Thursday, December 12, 2013

William And Mary News

W&M Faculty Approve New General Education Curriculum
Faculty Affirm, Strengthen the College's Liberal Arts Approach
(By Staff Writers, William & Mary website, December 12, 2013)

At their Dec. 12 meeting, the Faculty of Arts & Sciences voted in favor of new general education requirements for the undergraduate program at the College of William & Mary. The vote caps a year-long process of faculty deliberation and refinement following a Feb. 5, 2013 vote to adopt a new framework and guiding principles.

As mandated by the state of Virginia, the general education requirements comprise about one quarter of the 120 credits needed for the undergraduate degree. They are taken by all undergraduate students alongside the courses required for majors and elective courses that round out their academic program. The College's "gen ed" requirements were last reviewed and revised by the faculty in 1993. The other three quarters of the W&M curriculum -- requirements for individual majors and electives -- were not part of the faculty review.
Called the College Curriculum (COLL), the new general education curriculum systematically links all four undergraduate years at William & Mary from start to finish. Previously, students completed a checklist of general education requirements in no particular order. Many of those requirements were fulfilled before a student arrived at W&M by credits earned in secondary school or at another institution of higher education. The revised general education courses provide an improved sequence designed by W&M faculty to emphasize connections across the liberal arts.

The COLL curriculum will provide students a common W&M experience and a more integrated introduction to the liberal arts, said Kate Conley, Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences. Each year draws on the foundational knowledge and skills gained in the previous year as students move into their majors and gain a wider liberal arts perspective on the world, she added.
"Our faculty have moved carefully, precisely, and boldly to design a liberal arts curriculum that's right for our time and looks to the future,” Conley said. “This curriculum ensures that each student leaves William & Mary able to think deeply and critically and to make new connections between various kinds of knowledge – the best kind of preparation for their future success. I congratulate the faculty on their fine work.”

Innovations in the new curriculum

By design, the new general education curriculum extends across all four undergraduate years, with each year building toward an integrated liberal arts education. The new curriculum emphasizes inquiry (how to frame questions, reason, create, solve problems) and writing and other forms of communication throughout all four years.
In the 1993 curriculum, courses originated in departments and programs and were designated as satisfying one of the GER content areas (1, 2a, 2b, 3, 4a, 4b, 4c, 5, 6, or 7). The new framework turns that around: COLL (Gen Ed) courses carry explicit learning expectations and can be cross-listed back to departments and programs.  Some courses are conceived in an entirely new way. COLL 200 courses, for example, are anchored in a "knowledge domain" (one of three defined areas of knowledge) and intentionally look outward to one or both of the other knowledge domains. Interdisciplinarity is thus built into the structure of the course itself.

For instance, a current general education course in 18th-century American history, which now concentrates on primary historical sources, might be adapted into a new COLL 200 course by drawing in addition on geological, marine science, or epidemiological studies to explore how the environment affected the communities of Tidewater Virginia.  The history professor teaching the course would consult with his or her scientific peers on campus, and the history students would be introduced to different questions, materials, and methods drawing on those other disciplines.
Alongside the new curriculum are new and enhanced resources to provide a self-sustaining cycle of innovation and support for general education. A new Center for the Liberal Arts, for example, consists of rotating Faculty Fellows charged with helping to organize and infuse content, integration, and creativity throughout the general education curriculum. The first cohort of five Faculty Fellows will begin work in January 2014.

Each Faculty Fellow will design and teach a new COLL course, and they will help their faculty colleagues incorporate their research and scholarship into their own general education courses. The Fellows will also help to guide the current faculty advising system to support students, and help decide how best to formulate and provide academic support to students outside the classroom (e.g., the current Writing Resources Center and the proposed Quantitative Resources Center).

A quintessential William & Mary approach

The curriculum review was a result of the strategic planning process, which assessed William & Mary’s position as a leading liberal arts university. In 2010, Provost Michael R. Halleran charged the deans of Arts & Sciences, business and education to undertake a curriculum review that should “above all else focus on developing the most vibrant and exciting liberal arts education for our students, leveraging core values with our distinctive attributes."
That charge was followed with two years of research, design, and faculty conversations led by an appointed Curriculum Review Steering Committee. In Fall 2012 that group turned its proposed curriculum over to the elected Educational Policy Committee (EPC), which has oversight of the general education requirements. After convening various working groups to vet each part of the proposed curriculum, the EPC led the year-long discussion and refinement by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.  "The faculty steering committee that initiated our review could have tinkered around the edges and suggested minor revisions to our 20-year-old general curriculum," said Lu Ann Homza, A&S Dean for Educational Policy, whose portfolio includes the general education requirements. "Instead they proposed an entirely new framework with a uniquely William & Mary approach."

The framework is designed to be both robust and flexible, Homza said. It brings the liberal arts to the center of the overall curriculum and challenges faculty members to bring their best work to the general education courses taken by all undergraduate students.  "This is a game-changer," said Homza. "It's a very exciting time to be a faculty member at William & Mary."
Making the switch

Academic departments and programs already have been reviewing their course offerings in relation to the new curriculum, looking at possible changes in courses that already exist, new courses, and courses that will no longer be needed. That planning ramps up in Spring 2014 with more formal assessments conducted with the A&S Dean's Office. Simultaneously, Provost Halleran will join President Taylor Reveley in a full review of the proposed curriculum, including projected costs.  There will be some development and transition costs, Halleran said, as faculty design and implement the new courses, and some modest increased permanent costs in expanding the engaged learning model that characterizes a W&M education. Now that faculty have approved the new curriculum, the A&S Dean’s Office will conduct a formal assessment of temporary costs, associated costs such as increased faculty support and new, direct costs.
“From what I've seen so far, those costs appear to be reasonable and appropriate,” said Halleran, adding the College will support the new curriculum through a combination of resources, including reallocation of existing funds, budget priorities through W&M’s annual strategic planning process and private donations.  "Our plan is to pilot new COLL 100- and 200-level courses as early as Fall 2014," said John Griffin, Dean of Undergraduate Studies. "In Fall 2015 we expect to launch the new curriculum with that year's entering freshman class."
The curriculum will be implemented over four years, with current students graduating under the existing general education requirements, Griffin said. This, he added, allows for a manageable transition and an opportunity to secure new funding. 

The total number of credits required for a bachelor's degree remains unchanged (120), and the number of general education credits remains about one fourth of that total (~30). So once the new curriculum is fully launched, the credits per student will be comparable to the general education curriculum now in place. Pre-college credits (e.g., AP, IB) will still be accepted but will not replace COLL courses.  Transfer students will participate in many, but not all, of the new requirements. According to Griffin, "We want them to benefit from the new curriculum as much as possible, while still completing their degrees within the usual four years."
Adapting to contemporary realities

While substantial work remains on the implementation side, President Reveley congratulated the faculty for its hard and creative efforts so far.  “The passage of two decades between revisions of our general education requirements is quite a long time in today’s world,” Reveley said. “Much has changed since 1993 when our general education requirements were last revised. The international community has drawn much closer; interdisciplinary research, teaching and problem-solving have become much more essential; and there has been an explosive advance in many areas of knowledge. While our professors have been refreshing and tweaking their courses over the years, it was time to bring many of these ideas together in an integrated way.  Like other institutions, colleges and universities must take contemporary realities into account if they wish to remain relevant and excellent. Thus, leading colleges and universities revisit and revise their general education requirements with some frequency.”

The William & Mary Promise
(By Taylor Reveley, William & Mary website, 19 April 2013)

Dear William & Mary Community,

Today our Board of Visitors took steps vitally needed to help secure a future for the College worthy of our storied past. These steps are called “The William & Mary Promise.” They are sketched in the press release found here. You will find even more details and a video on our Promise website at Please take a look at this information. 

Here, though, are the basic elements of the Promise. The new financial resources it generates will (1) help provide enough compensation to recruit and retain the outstanding faculty and staff essential if we are to educate our students with “public ivy” quality, (2) materially increase the College’s affordability for low- and middle-income undergraduates from Virginia, and (3) provide more seats for in-state undergraduates at William & Mary (we will enroll an additional 150 in-state students phased in over a four-year period, and they, when added to the additional 150 students we began phasing in with our fall 2011 class, will result in 300 additional students from Virginia – or an 8% increase in the size of the in-state student body as compared to its size in fall 2010). (4) The William & Mary Promise also guarantees that incoming in-state students will pay the exact same tuition for four years – no increases, and (5) it raises annual tuition at no more than the rate of inflation for in-state undergraduates enrolled before implementation of the Promise. (6) The Board of Visitors limited the increase in out-of-state undergraduate tuition for next year to the lowest percentage in over a decade to help William & Mary remain competitive for out-of-state students.

Let me provide some context for the BOV’s actions and explain why, in my judgment, they are essential. U.S. News most recently ranked the College 6th in quality among all public universities. Counting both public and private schools, we ranked 33rd in quality among the leading national universities but only 112th in financial resources. That’s a gap of 79 points. No other leading university has a gap approaching that magnitude and none ranked below 80th in financial wherewithal. William & Mary offers an academic experience that is rich in talented people, steeped in student/faculty engagement, devoted to undergraduates as well as professional and graduate students, and funded on a shoe string. We do remarkably more with less. Up to a point, this is a virtue, but only up to a point. Our shoe string is worn and pulled taut.

William & Mary’s strategic plans hinge on the College’s continuing to offer one of the very best undergraduate educations in the world while remaining a university internationally recognized for academic excellence. This requires salaries sufficient to retain and attract marvelous faculty and staff and financial aid sufficient to meet the needs of our students. We have fallen behind in both regards. Faculty salaries are currently at the 14th percentile of W&M’s peer institutions as identified by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV). They are projected to be in the 9th percentile by the 2015/16 academic year. Similarly, staff salaries at W&M seriously lag behind those paid by our SCHEV peers. This is flatly unacceptable. We must reverse the trend, while also increasing the amount of need-based aid we provide, focusing initially on in-state students. The Provost will shortly send a message explaining the steps we will take to raise salaries.

Funds are needed on many other scores as well. For instance, we should become more multi-disciplinary in our academic programs, because the issues our society faces are multi-disciplinary, and students need to learn to think in those terms and solve problems in those terms. We also need funds so the university can become more internationally engaged, because the world in all its dimensions is increasingly interconnected, our students seek international engagement, and we are well positioned to take advantage of our strengths in this arena.

Among all the things William & Mary must accomplish soon, however, by far the most important is to rebuild our financial foundation, taking into account the decline in state support that has occurred over a generation and the enormous demands that are now being made on very finite state resources. While William & Mary greatly appreciates any support the state provides us, we recognize that the College must largely fund itself going forward. This we can do by combining campus productivity gains with growing philanthropic support and more earned income from students who benefit from the extraordinary education William & Mary provides (coupled with need-based aid for those students who qualify for it).

In other words, we all have to do our part – faculty and staff through productivity gains on campus, alumni and friends through philanthropy, and students and parents through tuition. No group can stand on the sidelines expecting the others to carry the ball alone. It takes us all, pulling together, to build a sustainable financial foundation for William & Mary in this century. And it is crucial that faculty and staff, alumni and friends, as well as students and their families be confident they are not pulling alone.

This is why the actions taken by our Board of Visitors today are so vital. “The William & Mary Promise” embraces the reality that we are all in this together.  William & Mary is a treasure for the Commonwealth and for the country. It is an iconic national institution that was present at the creation of both the State of Virginia and the United States of America. The College is now well into its 320th year. As the stewards of this great inheritance, it’s up to us to sustain William & Mary in our time.

Taylor Reveley


Board Of Visitors Adopts New Operating Model For William & Mary
(By Brian Whitson, William & Mary website, April 19, 2013)

William& Mary’s Board of Visitors today approved “The William & Mary Promise,” a new operating model that provides vitally needed resources to secure the future of Virginia’s distinctive “public ivy” while markedly enhancing affordability and access for Virginia students.  Highlights of the new model include:

  • FOUR-YEAR TUITION GUARANTEE:  Provides Virginia families with financial predictability through a commitment to incoming in-state students that tuition will remain constant through all four years of undergraduate study.
  • RELIEF FOR “MIDDLE-INCOME” FAMILIES:  Reduces the “net tuition” paid by middle-income families, as defined by the state’s Higher Education Advisory Committee.  More than 70% of Virginia households qualify as “middle income” under that definition and would pay the same or less to attend William & Mary under the new model.
  • LESS DEBT FOR W&M GRADUATES:  Reduces by up to $8,000 the loan burden for middle-income in-state undergraduate students who have demonstrated financial need.
  • TUITION CAPPED AT C.P.I. FOR RETURNING VIRGINIA STUDENTS:  For in-state undergraduate students enrolled at William & Mary before adoption of the new model, holds annual tuition increases to no greater than the rate of inflation (annual change in the Consumer Price Index, 1.8% next year).
  • ADDITIONAL VIRGINIA STUDENTS:  Provides for 150 additional in-state students to be enrolled to William& Mary over the next four years, which combined with the recent commitment of 150 in-state students represents an 8% increase since 2010.
  • ENSURING ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE:  Increases faculty compensation (based on merit) to the level recommended in the state’s new landmark higher education law (TJ21), keeps classes small and interactive, and increases average faculty engagement in instruction.
  • SECURING A “PUBLIC IVY” FUTURE:  Ensures a sound financial future for the College through innovation, enhanced efficiency and productivity, greater philanthropic support, and increased tuition revenues.

 “William & Mary is a treasure for the Commonwealth and the country,” said President Taylor Reveley. “It is one of the greatest liberal arts universities in the world, rare for its genuine commitment to both research and teaching and for its abiding emphasis on undergraduate education of compelling quality. To sustain this treasure and enable it to move forward in this century, we must take action on many fronts.  Those of us on campus must keep seeking ways to provide superior results at less cost.  Our alumni and friends must help sustain William & Mary with increasing generosity through annual giving, endowment gifts, and funds for bricks and mortar. Our students and their families must help support more of the cost of the ‘hands on’ education that is the glory of the College. At the same time, we must become more affordable for Virginia low- and middle-income families and reduce student loan debt. With all of us doing our parts, William & Mary can continue to contribute magnificently to the Commonwealth and nation. Our new operating model is a vital step to that end.”
The Board of Visitors adopted the “William& Mary Promise” to fund expenditures in the university’s approved six-year plan and to address priorities identified in the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2011 (TJ21), which the General Assembly adopted unanimously two years ago. The plan takes into account that long-term declines in state support require a new financial model to meet the university’s essential needs. The plan will make the College more self-sufficient during uncertain economic times and will provide the stable funding necessary to offer one of the best undergraduate educations in the country and to be recognized internationally for academic excellence.  Resources generated by the plan will be used to retain and attract the outstanding faculty and staff necessary to deliver “public ivy” quality, enhance affordability for low- and middle-income Virginia students, and provide more opportunities for in-state students to attend William & Mary.

 “With the steep decline in public funding for higher education over the last generation, and the uncertainty of such funding in the future, it is time for bold and creative ideas to provide the kind of resources needed to sustain great institutions like William & Mary, while also improving affordability for students with financial need and predictability about tuition amounts for everyone,” said W&M Chancellor Robert M. Gates. “I am fully supportive of what is proposed and believe it places the College on much more solid footing for the future.”  Rector Jeffrey B. Trammell praised the collaboration and creativity that led to the William& Mary Promise.  “The board, administration and university community came together to craft and refine this new operating model. William & Mary is committed to providing the best undergraduate liberal arts education of any public university and securing a future worthy of our past,” Trammell said. “The William & Mary Promise is a visionary plan that increases affordability for lower- and middle-income Virginia families. It enables more Virginians to be educated at the College.  It allows us to retain and recruit the very best faculty and staff. And it provides an innovative, predictable tuition model for in-state students. The reinvention of our operating model allows us to enhance and sustain William & Mary's national preeminence and promises that the fourth century will be the best yet for our 320-year-old institution."
Todd Stottlemyer, chair of the Board’s Committee on Financial Affairs, said the new operating model is a promise to everyone associated with William & Mary.  “This is an innovative plan to preserve and strengthen the university’s long-term excellence,” Stottlemyer said. “In the face of growing competitive pressures and limited public funding, William& Mary will become more self-sufficient so it can continue to offer an outstanding educational experience as one of the leading institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth and nation.  Because of William & Mary’s strong position in the higher education marketplace, the College is able to implement a financial model that simultaneously lays a firm foundation for its future as a leading American university and enhances affordability for middle-income students from Virginia.”

Additional information on key features of the William & Mary Promise follows:

Four-year tuition guarantee:
-       Beginning this fall, entering Virginia students will know exactly what their tuition costs will be for all four years at William & Mary, and those costs will not rise from year to year. The Board’s action today sets tuition for classes entering in the fall of 2013, 2014 and 2015.  Virginia undergraduate students in each entering class will see a one-time step increase their freshman year: to $10,428 for the 2013-14 academic year, $12,428 for 2014-2015, and $13,978 for 2015-2016.  For each entering class, tuition will be frozen at that level for all four years. 

-       To put the new tuition model in perspective, the cumulative four-year cost of tuition for the class that enters in fall 2013 will be less than it would have been under the annual 7.1 percent increases that were the average at William & Mary over the past five years. 

-       The William & Mary Promise ensures that all Virginia students, regardless of income or financial aid eligibility, will continue to receive a “public ivy” education at William & Mary for less than it actually costs the College to provide that education.  Even after the step increases in tuition described above are fully implemented, William & Mary as a public university will still be subsidizing the education of all in-state students, even those whose family incomes and assets make them ineligible for any financial aid.  Under the William & Mary Promise, however, “middle-income” families will receive a larger share of this subsidy than under the current model. When the effects of increased financial aid are factored in, the "net tuition" paid by the majority of students who qualify for financial aid will be significantly lower.
-       The new tuition rates and four-year guarantee are for new in-state students only. Currently enrolled in-state students will see their tuition increase no greater than the rate of inflation (Consumer Price Index, or CPI), which means an increase of just 1.8 percent for the 2013-14 academic year – the lowest in-state increase for current students in more than a decade. Tuition increases for these returning students in fall 2014 and 2015 will also be based on increases in the CPI.

-       The guaranteed tuition plan will not apply to out-of-state undergraduates. But out-of-state students will have a 3% tuition increase for fall 2013, the lowest increase in 11 years. The College will continue to evaluate out-of-state tuition on an annual basis, considering total costs as well as tuition and fees.
Middle-income affordability and lower student debt:

-       Under the William & Mary Promise, students from middle-income families who qualify for need-based financial aid will pay no more “net tuition” (tuition less financial aid) than under the current model, and the vast majority will pay significantly less.  The new model will enable the College to increase the amount of need-based financial aid it provides to in-state students by 50 percent over the four-year period.   Most of the increased aid will be used to provide grants in lieu of loans, thereby reducing student debt.
-       Through the new financial aid, the William& Mary Promise will lower the average annual borrowing and four-year cumulative debt average for Virginia undergraduates with demonstrated need as determined by the financial aid office.  The plan will lower the maximum amount of loans included with an in-state financial aid package by 36% ($2,000 annually) for families with an income between $40,000 and $60,000, and by 18% ($1,000 annually) for all other families with demonstrated financial need. Students from Virginia families with a household income of less than $40,000 will continue to receive financial aid that covers 100% of their need with grants, and thus will incur no debt.

-       The definition of “middle income” used in the William & Mary Promise encompasses more than 71% of Virginia households and was supplied by the Commonwealth of Virginia pursuant to the new TJ21 legislation.  Adopted by the General Assembly in 2011, TJ21 stressed the need to improve middle-income affordability and directed a newly created Higher Education Advisory Committee to provide a definition of the target group.  The Committee has done so, defining “middle income” as extending to 400% of the federal “poverty” definition, or to roughly $100,000 in annual income for a family of four with two children.   
More spaces for Virginia undergraduates:

-       Overall in-state undergraduate enrollment will increase by an additional 150 students above current commitments, phased in over a four-year period. This is in addition to the 150 in-state slots William & Mary has been phasing in since 2010.
-       When completely phased in, W&M will have added an additional 300 spots for Virginia students compared to the 2010 enrollment when the expansion began—an increase of about 8%.

Academic excellence and financial soundness:
-       The William & Mary Promise is designed to achieve the objectives identified in the College’s six-year-plan, which was adopted last year after passage of the TJ21 legislation.  Each fall, public institutions of higher education in Virginia are required by TJ21 to submit updated six-year plans to designated state officials.  The plans identify critical needs and priorities as well as expenditures and planned resources.  William & Mary’s plan, first adopted by the Board of Visitors in September 2011, was informed by both the goals of the TJ21 legislation and the ongoing strategic planning effort that began in 2008.

-       A primary objective of the plan is to narrow the gap between quality and the resources the College has to sustain that quality.  According to U.S. News, the gap between William & Mary’s academic quality and the university’s financial resources is unparalleled:  W&M ranks 33rd in the nation in quality and 112th in resources.  No other university in the top 50 has a gap anywhere close to the 79-point difference of those two rankings, and this gap has been growing significantly over the last three years.
-       Retaining and attracting top faculty – the lifeblood of any great university, especially a “public ivy” – is exceptionally difficult when the resource gap becomes so wide.  W&M’s faculty salaries are currently at the 14th percentile of the university’s peer institutions as identified by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), and are projected to decline to the 9th percentile by 2015 under the existing operating model.  To put this in perspective, the TJ21 legislation enacted just two years ago reiterated the Commonwealth’s longstanding goal of having its colleges and universities provide faculty salaries at the 60th percentile of their SCHEV-identified peers.  The William & Mary Promise will provide resources to help the College reverse the negative current trend and move, based on merit, toward the 60th percentile recommended in the TJ21 law.

-       While the Governor and General Assembly in recent years commendably have halted and begun to reverse the decade-long state disinvestment in higher education documented by the Governor’s Commission on Higher Education Reform, Innovation and Investment, the uncertain economy and long-term fiscal constraints suggest that the pace of reinvestment by the Commonwealth will be limited.  The new operating model thus relies on a combination of sources within the College’s control – savings from even greater productivity, efficiency, and innovation, increased private philanthropy and higher net tuition revenues – to ensure that instructional quality is preserved and enhanced while extending affordable access to many more deserving Virginia students, especially those caught in the “middle class squeeze.”


No comments:

Post a Comment