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At its last meeting on April 8, the Faculty Senate deferred consideration of three proposed changes to the College’s General Education (GE) requirements that would give students more freedom to choose electives.

In a motion offered by Senator David Miller, geography, action during the meeting in the Park Center Hall of Fame Room was delayed until senators could peruse a complete description of the proposed changes including what the GE requirements currently call for and what the changes will look like.

Miller’s request was made after an extended open meeting was held that afternoon to listen to senators and about 12 guests offer pros and cons on the proposal.

Since the April 8 meeting, the senate’s General Education Committee has provided the requested draft. The document can be found attached to an April 18 email (updating a version shared April 10) by Barbara Kissel, secretary, on behalf of Jeffrey Walkuski, Faculty Senate chair.

The GE Committee’s complete, 27-page draft proposal is posted on the Faculty Senate website.

For those who would like to weigh in on the GE proposal, comments and opinions may be directed to one’s representative on the senate before the next Faculty Senate meeting on Tuesday, April 22. Or, members of the campus community are invited to participate in an open meeting on the proposal during the Faculty Senate meeting immediately after the President's Report. The meeting begins at 1:15 p.m. in the Park Center Hall of Fame Room.

The current state of the College’s GE requirements is the work of the 2006 General Education Taskforce, which integrated SUNY GE and Cortland GE learning outcomes.

The GE Committee began soliciting opinions about potential GE changes in fall 2012 to address increasingly restricted curriculum choices for students.

An initial campus email survey in Spring 2013 resulted in 65, mostly faculty, respondents. A second survey captured 160 student responses to the same open-ended questions.

The feedback led to the current draft proposal, in which the committee has endorsed the idea that students’ ability to complete their curriculum by taking preferred elective courses is a vital feature of a liberal arts education.

The changes that were requested by faculty were to scale back the natural sciences by one course and to allow freedom of choice within the social science categories in order to offer students more choices within course offerings and among (GE) categories. The changes are intended to offer students more choices to take courses outside of GE, as well as more opportunities to take minors, pursue electives of interest or study abroad. Specifically, these changes would:

                  •                Reduce the natural science requirement to one laboratory course by eliminating  GE 13 — a second natural science course;

                  •                Allow the 3- or 4-credit hour laboratory natural science courses to fulfill the natural science requirement; and,

                  •                Allow students to complete, for a total of six credit hours, any two of the following three categories: GE 3 — Social Science, GE 4 — United States History and Society, and GE 5 — Western Civilizations.

The changes also would fulfill the SUNY-wide general education requirements that aim to foster transferability of courses among colleges and universities within the system.

These would be the first major GE changes made since 2006.

If senators approve the proposal, they may follow past campus precedent and conduct a faculty referendum on the measure. If in that referendum a majority of eligible campus voters approves it, the GE Committee recommends a Fall 2015 implementation. However, because the proposal was not acted upon on April 8, possibly the referendum won’t happen until the fall semester.