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TSUS Academic Affairs officials talk core curriculum changes, raising degree standards

Staff Reporter

Published: Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 13:11

The Academic Affairs portion of the Board of Regents quarterly meeting sat down Thursday to discuss possible changes that will affect academics in the Texas State University System.

Perry Moore, Ph.D., Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for the Texas State University System, presided over the meeting and brought up the present topics of interest.

A new core curriculum change that affects every state university is set to begin and needs to be implemented. According to Richard Eglsaer, Ph.D., Associate Provost for SHSU, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) is revamping the present core curriculum to focus on learning skills necessary for their education and jobs. The change will take place Fall 2014.

The THECB is also proposing to raise the standards for all degrees, meaning that already low-producing programs may be eliminated. Moore recommended that universities watch their programs carefully and strive to meet the new levels if the change occurs.

According to Jaimie Hebert, the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Sam Houston will be able to meet the new threshold without problems.

“The only program we have that ever fell below the mark was our MS in Chemistry,” Hebert said. “Since it only happened one year, the THECB granted us an exemption. There will be no problem in maintaining the degree in the future, even with the new threshold.”

Both the THECB and legislature are pushing to implement the Common Course Numbering system (4 digits) in all universities, so it will be easier for students to transfer courses between universities. If it is mandated, the system will simply convert the course numbers, and will not require the schools to create new courses to meet the system. If required, Hebert explained that SHSU is already set.

“When we switched over to the banner system, we went ahead and changed to the Common Course Numbering system,” Hebert said. “If the Board (THECB) decided to require this system, Sam Houston will already be done.”

The formula used to find Incentive Outcome Based Funding for universities may be changing if the proposal by the THECB and House Higher Education Committee succeeds. The new formula will be found by adding 75 percent of the old formula and 25 percent coming from outcome based assessments. If the new formula is passed, SHSU will benefit greatly.

“The old formula is the primary reason Sam is one of the lowest funded schools in the state,” Hebert said. “The 25 percent looks at workforce placement, efficiency measures, and access to underrepresented populations. We do extremely well in all these areas, so the new formula would benefit Sam tremendously.”

Be On Time loans was also discussed at the meeting since it affects each university in the TSUS. The funds collected from each tuition dollar are put into a Be On Time account at the THECB and given to students who graduate in four years. With transfer students, first generation students, and students who work, very few graduate in four years. The unused funds then go into a general pool that any Texas student can use.

“We are down by $1.5 million,” Hebert said. “Our system is going to gather data to try to change this policy so we can keep our student’s money locally.”

The next quarterly Board of Regents meeting will take place in February in Austin.

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