The following is a letter from the Chancellor’s General Education Advisory Committee (composed of faculty and administrators from CSU and community college [CCC] campuses) to the Chancellor
Dr. Timothy P. White, Chancellor
The California State University, Office of the Chancellor
401 Golden Shore, Long Beach, CA 90802
Dear Chancellor White:
The General Education Advisory Committee (GEAC) is charged with offering you advice regarding the General Education Breadth requirements of the CSU. I write as Chair of that committee to request that implementation of Executive Orders 1100 and 1110 be delayed for at least one academic year. This request has the unanimous support of the voting members of the committee.
At its meeting on Tuesday, September 12, 2017, the committee heard from numerous members that the time-line for implementation of these Executive Orders (EOs) is simply too short. EO 1110 was issued on August 2 and EO 1100 was released on August 23. That leaves only a short time for faculty to modify existing courses and programs or create new programs if implementation remains as fall, 2018.
While the specific concerns raised by GEAC members is too long to recount here, please allow me to identify some of the major issues discussed.
First, all EOs create some confusion. Language that appears clear to those who spend their time in GE policy discussions can be confusing to campus committees and faculty. This was evident at the GEAC meeting where many questions were raised. Dr. Alison Wrynn, State University Associate Dean, Academic Programs, worked diligently to clarify September 18, 2017 the EOs, but the sheer number questions illustrate the difficulty of interpreting policy changes without sufficient guidance.
Second, the EOs call for the elimination of remedial mathematics. This may be a laudable goal, but the California Community College (CCC) members of GEAC made clear that they not only had questions, but serious concerns about the ability of mathematics departments in their system to make the changes necessary to implement these new requirements by fall, 2018. The CCC faculty first want to see what the CSU campuses choose to do, then will use that information as guidance for their own actions. In addition, one CSU Articulation Officer stated that over half of the CSU’s Articulation Officers believe that there is not enough time to make these changes successfully on CSU campuses. The Mathematics faculty at some CSU campuses have made the same arguments. The was a “Mathematics Summit” last spring, and another is planned for later this fall, but the curriculum changes are due to campus committees prior to the second summit. Finally, it is planned that CSU mathematics courses for first-time freshmen will build upon what is achieved in Early Start, but changes to Early Start will not be implemented until summer of 2019. CSU Mathematics faculty claim it would be better to implement these simultaneously.
Third, EO 1100 specified that campuses cannot require more than 48-units (or 49 if there is a lab). In addition, all upper division GE units must occur in Blocks B (Scientific Inquiry and Quantitative Reasoning), C (Arts & Humanities), and D (Social Sciences). Currently, many (well over half) of CSU campuses exceed the newly permissible number of units and many also have upper division units outside of Blocks B, C, and D. Forcing CSU campuses to modify their General Education Programs to meet these two requirements has created great confusion and concern on CSU campuses. Many of the courses currently outside of the B, C, and D blocks are offered by Ethnic and other Cultural Studies Departments. Campus faculty fear that moving these courses will endanger the programs, the faculty they employ, and most importantly, the students they serve. Perhaps, given time, changes can be made without adversely impacting these programs, the faculty and the students, but such campus conversations require time. The current implementation date does not permit such conversion.
I apologize for the length of this correspondence, but wish to make one final point. GEAC did NOT call for the rescinding of the Executive Orders. It requested that you delay their implementation. Given time, the orders can be implemented as they are or modified through additional conversation within the shared governance processes. No members of GEAC disputed the desirability of ensuring that GE requirements are clear and equitable to both first-year and transfer students. Nor did the members challenge the idea that changes can facilitate graduation and help to close or eliminate the achievement gap. Our values coincide. We just do not want to rush these changes and make mistakes. We want to get it right the first time. Providing CSU and CCC faculty with at least an additional year for implementation will enable us to more successfully pursue this goal.
We believe that the Executive Orders have made it clear to internal and external audiences that the CSU is committed to changing its placement and GE requirements. Delaying implementation will make it clear to CSU and CCC faculty that you have heard their reasoned voices. We hope that you agree.
Kevin Baaske, Chair
General Education Advisory Committee
Member, Academic Senate California State University
Faculty, California State University Los Angeles