Dear A&S faculty, staff and students:
I am pleased to report that after more than six years of hard work, the Provost has given final approval to the new, unified Arts & Sciences core curriculum, paving the way for its implementation in the 2019-2020 academic year.
As a brief reminder, this long 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 the summer of 2017, 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, 2017, 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. 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 recommendtions (with amendments) by a 20-to-4 vote.
In the fall 2018 semester, 15 committees totaling more than 140 members (including 22 student members) have been assigned implementation tasks. More than 200 courses have been submitted for approval to the newly appointed Arts & Sciences Core Curriculum Advisory Committee as we explore new and innovative ways to improve the general education of our students. And, I have appointed our first Director of the Core –– Dr. Lauren Poor, lecturer in history, who assumes this role in fall 2018.
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 –– the first of which, the Certificate in Spanish for Healthcare Professions, has already been approved –– and 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