Nominees to Review GE Requirements

The Student Association (SA) will nominate three more students to be interviewed for two vacant seats on the Liberal Education Ad Hoc Committee, according to Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs and Governance  Ayanna Thomas.

Thomas said the SA currently has one nominee for the position, Sen. Jonathan Espinosa. Members of the committee will interview all four candidates nominated by the Student Association before selecting two students.

The group’s  goal is to review and revise the school’s liberal arts GE requirements. According to the committee’s SUNY New Paltz Action Plan written in June 2010, the campus tradition is to review the general education (GE) program every 10 years.

The committee was formed in the fall 2010 semester as a result of New Paltz participating in the Association of American Colleges and Universities Summer Institute on General Education. The Action Plan stated the requirements should be reviewed because “by most assessments, the current plan is not cohesive, lacks a clear over-arching goal, and is not well-integrated in the overall curriculum.”

Espinosa said that during his campaign for the vice President of academic affairs position, he proposed to work on a “General Education Forgiveness” program.

“Basically, if you come into college knowing exactly what you want to do, and you choose a major and stick with it throughout college, the school can excuse certain GE requirements for the student,” he said. “Many students I spoke to were interested in it, specifically asking me what it meant, my reasons for proposing such a plan.”

According to a May 2011 report by Committee Chair Professor Stella Deen, the committee has so far began to address four broad questions:

What are the perceived strengths and weaknesses of our current GE?

What should New Paltz undergraduates know and be able to do at various stages of their undergraduate study?

What realities and circumstances are facing our students, faculty and staff, such as working students and higher work loads for faculty, might impinge on an ideal liberal education program?

How might our new general education program articulate successful academic and co-curricular programs, such as the First-Year Initiative, and how might the Committee learn from planned programs, such as the proposed Honors program and the Chinese Living-Learning Community?

Espinosa said it is difficult to fulfill certain general education requirements, especially natural science (NSCI) courses.

“I don’t believe it’s necessary to have to take two NSCI classes as is required in SUNY New Paltz,” he said.

Students who transfer to New Paltz without a degree are required to complete the New Paltz general education program in its entirety.

At a senate meeting Tuesday, two more senators were nominated to the committee.