate students with critical skills and experiences that they need to be leaders in our state and nation. You’ll hear more about these recommendations from Cale McDowell.
Third, we recommend a set of changes that will enhance the student’s ability to use the University and its education to find a path at the University and to find a path in life — not just to pursue a path that may already have been chosen before the student arrived here at the University. You’ll hear more about this way finding function from Megan Seaholm.<
Fourth, we came to the conclusion that the University has many centrifugal forces — centrifugal forces even in its structure that push energy and resources away from the core. In many ways, the core curriculum is an academic orphan, and so we recommend a new structure. It’s a structure that we call University College — a
structure that will have sufficient influence and funding to serve as a guardian of the core undergraduate curriculum and to assert gravitational forces that reverse some of the centrifugal forces that are currently at work. These gravitational forces will pull energy and resources and attention back into the core.
Now University College is just a vehicle. It is not an end in itself. It’s a vehicle to implement our substantive curricular recommendations that I spoke of a moment ago and which you’ll hear more about from individual members of the committee. We do believe it’s an important structural vehicle. It will give the core curriculum a needed guardian. Rather than dictating changes in the curriculum through command and control, it can tap the enormous energy and creativity of our faculty by luring their talents back into the core — luring them back into the core in ways that are attractive to them and are attractive to the departments and colleges, of which they are members. You’ll hear more about University College from Des Lawler.
Finally, we recognize that our recommendations will cost money. So, we recommend that the University develop substantial new resources through a capital campaign, through natural growth in our budgets, and through setting priorities in our budgets. You’ll hear more about our views on resources from Brent Iverson.
Let me conclude this portion of my remarks by saying all we can do today is highlight the main parts of our proposals. As I said, we worked very hard to make them meaningful...indeed, we think bold — that will make a real difference in the fabric of undergraduate education here at the University — but also to make them doable and make them compatible with the important work that is going on in the colleges and departments. We can’t present all of that material here today, but we’ve tried to put it in the report. We urge you and hope that you will read the report carefully. I’ll have a bit more to say at the conclusion of our presentation, but now I’d like to invite Paul Woodruff to come forward and talk about our proposal for signature courses.
Signature Courses — Paul Woodruff (philosophy and Plan II)
I’d like to say I’ve served on a great many committees in my time here, and I thought this was the most hard working, the most deep thinking, and the most prepared to consider a wide range of alternatives. I’m very proud to have been part of it.
Our first recommendation is for a common educational experience for all freshmen and sophomores in the form of two one-semester courses — one for each year, which we call signature courses because we hope that these courses will represent an experience unique to The University of Texas. These will be courses that are good in ways that only this University can make them good. They will serve educational goals and developmental goals, which we have discussed over a long period. We hope, for example, that the freshman signature course will be designed in such a way that it prepares students to work at the highest standards in college level courses. We think it a lot better to teach students how to be good college students in a course that has definite content, rather than a college 101-type course. This aspect of the signature course is what I would call developmental.
We hope, through the signature course, to expose students to a range of disciplines and not just separate disciplines, but we hope to create a space in each course where different disciplines can encounter one another and where students can work to evaluate the contributions of different disciplines and understand how theories are supported in each one. The freshman signature course will be a space in which the humanities meet the sciences, we hope. The sophomore course will be one in which the humanities meet the social sciences. Because the courses are inherently interdisciplinary, they will be, in many cases, taught by teams of faculty, though not in every case. We don’t have a single recipe for all courses. We also plan, in order to meet this interdisciplinary goal, to have integrated into the courses what we’re calling University lectures. These are presentations by our most distinguished faculty or by very distinguished visitors, each one of which is to be followed by a panel in which faculty from different disciplines discuss vigorously what has been said. All students in the signature courses will either attend the lectures or hear them on video, and they will be discussed during the signature courses.
One of the goals of the signature courses is that students practice communication skills and enhance the skills considerably beyond the level that is taught in high school. We hope to integrate both writing assignments and formal speaking assignments into the courses. We feel that, though we’re doing fairly well with writing, we can
improve a lot in that area. We are really not addressing the Coordinating Board’s concern with speaking in the area of communication. Because writing and speaking will be important parts, the courses will be organized so there are small subsections conducted by senior and well-trained teaching assistants or AIs. One of our goals, again, is for students to be exposed to and explore some of the unique treasures of UT like the HRC, the Blanton, the Performing Arts Center, and the special labs. We also want to acquaint students through the courses with our most distinguished faculty. We wanted to take advantage of the fact that we are a top research University. We didn’t want to create a special junior teaching faculty for these courses. We wanted to use the best people we have. In order to achieve that goal, we realize that we would have to have some flexibility on curriculum. We couldn’t have a rigidly-set syllabus for all sections because we find senior faculty won’t teach an assigned syllabus very well, if they’ll do it at all. We wanted to make this attractive to senior faculty. There will be, if we follow our design, instead of a single curriculum for all sections of the signature course, there will curricula that are very closely resembling, in a kind of tight family resemblance. We firmly believe that if one UT student meets another UT student ten years from now, and a signature course has been put into effect, even if they never knew each other on this campus, they will have something in common. They will have been part of a shared intellectual conversation, which we hope they can continue in alumni groups and in their lives long after graduation. Thank you very much. Cale McDowell will present our thoughts on the core.
Core: Flags and Thematic Strands — Cale McDowell (graduate student, business)
The freshman signature course will introduce students to an exciting educational experience that should continue through the four years that they spend on campus. To build successfully on the foundation of the signature courses, our core curriculum should engage students. It should prepare students to become leaders in a complex and changing world. It must be integrated and coherent. When the Task Force set out with a goal of improving UT’s core curriculum, we knew that we wanted to build coherence while preserving choice. We wanted to augment students’ experiences without creating unwieldiness. We wanted to ensure a high level of quality without compromising the richness and variety of our course offerings. To these ends, we make several recommendations.
First, we recommend a new set of required skills and experiences that all undergraduates should satisfy in core, major, and elective courses. Courses that satisfy one or more of these new requirements will be designated with a flag, much like the current substantial writing component designation. We’ve recommended that students earn flags in six areas, which include three flags in writing in addition to Rhetoric 306; one flag in quantitative reasoning, which includes statistical fluency, formal logic, or quantitative evaluation of evidence; one flag in global cultures; one flag in multicultural perspectives and diversity; one flag in ethics and leadership; and one flag in independent inquiry, which might require a student to formulate, analyze, and independently investigate a problem.
It’s important to note that these are not specific courses unto themselves. In fact, a major benefit of this system is that students will be able to satisfy the flag requirements in the normal course of fulfilling other core and major requirements. For example, a certain course in the social science area of the core might also carry a global cultures flag so you’re satisfying two requirements at once. We’re not adding hours with flags. Many courses that could satisfy flags already exist, but where the courses do not exist, we should develop them.
Second, we would recommend that core courses be arranged in a coherent way. The Commission of 125 opined that the core curriculum is often treated as a vast a la carte menu, and course selection decisions are frequently driven by class availability, convenience, and whim, rather than by a well conceived plan of instruction. We agree with the commission’s assertion, but we also believe that the richness, variety, and immensity of the UT’s core curriculum are great assets, which allow us to accommodate the unique interests of almost any student. Still students need and deserve more guidance as they select their core courses. The University should draw connections between existing courses to create meaningful and coherent paths for students to follow. Building on the success of the Bridging Disciplines Program, we recommend that the University develop multiple thematic strands of courses, which run through the core curriculum. Each strand would be organized around an interdisciplinary theme and identify sets of courses that meet core requirements in a related and coherent way. For example, a strand organized around the theme of health policy might link core courses in government,
economics, sociology, and history. All students should pursue a coherent path through the core curriculum, but some will need the flexibility todevelop their own plans with appropriate advising.
Finally, we recommend that core courses be better designed for their broad educational purposes. For many students, these courses serve as both the introduction to and the final collegiate experience in a subject. However, many courses are designed as early building blocks and a progression of courses leading to a major, while others are watered down versions of introductory courses. Neither approach serves students well. Core courses should convey the most fundamental and important ideas in their respective fields, rather than technical skills required for more advanced coursework within a major. For example, calculus currently satisfies the core mathematics requirement, but a student taking a single course in that discipline might be better served by a course in statistics or a course covering some of the great ideas in mathematics. With this in mind, we recommend a review of the core courses to ensure that the broad educational goals of the core are met.
It’s essential that these recommendations be implemented without overly burdening students as they fulfill their graduation requirements. Flagged courses in each area must be numerous, and thematic strands must be flexible and must accommodate large numbers of students. Implementing these recommendations will require hard work, but this has the potential to reinvigorate the core curriculum and to provide undergraduate students with a rich and coherent educational experience that will prepare them for lives of achievement. Now, I’ll turn it over to Megan Seaholm.
Academic Way Finding — Megan Seaholm (history)
It’s been quite a privilege to serve on this Task Force. I want to thank Sheldon and President Faulkner for allowing me this opportunity. I’m talking about academic way finding. The Task Force on Curricular Reform recommends that the University develop a program of University-wide advising to complement academic advising services presently offered by colleges, departments, and the many special advising centers on campus. In the last twenty-five years, academic advising services to students have increased significantly here at UT in quantity and in quality. Faculty and staff advisors work with students in the departments to help them make choices about courses in the students' chosen majors and to introduce students to special department programs or opportunities. College academic advisors work with students from orientation all the way through graduation. These advisors help students who are in academic trouble or who are experiencing other difficulties. They help connect these students to other campus services or educational programs. For example, the College of Liberal Arts has just developed a new stay-on-track program to help students make timely progress toward their degrees. The College of Natural Sciences has developed an especially efficient advising program for students, which combines the creative use of computer technology with a team of excellent advisors. Academic advising in the McCombs School and the College of Engineering are well regarded all over campus as are many other advising centers that are too numerous to name...pursuing and providing functions too numerous to name.
The Office of the Registrar has provided a major assist to students and academic advisors with the interactive degree audit. Computer wizards like Davis Phillips have advanced advising all over campus with the creation of the advisors tool kit. The provost supports academic advising through the Provost’s Council on Academic Advising. In short, there’s broad support at The University of Texas for quality academic advising assistance to students in academic way finding. We do a superlative job of assisting students who know what they want to major in or who are clear about their professional objectives. Most college freshmen do not arrive on our campus with such clarity or focus. Most college freshmen are after all eighteen. They’ve only had eighteen years of experience in the world, and they matriculate at our University with no experience at a research University. Most do not know what they want to major in. Most select a major because they feel embarrassed not to. They feel lost and directionless if they don’t check a box and somehow define themselves as majoring in the X, Y, or Z. Most, then, change their major two or three times. Frustration and anxiety builds for students, and time is lost.
A University-wide advising and career center is needed to respond to the situation of a majority of undergraduates, especially our freshmen. Our young students need assistance in learning about the possibilities of university study and about the relationship between university education and occupational choice. We need
to meet them where they are, and we need to meet them with the questions that they have. Students who are certain of their major, God bless them, should absolutely continue to begin major specific coursework their first year, but we recommend that all students delay their official declaration of major until the beginning of the third semester in residence. Preadmission in the selective majors and in the restrictive majors will, of course, continue so that these students can begin and continue their courses of study. A University-wide advising and career center will not supplant existing advising services. On the contrary, the excellent advising centers in departments and colleges must continue to provide informed college and major-specific advising for their students. A University-wide advising and career center is needed, however, to help our many students who are exploring their talents and their interests and who need access to information and advising about the incredibly vast range of University resources and opportunities. This will make a bit more sense when you hear more about University College from Des Lawler.
University College — Desmond Lawler (civil, architectural, and environmental engineering
Our Task Force was appointed to consider and recommend changes in the core curriculum. In our first meeting last December, the last thing from our minds was that we would recommend a change in the University structure. But, during our deliberations, we realized that the very structure of the University pulled faculty attention and resources away from the core curriculum and made the freshman experience difficult for a large number of students. We found that existing colleges, which are absolutely essential to the higher levels of education in every student’s major, tended to separate us both as a faculty and students from the core undergraduate education and core experience. These are the centrifugal forces that Bill mentioned. And so, much to our surprise, we are recommending a change in the University's structure.
We’re proposing a new entity — a vehicle to carry us through the changes to the core curriculum that we have proposed and to ensure that the core curriculum does not stagnate. In our report, we call this new entity University College. We envision it to have the following characteristics and responsibilities. University College will have a faculty, namely, all of the faculty of the University, much like our present graduate school structure. All faculty members have responsibility for the core curriculum, and University College will provide a focal point for organizing that responsibility. As a college, it will have a dean, and it will also have small, rotating executive committees of faculty members. University College will be the entry point for all first year students. After that year, students will declare a major and migrate to our existing colleges. University College will allow students, who need it, the freedom to explore possibilities for their majors, and the vast majority of freshmen will benefit from this freedom. But, the existence of University College will in no way harm those students who really do know their direction in life, or at least their major. By its existence, University College will go a long way to eliminating what we might call academic orphans—students who’ve not yet settled on a college or major.
As Megan mentioned, University College will have a strong advising function from orientation through the selection of major, to be sure, but also provide University advising on career opportunities for our graduates or soon-to-be graduates. Many of our colleges have excellent advising offices in place, and as Megan also mentioned, University College will not supplant those wonderful efforts but will compliment and expand them. In many colleges and for many students, we do a very good job now. But we believe, that as a University, we can do better. University College is a vehicle to accomplish that vision of doing better. University College will be what we call the guardian of the core curriculum. It will serve to exert gravitational forces to bring a faculty focus and the student’s educational experiences back to the core skills, experiences, knowledge, and educational values that we have elucidated. As others on the panel explained earlier, we believe that these skills and experiences and knowledge need to be taught and reinforced, not just in our required 42-hour state-mandated core but also in our electives, in our signature courses, and in our majors. University College will help us to achieve that broader vision of the core curriculum or really the central focus of a UT education.
For colleges with restricted admissions, such as my own College of Engineering, we recognize that incoming students need the assurance that their desired major will be open to them in their second year. Our recommendation is that at the time of freshman admission into the University College such other colleges would be able to guarantee admission to 80% of their full enrollment. That is, for every four students for whom sophomore admission is guaranteed, they will hold one slot open for another student. I believe this change will
be a very positive one for all concerned – the students in the 80%, the students in the 20%, and the college faculty. Again, we did not expect to recommend a new college. We reached the conclusion that it was necessary, only slowly. But we now bring this recommendation to you with excitement. Simply put, colleges form the structure of the University, and we need a college whose mission is focused on the core curriculum and its centrality in shaping the intellectual growth of our incoming students.
For freshmen, we believe that University College will serve to elevate the intellectual challenge as they enter the University, while providing the services and the freedom they need for transition to higher intellectual life. For the faculty, University College will call us back to one of our most important missions — undergraduate education in its totality. If it works properly, University College will be the vehicle that keeps the core curriculum fresh, allowing it to evolve and preventing us from going another twenty-five years before we look at the core curriculum again. And to accomplish these things, we need resources, and Brent Iverson will talk to you about that.
Resources — Brent Iverson (chemistry and biochemistry)
It is truly an honor to serve on this Task Force and meet the individuals and listen to their deliberations. You have heard about several very exciting and bold initiatives that are intended to enhance the undergraduate experience in the core curriculum at the University. It is my job to tell you a bit of the bad news — what it is going to cost. Throughout our deliberations, costs and feasibility were major concerns of ours. The shortest section in the report is the one that discusses the required resources that we are going to have to generate, but it is by no means the least important. Make no mistake — resources will be required to implement these initiatives. We are not proposing to bulldoze existing structures and build something new in their place. As a result, many of the initiatives being proposed will expand existing programs or bring entirely new elements to the University. So, we have to be very conscious of the fact that this is not a zero sum game. We must make sure that new resources are brought to the University as the new elements are added. Two equally important types of resources will be required. The first, and perhaps the most important, is the will to get it done. It is going to take the collective energy and enthusiasm of the entire University community to make changes as significant as these.
The second set of required resources includes the physical resources, the faculty, the TAs, and the financial resources that are going to be required. This plan is not going to be launched all at once. It is going to be phased in as conditions allow.
What kind of costs are we talking about? One big item that would be implemented fairly early on would be the freshmen signature courses that Paul told you about. We roughly estimate the cost of this to be about $2.5 to 3 million per year. Now let’s say that we are off by a factor of two, and it is really a $6 million operation. What I would like to point out is that amounts to one-third of one percent of the operating budget of the University. And, these signature courses would touch every first-year student at The University of Texas.
Where would these resources come from? We propose two ideas as integral to this entire initiative. The first is that it should be made a priority in new funding as budgets naturally grow at the University. Second, we believe, as do others we have spoken with, that this initiative could serve as a foundation for a capital campaign. The idea is that we would like to raise a considerable endowment, the proceeds of which could be used and administered through the University College to allow these operations, these initiatives, these new elements to be funded.
We believe we have been appropriately sensitive to cost in conceiving this plan. The University College vehicle has been designed to use resources in an efficient and sustainable way, taking advantage of as many synergies on campus as possible. It will not simply guzzle all available resources and not worry about the long term. In other words, every effort was made to ensure that the University College vehicle is built around hybrid technology. It is not going to be a SUV. I think those are sentiments shared by everyone in this room. So, I think the next person to talk is Bill.
Conclusion —Dean William Powers
Thank you all for your presentations. As I said at the outset, we could only touch on the highlights. There are a lot of details; there are a lot of motivations and rationales that go into our judgments on these recommendations. There are ways that these recommendations fit together. I urge you...I hope you will read the report carefully, talk about portions of the report, and start a discussion of how we might attend to this task of giving our undergraduates an education that they will look back on and say it was a transformative time in their lives. Let me also thank all the members, that I introduced and asked you to recognize earlier, of this committee. As I said earlier, people on this committee have done a tremendous amount of work. It is one of the finest groups of people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. It was a real honor for me to chair this and work with the people that put so much thought and so much effort into these recommendations. Let me conclude these remarks, before I present the report to those who asked for it, with a charge to our faculty, to you all in the audience. No single committee can design an entire curriculum in a single stroke or at a single time. As Brent said, this will take continual work to phase in these issues over time. Improving our core curriculum will take creativity, and it will take a cooperative spirit, and it will take hard work. It’s something that we need to do not just every twenty-five years but continually. In fact, as you heard before, we believe that University College is an organic, dynamic entity that can work to develop these courses. It can work, if it is properly funded, to lure faculty who are interested in these courses to develop them and teach them and improve all of the courses in the core curriculum. With these resources, it can make doing that attractive to the departments from which these faculty members come. We can’t simply, through command and control, do this on the backs of the departments, who are doing in their own field and in other core courses, valuable work. So, we think University College is an organic and dynamic entity that can attend to, can be a guardian, and can be a gravitational force to attract resources back into the core, as we think they are needed. Successful curriculum reform will require a sustained effort, as many have said today, and sustained resources. It will also require us, in all of our fields, to overcome institutional inertia, territoriality, and habit. But, we feel strongly, that if we do these things, we have a golden opportunity here to enrich the lives of our undergraduate students, and we think now is the time to seize that opportunity. So, with that, Madame Chair, Mr. Provost, and Mr. President, it is my honor and privilege and pleasure to present the Report of the Task Force on Curricular Reform to you.
I was enormously remiss. We also had a wonderful staff working with us — Geoff Leavenworth and Kathleen Skinner. Let me assure you, Kathleen and Geoff were partners in this effort with their time but also with their wisdom and their advice. And, we are really blessed at this University to have the two of them working on this project and on projects like this. Thank you to Geoff and Kathleen.