MINUTES SPECIAL ACADEMIC BOARD MEETING ON THE CORE CURRICULUM
JANUARY 26, 1999

BGEN R. C. POOLE, LTC A. W. LECLERCQ, COL H. W. ASKINS, JR., LTC J. S. LEONARD, COL R. E. BALDWIN, LTC K. J. JONES for COL W. J. MACPHERSON, COL M. A. BEBENSEE, COL R. A. MALONEY, COL J. R. BLANTON, COL I. S., METTS, JR., CAPT M. L. BOYKIN, COL W. B. MOORE, JR., COL C. E. CLEAVER, COL S. OZMENT, COL M. H. EZELL, JR., COL D. H. REILLY, COL D. J. FALLON, LTC P. J. REMBIESA, COL A. J. FINCH and COL G. B. STALEY

A first of three special meetings for the purpose of reviewing the proposals of the Core Curriculum Committee was called to order at 1525 by BGEN Poole who stressed the importance of a deliberative process in consideration of a matter of such vital concern as that of the core curriculum.

The Board was reminded that four of the Core Curriculum Committee’s eight recommendations would be considered at this meeting, with thirty minutes allotted for discussion of each.

The first issue was EVALUATION OF THE CORE CURRICULUM. COL Ezell recommended that in our discussion we use the term "assessment" instead of "evaluation."

COL Finch clarified that the Core Curriculum Committee’s recommendation resulted from the fact that while nearly all components of the core curriculum are being assessed by individual departments, no mechanism has been identified for assessing the core curriculum as a whole. In response to COL Baldwin’s question about how many departments assess their portion of the core, BGEN Poole replied that all but one department has undertaken such assessment.

LTC Leonard agreed with the recommendation sent forward by the Faculty Council, that the College develop a means of assessing the whole, but he argued that we should not postpone voting on other recommendations from the Committee until this is completed.

COL Cleaver informed the Board that the Core Curriculum Committee did spend time reviewing the purpose of the core as it is stated in the college catalog before beginning its deliberations, and he disagreed with COL Ezell’s statement that assessment of individual components has not been related to the core as a whole. According to COL Cleaver, the Mathematics Department considered the aims of the whole core in developing its assessment of the mathematics courses.

COL Ozment noted that what the institution has not done is assess skills such as critical thinking that transcend a department or discipline. COL Reilly pointed out that in a very real sense critical thinking skills are discipline specific.

LTC Leonard asked whether it would be advisable for the College to re-establish an Assessment Committee. COL Ezell noted that at present the Curriculum Committee has that responsibility, and BGEN Poole suggested that the Curriculum Committee might be the place to start but acknowledged that perhaps it would be useful to establish an ad hoc committee to assist Dean Metts.

COL Baldwin pointed out that there must be assessment programs at other schools we could use as models. BGEN Poole said he would ask Dean Metts to give a five-minute summary of what others are doing at the next meeting. COL Ozment asked that the focus be on schools that have core curricula that are similar to ours.

The second issue addressed was GRADING.

LTC Leonard opened the discussion by saying that the arguments against the "forgivable F" that Dean Metts had circulated in writing prior to the meeting had persuaded him. COL Baldwin agreed.

CAPT Boykin stated that when he writes letters of recommendation for students he nearly always feels bound to explain the reasons (i.e., the demands of the military lifestyle) for lower grades in the freshman year and expressed continued concern about the effect on the student’s record of failing grades in English and mathematics.

LTC Leonard agreed but said he was more concerned about the devaluation of the grading system that would result from the "forgivable F."

LTC Rembiesa said he had mixed feelings, that he was concerned about driving students to take courses at schools with lower standards. COL Ozment said she preferred to think that students were driven to take courses elsewhere rather than that The Citadel had compromised its own standards.

LTC Leonard raised the possibility of expanding the "A, B, C, U" system of grading to other introductory freshman "skills" courses (i.e., modern language and mathematics). COL Staley and COL Cleaver both spoke in favor of doing so.

COL Askins reminded the Board that the Committee’s original proposal for the "forgivable F" was tied to the demands of the fourth class system and questioned the implications of allowing "U’s" in courses taken beyond the freshman year. He likened it to the "social promotion" system in the public schools. COL Baldwin echoed his concern, but COL Staley said the "A, B, C, U" system would actually require more of students.

COL Reilly maintained that if we see the core curriculum to be competency based, then it would be reasonable to make "C" the passing grade in core classes. COL Moore asked if this meant all core classes.

BGEN Poole drew attention to some of practical or logistical problems. What happens, for instance, to the policy that each student must pass a minimum of 24 hours in each academic year? LTC Rembiesa contended that we should adhere to that policy.

In response to BGEN Poole’s question about the existence of grade inflation, several Board members acknowledged that it does exist.

CAPT Boykin reminded the group of the "cultural" causes for poor academic performance at The Citadel. BGEN Poole noted that the question is whether it is the culture or the type of student we attract.

The third issue focused on the ENGLISH requirement.

LTC Leonard described the proposed broadening of English 202. Students would be permitted to choose among four options: Major British Writers II, an American literature survey, or one of two world literature surveys. The change would not necessitate the hiring of any additional faculty and would, in fact, be more closely adapted to the expertise of current faculty.

When COL Blanton questioned whether this would prompt a change in the content of English 102, LTC Leonard stated that there would be some changes so as to avoid duplication in the later courses, but he stressed that the focus of 102 is on writing in response to literary texts, not on literature per se.

CAPT Boykin affirmed that the change would be a step in the right direction. It is important for students to be exposed to American history, American government, and American literature in their course work.

COL Moore asked how many other schools require two full years of English. LTC Leonard stated there are very few. He pointed out the two years of English at The Citadel fulfill very different purposes: writing instruction and the study of literature that one year is devoted to each.

COL Moore spoke in favor of a smaller core curriculum that would allow students exposure to a wider range of disciplines such as courses in the fine arts. COL Baldwin responded that many majors offer enough elective hours to permit students to do this now.

The fourth topic discussed was the MATHEMATICS requirement.

COL Cleaver reported that the Mathematics Department is opposed to counting MATH 119 as part of the core curriculum as it does not meet the published goals of the core curriculum. He called attention to the fact that the department does give general elective credit for the course.

CAPT Boykin said he would like to see the College reinstate a choice between MATH 105 and 161 (Statistics). COL Cleaver explained that this option had been deleted because the former head of the Political Science Department had been of the opinion that the students who took 161 had a more difficult time in MATH 106 than those who had completed 105.

The meeting adjourned at 1640.

Submitted by

Suzanne Ozment
Dean of Undergraduate Studies and Dean of Women