Dear A&S faculty members,
After five years of hard work, we have now reached consensus on a new core curriculum for the College of Arts & Sciences. On Oct. 12, 2017, the Council of Chairs of the College of Arts & Sciences met to consider the recommendations of the A&S Core Curriculum Review Task Force. The Council of Chairs approved these recommendations (with amendments) by a 20 to 4 vote. I offer my heartfelt congratulations to the many A&S faculty members who have worked to get us to this significant and historic moment.
As a brief reminder, this process began with an A&Spire subcommittee report calling for a unified core. This led to breakout discussions with more than 70 faculty leaders, followed by the creation of a task force with representation from the humanities, social sciences, fine arts and natural sciences areas. This task force worked for 13 months to write a core Vision document, which was unanimously approved by the Council of Chairs in May 2016.
As a consequence of the approved Vision, the Core Curriculum Review Task Force was formed to make recommendations on changes to the core consistent with the Vision. A year later, those recommendations were submitted to me. During this past summer, I carefully reviewed the recommendations and met with department leadership teams, deans from other academic units, the Provost and individual faculty members across the university. These recommendations were "stress-tested" on many levels by my staff. I subsequently added modest recommendations to the review task force recommendations before delivering them to the department chairs.
Beginning Aug. 21, the recommendations, including the proposal for the new core curriculum, were made available on our Arts & Sciences website for all faculty to study. Twenty-five A&S chairs reviewed the recommendations with their faculty, and 13 amendments were proposed as modifications to the original recommendations. The chairs then followed up with further review with their faculty and colleagues through both formal and informal meetings and discussions.
As challenging as the process was to get us to this point, there is still considerable work ahead. After final approval is given, course development will begin. In this exciting stage, we will explore new and innovative ways to improve the general education of our students. Departments will also find ways to improve their major course requirements.
As a result of a 50-hour core, we anticipate that more students will declare second majors and add minors to their portfolios We also plan to implement a number of certificate programs. I am doing my best to gather the resources needed to do all of these things. I will be in further communication with you and your department leadership teams through various communications, including through our website, as we document each step in the process.
A unified College of Arts & Sciences is essential in order for us to embody our aspirational statement to "provide the leadership for Baylor to build its distinctive identity (as) a major research institution with a commitment to transformative education within a Christian community of scholars." A unified core curriculum advances this commitment.
Dr. Lee C. Nordt
Dean, Baylor University College of Arts & Sciences