Note: This is an updated and corrected version of a story which ran on the front page of The Index Thursday, Nov. 30.
Truman State University Faculty Senate approved the 2017 summer bill, putting changes to the University’s Liberal Studies Program to a faculty-wide vote.
The proposal, which was created during summer 2017, would replace modes with perspectives that students would be required to fulfill as part of Truman’s liberal studies education. Faculty Senate voted 15-10 to put the proposal to a faculty referendum which, if passed, would implement the new LSP at the beginning of next school year. The summer proposal replaced a separate bill created last spring in a 17-9 vote, with one senator abstaining.
Terry Olson, a member of the committee responsible for drafting the summer bill, said the original proposal was ambiguous and was opposed by some departments for different reasons. The essential skills embedded in the freshman seminars might have been a factor as well as the depth of distribution requirements, he said.
“I’m absolutely sure it’s not the same issue for everybody,” Olson said. “That was really a big thing. Different people had different issues with the original proposal.”
Faculty senator Candy Young said the summer bill was thoroughly discussed and widely supported. The final vote for the bill, which included a number of amendments, shows most people were satisfied with the curriculum, she said.
Despite being passed, the summer bill did have some opposition. History professor Sally West opposed the summer proposal because her department thought the original bill had a more viable vision.
“What we really admired in the original proposal was the creation of a larger vision for the whole curriculum that would build interdisciplinarity right from the start and that would also foster the liberal arts more by encouraging students to explore where they want to go, rather than to take [predetermined] courses,” West said.
Faculty Senate considered 11 amendments to the summer proposal at the meeting and passed seven before approving the full curriculum. One amendment removed the requirement of a 3-credit-hour course to fulfill the Missouri Statute requirement, instead allowing students the additional option of a 1-credit-hour or an online course.
Faculty Senate also passed an amendment to eliminate the 63-credit-hour Liberal Arts and Sciences requirement because of the large number of students who enroll with pre-existing credit. The rest of the amendments were changes to the wording of the bill to garner support. These discussions involved implementing additional seminars at a later date — including the high impact experience requirement.
Senior Kyra Cooper, Student Government president, said she thinks the new Liberal Studies Program changes and amendments mirrored what Student Government was trying to achieve with the resolution they passed.
“The resolution that we passed has the following opinions,” Cooper said. “We recommend the requirement of a high impact experience in the Liberal Studies Program, the inclusion of a wellness activity with the enforcement of clearly defined guidelines, maintaining opportunities to opt out of essential skills courses, requiring a common experience, further discussion of compromise between worlds and perspectives, and that faculty work to include students in further discussions of the core curriculum.”
Bridget Thomas, a non-voting member of Faculty Senate, said she would have liked to see a procedure to craft the bill similar to the process that created the original proposal. The summer bill should have been subject to more discussion and should have been approved by Undergraduate Council as the original bill was. She said the opposition came more from people who thought the strenuous process of creating the original proposal should be respected and the new proposal was not as distinct as the old bill.
Faculty Senate is also planning for the spring semester, when faculty can learn more about the new curriculum before the faculty referendum — scheduled during the spring semester.