The Arizona Desert Lamp

Degree Requirements

Posted in Campus, UA Transformation Plan by Evan Lisull on 2 December 2008

Among the improvements cited in yesterday’s post on the NASULGC paper was a proposal to modify degree requirements, allowing for more flexibility and more paths to ‘graduate in three.’ It appears that the Faculty Senate here has been doing its reading:

The way the task force attempts to fulfill their goals is by restructuring the UA degree program. Three degree types are recommended: a regular degree, multidisciplinary degree and honors degree, Strittmatter said.

Regular degrees would be available with honors as opposed to an honors degree, have off-campus options and an interdisciplinary program, as opposed to a multidisciplinary degree.

Multidisciplinary degrees, intended for non-specializing students, would have off-campus options, Strittmatter said.

To obtain a multidisciplinary degree, multiple subjects would be studied, each to a level less than a regular degree, he said.

Honors degrees, designed for the academic specialist, would be a modified version of the current Honors program.

Off-campus options were a major component of Strittmatter’s presentation, who said the task force “suggests that the UA adopt a more flexible and supportive approach to its students, especially those that must work in order to finance their education.”

As to whether or not the restructuring of the degree program will occur and more off-campus options will become available, Strittmatter did not have definitive answers. He said that, personally, he thought implementation would be a “major challenge,” but was needed.

The multidisciplinary idea shows promise, but I have trouble seeing how this is going to be different than the present interdisciplinary degree. Does this mean that the University College will be able to hold off its earned demise, finding a new sense of purpose in providing administration for these degrees? This doesn’t solve the problem, but spreads it out — the decreased pressure on, say, the English department via students that choose to have an English/Math/Philosophy Multi-Degree is weighed out by all of the Philosophy students that decide to do a similar program.

The second issue is the mission of the Honors College, which really has languished in comparison to its counterpart in Tempe. Is the school going to be focused on students that want to do undergraduate research? Or will it instead aim to provide a school-within-a-school for high achieving students, well qualified for an elite private school, who attend the UA? These goals are largely incompatible, and Dean MacCorquodale and other ranking Honors officials have to seriously consider what they want the school to look like three, five, and ten years from now.

The off-campus proposal is key, and the only one that can have a significant impact in making the school more effective, rather than different. I’m a bit skeptical, however, of how expanding alternatives can go. Already, courses like Physics, Business Math, Accounting, and other classes can be taken at Pima CC — how many more courses can you take off campus while still being considered a UA student?

One place where I think improvement can be made is through loosening the requirements for getting internship credit. To get credit for Political Science, for instance, you have to fill out several pages of paper work to get approval to be signed up for the course, and then, after the internship has ended, you are required to write a 10 page paper to get full credit. I won’t deny that I’m lazy, but this has been enough to keep me from getting credit on three separate opportunities. I suspect that I’m not alone.

Furthermore, to do this, you are required to make contact with an advisor, which only provides another unnecessary justification for a program that needs cuts.

I could see where this bureaucracy might be necessary for an unfamilar program. But many of these programs, such as the Pima County’s attorney office, have been in place for many years. The school knows what is entailed in such an internship.

This is even more ridiculous when it comes to Project Vote Smart, which has an office directly north of McClelland, and is essentially on campus. For all intents and purposes, this is a UA-sponsored internship. For a PVS internship, there should be as little paper-work as possible — this would help the Project to get more interns (who would simply have to sign up for the “class” online), and would help to lower the pressing demand on POL classes.

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