Letter to the Editor: Below the Belt
Professor Terry Thibodeaux responds to staff editorial
Published: Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 01:07
This is in response to the "Below the Belt" editorial in the June 26 Houstonian. While the editorial writer is entitled to his/her opinion, I am compelled to call several issues to your attention. The first is a factual error.
You say "the curriculum committee is actually slimming the core down from its current 42 hours to 36." This is false. The state mandates that every institution maintain a 42-hour core. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) has further mandated 36 of those hours, with each institution to decide how the remaining 6 hours will be allocated.
The charge of the SHSU Core Curriculum Committee was to make recommendations as to how the University should allocate the remaining 6 hours of the institutional option, NOT, as you say, "protecting a relatively small department."
The committee is following their charge to follow the THECB guidelines to ensure that the core at SHSU provides students with competency in not only written communication, but also oral, aural, and visual communication.
The difficulty in doing so, is in balancing this with providing the other basic competencies at the same time. The committee is trying to make recommendations as to how the University will use those remaining 6 hours in our core.
In the next phase, the Committee will establish guidelines for courses to be added to the various core components. Every course will need to be reviewed to determine if it is still appropriate for the core. These decisions will focus on the content of the course, not the department in which it is originating.
Two other errors need mention. If a Communication Studies class is added to the core, it does not have to be a single course that is added. Other universities have multiple choices from which students may choose.
As a matter of fact, SHSU is one of a very small minority of colleges and universities in Texas that do not require a Communication Studies class as part of the core. And many of them do give several options as to the speech/communication studies class the student may choose.
The other error is your proposal of adding to the core Coms 3372 for Nursing students. While this would undoubtedly be a fine addition to the Nursing program, it could not fit into the core since it is an advanced course, and only freshman and sophomore courses can be included in the core.
Finally, the entire tone of your editorial is one of disparaging communication studies, both as a discipline and the SHSU department. Some of your opinions do not merit a reply. The discipline long predates the U.S. university system, with its origins in ancient Greece and Rome. At SHSU, our department has in excess of 150 majors and 100 minors.
Students apparently see much merit in our offerings. Our courses fill early every semester even without a required class in the core. And our faculty teaching evaluations are among the highest in the university. Your characterization of the department as one "struggling to maintain enough students to retain its degree plan" is without substance.
When you tackle important academic issues such as these, try to get your facts straight before spreading misinformation in your editorials. As I think of it, the title of your editorial was most appropriate. It was a blow below the belt.