GE changes get funding from grant

A grant is expected to help fund changes to general education course curricula and the university’s advising program, as well as fund developments in intercultural experiences, a university official said Tuesday.

Late this summer the U.S. Department of Education awarded the university an approximately $1.73 million Title III grant, said Susan Turell, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and dean of undergraduate studies. That money will come to the university over a five-year period beginning in October 2009 and ending in September 2014. The money is also expected to go toward developing intercultural experiences – both in and out of the classroom, Turell said.

“We know that students have wanted us to revise the GE, the general education requirements,” Turell said.

Turell said some of the grant is expected to pay faculty during the summer to develop the new general education curriculum. She added that the grant could help create new off-campus and in-class intercultural initiatives by paying faculty to develop new ideas and by allowing student mentors to assist other students in intercultural experiences.

“One of the things we want to strengthen (at Eau Claire) is the opportunity for students to have global and domestic intercultural learning,” Turell said. ?

Turell said the grant would not fund individual trips or other intercultural experiences, but instead would help faculty develop ideas to enhance intercultural learning at the university.

Turell also said her expectations of how the grant will be spent may change in the future based on the university’s needs.

Senior Aaron Wingad, who previously worked with Student Senate’s Academic Affairs Commission, said he thinks general education reform is needed at UW-Eau Claire.

“Right now we have, more or less, a fill-in-the-box general education,” Wingad said. “I think what we’re trying to transition to is an intentional learning experience where students realize why they’re learning this and how it connects with the world around them.”

Some of the grant also could be used to remodel the university’s course advising program, Turell said. The new program hopefully will help students plan out their coursework farther in advance, she said.

The grant would help train faculty and staff advisers to use the new advising program, Turell said.

Karen Havholm, assistant vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs, said changing advising at the university goes hand-in-hand with changes made to the school’s general education regimen. Given the university’s plan to create a more intentional GE program, she said, “students need to be more intentionally planning their courses.”