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Wednesday, October 21, 1998
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 42

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Faculty discusses core curriculum reduction

By Michelle Norton
Campus Editor

  The dabate over the state-mandated 42-hour core curriculum continued Monday as faculty members met to decide how to fill the last six hours of the institutionally designated option.

 A meeting the Architecture Theatre aimed to offer possible solutions to the curriculum controversy, at which several proposals were made.

 Legislation passed in 1997 during the 75th Texas Legislative session called for the establishment of a unified 42-hour core curriculum for Texas' public schools, which would allow students to freely transfer credits in core classes between institutions of higher learning. The legislation is slate dto go into effect in Fall 1999.

 While helping Texas students transfer more easily, the legislatin decreased UH's core requirements to 42 hours from the current 54, presenting a problem of what to do with the 14 remaining hours.

 As a result, former Provost Georga Magner created the Task Force on Undergraduate Education to meld the current curriculum with the new and to review undergraduate core curriculum.

 As a result, the Core Transition Task Force accepted in September a proposal calling for 36 semester credit hours of communication, mathematics, natural sciences, humanities, visual and performing arts, U.S. history, political science and social and behavioral science courses.

 Now the task force is left with the decision of what courses should fill the remaining six-hour designated option.

 A proposal from the task force called for three additional hours of communication and three more hours of quantitative courses such as math, logic, statistics, computer science or music theory.

 Susan Kellogg, associate history professor, led an appeal to make humanities a strong part of the six-hour option.

 "There's no multicultural element or international content included," she said. "There also needs to be a stronger emphasis on writing across the curriculum."

 Four history professors suggested an alternate plan calling for a two-track institutionally designated option. One component would emphasize cultural literacy and the other technological literacy.

 Associate Professor of Health and Human Performance Denis Smith suggested an option track for HHP, explaining to faculty members that health and education are interrelated and that lack of exercise is the most controllable risk to students' health.

 Psychology Professor Richard Kasschau also gave his suggestion as to which courses should fill the remaining six hours. "Social sciences are underrepresented at this university," he said.

 Kasschau said social sciences are interrelated in many ways to other departments. "Social sciences as a cluster have natural bridges to other colleges," he said. His proposal suggested that six hour be designated for communication and three for social sciences.

 Shirley Ezell, associate dean of technology, presented the task force's review of undergraduate education.

 To solve problems such as first-year dropout rate and low returning enrollment, the review called for more full-time faculty, an increase in merit-based scholarships to $10 million annually and the created of a College of Undergraduate Studies.

 The new college would employ a dean specializing in undergraduate education in urban universities.

 An open forum do discuss core curriculum will be held from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in Room 150, Architecture building.

 The core curriculum is scheduled to be finalized by Nov. 2.
 

Reach Norton at
mnort@bayou.uh.edu
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