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Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Little Time

I have now had some time to reflect on the round table discussions. It took us two days worth of meetings in October and one more in December to come to the five areas the good folks at the round table believe are worth examining. I can't help but believe the University could have saved itself $80,000 by just asking us to talk to each other. There is nothing truly new in the areas. However, having registered my complaint, it is time to move on. The question now becomes whether these areas will actually appear in the report (I have no reason to believe they won't), and if they appear what we will actually do about them. Those of us who have been here for awhile know that it is not just an administrative technique to stall in the hopes the problem will go away. We as a college have survived during my time here by waiting till the problem goes away. (Please reflect on the years 1999 and 2000.) It is my personal opinion that such a course of action will not be viable in this case. We, as a college, will either deal with these issues ourselves or someone else will do it for us. Yes, I know the curriculum is still under our control. And yes, I would like to keep it that way. The only way that happens (again this is my personal opinion) is for the college to be proactive in examining what we teach. The statement dealing with curriculum really divides itself into two major areas. The first is departmental. The goal is to have departments examine what they do, what they teach and to whom. We will need to do so because, quite frankly, most of us will not be receiving any meaningful new resources. That does not make me happy. In fact, I get angry when I think about what has happened to the social sciences, humanities and fine arts in this college. However, there is a certain reality that eventually sets in and says, "Okay, they don't care for my discipline. What can I do given the resources I presently have to make this viable for my students." The only place we, the faculty, can really do this is with the curriculum.

The second part of the question is actually divisive. It asks that we examine the core of the college. There are some who believe the core is just fine the way it is. There are others who would eliminate it altogether. I don't fall at either end. I do believe that the core of any university should be more than one from column A and one from column B. It should have some driving force other than to introduce students to the field of study. Again, there has to be some reality in the discussion. I would love to teach Mass Communication to 15 students. That is just not going to happen. So now I have to ask myself what resources need to be expended to achieve what I consider to be the optimum core. I understand I have put the cart before the horse here, but knowledge of what resources are truly available then drives what I can do in the core. Yes, I understand that the educational part of this should come first. But again, I can devise a wonderful core given unlimited resources. What I have to do is develop a core that has a purpose and has some chance of achieving that purpose given the financial constraints surrounding it.

I will close by trying to define what I mean by purpose. It is possible to create a core that has as its purpose global education. This would lead to a group of classes designed to help students understand our place in a global society. It is possible to create a core designed to teach western civilization. How did we get here from there? How did our culture develop the values we claim? It is possible to develop a core around the First Amendment to the Constitution. It is possible the present core does these things. I think you''ve gotten the idea. Again, I am available for any discussion.

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