By Nicole Webb
LINCOLN UNIVERSITY-During its February faculty meeting, the Lincoln University Educational Policies Committee proposed approval of a new program for a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies.
Spear-headed by the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences dean, Cheryl Gooch, and faculty members Kaukab Saddique and Abbes Maazaoui, the program was proposed as an innovative way to counter retention, loss of program funding and declining enrollment in certain courses.
The Liberal Studies program will offer university students an alternative for graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies if their previous departments have been recently disbanded.
The new Liberal Studies will utilize currently existing courses offered by the university, through the Humanities, and will be housed in the Department of Languages and Literatures. It will also incorporate information students have already attained in the university’s Languages, Mass Communications, History, Political Science, Philosophy, Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Sociology and Criminal Justice departments.
Presented as a multidisciplinary program, the new program will include four tracks: Arabic & Islamic Studies, American Cultural Communities, Professional Communication, and Interdisciplinary Studies. According to the faculty minutes, students who declare their major in this new Liberal Studies program will be expected to select two tracks to complete the program upon graduation.
Current chair of the Educational Policies Committee, Robert Millette, believes the new Liberal Studies program will help the university regain previous students and recruit potential students if planned accordingly.
“We’ve lost students, specifically in the Education Department, due to lack of funding and the declining teacher-to-student ratio,” said Millette, who is also a professor in Sociology at the university. “I believe this program has the potential to grow if we hire at least one or two more additional faculty members with expertise and recruit [for the university] through this program.”
The program received approval with some nays and 1 abstention during the February faculty meeting.
Abbes Maazaoui, current professor in the Foreign Language Department, assured faculty members of the need for the new program.
“The truth of the matter is the majority of Lincoln students have changed their major at lease once and [others] have twice,” said Maazaoui. “[The Liberal Studies program] will provide flexibility to our students and meet the needs of students transferring from community colleges, as well has help with poorly enrolled courses.”
With the program attempting to tackle the university’s retention rates and attract more transfer students, students’ involvement in the make-up of the program was imperative.
“There have been students involved in this process to make sure that it caters to what they are in need of,” assured Millette.
“I think that this new program is great…I believe that it will attract those that we’ve lost and attract students who may not be 100% sure of what track they want to go on, but still give them an opportunity to receive a degree,” stated Tiana Wilson, a junior double-majoring in Spanish and French.
The university’s Board of Trustees will review the Liberal Studies program during the April Board of Trustees meeting.