Dec. 18, 2009
Makhani, Communications Director, Office of
Undergraduate Education, 509-335-6679, email@example.com
Mary F. Wack, Vice Provost for Undergraduate
Education, 509-335-8044, firstname.lastname@example.org
Gen Ed Report Approved
Revamp must be transparent, emphasize
PULLMAN, Wash.—The general
education visioning committee report calling for a
redesigned general education program has been approved
by Warwick M. Bayly, WSU provost and
executive vice president. Implementation of the new
program would begin in fall 2011 and continue over the
next year or two.
Broad discussion of the report in spring semester will
give the WSU community the opportunity to consider what
is fundamentally important to a 21st-century education,
said Mary Wack, vice provost for
“It’s a great opportunity to rethink how
general education and the major are related, and how we
can better help students develop critical skills and
knowledge through all four years in a deliberate and
coherent way,” she said.
The report will be distributed widely to the general
education committee, the Teaching Academy and various
other working groups that will help spearhead the next
phase of the process, Wack said. The full report also
will be posted online.
The 51-page report fulfills a charge the provost gave
the visioning committee in October 2008 to
“provide a basis for direction and strategy for
general education” at WSU.
According to the report, three fundamental issues must
be addressed: an outdated budgeting system; widespread
lack of knowledge about the nature, purpose and
structure of general education; and a focus on outcomes
rather than course-counting.
Carol Ivory, WSU fine arts professor
and chair of the visioning committee, said it looked
hard at WSU’s general education program and did
extensive research into model programs both nationally
and internationally. Based on that research, the
committee made general recommendations, she said, but
not specific proposals.
“What we felt we needed to do is get the message
out about the importance of gen ed and the issues that
need to be thought about,” she said. Any new plan
must be developed with the full participation of all
stakeholders, she said, including students, faculty,
staff and administration.
For instance, she said, colleges and departments use
the general education program in very different ways,
with some majors specifying which general education
courses must be completed and others allowing much more
“Balancing all of those different issues is going
to be tricky,” she said.
WSU Vancouver professor of management Thomas
Tripp, a member of the visioning committee and
chair of the general education committee, agreed that
the process must be collaborative and transparent.
“Having a process that most people can buy into
is really important,” he said. “I think we
can create that process.”
While the structure and the curricula are yet to be
determined, Tripp said the visioning committee did feel
strongly that general education at WSU must focus more
on helping students acquire specific learning outcomes,
whether those are the Six Learning Goals of the
Baccalaureate or another set of learning goals.
National accrediting bodies are demanding more
accountability for outcomes-based learning, he said,
and WSU must continue to move in that direction.
“Everything in undergraduate education rests upon
a solid general education,” he said. “It is