Proposal to Change the Twenty-Four of the Last Thirty Semester Hours Rule in the General Requirements Section of the Undergraduate Catalog, 2014-2016
On behalf of the EPC, Professor Rose presented a proposal to delete the rule that mandated that twenty-four of the last thirty-semester hours must be earned in residence.1
Professor Rose pointed out that Secretary Dean Neikirk had classified the proposals as major legislation, which meant that, if approved by the Faculty Council, the General Faculty would consider the proposal on a no-protest basis. Professor Rose provided background for the proposal explaining that the rule had been created well before the sixty-hour-in-residence requirement. She said the EPC had been notified of problems students had been encountering when seeking creative ways of completing their degrees, i.e., study abroad and courses taken at community colleges over the summer before their last semester. The rule in question prevents transfer credit from being counted toward students’ degrees when not earned in-residence in the last thirty semester hours, whereas, if they had taken the courses one semester earlier, it would not have been a problem. For this reason, the EPC recommended that the rule be omitted from the Undergraduate Catalog, 2014-2016.
Professor Rose pointed out that the majority of the colleges had their own internal requirements ranging from eighteen, twenty-four or thirty hours, with some simply saying the last semester needs to be in residence. She said there were “all kinds of ways that individual units can make requirements to get to the spirit of the idea that your major and your degree is from UT.” Professor Beckner voiced his discomfort with the proposal. He envisioned that a UT Austin student could possibly “get their major in some science courses at Texas Tech.” He felt it would be different for students who had put off taking classes to fulfill the undergraduate core, but not necessarily so for students in some science programs where the bulk of the courses in the last year and a half are in the major. He said, in principle, he thought “the residency requirement was good, though maybe twenty-four was too large a number.” He added that the proposal left him “with some discomfort about what degree are you really getting with regard to advanced course work, not the core curriculum.” Professor Rose rebutted saying that she understood his concern, but the point he made was why she was in favor of the legislation. She said, “a one-size-fits-all rule is wrong for a university in which a degree program works one way in engineering and very different in sociology.” She added that she “would much prefer that individual departments or colleges specify what a degree from UT in that field means, and how much and what courses, and what sequence, or what amounts need to be in residence, rather than this, which simply does not reflect reality across all departments.”
Professor Rose closed her presentation by asking members to send comments to her before April 18, which is when the Faculty Council Executive Committee would be meeting.