A change in general education core requirements at the University of Central Arkansas will mean fewer core hours and more effective education for freshmen this coming fall, Provost Steve Runge said.

"It’s just a really exciting time for us," Runge said. "It’s an exciting time to show students and the state we are committed to quality education. We’re not going to ever just go through the motions."

The change — a big deal at UCA — will mean UCA’s core shrank from 47 credit hours required to 38, Runge said.

UCA’s core has not significantly changed in more than 20 years, and before now, the university’s general education had the most hours required in the state, according to a Sept. 4 report at UCA.

The new, slimmer core helps programs keep important coursework without going above the 120 hour cap the state mandates. Several UCA programs remain above that cap but will need to meet state requirements soon or get an exemption from the state.

Programs still above 120 hours include Family and Consumer Sciences, nursing and mathematics. Runge said some of those programs will need an exemption because they simply require more coursework.

Runge said the new core will focus on what students need and delivering quality education.

"The new UCA core is out-come based in concept and responds to the university’s mission," according to a news release. That mission is that the university is dedicated to "academic vitality, integrity and diversity," the release said.

Runge said the new core is a complete rethinking and one that allows UCA to assess how students are doing.

All the changes is meant to make the core important and not just something students feel they have to "get out of the way" before pursuing a major, he said.

For example, UCA is starting a first-year seminar class with 25 or fewer students.

"The first-year seminar, a progressive structure to the general education program, integration across all four years of the program, and integration into the major all come from the best practices and trends in general education," according to the UCA report. "There is room for future innovation with team teaching and other integrative learning measures."

Next Month, instructors will be in training preparing for the seminar.

"We’re going to develop a program that is outstanding," Runge said. "We have some great opportunities here."

The changes might mean a reduction in some part-time instructors, but no full-time faculty will be let go, he said. Some instructors may be moved, Runge said.

Numbers to determine the impact to part-time instructors are difficult to track because each year different classes are taught and different positions are filled or created, Runge said. The number of part-time instructors also fluctuates depending on whether a program is growing.

Faculty and students approved the new core.

(Staff writer Scarlet Sims can be reached by email at scarlet.sims@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1246. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)