Motions and Recommendations passed by the

Committee on Undergraduate Education 2013-14

(from Minutes) 

Emily Borda and Todd Haskell, Co-Chairs








Formation of WSGE Task Force

Matthew Hilliard moved for CUE to recommend the formation of a Western Study of General Education (WSGE) task force. Marie Eaton seconded. Passed by consensus. The text of the Report and Motion follow:

Framing language and motion to convene Western Study of General Education (WSGE)

The charge for the Committee on Undergraduate Education (CUE) includes the following:

  • Promote the goals of a liberal education in general, and writing and general education goals in particular, within the academic community.
  • Periodically review these educational goals and assess the degree to which these goals have been achieved. These spheres of assessment include the University, colleges, and departments. The Committee on Undergraduate Education shall communicate its findings, and recommendations for improvement, to the ACC and the appropriate units.

Over the past two years, in the course of fulfilling these aspects of its charge, CUE has examined a broad range of data, reviewed reports and policy documents, convened focus groups, met with an outside expert, Jennifer Summit, who took part in Stanford’s recent general education reform, and engaged in numerous conversations with stakeholders around campus. In addition, CUE has discussed these aspects of our charge in the course of ordinary business such as reviewing proposed GUR courses.

Although we have learned that there are many excellent GUR courses with talented and enthusiastic instructors, we have also come to question whether the program as a whole meets WWU’s liberal arts and sciences mission, and whether its current structure enables it to fulfill that mission. Although the earlier white paper released by CUE emphasized student survey data, CUE’s conclusions were not based exclusively or even primarily on those data; those data are simply easier to communicate to an outside audience than the other sources we have drawn on. Rather, we view those data as one of several indicators that the program is not functioning as well as it could be. Our focus is not on improving student satisfaction per se but student learning outcomes, and our question is whether those learning outcomes could be achieved more effectively with a different program structure.

Careful consideration of this question will require a substantial investment of time and energy that exceeds the time and energy CUE is
able to expend on it, given the other responsibilities of the committee. Furthermore, we recognize that the CUE membership likely consists
of individuals who place a high priority on general education relative to other university goals, and that the viewpoints of the membership
may not represent the full range of viewpoints within the university community.

Motion: Therefore, CUE recommends the formation of a Western Study of General Education (WSGE) task force. CUE will propose the
membership of the task force in consultation with ACC. The membership shall provide broad representation of the university community, and shall include faculty, staff, and students. CUE proposes the following groups be represented:

  • All seven colleges and the library
  • Associate Students of WWU
  • Faculty Senate
  • Senate subcommittees that make curriculum-related decisions:
    • Academic Coordinating Commission (ACC)
    • Council on University Programs (CUP)
    • Committee on Undergraduate Education (CUE)
    • University Planning and Resources Council (UPRC)
  • Interest/initiative groups, for example:
    • Active Minds Changing Lives (AMCL)
    • President's Task Force on Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity
    • First-Year Experience (FYE) Committee
  • Student support groups, for example:
    • Residence Life
    • Academic Advising

Dual representation is acceptable. The membership must be approved by the Faculty Senate before the task force can convene. The task
force will first determine whether revision of the structure of the general education program is desirable. Should the task force determine
that revision is desirable, it shall further consider whether such revision is feasible at this time. CUE will advise the WSGE task force on
criteria to define desirability and feasibility of GUR revision, with advisement from ACC and the faculty senate.

  1. The task force shall submit a report to CUE containing the following:
    • The specific criteria utilized by the task force to determine desirability and feasibility
    • A summary of stakeholder groups the task force consulted with as well as other information sources used
    • A summary of key findings
    • A recommendation regarding whether general education revision is desirable and feasible at the time, along with the rational for that recommendation
  2. Once the report has been received, CUE, in consultation with ACC, shall take one of three actions:
    • Advise ACC to accept the recommendation of the task force
    • Advise ACC to reject the recommendation of the task force
    • Request the task force to collect additional information or explore additional questions and provide a revised report
Review of GUR Program Assessment Guidelines

CUE is responsible for the assessment of the GUR program and will be the primary body specifying requirments for the assessment in the 2013-2014 academic year. Members agreed that aligning GUR program assessment with internal departmental assessment would streamline the process. Committee members suggested modifying the assessment template to include the language of competency one, the specification that competency one is the only competency under assessment, and the inclusion of an assessment rubric.

Motion: CUE passed a motion (forward by Carmen Werder and seconded) to approve the distribution of the assessment template with the modifications specified above.

WSGE Feasibility and Desirability Criteria

Motion: CUE passed a motion (forwarded by Carmen Werder and seconded) to forward the feasibility and desirability criteria to ACC for review and advisement.

The language of the feasibility and desirability criteria follows:

3) The task force will first determine whether revision of the structure of the general education program is desirable. This determination shall be guided by the following questions, in addition to any others determined by the task force:

  • To what extent are the stated goals (11 competencies) of the GUR program aligned with WWU’s mission?
  • To what extent does there exist evidence to show that the GUR program overall is structured to meet its goals of providing a broad liberal arts and sciences education?
  • To what extent does the existing program structure provide integrated, coherent pathways toward achieving the program goals?
  • To what extent does the existing program interface productively with major programs of study while meeting both the goals of general education and the goals of preparing for entry to degree programs?
  • To what extent do students, faculty, and advisors value and understand the purpose of the GUR program?
  • To what extent do faculty teaching in the GUR program demonstrate that they have enough training and resources to teach the GURs in a way that meets the program’s goals and WWU’s mission?
  • To what extent could issues with the above be effectively addressed without a revision of the program structure?

The task force shall consult with stakeholders across the university community in examining these questions.

4) Should the task force determine that revision is desirable, it shall further consider whether such revision is feasible at this time. This determination shall be guided by the following questions, in addition to any others determined by the task force:

  • To what extent has a broad base representation of the Western community (including faculty, staff, and students) articulated a desire to engage in a restructuring of the GUR program?
  • To what extent does there exist evidence that restructuring is sufficiently important and urgent relative to other university goals to spend the time and energy, and financial resources that revision will require?
  • Could such restructuring be accomplished without undue negative impact (e.g. loss of SCH or increased workload) on departments, programs, initiatives, or groups?
  • Are there opportunities for synergies with other departments, programs, or initiatives that would not be available if revision occurred at a later time?

ACC Liaison on WSGE Task Force


CUE discussed the possibility of an ACC representative on the task force.

Motion: CUE passed a motion (moved by Marie Eaton and seconded) to grant Todd Haskell the authority to add the name of an ACC representative to the task force membership should all of the following three conditions be met:

  1. ACC feels that such representation is necessary;
  2. There is a willing volunteer available to serve as ACC representative; and
  3. That individual is named specifically to represent ACC, without responsibility for representation of their respective college.
WSGE Task Force Appointments

Motion: CUE passed a motion (forwarded by Josie Ellison and seconded) to recommend the following individuals be appointed to the Western Study of General Education (WSGE) task force, to represent the group(s) outlined below:

CST/Senate: Roger Anderson, Biology
CHSS-B/CUE: Paul Chen, Political Science
CHSS-C/Senate: Sean Murphy, Liberal Studies
CFPA: Amber Suddoth Bone, Music
CBE: Phil Thompson, Economics
Fairhaven: Daniel Larner
Huxley: Patrick Buckley, Environmental Studies
Woodring: Angela Harwood, Secondary Education
Library: Elizabeth Stephan
NTT Faculty-1: Monique Kerman, Art, Liberal Studies
NTT Faculty-2: Georgianne Connell, Biology
VPUE: Steven VanderStaay (nv)
ASVP: Josie Ellison (nv)
Student A: AS appointee (TBA)
Student B: AS appointee (TBA)

Proposal to Eliminate SAT/ACT Exemption for English 101

Donna Qualley, English, joined CUE to discuss a proposed change to English 101 exemptions eliminating the SAT/ACT waiver that high-scoring students currently can use to satisfy their ACOM GUR requirement. While AP/IB exemptions are to remain in place, standardized tests are not seen as an accurate measure of writing ability, and many other institutions, including the University of Washington, do not allow any exemptions based on test scores.

CUE intends to revisit this issue to discuss means of improving the writing proficiency of Western students.

Motion: CUE passed a motion (moved by Julia Sapin and seconded) to approve the change in SAT/ACT exemptions for the A-COM requirement for English 101.

WSGE Task Force Memo

CUE reviewed a draft of an email to faculty explaining the role and process of the WSGE task force, the language of which has been sent to both Faculty Senate President Johann Neem and ACC Chair Yvonne Durham for feedback.

CUE discussed the content and length of the email, which reports that the WSGE task force has been convened and will be reaching out to various groups on campus to encourage people to participate in the process of determining the feasibility and desirability of potential general education reform. Its purpose is to clearly frame what discussions might look like. CUE would like to discourage people from viewing the issue as a conflict between disciplines, but does not want to be seen as attempting to guide the process of any potential reform.

Motion: CUE passed a motion (moved by Carmen Werder and seconded) to approve the content of the draft of the email to faculty regarding the WSGE task force, subject to editing for length and clarity, with the final version being distributed to CUE members prior to being sent out to faculty.

WSGE Report Timeline

The WSGE Task Force requested that CUE extend the deadline for WSGE to submit its final report on the two questions it has been charged with answering: first, whether revising WWU’s GUR structure is desirable, and second, whether such revision is feasible.

Paul Chen informed CUE of the WSGE’s work thus far and their timeline for future work as outlined below.

WSGE has taken the following steps towards fulfilling its charge:

  • Clarifying its collective understanding of the CUE’s charge
  • Dividing labor by creating two subcommittees:
    • A Data committee to collect and analyze existing data
    • A Forum committee to determine what additional information is needed and how to obtain this information
  • Enlisting help from WWU’s office of Survey Research (OSR)
  • Drafting survey questions for both students and faculty
  • Creating two new subcommittees:
    • A Survey Questions committee to finalize and deploy survey questions for faculty members and analyze survey data
    • A (new) Forum committee to track forums and analyze data drawn from those forums

During spring quarter, WSGE plans to:

  • Deploy the student survey in early April
  • Deploy the faculty survey in April
  • Schedule focus groups and listening forums to be held in April and may

Motion: Ning Yu (seconded) moved to extend the deadline for WSGE’s final report to the last CUE meeting of spring quarter (6/5/14). The motion carried.

CUE discussed finding a new member to serve as CUE’s liaison to WSGE in order to allow Paul Chen to focus solely on his responsibilities as WSGE Chair. Once WSGE’s spring quarter meeting times have been determined, a call will be sent out to CUE members to volunteer as liaison. This position can either be held by one person, or by a rotating sub-set of CUE members.

2014-15 Meeting Calendar

2014-15 CUE Meeting Calendar

CUE Fall Quarter 2014

CUE Winter Quarter 2015
CUE Spring Quarter 2015
Cue at 4 p.m.
CUE at 4 p.m.
CUE at 4 p.m.
October 2
Course proposal deadline: Jan. 13
April 9
October 16
January 15
April 23
October 30
January 29
May 7
November 13
February 12
May 21
November 20
February 26
June 4
December 4
March 12

Motion: Josie Ellison (seconded) moved to approve the 2014-15 CUE Meeting Calendar. The motion carried.

Six Questions Document

Todd Haskell presented the summary document of CUE’s responses to the sixth question, which includes CUE members’ anonymous individual statements as an appendix.

Motion: Grace Wang (seconded) moved to approve the summary document of CUE’s responses to the sixth question: “What, in the years ahead, are to be the roles of liberal arts and sciences at WWU?” to be passed along to Brian Burton, Associate VP for Academic Affairs. The motion carried.

WSGE Preliminary Report

Motion: CUE voted on a motion (moved by Josie Ellison and seconded) that WSGE provide CUE with a preliminary report (a non-binding recommendation) on the question of desirability by June 5th, to be followed by a complete report on the questions of both desirability and feasibility by October 16th 2014, with the VPUE facilitating additional coding and analysis support over the summer to assist in meeting that deadline. The motion carried with 10 in favor, one opposed, and one abstention.

Resolution Thanking Emily Borda

Carmen Werder presented a resolution thanking Emily Borda for her service as co-chair of CUE.

Resolved, That the Committee on Undergraduate Education recognizes the heroic and successful efforts that Emily Borda has made over the last two years as co-chair of CUE and thanks her for her extraordinary service.

The Resolution passed by acclamation.

Resolution Thanking Maya Price

Emily Borda presented a resolution thanking Maya Price for her work as CUE’s Recorder.

Resolved, That the Committee on Undergraduate Education thanks Maya Price for her exemplary service as CUE’s recorder over the course of the last several years.

The Resolution passed by acclamation.

Office Election Motion: Emily Borda moved to approve Todd Haskell’s continuation as CUE Chair for 2014-15, and thanked him for his work as Co-Chair over the last year. The motion carried.