8 December 2005

Dear Charles,

       The BRIDGE Committee has been discussing not just the process of designing or redesigning the general education program but also procedures for fully vetting and selecting/narrowing the set of design proposals. We agree that the time has arrived to establish the procedures for moving from Phase I through Phase II of the process. We thank you and the university community for your advice. Robert has made a number of specific suggestions that we will take under consideration. What specific advice do you have, Charles?

       Let us say that the end game--the final 'vetting' and approval procedure is clear: the BRIDGE Committee, which is an ad hoc committee of the Faculty Senate as a whole, will send a proposal (or proposals) to the Faculty Senate for approval. In that body, the elected representatives of the faculty will examine, debate and vote on the proposal/s. What we need to create are the procedures that lead from potentially eleven design-proposals to one or two proposals.

       These are the mechanisms/procedures that we have so far discussed to move from Phase I through Phase II:

       1.) The BRIDGE Committee, functioning as an ad hoc committee of the Faculty Senate, charged with providing leadership and direction to the review and redesign of General Education, and given the charge by both the Faculty Senate and the Office of the Provost, will make a selection of either design proposals or elements of design proposals for Phase II development.

       2.) The BRIDGE Committee appoints a peer-review committee, chaired by a member of the BRIDGE Committee, made up of faculty, staff, students, community members and perhaps some 'outside readers/experts,' and that peer-review committee makes a selection of either design proposals or elements of design proposals for Phase II development.

       3.) The BRIDGE Committee establishes criteria for a faculty plebiscite. The faculty as whole (or some group of faculty who have 'vested' themselves in the process) makes a selection of either proposals or elements from various proposals. These proposals or elements of proposals enter Phase II where design teams flesh out ideas and continue to materialize in more concrete detail the shape of revised gen ed programs.

       4.) Some mix of these procedures will be employed at different stages: Phase I to Phase II and Phase II to Phase III (where Phase III is the BRIDGE Committee writing up a proposal/s to be submitted to the Faculty Senate.)

       We also have been discussing what mechanisms will be put in place for 'vetting' and publicly discussing the eleven Phase-I design proposals in the second half of Spring 2006. We believe a number of these vetting mechanisms will be used:

       1.) Public Hearings for design proposals: design teams and the BRIDGE Committee will make themselves available to the SIUE community at publicized (and various) times to hear community responses to specific design proposals. All sessions will be recorded; comments will be transcribed. These comments will help guide the selection/drafting process.

       2.) Public Hearings for elements of general education that stretch across all designs: design team members and BRIDGE Committee members will invite the community to comment on how well all proposals address certain aspects of general education. Possible themes/examples would be: composition, critical thinking, quantitative literacy, inter-disciplinarity
(this is an abbreviated list). Community feedback (recorded and transcribed) would be cycled into the selection/drafting process.

       3.) Focused round table discussions: invited faculty, staff, students and community members, representing the various units, programs and 'stake- holders' in the University, will evaluate a proposal using an instrument. The evaluative instrument will closely adhere to criteria embedded in the Call for Design Proposals. These round table groups will report out on their
evaluation. All comments will be recorded and transcribed. Feedback to be cycled into the selection/drafting process.

       4.) An evaluative instrument will be made electronically available. This electronic evaluation will closely adhere to the criteria embedded in the Call for Design Proposals. Faculty can electronically evaluate the proposals. These comments will be cycled into the selection/drafting process.

       These are some of the mechanism/procedures for moving from Phase I through Phase II that we have discussed, Charles. The BRIDGE Committee understands that modifications in General Education could have "a profound effect on certain academic departments." For this reason, we are moving forward with deliberation. Because these are also "delicate issues" we are moving forward with flexibility, so that we don't inadvertently do damage.

       Thank you, Charles, for providing us an opportunity to clarify the procedures we have been discussing and report on the work we have been doing.

 

Cheers!

Eric Ruckh
Chair, BRIDGE

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On 8 December 2005, Charles Berger wrote:

Thanks for your comments on the BRIDGE process, Eric.

But I think that most, if not the whole, of your email addresses the process of designing new Gen Ed programs. I'm sure that there will be overlap, mergers, etc. It will be interesting to watch.

However, none of this deals with the question of how the final proposals will be vetted. Will there be a vote? What force will such a vote have? Who will be "reading" the vote? What members of the SIUE community will be "allowed" to vote? Will people vote as individuals or as part of their departments or units or organizations? Any new proposal is likely to have a profound effect on certain academic departments. Hey, we're not creating the Iraqi constitution here, but these are delicate issues.

It seems to me that now would be the perfect time to establish ground rules for the voting process--assuming that there will, indeed, be a vote of some sort. While the design teams are at work, the BRIDGE committee itself should be working out the complicated details of the vetting process. It's crucial to know who will be enfranchised and how their preferences will be expressed and received.

Charles Berger
English

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