Rollout of W&M’s New General Education Program to Cost $1.1 Million

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The estimated cost of rolling out the new general education requirements at the College of William Mary is $1.1 million with an annual price tag of $700,000 to sustain the new program.

Provost Michael Halleran presented to the Board of Visitors early plans for the new College Curriculum (COLL), which will replace current general education requirements with a new system. He said at the academic affairs meeting Thursday morning it would cost about $850,000 to kick-start the new gen ed program and about $300,000 aid in the transition from the old system.

The program would then have an annual cost of $700,000 starting in fiscal year 2019. Along with providing padding for transition costs, the money for implementation would cover the development of courses and increased academic advising efforts, Halloran said in an interview after the meeting.

Halleran said he didn’t doubt there would be “tweaking along the way” and various issues would need to be sorted out. In his closing comments, Rector Todd Stottlemyer reiterated the point saying the new curriculum is still a “work in progress” and the college would “learn some things along the way.”

“So I am excited about the work that has been done and I am confident in our leadership that we will continue to maintain the rigor that a William Mary education is known for,” Stottlemyer said. “And we will continue to be very relevant in today’s society moving forward to produce the absolute best students and prepare them to be very successful in a global economy.”

The Arts and Science’s Office is in “full gear” for grant writing, Halleran said, noting he expects most of the cost of rolling out the curriculum to be covered by the private grants.

Four faculty fellows — Deborah Morse, Nicholas Popper, John Riofrio and Gene Tracy — will lead the efforts to develop the new curriculum and work with faculty to move the curriculum from a blueprint phase into something usable. Next year, the college will pilot first-year courses under the new curriculum.

Morse, Popper, Riofrio and Tracy will work with the Educational Policy Committee and the Dean of Educational Policy to prepare and review guidelines for the new general education requirements. The group will also help faculty design courses, collaborate with student resource centers, survey course offerings and develop new educational initiatives.

Current general education requirements mandate students take courses from each of seven areas: natural sciences; math and quantitative reasoning; social sciences; literature and history of the arts; world cultures and history; creative and performing arts; and philosophical, religious and social thought. Students were allowed to take the courses in the order they wanted while acquiring their four-year degree.

The COLL system takes students through a specific series of courses during their four years. During the first year they will take a COLL 100 class, an introduction to college rigor, and COLL 150 class – a course to develop in-depth thinking and communication.

In their second year, students take three COLL 200 classes, each an introduction to one of three knowledge domains:

  • The Natural World and Quantitative Reasoning (sciences)
  • Cultures, Societies, and the Individual (social sciences)
  • Arts, Letters, and Values (arts/humanities)

The third year will be a real-world experience through a study abroad program, off-campus experience or a conference/seminar course that brings in international speakers. Board Member Charles Banks III said at Thursday’s meeting he thought the study abroad program was an “exciting element” to COLL, but wondered how students who need high financial aid support would be able to afford it.

“How are we going to get those students overseas?” Banks asked.

Halleran said all the details had not been worked out, but he offered the student exchange program would be one way help fix the problem, as the cost of tuition does not change for a student when they enter the program. He added transportation costs and job opportunities could be a challenge for those students overseas.

The fourth year of COLL will be a capstone course, which brings the student back to campus to share, critique and analyze what they have learned throughout their college career.

The changes will not affect the number of credits required of students to acquire their degree nor will it negate Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate credits earned in high school. Those credits will count as electives and toward the total number of credits earned.

President Taylor Reveley said the shift of AP credits was “something to keep an eye on” going forward because parents oftentimes want to get their children through college in three-and-a-half years for financial reasons.

“We can’t just say, ‘Sorry, we don’t do that here because we’re too elite,’” Reveley said at the meeting.

Board Member Ann Baise asked Halleran what the new curriculum would mean for transfer students, as many of them may transfer to the college with a mismatching set of general education requirements. Details for transfer students are still being worked out but there was strong indication from Halleran the college is working to ensure transfer students are not bumped into a fifth year of college because of the curriculum change.

The COLL curriculum is expected to be fully implemented by 2019.

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on February 7, 2014. Filed under Local News,Wmbg Govt Notebook.
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