LER review aims to raise retention

Kiera Manion-Fischer

Today’s graduates must be better and more effectively prepared to work in the global economy than any generation before them, Provost Robert Frank told the Faculty Senate yesterday.

“We must think about how our curriculum is integrated, how it’s preparing our graduates for the 21st century,” Frank said.

He and President Lester Lefton are proposing a review of Kent State’s Liberal Education Requirements because, as Frank said, completing them can be an obstacle to students who change their majors or who haven’t declared majors their first semester.

Frank is beginning to talk to faculty about Kent State’s philosophy in terms of educating students and what it means for the curriculum, LERs and the first-year experience.

Frank said Miami University took four years to review its LERs, but said he hoped the process would be somewhat faster at Kent State.

“If we’re lucky, we’ll have some closure by the beginning of the spring semester,” he said.

Paul Farrell, vice chair of Faculty Senate and professor of computer science, said the LER review needs to be comprehensive and broad-based because it has the potential to affect how Kent State presents itself to students.

Addressing another idea that could encourage student retention, Associate Provost Laura Davis presented the idea for the Graduation Planning System.

The software program would identify students who might be less likely to remain at Kent State using indicators such as mid-term grades and late registration. It would flag students not on track to complete their degrees and, at a certain point, place holds on their registration so they would have to meet with advisers.

George Garrison, senator and professor of Pan-African Studies, said he thought the system was a good idea because it would provide students a “safety net.” He recommended conducting exit interviews with students to find out about barriers to graduation.

“It’s important to refine a tool that reflects the various needs of diverse types of students,” he said.

Also during the meeting, Gary Padak, dean of undergraduate studies, addressed further faculty concerns about changes to the First-Year Colloquium course.

He said a working group has been formed to look at the proposed course changes, which include decreasing the size from 25 to 20, making most of the sections topic-oriented and having fewer courses taught by student instructors.

Pamela Grimm, senator and associate professor of marketing, said she thought changes to the class were in order because it’s overloaded with material.

“We’ve tried to shove too much stuff in it,” she said.

Tom Janson, senator and music professor, said his college doesn’t have faculty who are interested in teaching the new course.

“We still don’t have the labor force to support such a course change in our college or in our units,” he said.

Frank said the working group will move ahead to try to find a solution to resolve the differences.

“I don’t think we exactly know what we want out of this class,” he said.

The senate also approved the establishment of two new majors at regional campuses: a music technology major at the Stark campus and an associate degree in respiratory therapy technology at the Ashtabula campus.

Contact academics reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at [email protected].