The University of Central Arkansas (UCA) announced its adoption of the new UCA general education core at the February meeting of the UCA Board of Trustees. The new requirements will be implemented in fall 2013 for entering freshmen.
The new UCA core comprises a 38-hour lower-division core and upper-division core and capstone experience. At both the lower- and upper-division levels, the program adopts several of the high-impact practices recommended by the American Association of Colleges and Universities, including small first-year seminars, writing-intensive courses, collaboration, global learning, and capstone experiences.
The new UCA core is outcome-based in concept and responds to the university’s mission, in which UCA “dedicates itself to academic vitality, integrity, and diversity” and is a significant rethinking of UCA’s long-standing General Education Program.
The university’s Director of General Education, Dr. Conrad Shumaker, led the UCA General Education Council (GEC) in its exploration of general education mission and basic outcomes and adoption of a new name, the UCA core. Working with the General Education Council, the university adopted the UCA core as the central curricular project of its strategic plan and as a centerpiece of its determination to embrace its accountability to learning, its students, and its communities. The university’s provost, Dr. Steve Runge, in consultation with Dr. Shumaker and the GEC, established a General Education Task Force to build on the foundation laid by the GEC.
Art Lichtenstein, Torreyson Library director, led the Task Force in developing a proposed structure and assessment plan for the UCA core and made recommendations about implementation. This proposal, presented to the GEC in September 2012, was endorsed by the Student Government Association, and then became the object of additional work by the Council, extensive and vigorous discussion by the campus, and subsequent development of a final proposal. The GEC’s recommendation to approve was followed by a Faculty Senate endorsement, a recommendation to approve by the university’s Council of Deans, and approval of the new program by the provost.
“The UCA core is an innovative and dynamic program, and with its emphasis on assessment and other forms of response from students, faculty, and the community, it should continue to grow and improve,” commented Dr. Shumaker.
Dr. Runge commended the leadership provided by Dr. Shumaker, Mr. Lichtenstein, and the memberships of the General Education Task Force and the General Education Council, “None of this could have been accomplished without the outstanding work of the General Education Council led by Dr. Conrad Shumaker. The General Education Council took a proposal generated through the exceptional efforts of the General Education Task Force, led by Mr. Art Lichtenstein, and turned it into a functional plan that will enhance the education of our students and help us define what it is that makes UCA and a UCA education distinctive.”