After months of study by students, faculty and staff, the Tusculum College Board of Trustees convened Monday, March 23, and approved changes to the general education curriculum and course delivery calendar. With the approved changes, motivated students may complete their degrees in three years.
The Board accepted recommendations, approved by a faculty committee tasked to address policy and procedural matters, to provide increased flexibility in course scheduling and improve students’ ability to transfer into Tusculum College.
“Tusculum’s faculty, staff, students and trustees have been working for more than a year to identify changes to meet the needs of today’s and future students who are impacted by the ever increasing cost of a college education. Recent changes reviewed by interdisciplinary work groups, town hall meetings, faculty and students and approved by the Board also help ensure the success of our students, the primary reason for any college or university to exist,” said Dr. Nancy B. Moody, president of Tusculum College.
“Preparing students to be the new leaders in our ever changing world has been the goal of Tusculum College since its founding in 1794,” said Dr. Moody. “We are excited about the opportunities for our students as we address the changes we are seeing in higher education. The Board’s approved changes will make it easier for students to transfer to Tusculum and earn their college degree. Governor Bill Haslam’s Tennessee Promise program makes it possible for more Tennessee students to begin their college careers. Tusculum’s changes are designed to help them complete their college education and compete for the jobs available in today’s world.”
“As the governing body of this institution, it is critical that we continue to reshape Tusculum College in ways that will make our students more successful while we also look after the future of the college,” said Dr. Kenneth A. Bowman, chair of the Board and 1970 alumnus of the college. “These improvements are necessary as we align Tusculum College’s curriculum with other colleges and universities in our country, while we keep the distinctiveness of the block schedule that is uniquely Tusculum’s.”
Dr. Bowman added that these changes are part of the overall strategic efforts of the college. These include the $25 million Tusculum First capital campaign launched in October and the upgrading of facilities, telecommunications and other technology at the Greeneville campus and locations in Knoxville, Morristown and Kingsport.
“As a Board, we usually meet in the summers to update and expand our strategic plan, as opportunities and threats continually arise,” said Dr. Bowman. “These changes are a result of that process.”
Also approved during the October 2014 Board of Trustee meeting was the transition to a 120-hour graduation requirement and three-hour course format as part of the overall effort to reposition Tusculum College to meet the needs of its students. A transition period is planned for current students.
“During the transition period, all students will have increased access to individualized academic advising,” said Dr. Ron May, vice president for academic affairs. “All students will have their academic plans reviewed to ensure continued academic progress toward graduation without delaying their timeline for completion. Students will also have the opportunity to maximize their course options by moving to the new 120-hour graduation requirement and the three-hour course format.”
Additionally on Monday, the Board approved changes to the general education curriculum effective no later than Fall 2016. Some former commons courses, previously required of all students, will be included in major course offerings, thus providing students with the option of taking these courses, as well as the added flexibility of selecting other electives. This general education curriculum reduces the required general education courses to 41-credit hours, as approved and recommended by the Tusculum faculty.
Under the new course delivery system, students may continue to take one course per day scheduled to meet two days a week. Students may also take a course over the entire semester on Wednesday morning with the afternoons being reserved for academic and student engagement activities, including service projects and special topic lectures. The new calendar will allow two to five classes to be taken in each eight-week period, up to 18 hours per semester for those receiving financial aid.
“The culminating effect of these changes in credit hours per course, credit hours required for graduation, change in the general education requirements, the modified delivery format and more opportunities for online courses will allow students the option of completing their baccalaureate degree in three years should they choose that option,” said Dr. Bowman.
“Throughout her 220-year history, Tusculum College has continually transformed herself. The transformations have included name changes when merging with other institutions, creating programs to meet the needs of non-traditional adult students, adopting a unique focused calendar and even how we teach,” said Dr. Moody. “Recent actions by the faculty and Board allow Tusculum College to once again adapt to change and move forward while continuing to make an impact on the world through the success of her graduates.”