Regents take on core curriculum at their own version of summer school

Board to engage faculty in discussion of goals for grads' academic qualities
By Staff

The University of Colorado Board of Regents went back to class last week to learn the issues surrounding core curriculum.

In what was billed as a daylong seminar on the topic, board members on Friday, July 17, heard about the history and philosophy of core curriculum, as well as how it functions at CU. The discussion was led by Paul Gaston, Ph.D., Trustees Professor at Kent State University and a nationally recognized expert on the topic. He is the co-author of "Revising General Education" and author of the recently published "The Challenge of Bologna: What U.S. Higher Education Has to Learn From Europe and Why It Matters That We Learn It."

The day ended with the board directing the administration to engage faculty and academic leadership in a discussion of what the academic qualities of a CU graduate should be.

"It is critical for the board to have a thorough understanding of key academic issues facing the University of Colorado and all of higher education," said Regent Stephen Ludwig, D-Lone Tree, the board vice chair who organized the session during the board's retreat in Silverthorne. "The retreat offered a block of time to thoroughly explore the history, national trends, influences and campus approaches to addressing core curriculum.

"We were fortunate to have CU faculty and chancellors play a key role in that discussion and to have Professor Gaston lead a great seminar on the topic."

Representatives from each campus gave an overview of their core curriculum and general education requirements, and addressed other related issues such as program mix and space availability. The board also heard a presentation on GT Pathways, a statewide community college transfer agreement, from Vicki Leal, academic policy officer and governor's advocate in the Colorado Department of Higher Education.

Gaston said that while the faculty is ultimately responsible for curricular issues, the board, as the representative of the university's external constituents, plays an important role.

"The awareness that this is becoming a priority for you will have an important effect on campuses," he said. "From my perspective, there has been a great deal accomplished."

The board's academic affairs subcommittee will work with provosts, faculty governance leaders and Kathleen Bollard, Ph.D., associate vice president and academic affairs officer for the CU system, to frame the issue and further the discussion. The working group will report back to the full board during the coming academic year.

"In my 12 years on the board, this is the most thorough, engaging and in-depth discussion we've had on this issue," said Regent Tom Lucero, R-Berthoud.