CAA talks updates, new minor


Brooke Schwartz

Jeanne Lord, the dean of the College of Health and Human Services, at the Council of Academic Affairs meeting Thursday in Booth Library. She went to the CAA meeting to discuss Passport to Diversity courses.

Brooke Schwartz, News Editor

The Council on Academic Affairs met Thursday and discussed the proposed general education committee, shared governance updates, the approval of a new minor and the role of diversity courses at Eastern.

The general education committee and the position of general education coordinator have been discussed since last year, with specifics being added Thursday to what the committee will look like.

Marita Gronnvoll, CAA chair and communication studies professor, said she met earlier in the week with provost Jay Gatrell to discuss details.

They discussed the creation of a subcommittee of the CAA that would be comprised of eight to 10 people and would be in charge of general education at Eastern.

Gronnvoll said Gatrell said he wants at least three colleges represented on the subcommittee, though CAA discussed comprising the committee mostly of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences since 90 percent of Eastern’s general education courses are now housed in that college.

A search for a general education coordinator will happen this year, the provost told Gronnvoll, and the search committee will look internally for someone preferably with CAA and general education experience.

The post would be a three-year term and the search is expected to start this spring.

One of the first tasks the committee will look at will be the implementation of learning goals into general education courses, Gronnvoll said.

The shared governance vote, which was scheduled to happen at the Faculty Senate’s Oct. 2 meeting, now has been tabled by Jeff Stowell, senate vice chair and psychology professor, Gronnvoll said.

A potential course list for the Passport to Diversity program was discussed at the council’s meeting.

Passport to Diversity, which was started last year through Making Excellence Inclusive, is a way to try and more formally include diversity in students’ education.

Jeanne Lord, the dean of the College of Health and Human Services, said the program was initially started in part because of some Higher Learning Commission concerns with diversity on campus. 

“One of the things that the Higher Learning Commission wrote is they said ‘EIU may want to extend the designation of a human and cultural diversity course more broadly, perhaps including upper division courses as well as courses in the graduate programs,’” Lord said.

Karla Sanders, the executive director of the academic success center, said implementing diversity courses into higher level classes has many benefits.

With the increased number of credits students are entering college with, Sanders said having cultural diversity classes spread throughout college courses is a way to ensure those students get diversity courses. 

“If we had cultural diversity classes in 3 or 4000 level, or in the major, that would give students a way to get a cultural diversity class without, perhaps, having to repeat some gen ed that they had already taken, and that includes transfer students,” Sanders said.

It was decided the best way to start making the diversity courses official would be to come up with a standard definition of what diversity means and how that translates to a class, as well as starting to get courses through the different college curriculum committee meetings.

A new minor in computer sciences was approved and the reduction in certain transfer credits, specifically the senior institute credits, was also approved at the council’s meeting.

Brooke Schwartz can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].