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University to review, possibly change curriculum

In an effort to reassess and possibly revise curriculum, faculty members in each of the University's schools are completing the last leg of a University-wide review this year.

"Each school will re-evaluate its curriculum," College Dean Edward L. Ayers said.

The review will be the first comprehensive evaluation conducted at the University in the last 30 years. Both undergraduate and graduate students also will help re-examine the University's material and requirements.

"I see students as central parts of these conversations and I hope to get their thoughts on what the undergraduate experience should be," Ayers said.

A part of the Virginia 2020 plan, which aims to map out where the University wants to be in 20 years, the review will look at many different aspects of students' educational experience. This may include changes in the student body, the new technology-based learning environment and the general purposes and goals of an educational institution.

"The thing to do is to pause and look at what we're doing," Ayers said.

Each school will use different methods to conduct necessary research for the review because of the different means of teaching involved.

The Nursing School and the Engineering School, for example, must take into consideration adherence to national standards.

The Nursing School and Engineering School "processes tend to address issues defined in terms of national norms and the faculty's consensus view of our local or institutional values," University President John T. Casteen III said. "By contrast, the College really has to look at the entire world of learning in a process of this kind."

The College already formed five work groups to look at the Arts and Sciences area requirements, and groups will work with students in a broad consultative group, Ayers said.

The conversations with students and faculty will culminate in a report from each school's main office, which officials then will report to Board of Visitors members.

"We expect to report general results to the Board in the spring," Casteen said.

After reviewing and reporting the results, the College will implement the recommendations by altering requirements and possibly adding new programs, Ayers said.

Although the last comprehensive review was conducted in 1969 to 1970, individual schools constantly make smaller scoped curriculum assessments, Casteen said.

"Curricula change over time. Several schools have made changes, major and minor," he said. "This year's focus is on the entire undergraduate curriculum, considered both as a whole and as a collection of related, independent schools."