Sweeping changes proposed for McBride program

At the request of Provost Steve Castillo, several faculty committees have been working since as early as last spring to recommend changes to the McBride Honors Program. These committees have recommended sweeping change to the program, including moving it into the Liberal Arts and International Studies Department and changing which semester students start in the program.

One hot-button proposal among the faculty was the inclusion of McBride as part of a professors teaching load. Currently, McBride mentors are all volunteers, teaching the McBride classes in addition to their normal teaching load. Under the proposed plan, professors would be allowed to count McBride as part of their teaching load, and their department would be compensated for the cost of an adjunct professor to teach that professor’s regular class.

The McBride Futures Committee, the committee responsible for the proposal of McBride changes, also suggested that the program be “normalized” and housed in the Liberal Arts and International Studies (LAIS) department. However, the Committee emphasized their desire that the McBride continue to be viewed as a college-wide program; housing the program in the LAIS department was merely to streamline financial and administrative functions.

Once the Futures Committee submitted their proposal, the task of reinventing McBride was passed to two additional Provost-built committees: a Curriculum Committee and a Bylaws committee. At press time, the Curriculum Committee has completed its task of creating a revised curriculum for the McBride program. The Bylaws Committee is currently working to incorporate the recommended changes in McBride into the Faculty Senate Bylaws.

The Faculty Senate hosted a forum on Wednesday to review the current proposals and allow the faculty and students to provide feedback. At this meeting Carl Mitcham, a professor in the LAIS Division and a member of the Curriculum Committee, reported on the changes to the McBride Curriculum recommended by that committee. “We initially said, just like the Futures Committee said, ‘We are committed to the seminar pedagogy.’ This is one clear continuity,” emphasized Mitcham.

According to Mitcham, the Curriculum Committee felt that the McBride curriculum should be unified under the theme of global responsibility and sustainability, retaining an enhanced public affairs focus. “We were also asked to reduce, condense, the number of courses. In the past, there have been almost two courses each semester, so that the students can choose between two different courses. But resource constraints demanded that we simply not be able to do that,” he noted.

Following Mitcham, Dr. Dendy Sloan, a professor in the Chemical Engineering Department, spoke regarding discussions that occurred between some of the current faculty members of the McBride Program, who were asked to review the proposed modifications. This group consisted of Kay Godel-Gengenbach, Dendy Sloan, Mark Eberhart, Chester van Tyne, and Greg Holden, all experienced mentors in the McBride program. Sloan presented of the group’s suggestions regarding the proposed changes.

These suggestions were: involve LAIS professors as intellectual leaders in the program, maintain the seminar format, interdisciplinary faculty, and experiencial learning aspects of the program, maintain the feeling that the McBride program is a “college-within-a-college”, have a skilled director focused on teaching in the program and assisting other mentors in the program, talk to the alumni and students about the proposed changes, ensure that all aspects of the program are aiding in bringing about in the students the desired outcomes, and contrast the existing program with the new proposal.

Before the recommended changes can be put in place, the Faculty Senate must approve the Bylaws changes. The Student Council of the Associated Students of the Colorado School of Mines (ASCSM) with be hosting a discussion with members of the faculty about the changes to the McBride program at 7:00 p.m. on November 18th, in the Student Center Ballrooms.

The McBride Futures Committee report can be found at http://inside.mines.edu/UserFiles/File/academicAffairs/FinalReport_McBride_Futures_2010.doc. More information on the proposed curriculum changes can be found on the Faculty Senate website, http://facultysenate.mines.edu/FAS-Issues.

If you have feedback regarding the changes to the McBride Honors Program, please feel free to leave a comment on this article on our website, or send us a letter with your opinion.

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