In addition to changing the language requirement and adding several new minors, LSA administrators are considering expanding undergraduate research and providing full tuition to students from lower socio-economic backgrounds.
In yesterday’s “State of the College” address, LSA Dean Terrence McDonald and Associate Dean Robert Megginson focused on ways to keep the college among the best in the nation, increasing diversity and financial aid and expanding student opportunities.
Megginson said this is important because there are far more students than faculty and research opportunities. Part of that strategy would encourage faculty to increase requests for money used for research in undergraduate research programs from funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation.
To help students pursue these new opportunities, the college is also working to increase financial aid to students, especially students of lower socio-economic backgrounds. The college hopes to provide some of these students with full tuition coverage, McDonald said.
McDonald also addressed proposed changes to the language requirement and race and ethnicity classes.
Currently, students must take four semesters in one foreign language. The proposal by the LSA Student Government would allow students who test out of two semesters of one language to complete the requirement by taking three semesters of a different language.
“The committee strongly backs the four-semester requirement. There may be some changing ways of reaching that,” McDonald said.
In response to student complaints that classes fulfilling the race and ethnicity requirement do not sufficiently cover those issue, LSA-SG suggested revamping the way the classes are approved for the requirement.
The curriculum committee, which has three LSA-SG members, will take a harder look at the classes, said Paige Butler, academic relations officer for LSA-SG.
New academic minors are also being considered through LSA to broaden students’ academic options. The University is looking at providing four new academic minors for kinesiology, chemistry, religion and international relations. These expand on a list of academic minors that were first made available in 1998.
“It is important that LSA is encouraging students by providing more minors,” said LSA senior Jenna Golden.
While addressing these changes, McDonald was upbeat about the students and faculty at the University. He was especially excited about this year’s incoming freshman class.
“We’ve got the best freshman class in history,” he said.
Freshmen had an average 3.8 grade point average in high school, and 22 percent were in the top 1 percent of their class.
McDonald also commended the faculty at the University.
“You are studying, in most of your departments, with the top people in the country and the world,” McDonald said, adding that the University’s top priority is maintaining its national standing for faculty and students.
The deans stressed the importance of continuing to provide a quality education for all students, which would include encouraging language study and expanding research opportunities for undergraduates.
Increasing diversity of all types within the college is also a major concern for LSA. “We have a compelling interest in diversity for the excellence of education for our students,” Megginson said.
Megginson said the college would make an effort to go where minority students are, such as attending conferences that focus on underrepresented college hopefuls. Sixteen percent of this year’s freshmen are from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, single parent homes or are the first in their families to attend college.
“It’s good that they addressed socio-economic differences and looked at diversity more than just in terms of race,” said LSA freshman Neil Kamireddy who attended the address.
All changes to LSA will be heavily dependent on the college’s budget, which has faced the largest reductions in 40 years, McDonald said.
“It’s been a bit of a challenge. We’ve done surprisingly well in LSA and elsewhere despite the cuts,” McDonald said.
The University hopes to ease the budget cuts with their five-year $300 million fundraising goal — half of which has been raised since May.
— Daily Staff Reporter Justin Miller contributed to this report.