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Debating General Education

February Forum Provides Opportunity to Shape Campus Program

January 27, 2009

By Pamela McLaren

GE Committee Members

Chris Renne
GE Committee chair, director of the Center for Careers in Teaching and professor of elementary and bilingual education

Mitchell E. Avila
associate professor of philosophy

John W. “Jack” Bedell
professor of sociology and chair of Anthropology

David D. Bowman
chair and associate professor of geological sciences

Mark H. Drayse
associate professor of geography

Bridget Driscoll
director of academic advising

Shari G. McMahan
chair and professor of health science

Mary Ellen Montoya
graduate student, geography

Peter W. Othmer
professor of mechanical engineering

Daniel S. Ramsey
senior, political science

John C. Reinard
chair and professor of human communication studies

Christina Y. Smith
associate professor of art

Mark D. Stohs
associate dean of academic programs, Mihaylo College of Business and Economics

Edgar P. Trotter
acting associate vice president of undergraduate programs

What’s the future of Cal State Fullerton’s general education program?

Campus members can help shape the program by participating in “Our New GE? LEAPing Into the Future” a campuswide forum from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 6, in the Fullerton Marriott.

Last spring, the Academic Senate granted the university’s General Education Committee a one year moratorium during which the group began a program performance review — the first since the mid-1990s, said Chris Renne, GE Committee chair, director of the Center for Careers in Teaching and professor of elementary and bilingual education.

“This gave us the time to step back and look at the bigger picture, to see as a whole, the strengths of and concerns about the GE program,” Renne said.

At the same time, California State University campuses received a Chancellor’s executive order on general education, EO 1033.

“The timing of EO 1033 aligned well with a recommendation from the all-campus GE survey last spring. We are proposing a few changes, including one that would align our classifications to match those within EO 1033, which also will align with virtually all community colleges in the state, as well as our sister CSU campuses.”

Renne said that updated student learning outcomes — and the Association of American Colleges and Universities Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) initiative — will be presented as starting points for discussion at the campus forum.

“We will kick off the forum with a general update and the GE Committee efforts followed by an information presentation and breakout sessions,” said Renne.

Two keynote speakers are scheduled. Addressing the audience in the morning and serving as a facilitator will be Gail G. Evans, dean of undergraduate studies at San Francisco State. Evans is considered a national expert on implementing LEAP and helped revise the GE program at San Jose State. The luncheon speaker is Ken O’Donnell, associate dean of academic program planning for the CSU.

“We’re hopeful that people will participate and that this forum becomes a good communication tool,” said Renne. “The General Education Program is so important on our campus and in our students’ lives.”

Renne stressed that GE has a lot of different roles, including
• assisting students in gaining knowledge, skills and abilities
• helping students become more informed citizens
• in some cases, helping students select their majors
• assisting in developing students’ personal interests and hobbies

“In addition to their majors, GE is what prepares our students by providing depth and breadth to their education,” she added. “It is an important part of being a college graduate.”

Those who wish to attend the GE Forum should RSVP to Anh Nelson at

For additional information about the GE committee and its work go to Included on the page are results of a survey of students, faculty, administrators and staff completed in May; the current University Policy Statement 411.201 pertaining to general education; proposed revisions to UPS 411.02 and GE course list.

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