Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs 519 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

November 14, 2005

Undergraduate Experience at U of G Examined in New Report

Provost and vice-president (academic) Maureen Mancuso today released a comprehensive and critical evaluation of U of G’s learning experience. Two years in the making, the White Paper is an examination of the University’s central academic mission of educating undergraduate students.

“It’s an inquiry into what the Guelph undergraduate learning experience is and what it could be,” Mancuso said, adding that the paper takes an aggressive approach, including suggestions for change, bold visions and lofty goals.

“The purpose was not to celebrate our accomplishments. Rather, we set out to identify challenges that could hinder our future successes. We looked at what we need to do as an institution to maintain the leadership in undergraduate education and innovation that we have enjoyed in the recent past.”

The White Paper, which is available on the provost’s website, is the culmination of months of discussions among the University’s curriculum committees, members of the Vice-President’s Advisory Council and associate vice-presidents.

Concern about the quality of undergraduate education is building systemwide, said Mancuso. “Planning for the double cohort dominated efforts at most universities for the past decade,” she said. Many institutions, including Guelph, were successful because they linked the investment for growth to improved quality. “Now we face the challenge of continuing to maintain and enhance quality without that engine of growth. We need to concentrate on quality in a more balanced way.”

There’s also more attention on universities following the release of the Rae report, she added.

“Although we welcome the new funding the report calls for, we can now expect increased expectations and pressure for accountability.”

The White Paper lists priorities and suggests changes U of G must make to meet future challenges, but it doesn’t provide specifics in terms of implementation, said Mancuso. “Our goal is to engage faculty, staff and students and have them contribute creative ideas to the process.”

Highlights of the recommendations are:

• Extending first-year seminar programs and enhancing first-year support programs, including creating summer programs for entering students.

• Exploring the feasibility of recording only pass/fail grades in the first and possibly second years.

• Undertaking a radical re-examination of curriculum delivery, including methods of course scheduling.

• Identifying and expanding courses and programs that put a premium on developing literacy and numeracy skills.

• Extending study-abroad and student exchange programs.

• Considering new ways to integrate community service into programs and majors.

“The suggestions in the White Paper are far from trivial,” said Mancuso. “Some would demand a radical rethinking of entrenched assumptions about how the University operates. But everything outlined in the paper is open to discussion. The only requirement is that we start a University-wide conversation about these important issues.”

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rebecca Kendall, Ext. 56982.

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