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February 16th, 2012

We are writing in response to “Core changes in the works,” in the Feb. 9 issue of The Carroll News.  The information presented in this article is outright wrong on some points and seriously misleading on others, beginning with its headline.

No changes to the core curriculum have been approved, nor are any “slated to occur,” as your article misstates. Any change in the curriculum must be approved by a vote of the faculty.  This has not occurred, nor have any specific proposals for core change even been put before the faculty. Rather, John Carroll has been engaged in a multi-year academic planning process, led by an Academic Planning Task Force (APTF) that is examining not only the curriculum but also four other aspects of academic life: advising, interdisciplinary and new program development, faculty work, rewards and recognition and excellence in teaching.  The APTF Curriculum Working Group has indeed been examining the curriculum, including the core curriculum, but its work bears little resemblance to the ideas suggested in your article.  In particular, the notion of “interchangeable” philosophy and religion courses mentioned in your article has never been voiced by any faculty group of which we have been a part. Likewise, the APTF Curriculum group has not made any recommendations concerning FYS.

During this academic year, the APTF Curriculum group has been conducting a series of conversations with faculty in order to better understand their perceptions of what a 21st-century curriculum should accomplish, and how it can best do so. We understand that the student body may have valuable suggestions regarding our work.  Members of the APTF Steering Committee do plan to have a series of information sessions after Spring Break to inform members of the JCU campus of the APTF process and accomplishments to date.  These sessions will include students.

We welcome student engagement with academic issues, but such conversation needs to be based on a clear understanding of facts.  This article contained no information provided by anyone directly involved with the curriculum planning process, nor did either of the reporters contact the director of the Core Curriculum. The Carroll News has done a disservice to the campus community by its misreporting on this very important issue.

 

Sincerely,

Jeanne Colleran, dean for the College of Arts and Sciences, professor of English, and co-chair of the APTF Curriculum Working Group

Gwen Compton-Engle, director of the core curriculum, associate professor of classics, and co-chair of the APTF Curriculum Working Group

Nick Santilli, director of planning, associate professor of psychology, and co-chair of the APTF Steering Committee

Thomas Zlatoper, professor of economics and co-chair of APTF Steering Committee

Members of the APTF Curriculum Working Group:

Matt Berg, professor of history

Santa Casciani, associate professor of Italian

Kathleen Lis Dean, assistant vice president for student development and assessment in student affairs

Kathy DiFranco, University registrar

Doris Donnelly, professor of theology and religious studies

Penny Harris, professor of sociology

Graciela Lacueva, professor of physics

Beth Martin, professor of psychology

Dan Palmer, professor of computer science

Mark Storz, associate dean for graduate studies for the College of Arts and Sciences and associate professor of education