Rice University

Charge to Ad Hoc Curriculum Review Committee

May 6, 1996


To: Ad Hoc Curriculum Review Committee

From: Faculty Council and the Office of the President

About: Undergraduate Curriculum Review


Thank you for agreeing to be a member of the ad-hoc Undergraduate Curriculum Review Committee. There is no more important task on our agenda.

Your charge is to develop a program of general education at Rice. This program is supposed to be of the highest possible quality, responsive to the needs and capabilities of our very strong students. The curriculum should allow our students to develop a deep appreciation for the rich legacy of human knowledge and experience and should impart to them the art and science of intellectual inquiry. We must fashion a curriculum that best prepares our students to live, work, and continue to learn as they meet the challenges of the next century.

In conducting your work, we suggest that in all matters you consider the perspective of our students. We also need to respect the diverse learning styles of our students as well as the different pedagogical styles of the many disciplines taught by our faculty. Another helpful distinction is that between "what we know" and "how we know it," or the content of knowledge as opposed to the method by which we acquire and verify it. Where it enhances our students' learning, consider opportunities for deploying information technology.

We urge you to consult widely and systematically with students and faculty both at Rice and, where appropriate, at other institutions. We have asked Priscilla Huston to provide administrative support to the Committee. She will be available to help you research various topics, arrange meetings, organize focus groups, contact other campuses (if necessary), maintain an orderly and efficient flow of your work, and execute other tasks where appropriate.

We anticipate that you will need two years to complete this task. Your final report should define the fundamental issues, assess the strengths and weakness of our current curriculum, and recommend a new curriculum and an implementation plan. We plan to meet with you at least three times per semester to hear your progress and to discuss issues of concern.

As you know, this review is a joint initiative of the Rice faculty and administration, and your report will be to both. The principal responsibility for the curriculum, however, resides with the faculty. In keeping with this practice, your recommendations will be reviewed by the faculty for their approval before implementation. The president and the provost are responsible for finding budgetary support to fund curricular improvements and enhancements, once they are persuaded that new proposals face reasonably good prospects for success.

Your willingness to accept this important responsibility is deeply appreciated. At present, no other issue is more important than this one. For that reason, you and your committee's work have the first claim on our own time and energies.



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