Hiring process underway for general education coordinator

Analicia Haynes, Editor-in-Chief

Eastern’s Provost Jay Gatrell said the process for hiring a new general education coordinator is underway.

He made the announcement during a Tuesday Faculty Senate meeting.

Gatrell said this coordinator will help redefine how university learning goals and the general education program are assessed.

The university learning goals consist of five goals that Eastern students must exhibit by the time they graduate.

The goals are critical thinking, writing and critical reading, speaking and listening, quantitative reasoning and reasonable citizenship, all of which contain specific criteria that students should have acquired through their learning at Eastern.

General education courses reflect these university goals.

According to the catalog entry defining general education, they are supposed to offer students an “intellectual foundation for their academic professional, and personal lives.”

In the same document it states that the mission of the general education program is to enhance student literacy and oral communication, to encourage students to think critically and reflectively and to introduce students to knowledge central to responsible global citizenship.

The last time the university learning goals were revised was in 2014. But in the 2014/2015 academic year, the Higher Learning Commission proposed that Eastern regulate its general education program to create a more structured and unified program, according to a February 2018 article in The Daily Eastern News.

Gatrell has talked about revamping the general education program and how it is assessed since 2018, and the Council on Academic Affairs has also spoken about the HLC recommendations prior to 2018.

In a January 2018 article from The Daily Eastern News, Gatrell spoke about the HLC recommendations during a Jan. 19, 2018 CAA meeting and initially voiced his concern about not having a general education subcommittee that is currently populated or functioning.

During that meeting, he said a subcommittee, consisting of faculty, could be responsible for assessing new and current general education course proposals and making recommendations to governing bodies such as the CAA.

The subcommittee could also create a framework to make sure all courses have consistent outcomes and be able to assess the degree to which the proliferation of courses is or is not happening, he added.

Fast forward to 2019 and Gatrell now says that a general education coordinator will be hired and will be working with a general education subcommittee.

Gatrell said the point of redesigning the way leaning goals are assessed through general education courses is to eliminate some of the bureaucracy and streamline that process to make it more efficient and effective.

“Academic Programs focus on their student learning outcomes for their discipline and our university goals should be tied in large part to our general education program,” Gatrell said. “My vision is if you’re an accredited program, for example, let’s say you’re nursing, you have to submit reports to the (accreditation program), why would you submit additional reports on your student learning outcomes to the provost?”

Gatrell said if the general education program is going to be meaningful, then they need to be able to assess it, and the new coordinator will help with that.

“What that ends up looking like from a year from now, that’s going to be ongoing dialogue between the general education coordinator as well as other stakeholders on campus, and I also think the deans need to get more meaningfully involved,” he said.

The proposal for a university “Think Tank” was approved during the meeting after the idea was circulated around campus and among the Senate for a year.

The idea of a think tank originated from a recommendation proposed by the Workgroup No. 8 and 9 Review Committee last year.

The committee proposed the idea of creating a permanent group or strategic committee that would be solely purposed to look at the future of Eastern’s campus.

This think tank would focus on macro ideas and trends in higher education while simultaneously looking at Eastern’s future, according to an Oct. 31 article published in The Daily Eastern News.

During a March 6 Faculty Senate meeting, Todd Bruns, the Faculty Senate chair, said he sees the think tank acting as an early warning system, something that would identify problems or issues for Eastern that could be on the horizon.

It is not supposed to be a decision-making body and the proposal will be sent to Eastern’s President David Glassman.

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].