UUCC considers gen eds vs. budget

**Requirements that may be changed due to budget cuts.

Desiree Roe/Karlie Miller graphic

**Requirements that may be changed due to budget cuts.

Hannah Helwig, General Reporter

A special meeting of the University Undergraduate Curriculum Committee on Sept. 30 ended inconclusively after emotional discussion.

UUCC Chair Chris Schulenburg asked for more specific dollar figures from administration at the end of the hour-long meeting, which was called to consider an administration proposal to make drastic changes in the General Education curriculum as a cost-saving measure.

Joanne Wilson, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, said to the attendees that she was providing numbers wherever possible. She estimated, for example, that about 10 percent or about 140 to 150 UW-Platteville graduates a year, come in without foreign language credits. If those students no longer had to take these credits, one Full-Time Equivalency position could be eliminated.

She also said that the proposed mathematics changes could result in an estimated savings of about $150,000.

The three academic colleges of BILSA, LAE and EMS are charged with coming up with cuts in the amount of $2.5 million, according to the budget update sent out on Sept. 24. This is one portion of a larger $8.5-10 million cut that must be made from the university as a whole.

The first item proposed a distinction in requirements for students seeking a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science. Students who opt for a BS degree would no longer need to take eight credits of a foreign language, while BA students would still need to if they had not satisfied the requirement with high school foreign language.

“Demands on our graduates are higher than ever before,” Schulenburg said. He also said that many governments around the world acknowledge the value in graduates being able to speak an additional language.

Item six proposed requiring one wellness credit, but eliminating the required one credit of physical activity.

“You’re asking us to cut something in my program at the expense of student health,” Athletics Department chair Colleen McCabe said.

McCabe said furthermore that many students do not actively engage in physical activity without the requirement.

“We need that requirement to get them to us and create a pattern,” McCabe said. “Just knowing about it and saying it is not enough, we actually have to have them engage in it.”

The basic framework for the current general education requirements was established in 1989 and reviewed by the UUCC in recent years. As a result of those reviews, changes were implemented in fall 2014 which included requiring six credits of writing emphasis and a reduction in physical sciences. At that time, general education courses which triple-counted were eliminated.

Business administration professor and UUCC Faculty Member Susan Hansen said that it is difficult to calculate the exact cost-saving figures.

“What [Joanne Wilson] tried to do was look at, if we eliminate a class, how many FTE faculty that would affect,” Hansen said. “As we begin to talk through how these numbers are calculated, that is how we will proceed.”

Essentially, in order to come up with $2.5 million in savings, positions are going to be cut and it is only a matter of where.

“More than 80 percent of our budget is in salary dollars,” Mittie Den Herder, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, said.

UUCC meeting attendees also briefly discussed politics driving the issue at the state level.

“I really believe that the governor will turn around and use our cuts against us,” Rosalyn Broussard, UUCC member representing the college of LAE, said.

Broussard said that if the argument from the governor and the Republican Party is that students are taking unnecessary classes, cutting these classes will only justify this argument.

“We have to look at what programs we can do without and at the end of the day, students need to be more involved and asking themselves what they are going to need to compete in a global world,” Broussard said.

Den Herder said that the UUCC has scheduled additional special meetings and that the senior administration team is looking for recommendations in order the make the “wisest” decision possible.

“We are hoping that they will come back with proposals that are robust in terms of what we offer to students, but still show a cost-savings,” Den Herder said.

Open forums sponsored by the campus governance groups to discuss budget reduction planning took place on Oct. 7, before the Exponent went to print. Chancellor Shields will be holding open forums the following week on Oct. 14 in the Nohr Gallery from 9 to 10:30 a.m. and from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

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