Don’t reduce ASU science requirements, some faculty say
by Anna Oakes
Some science faculty members at
Appalachian State University say a proposal that would reduce required science credit hours by one
hour is headed in the wrong direction.
The ASU Faculty Senate on
Monday voted to table until October any action on recommended changes to the university’s
General Education curriculum, which is required for all undergraduate degrees.
ASU is currently revising the General Education curriculum to ease the
transition for transfer students, provide greater flexibility to students and simplify the process
for advisors. Because the changes have significant implications for some academic departments,
senators asked for more time to review the recommendations.
Faculty Senate has been asked to weigh in on proposed changes crafted by the General Education
Advisory Group, which was appointed by Provost Lori Gonzalez in December 2011 following campus
surveys and a task force report.
One issue is the proposed
reduction of required credits under the science component area from eight required credit hours to
seven or eight credit hours.
Introductory science courses, along with their corresponding lab classes, are
counted as four credit hours at ASU, but many other four-year institutions count similar courses
as three credit hours.
According to the offices of Transfer
Articulation and Academic Advising at ASU, many transfer students come in with three or seven
credit hours of science courses, meaning transfers often have to take an additional four-hour
science course or two to satisfy ASU’s requirement, putting them over the required number of
“These additional hours will become
increasingly problematic for the institution as the UNC system moves to a performance-based
funding model with transfer graduation rates as one of the performance metrics,” according
to the advisory group’s June 19 report. “These additional hours also prove problematic
for transfer students who face the increased likelihood of incurring additional expenses due to a
tuition surcharge, which was increased in 2010 from 25 percent to 50 percent.”
But some science faculty at ASU resisted the notion of reducing science
Mathematical sciences professor Eric Marland
presented a statement of unanimous opposition to the proposed General Education changes from his
department. In 1960, he said, ASU required four science courses for a degree, which has since
dropped to eight hours (two courses), he said.
And the president
has emphasized the need for more education in science and math to maintain America’s
competitiveness in the global economy, Marland said.
seems an odd time to reduce them,” he added.
chemistry professor, asked, “What is so wrong with making something more
Puckett asked if the vote on the recommendations
could be postponed until December, but Jill Ehnenn of the Faculty Senate Academic Policy Committee
said it’s important for the Faculty Senate to give direction now before the recommendations
are considered by several administrative bodies at ASU. Ehnenn assured senators that faculty would
have the opportunity to consider any significant changes to the proposal later in the
If approved this academic year, the revisions to the
General Education curriculum would take effect in fall 2014.
current General Education Program was implemented in fall 2009 after a four-year design
“The current proposals under consideration are revisions to this program,” said Paulette Marty, director of General Education at ASU.