UNC’s Faculty Executive Committee met March 8, to discuss Kevin Guskiewicz’s first four weeks as interim chancellor, digital education and the general education curriculum at UNC.
The two-hour meeting started with Guskiewicz, who spoke about his first four weeks on the job. On one of his first days as interim chancellor, Guskiewicz helped celebrate the naming of the new dentistry school.
“I had the opportunity to take the podium and celebrate the naming of our new Adams School of Dentistry, a $27.7 million gift,” Guskiewicz said. “It’s not often that we have the opportunity to name a school.”
Guskiewicz also spoke about helping launch the Academic Support Center at the dentistry school.
In February, the interim Chancellor went to Los Angeles to give a lecture at a medical legal meeting and complete development work to bring the UNC community to the West Coast.
Currently, Guskiewicz is in the middle of the fundraising campaign. He went to Palm Beach for two days to speak with graduates. At the fundraiser in Palm Beach, graduates gave speeches about their passion for UNC and raising money for middle-class families to graduate debt-free.
In March, the UNC-system Board of Governors determined it will make a decision regarding the future of Silent Sam in mid-to-late May, which Guskiewicz and the UNC Board of Trustees will present.
“I will continue to engage the Board of Governors,” Guskiewicz said.
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Robert Blouin talked about digital education. Blouin adopted a moratorium on third-party Online Program Management. UNC used to be a big destination for OPMs, Blouin said. However, OPM contracts often last 10 years, a big commitment for a program.
“I thought that we needed to be careful and cautious and certainly make sure that if we are going to partner with a third party that we want to make sure that they are the right partner,” Blouin said.
Blouin said UNC needs to use and optimize various digital formats to deliver the best education to residential and non-residential students.
“I felt that we needed to adopt a campus philosophy and a campus strategy towards digital residential and nonresidential education,” Blouin said.
Blouin said OPMs would not take on UNC programs that did not have the possibility for high profit margins.
“I ask you to bear with me for a few more months, and we can get all our programs on a very solid, sustainable pathway with the appropriate OPM partner,” Blouin said.
Sociology professor Andrew Perrin led a discussion on UNC's general education curriculum. Perrin and his team provided updates on progress and the process of the curriculum.
“We sought to develop a curriculum that was fundamentally coherent, student-focused, that would really help students navigate their way through it so they can understand what they are doing in the curricular work and so there is equity among our students,” Perrin said.
The general education curriculum model is based on a cycle known as the IDEAs in Action model.
“A student is able to identify important, big questions in the world, to find ways to discover information about those questions, to use active and disciplined inquiry into them, to evaluate and develop good judgments based on ... those questions and to find good ways to communicate and act in the world based on those judgments,” Perrin said.
The general education curriculum is designed to help students flourish beyond UNC. They want to give faculty the tools to get students to that level. UNC created pilot courses that will add to the curriculum in the future, including the EDUC 101 and Ideas, Information and Inquiry courses, Perrin said.
The curriculum is also moving toward making first-year seminars a requirement, Perrin said.
The panel believes that the overall conversation about the general education curriculum allows departments to reevaluate course offerings. There are faculty concerns about economic issues.
“There will come a step in this process where we do a thorough analysis of the cost implications of this,” Blouin said. “The sooner, the better.”
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