KSC looks to create credit hour standards for all majors

Tara Nathan

Equinox Staff


Debate over establishing a standard number of credit hours for all Keene State College majors, while maintaining accreditation, continued during the KSC Senate meeting on Wednesday in the Mountain View Room of the L.P. Young Student Center. The initiative requiring all programs to trim excess course requirements in order fit a 120 total-credit model received mixed reviews by student, faculty, and administrative senators.

Talk of the proposal sparked after the Board of Trustees filed reported a lag in graduation rates for the past few years. The issue has brought financial burden to both students, who must return for extra semesters to obtain required credit hours, and the college, which must continue to provide the educational services and resources to them. To address the problem, the KSC administration sought to shrink credit-heavy majors, giving students of all disciplines an equal opportunity to graduate in the expected four-year period.

Chair of the Senate Curriculum Committee and Health Science Professor Becky Dunn presented her concerns regarding implementation. Dunn said she worried, if the change were enforced for the upcoming fall semester, that departments would have little time to make major alterations to curriculums.

Dunn also shared concern that this proposed amendment has flown under the radar, giving affected parties little opportunity for discourse. “There hasn’t been any public forum addressing this topic,” Dunn said. “For such curriculum impact, this has been hidden.”

Senator and Student Body President Donnie Clemmenson said he personally knows many KSC students who must take 20 credit hours per semester in order to stay on track for a four-year graduation timeline. He said current disparities in required credit hours conflict with other updated curriculum changes. “Making students take five classes for multiple semesters completely goes against what was achieved with the switch to a four-credit model,” Clemmenson said. The 2007 transition to the four-credit model allowed students to dedicate more time and attention to a smaller full-time course load.

Senator and Science Professor Richard Blachley questioned whether the policy proposal accurately addressed the problem at hand. “To do broad-based cuts to majors, whether they are or aren’t time issues, seems like a ham-handed approach,” Blatchley said. Blatchley suggested assessing the data collected by the Board of Trustees, regarding the graduation rates of different programs, and then making cuts where needed.

Senator and President of KSC Helen Giles-Gee said, whether a change is made or not, departments will have to communicate in order to preserve the credibility of a degree achieved in their discipline. “I look to them to maintain the academic integrity of the [KSC] program,” Giles-Gee said. The change will be voted on during the Senate’s next session.

The Senate also voted unanimously to accept a report on concerns regarding the individualized major (IM). The report was presented by Senator and English Professor Michael Antonucci. While the establishment of the IM has granted many KSC students the opportunity to acquire an education catering to interdisciplinary interests, Antonucci said an advisory council is needed for the major as well as more rigorous GPA and credit hour requirements. “This is where exceptional students would go to do exceptional things,” Antonucci said.

Senator and Associate Provost for Academic Affairs Ann Rancourt began discussion of the report reiterating the need for portfolio review for IM students but disagreed with the additional criteria Antonucci proposed. Rancourt said IM GPA requirement is currently a 2.0, the same as all other KSC programs, and should remain an option to all students.

Senator and Health Science Professor Melinda Treadwell gave an update on the evolving nursing major anticipated at KSC this coming fall. Treadwell said the state has received the college’s proposal to launch the program and the Board of Trustees has supported all costs associated with the venture. Interviews for department administrators and staff are currently in the works and Treadwell reported 45 students have been admitted for the program’s debuting semester. In anticipation for a site visit by the state, Treadwell said, “We’re on track for accreditation.”

A vote was unanimously passed to accept revisions on Senate bylaws regarding limitations on debate and procedures for online voting.


Tara Nathan can be contacted at tnathan@keeneequinox.com

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