Commission finalizing proposal for undergraduate experience

The Provost’s Commission on the Undergraduate Experience (CUE) is in the process of writing a final report which will identify changes made to its Case Western Reserve University undergraduate experience initiative.

CUE, formed in January 2016 by Provost William A. “Bud” Baeslack III, is “a faculty-led effort to assess and improve undergraduate education and the residential campus experience,” according to the Provost’s site. Their final report is expected to be released by the end of the Spring 2018 semester.

A draft report released in October 2017 provided initial recommendations for these changes. Since its release, CUE has been obtaining input from the University’s five schools and the university as a whole, as well as student groups such as the Undergraduate Student Government (USG). The draft report can be viewed on the Provost’s site.

The most sweeping academic changes include a university-wide general education requirement, rather than requirements from each individual school. CUE’s report will also “push towards more unified and cohesive advising, using a team based strategy, to really empower students to get the best advice they need from their faculty members, the Career Center, Undergraduate Studies and a whole host of other people who take an interest in student success,” said fourth-year Garretson Oester, a student representative of CUE.

Others, such as an “Explore” curriculum intended to give undergraduate students a greater degree of academic exploration, are targets of debate amongst commission members.

“[Faculty opinion] varies a lot based upon their background, their experiences throughout the education system and the fields that they fall in and what they think their students need for success,” Oester explained. “Bringing those diverse opinions together around one general education system for all undergraduates is challenging.”

CUE held several feedback sessions geared specifically towards students during the Fall 2017 semester. A first-year representative of USG, Naveena Bontha, said it was interesting to hear both the administrators’ responses and the responses from USG.

After the release of its final report, CUE will be dissolved. New committees will be created to carry out the changes outlined in the report.

Larger academic changes are expected to take several years to implement, where smaller administrative changes and campus enrichment could happen much faster.

Newly named Provost Ben Vinson III will oversee implementation of the changes after Baeslack’s tenure ends on July 1. Commission Chair Kimberly Emmons said Vinson will likely have his own vision as to what he hopes to bring to the undergraduate experience.

Ultimately, Oester said, CUE is “trying to get to the point where we can make a recommendation that’s a better vision for the undergraduate experience, that is compelling to students and faculty here as well as prospective students, that can be carried out by the various departments and schools in their own unique way.”