A new report calls for Case Western Reserve to provide undergraduates a more coherent and coordinated experience during their time on campus—both within and outside the classroom.
After more than a year and a half of work and feedback among faculty, students and staff, the Provost’s Commission on the Undergraduate Experience (CUE) called on the university “to take steps to function as a single university at the undergraduate level, cultivating, sustaining, and celebrating its diverse, inclusive, and thriving community of students.”
Former Provost W.A. “Bud” Baeslack convened the group midway through the 2015-16 academic year with a charge to assess undergraduate education and suggest steps to enhance students’ overall experience. The commission responded with a series of recommendations that seek to ensure that students learn essential academic skills and knowledge in a context that encourages intellectual exploration as well as attention to their overall well-being and individual development.
“This report represents an extraordinary accomplishment by the commission’s members as well as all of those who participated in the development and refinement of its recommendations,” President Barbara R. Snyder said. “It reflects clear and careful thought about the need to provide students rich learning opportunities within their courses and extracurricular activities—as well as the time, flexibility and support needed to realize them.”
Among the recommendations are to:
- develop a university-wide general education requirement for undergraduates;
- work toward a cap of 120 required credit hours for a bachelor’s degree (counts now range between 120 and 133);
- emphasize and enhance the comprehensive nature of the university’s academic strengths; and
- increase celebrations of students’ accomplishments and enhance their sense of community.
Last fall, the CUE issued a preliminary recommendation involving advising teams, specifically adding an “undergraduate experience coordinator” to work with faculty academic advisors to support students. In the spring, the university launched a Student Success initiative in which each undergraduate is assigned a staff navigator who can assist students and/or their faculty advisors in identifying and accessing needed information and services—for example, counseling or financial aid. The final CUE report urges regular communication between advisors and navigators, as well as more broadly between the Student Success office and undergraduate faculty and other key stakeholders.
The final pages of the report detail next steps, as well as those responsible for taking them. As part of the transition process from the CUE to regular university governance structures, a small group of CUE members spent the summer drafting proposals related to some of the major recommendations; among the groups most involved in this process will be the Faculty Senate Committee on Undergraduate Education (FSCUE).
“I want to thank CUE Chair Kim Emmons and everyone else who engaged in this process. The final report is thorough, thoughtful and inspiring,” Provost Ben Vinson III said. “I look forward to collaborating with her, FSCUE, undergraduate faculty and many others in advancing these outstanding ideas in an open and consultative manner.”
The new report is available on the provost’s website; a CWRU login is required.