LUKAS DRAUGELIS/Vermont Cynic
UVM will be forced to triple its number of distribution requirements for students because they are not meeting standards for accreditation.
Students will need to take 40 general education credit requirements in order for UVM to continue being reaccredited with the New England Commission for Higher Education.
Currently students are only taking 15.
“After a NECHE team visited campus last spring, gen ed was one of the areas they flagged as needing attention,” Jennifer Dickinson, associate provost for Academic Affairs, stated in an Oct. 31 email.
The University was only re-approved on the terms that the University would implement changes to meet the 40-credit general education requirement.
After the accrediting body’s visit last spring, Interim Senior Vice President and Provost Patricia Prelock charged the Gen Ed Alignment Task Force with creating a proposal, according to an Oct. 26 email from Prelock.
The goals of the task force are to align the UVM curriculum with NECHE’s expectations for general education requirements.
All colleges and universities need to be reaccredited on a periodic basis, said Cathy Paris, a member of the faculty senate and Gen Ed Alignment Task Force.
“We have 15 credits of general education in place already, those being sustainability, quantitative reasoning, D1 and D2 for diversity and foundational writing and information literacy,” Paris said. “But, we should have 40 credits of gen ed University-wide.”
The purpose of reaccreditation is to make sure that universities are updating their practices and policies in compliance with the accreditor, she said.
“The thing is, we are supposed to be there in five years because in five years the NECHE team will probably make a return visit or at least ask for a mid-point detailed report to follow up on the identified areas of concern,” Paris said.
Social sciences, humanities, fine arts and natural sciences, which include mathematics, will need to become part of UVM’s gen ed to satisfy NECHE’s requirements and right now none of those are required of every UVM student, Paris said.
“The complete proposal will be presented to the UVM community in the spring when faculty committees will be working on refining the requirements,” Prelock’s email stated. “We expect that the entering class of 2025 will be the first class with expanded gen ed requirements.”
The goal is to offer enough flexibility that all students will still be able to meet their degree requirements in four years, while also fulfilling new gen ed standards, Dickinson’s email stated.
“Think about it, 40 [gen ed] credits is a third of your total credits,” Paris said.
Junior Owen Doherty, vice president of SGA, said some students graduation may be affected due to the increased credit requirements.
“It is definitely something to be of concern,” he said.