The University Record, March 26, 1996
LS&A faculty to vote April 1 on changes to undergraduate distribution requirements
By Rebecca A. Doyle
Faculty members in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts (LS&A) will vote April 1 on proposed changes to the undergraduate area distribution requirements.
Text of the proposed changes was sent to all LS&A faculty members in the call to the March meeting. The area distribution requirements are a portion of the LS&A faculty code, which requires that changes must be introduced at a regular LS&A faculty meeting and discussed and voted on at a subsequent meeting.
The LS&A curriculum committee has worked on the changes for nearly five years in response to student and faculty requests to make the requirements easier to understand and to include more coursework in the sciences.
"The details of how this requirement works are so complicated that our students have complained for years that they don't understand it," says Philip Gorman, LS&A administrative associate. The proposed changes would still require undergraduates to complete 30 credits in areas outside their concentration, but would allow enough flexibility for them to include courses in fine arts, computer technology, mathematics or statistics in their curriculum while fulfilling that requirement.
"The area distribution requirement has been the focus of recurrent discussions in the College for a number of years," says Lincoln Faller, associate dean for undergraduate education and long-range planning. "The curriculum committee has heard consistently from students that the College's requirements in general, and the distribution requirements in particular, are too complicated."
"The members of the curriculum committee are unanimous in their belief that the proposed revision is vastly superior to the current requirement. It is a compromise that combines the best features of the current patterns." Changes to the distribution requirements would affect 98 percent of the LS&A undergraduate student body those who expect to grad uate with Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degrees.
In addition to flexibility, the proposal would increase the number of credits required in natural sciences, social sciences and the humanities. The total number of credits required outside the undergraduate's area of concentration would remain at 30.
Gorman notes that the goals in making the changes are to address faculty concerns that students are not being exposed to enough coursework in science, and counselor and student concerns that the current distribution requirements are so difficult to understand that few students can complete them without extensive assistance.