Saving money, saving headaches

DKS Editors

The university committee that developed a new model for Liberal Education Requirements thinks it finally has the answer.

The LER Core Committee hopes its plan, which is awaiting approval, will ease students’ ability to change majors and give students general education experiences they will actually remember after exam week.

That premise is great. Often students will switch majors and be stuck at Kent State an extra semester because a history course that counted for humanities credit in one major didn’t count in another. And the LER system causing problems like that hasn’t changed in 25 years.

The new model would set a university-wide list of LER courses that every major must honor. That list of courses would also count toward the LER-equivalent requirements at all Ohio universities.

This proposed model compromises the need for a diverse set of courses that teach the foundations of the categories of knowledge – arts, humanities, sciences – and the need for colleges to make money like a business under Responsibility Center Management.

Like an investment proposition, schools will have to make a pitch that their introductory class on, say, the history of dance will promote so-called positive “learning outcomes.” That is, each course should encourage students to “take responsibility for living an examined life,” among other criteria.

We like the Socratic ring to that.

With money tight and the cost of attending school somewhere around $5,000, at least, no one wants to be spending more time here than they have to. It looks like Provost Robert Frank and friends have found a solution that will make Kent State attractive and maintain the integrity of a liberal education institution.

And we’re glad they did it so openly and invited student input.

Too often, it seems, students are regarded as tuition-bearing units instead of the people who fuel the productivity of the university. But in designing the new LER model, administrators made our opinions central.

The LER Core Committee, co-chaired by Senior Associate Provost Tim Chandler and Salem campus assistant professor David Dees, created a Web site with a message board for discussion. They invited anyone to say what they thought of LERs, from administrators to students to community members.

And they held town hall meetings. Whether students actually went to them is for another Our View, but at least the university tried.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.