The New Proposed Curriculum Fails

I told you a couple of weeks ago about how I was nearing the end of a 4-year process on building a new curriculum. We had the vote last week, and we lost: the faculty decided to reject the proposed curriculum. We lost by five votes (if we had only changed three people’s minds! Actually, I am not sure if I would have wanted the curriculum to pass by one vote—I don’t want 50% of the people unhappy).

This is disappointing, but the people have spoken. There may be a tiny bit of hope for the curriculum, though: I talked to several people (at least three, which would be enough for it to pass) who wanted more details about a separate, but related, distribution requirement that will be decided in the fall. So it is possible that the Faculty Senate will decide to resurrect the curriculum after the distribution requirement is settled, but there is no guarantee of that.

That is the bad news. The good news is that a lot of my time has just been freed up over the next couple of years.

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6 Responses to “The New Proposed Curriculum Fails”

  1. Andy "SuperFly" Rundquist Says:

    Sorry to hear about that, Bret, I know you were excited about a bunch of things in that new curriculum.

    • bretbenesh Says:

      Thanks, Andy. There is hope, though—one of my colleagues (who was not one who worked on the curriculum) just sent an email asking for feedback on how we can fix the model.

      So there are people out there who want to move forward.

  2. gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

    I was part of a failed campus-wide curriculum change that passed in voice vote, then failed in a mail ballot by just a few votes. Several years later the same issue was taken up by a different committee, who got faculty buy-in for a somewhat better solution (which is still in force). So there is hope that a better plan will rise from the ashes, though not necessarily soon.

    • bretbenesh Says:

      Thanks for the hopeful comment. We actually had a similar experience. We last revised our curriculum about 12 years ago, and it was a mess. The problem was that every faculty member had a vote, and people would play procedural games to get their way (making sure that there is/is not a quorum, etc).

      After that revision, we changed to a Senate model, where representatives would decide the curriculum. Our model passed the Senate, but the Senate decided that every faculty member should also vote to approve their decision. This is where we failed.

      For what it is worth, I think that a major problem is the work on the curriculum did not appear to be done by an elected body. I was part of an ad hoc committee to create the curriculum, and I was appointed by the Executive Committee of the Senate. We followed the orders of the Senate, but we not elected.

      I think it could have helped if the Senate was the main body working on this.

      Thanks again!

  3. Robert Campbell Says:

    I think there are still some positives that we have gained by going through this process. Through my work on the new curriculum I feel like I have a much stronger understanding of the liberal arts. This has helped me in developing my courses and preparing for my upcoming trial of teaching FYS. Moreover, I have strengthened relationships with numerous faculty in a large number of different disciplines. I think we have also learned a lot for the next time that we try to do this.

    Personally, I don’t think we should continue to try and get this new curriculum through. I think it would be better to wait a few years and redo the process. For about 3.5 years of the process we were able to stick to our philosophy and principles in working on the curriculum. In the last half a year, however, we made concession after concession. At this point the curriculum feels like slight adjustments to the current curriculum. I would rather have a curriculum that adheres to our principles and philosophy completely without backtracking. This will need to take time.

    • bretbenesh Says:

      Yeah, I don’t know what to do with the new curriculum. If we keep pushing, we risk burning everyone out. If we wait, we will lose a lot of expertise to evaporation. Fortunately, it is up to the Faculty Senate.

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