MU Faculty Council solicit faculty to reform diversity course requirement

Saturday, November 12, 2011 | 6:00 a.m. CST

COLUMBIA — After being forced to take a step back last May, the MU Faculty Council is soliciting faculty feedback to reformulate the university's diversity course requirement proposal.

The proposal was approved by the council in March, but failed to pass a general faculty vote in May, according to previous Missourian reporting.

Harry Tyrer, council chairman and a professor of electrical and computer engineering, said it might make sense to look at other ways students could graduate from MU with diversity experience.

"Everybody who wrote me, they were all for diversity and a diversity experience," Tyrer said of the faculty. "They just didn't think the courses as proposed would work."

Tyrer explained that it could be difficult to find space for another required course within MU's already-full undergraduate requirements, but that it might be possible to come up to come up with a different meaningful experience.

Jim Spain, vice provost of undergraduate studies, said other methods have been discussed but nothing associated with a specific group or agenda.

"Some of the things that have been discussed are a service learning component, international study abroad component, civic engagement or an educational experience that just helps students develop a broader perspective and appreciation," Spain said.

Nursing students, for example, have an internship where they are placed in a hospital and work with individuals of various cultures and backgrounds, Tyrer said.

The next step in a diversity proposal for MU is on hold until the council makes a decision. Tyrer was reluctant to put a date on when a possible reformed proposal would be completed.

"I can't put a date on it," Tyrer said. "We need to give council a chance to think through the issues that are involved." 

Once the council drafts a proposal and it passes the required votes, other departments, such as Spain's, will work to implement the passed measures.

"We'll work with the faculty council as they explore other options that are focused on how we can best support efforts within the curriculum," Spain said. "Be it a formal course or other learning experiences and how those might align with MU being able to achieve its learning outcomes."

"We want to be sure there is a knowledge of diversity that all students share," Tyrer said. 

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Ellis Smith November 13, 2011 | 5:00 a.m.

Why don't we just formally expand bachelor degree requirements to five years instead of four years? It seems to take some students at least that long as it is.

Students arrive at a college or university with some sense of "diversity" - or they don't! So the "bet" seems to be that you are going to "educate" those who don't while robbing those who do of using that time and energy to pursue other subjects.

As I have said before, I hope this nonsense does not spread to the university system's other three campuses. How many cotton balls have been tossed around at UMKC, UMSL and MS&T?

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