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Thursday, May 6, 2021


New CLASS major under discussion

College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences faculty are being asked to help the University achieve flagship status.

Graduation rates are an issue the college is addressing, CLASS Dean John Antel said at a meeting Wednesday with faculty.

"(We need to) move the needle on the gauge," Antel said, referring to CLASS graduation rates.

CLASS officials are proposing a new academic degree to help improve graduation rates in the University. Instead of having students declare a major and minor, or double major, Associate CLASS Dean Sarah Fishman said, officials are considering offering a bachelor of arts in Arts and Liberal Studies – a degree composed of three minors in addition to core curriculum requirements for graduation.

Antel said as part of a UH taskforce for enrollment management, the University has tried to improve retention and graduation rates through block scheduling and retention programs for undergraduates, such as more academic advising and UScholars, located in the M.D. Anderson Library basement.

Texas Tech University offers students a bachelor of general studies, consisting of three minors of study within the College of Arts and Sciences, according to its Web site. Students need 18 hours per minor – a total of 54 hours to graduate with a general studies degree at Texas Tech.

Fishman said CLASS officials are looking for faculty feedback to decide whether to pursue the degree and propose it to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for approval.

"We would like to find a way to make it easier for students to graduate," Antel said. "It will not excuse students from taking core classes."

The three minors would substitute for a major and help students graduate if they do not satisfy the requirements to complete a major, Fishman said.

"One of the courses would have to be a capstone," Fishman said.

Rather than not being able to complete the degree requirements for a major, the new degree would help students with accumulated hours graduate, Antel said.

"It would not just be a triple minor," Antel said.

The three minors would need to have a common theme, and both Fishman and Antel said faculty could send comments or suggestions regarding course combinations to them.

If CLASS faculty and officials decide to pursue an Arts and Liberal Studies degree, it would require approval by the UH System Board of Regents. The THECB would then need to approve the degree plan, which generally takes about nine months.

Flagship Status

Antel also said with UH President Renu Khator’s first 100 days in office, she will consult with the board to discuss the University’s progress in the next five and 10 years.

Since her term began Jan. 15, Khator has had a Web site dedicated to collecting responses from students, faculty, staff and the community.

"The buzz in the community… there’s no one that’s created this kind of positive buzz," Antel said of Khator. "She’s really made an impression. She’s very energetic."

Antel said making CLASS accomplishments in the community well known would help funding for the college, especially for projects and additional courses.

"We’re pretty jaded about good things we’ve done in the community (but) she really notices," economics professor Steven Craig said.

Antel said Khator’s goals for the University to achieve flagship status are practical.

"She’s pretty realistic about what we have to do to get the University ahead," he said.

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