Puerto Rico’s Sistema Universitario Ana G. Méndez attracted thousands of adult students to an accelerated degree program, AHORA, by stressing the kind of flexibility and practicality that one would expect from a program called “now.”
But when administrators and faculty started considering how to expand into the continental United States they realized it wouldn’t work to simply shift their program a few hundred miles north.
When colleges and universities revamp curricular requirements, disciplines can become winners or losers. Those fields that are required (or that have many courses that meet requirements) enjoy assured enrollments. So when a college votes down a foreign language requirement, as faculty members did last year in the arts and sciences college of George Washington University, that can be a blow to those who teach languages.
A few years ago, any discussion of the master’s in business administration would begin with discussions of scandal and mismanagement. Look at instances of accounting fraud at Enron and WorldCom: MBAs behaving badly. A president of the United States with mixed approval ratings and plenty of opponents in his own party: an MBA whose leadership skills seemed lacking.
The undergraduate offerings at Stanford University’s School of Engineering could be engaged in a tug of war.
On one side is the foundation of math, science and major-specific courses students need to earn a degree now, or four years from now. On the other, the skills, curiosity and bent toward problem solving that students will need in their first job and in the job they get 20 or 40 years into their careers.
Gwynn Powell, an associate professor of recreation and leisure studies at the University of Georgia, knew there was something wrong in her department several years ago, when she could not bring herself to recommend any of her students to the directors of a local summer camp.
“I had to say to them, ‘Well, our students are just not getting this stuff as well as they’re supposed to,’ ” Powell says.