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Posts tagged with Kansas University

Proposed course requirements for CLAS students would still require foreign language, lab experience, but no Western Civ

KU's new Core Curriculum, as it will be presented to freshmen starting in the fall, is taking its final form right now. It will apply to all undergraduates, but KU's individual schools also are figuring out what kinds of general-education requirements they might like to have above and beyond the roughly 36 credit hours' worth that will be in the Core.

That includes KU's biggest school, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Faculty and some student representatives in the College will be voting soon to establish requirements for its biggest degree track, the Bachelor of Arts. That's according to a letter distributed last month by Danny Anderson, the dean of the CLAS. He also included some proposed requirements from a committee.

Students seeking a BA currently have 72 credit hours' worth of general-education requirements. That's well more than half of the 120 hours required for a bachelor's degree, and a figure commonly cited by KU leaders as way out of line with other universities.

The proposed new requirements for the BA would require a maximum of 56 credit hours' worth of gen-ed courses, but most students wouldn't actually need to take that many (more on that below). It would include three additional requirements beyond those that will apply to all undergrads, as Anderson suggested when he told me late last year that the College would still be giving students a well-rounded liberal arts education.

Those extra requirements include an extra "quantitative" course beyond the one required by the Core; four semesters' worth of proficiency in a foreign language; and a laboratory or field experience, such as a laboratory science course, that will give students experience doing scientific work. Those all echo similar existing requirements for the BA.

Students probably won't have to take all 56 hours, according to the proposal, because they may use transfer or Advanced Placement credits, use some courses to fill more than one requirement, test out of some foreign language courses if they took some classes in high school, etc.

As you may note, those proposed requirements do not include the Western Civilization sequence currently required for a BA from the College. We reported a while back that Western Civ would likely no longer be universally required.

The College will likely vote on those new requirements sometime in the next week, CLAS communications director Kristi Henderson told me.

You can count on Heard on the Hill to continue to provide a well-rounded education on all things KU for you. But it will be even more well-rounded if you send a KU news tip right now to merickson@ljworld.com .

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KU student leaders pushing for consistent grade system

Here's a situation: Two friends, both KU students, are both enrolled in an introductory psychology course this semester. After the final, they've both scored, say, a 91.4 percent for the class.

For one student, this is great news. She's gotten an A and 4 whole, meaty grade points to contribute to her GPA. But for her friend, things aren't so rosy: She gets an A-minus, which comes with only 3.7 grade points. That's because they're in different sections of the class, with different instructors. Friend 2 is furious, or at least pretty annoyed, and doesn't talk to Friend 1 for a couple of days.

This is a hypothetical story, with some dramatic embellishment by me, but it's based on stories that KU student body vice president Brandon Woodard says he's heard from some other students.

You see, some KU schools and departments opt to use a plus/minus grading system, awarding fewer grade points for an A-minus than for an A, more points for a B-plus than for a B, etc. Others opt to use a straight letter-grade system: If you get a 90 percent or above, you get the A and all 4 grade points.

But other departments allow instructors to choose which system to use. That, Woodard says, can cause inconsistencies like the one described above, especially in the case of classes with lots of different sections.

Woodard and some other student government leaders are trying to change this, proposing a policy that would require each department to decide on a uniform grading system for each of its courses.

I'd like to check in on this effort at some point and report on it in more detail, but in the meantime I'm curious: Are there any students out there who've run into a scenario similar to the one I laid out above? Or perhaps an instructor who would like to preserve his or her ability to choose a grading system? Or are most people indifferent?

If any of those applies to you, email me at merickson@ljworld.com. Send your KU news tips there, too. (I reserve the right to grade your news tips on any scale I choose: plus/minus, straight letter grades, non-numeric symbols based on how it makes me feel, which television character I think your news tip most resembles, etc.)

EDIT (8:25 a.m. Thursday): Brandon Woodard, as you may know, is KU's student body vice president. Hannah Bolton is the student body president. Last night I left out the word "vice" in Woodard's title. That's fixed now.

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Skipping class costs KU students as much as $70 each time

The University Daily Kansan published an interesting little math project today: How much tuition money are KU students throwing out the window if they skip class?

The newspaper crunched some numbers to figure out how much students are paying per individual lecture or class meeting, and therefore how high the "cost" is for skipping a day's worth of class at a time when higher education has never been more expensive.

A first-time freshman paying in-state tuition this year is throwing away about $18.30 if she skips a class that meets three times a week, the Kansan calculated, or about $27.40 if it's a class that meets twice a week. For out-of-state first-year freshmen this year, the cost is steeper: $47.60 per class session if it meets three times a week, or $71.40 if it meets twice a week.

(Those numbers have to be specified for first-time freshmen because of KU's Four-Year Tuition Compact, which locks students in at a steady tuition rate set before their freshman year. For, say, a senior, the cost per class would be a bit lower, because students who started at KU in fall 2009 when tuition was lower are still paying a lower rate now.)

Some KU schools, including business and journalism, charge higher tuition rates, making those courses more costly to skip.

And, of course, tuition is far from the only college expense. Students are also paying for room and board, fees, books and more.

You could probably have an interesting philosophical discussion about what students are really paying for when they pay tuition — are they paying for the time spent in class, or more for the knowledge and skills they gain from the whole experience, or really more for the credit they receive at the end, if they're a bit more cynical? But whatever the case, the math is interesting to think about.

You know, something that definitely doesn't cost you anything is sending your KU news tips to us. Send them to merickson@ljworld.com, but not during class. (Unless your instructor has assigned you to do so, in which case: Bravo, instructor!)

Reply 11 comments from Jonas_opines Notajayhawk Ken Lassman Yourworstnightmare Phillbert Bob Forer Parrothead8 Krichards Ku_cynic Question4u

KU links: Law professor a finalist for dean job at New Mexico

Some KU news tidbits for you from around the country:

• Melanie Wilson, a KU professor of law and an associate dean in the School of Law, is one of four finalists to be the new dean of the law school at the University of New Mexico, reports the Albuquerque Journal. She'll be visiting the campus for some public forums later this month, per the UNM website.

• David Ekerdt, a professor of sociology and director of KU's Gerontology Center, talked with the Washington Post about how retirement can affect people's health. (Not that much, he says.)

• Two people from KU's Biodiversity Institute discussed with National Geographic a recent finding of a scar on a piece of fossilized skin from a duckbill dinosaur — the "first clear case of a healed dinosaur wound." Bruce Rothschild, an adjunct research associate at the Biodiversity Institute, was a co-author of the journal article describing the find, and paleontologist David Burnham also is quoted.

• The Biodiversity Institute also popped up in Wired magazine, where paleoentomologist Michael Engel was quoted in a story on how scientists are learning more about the colors of ancient insects, which are often dulled on the fossilized specimens they study.

What will scientists make of the fossilized remains of these Heard on the Hill posts when they're discovered one day? I don't know, but it's probably best if you send as many KU news tips as possible to merickson@ljworld.com, to make sure these posts aren't lost in the sands of time, or something like that.

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KU events this week: Sporting KC CEO, Chinese restaurants in Israel and elsewhere, manhood and violence

Your events roundup for what will presumably be the first week uninterrupted by weather at KU since mid-February:

• Robb Heineman, CEO and co-owner of the Sporting Kansas City Major League Soccer club, will be at the Dole Institute of Politics on Tuesday for a talk called "Reinventing the Empire" about how he steered the team to success. Dole Institute Director Bill Lacy talked a bit about the event when it was announced in January. That's at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Dole Institute.

• Investigative journalist James B. Steele, winner of two Pulitzer Prizes and two National Magazine Awards, will speak at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Woodruff Auditorium at the Kansas Union.

• The KU Honors Program, also on Wednesday, will start a weekly-except-for-spring-break screening of a documentary series called "Chinese Restaurants." The series has five parts and an interesting concept: Filmmakers take a look at how Chinese identity and culture has spread throughout the world by visiting family-run Chinese restaurants all over the globe. Each installment visits restaurants in a different region.

At 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Nunemaker Center on Daisy Hill, the Honors Program will screen the first two episodes — one that focuses on restaurants in Israel, South Africa and Turkey and one that tours Mauritius, Trinidad and Cuba. Further installments will be shown at 7:30 p.m. March 13 and 27 at Nunemaker, and then 6 p.m. April 3 at the Spencer Museum of Art Auditorium.

• On Thursday, another lecture will examine how cultures define manhood and how that relates to violence. Jackson Katz, an author and scholar who created a widely used sexual and domestic violence prevention program, will give a talk called "More Than a Few Good Men: A Conversation about Manhood, Violence and Doing the Right Thing," which by my count includes references to at least two movie titles. He's the author of a book called "The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help."

It's sponsored by KU's Emily Taylor Center for Women and Gender Equity. Speaking of that office and examinations of manhood: This weekend we profiled a student on the center's "Men of Merit" calendar who overcame some trouble early in his KU career, in case you missed it.

You hopefully know the drill by now: KU is a big place with a lot of things going on, so I may have missed something you think is of interest. If that's the case, add it in below in the comments. And send your KU news tips to merickson@ljworld.com.

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KU Queers and Allies group bringing Phelps’ estranged son to speak

KU's Queers and Allies student group has an event coming up that caught my eye: a visit from Nate Phelps.

That's Nate Phelps, the estranged son of Fred Phelps, the longtime leader of Topeka's Westboro Baptist Church. The KU Student Senate last week approved the use of $1,000 in student-fee funds to bring him in to speak on campus in April.

Nate left the church and his family on his 18th birthday, more than 30 years ago. Since then he has spoken out against the church, known for its anti-gay protests at funerals and other events, and in favor of rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people.

KU junior Ailee Cassel, the president of the Queers and Allies group, told me he's set to speak on April 19, during the group's monthlong pride celebration called "Gaypril." She said the time and location of the talk hadn't yet been nailed down. She said she'd heard a lot of curiosity about the Phelps family recently, which was part of why the group extended the invitation, but she wasn't sure how much Nate might talk about the family during his speech.

We'll let you know when more details are worked out. In the meantime, keep those KU news tips coming to merickson@ljworld.com.

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National Science Foundation features KU ice sheet researchers in video

I'm in a video-sharing kind of mood today, so here's another. The National Science Foundation released this clip this week about KU's Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets, which goes by an acronym that I always have to double check, CReSIS:

It's part of a weekly video series produced by the NSF about scientific research around the country called "Science Nation." An accompanying page has some more photos and information about CReSIS.

The video has some cool footage of KU researchers and students working on and flying the unmanned aircraft that the center equips with radar technology to measure and predict how ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are changing because of climate change.

CReSIS assisted with a study involving researchers from all over the world, published last month, that provided new clues about what could happen to the Greenland ice sheet if global temperatures go higher.

I'm on a roll now, so if you've got any other KU-related videos for me to share, pass them on along with your KU news tips to merickson@ljworld.com.

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KU doctor appearing on “My Strange Addiction” show

You can watch KU get a little love on cable TV tonight — if you've got a strong stomach, anyway.

A KU doctor is set to appear in an episode of the TLC show "My Strange Addiction" tonight, KU Hospital just announced.

Richard Gilroy is an associate professor of gastroenterology and hepatology at the KU Medical Center, and he's also the medical director of liver transplantation at the KU Hospital. For this "My Strange Addiction" episode, he met with a young woman who (spoiler alert) likes to eat sand. Yes, sand. "Likes" might be an understatement, actually — she eats it six times a day. She also chews on nail files, and her newest craving is for chalk.

The hospital produced this behind-the-scenes video from the filming of the episode:

If you watch, you'll see (another spoiler alert) Gilroy believes the woman's problem is actually related to an iron deficiency.

TLC also has a preview of the episode on its website. Maybe if you have watched this show before you're a bit more desensitized to this type of thing, but it was a bit hard for me to watch, frankly. But because of the lengths I'm willing to go to for you, devoted reader, I watched the whole thing.

If you're hardier than I, you can check out the episode at 6:30 p.m. Central time tonight on TLC.

Please send your KU news tips — and, boy, I hope they're not about someone eating sand or something like that, but go ahead even if they are — to merickson@ljworld.com.

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KU links: Former CLAS dean a finalist for 2 different top university jobs

Your snow-day edition of KU-related tidbits popping up in the news around the country:

• A former KU dean of liberal arts and sciences appears to be a finalist in two different public universities' searches for a new leader.

When I saw this story reporting Kim Wilcox was one of four finalists to be president of the University of Wyoming, and also this story saying he was one of four finalists to be the new chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I thought somebody mixed something up. I mean, both schools use the abbreviation "UW." Come on.

But after a few confused minutes, I checked both universities' websites. Lo and behold, there was no mix-up: Wisconsin and Wyoming both list Wilcox as a finalist in their respective searches.

Wilcox led KU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences until 2005, when he left to be provost at Michigan State University. He's announced he's stepping down from that job in June. He was also the president of the Kansas Board of Regents at one point. Last spring, he was up for another chancellorship, this one in a place markedly different from Wyoming or Wisconsin: the University of Hawaii-Manoa.

• Our old friend Leobardo Espinoza Jr., the Topeka High School senior blogging about his college choice for the New York Times, elaborated on his feelings about KU in another post this week.

When we last heard from him, he was feeling conflicted after KU offered him a full-ride scholarship (one created especially for THS graduates). Though he's waiting to hear back from Yale, Stanford and some other powerhouse universities, he writes now that his reluctance to come to KU has nothing to do with its rankings. It's all about his desire for a new experience.

• We're a bit late on this one, but here goes: This Kansas City Star feature about pipe organs from last month mentions that KU's organ program is one of the biggest in the country, even though it has only 24 students. It includes a video featuring James Higdon, the KU professor who leads the organ program, playing on the organ in the Bales Recital Hall at the Lied Center.

By the way, in case you had not guessed, that Student Union Activities "Buried Life" event we told you about yesterday won't be happening tonight as originally scheduled. But according to an SUA release, it's been rescheduled for 7 p.m. March 12 in Woodruff Auditorium at the Kansas Union.

I'm still planning to be in the Media Crossroads at the Union from 9 a.m. to noon tomorrow for Heard on the Hill Office Hours, as long as classes are in session. Please come tell me how to do my job better or ask me a question. If you can't do that, then send those KU news tips to merickson@ljworld.com.

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KU events this week: Office hours, bucket lists, war on computing (and/or snow)

This week's weekly KU events roundup comes, of course, with a big caveat: After last week's snowstorm that ground the campus to a halt (almost), another 8 to 10 inches is forecast for tonight and Tuesday morning.

(By the way: I'm curious, as I bet some of you are, what might happen if KU were forced to cancel classes for another day or two this week. According to this history of weather-related cancellations, three full-day class cancellations in a single semester would be the most for KU since at least 1972. I asked KU spokeswoman Jill Jess if any possible schedule adjustments had been discussed in case campus closes again this week; she said there's nothing to announce at the moment.)

One event I'd planned to include, scheduled for today, has already been canceled. If any of the others listed become casualties of the weather, we'll let you know.

But in the meantime, here are some things CURRENTLY scheduled for this week:

• First up: Wednesday morning will be my regular Heard on the Hill office hours, 9 a.m. to noon in the Media Crossroads at the Kansas Union. I can tell you I'll be there as long as the campus is open. So come ask me some questions and give me a piece of your mind.

• Another event sponsored by the Student Union Activities group, in a busy month for those folks: "The Buried Life," a program based on the MTV show by the same name. It starts at 7 p.m. Tuesday in room 120 at Budig Hall. I can't say I've seen the show, but I'm told it involves a couple of guys who help people cross off goals on their "bucket lists," and they'll be talking about that subject. Tickets are free for students, $2 for faculty/staff and $5 for anyone else. Get them in the Union Programs Box Office on the Kansas Union's fourth floor.

• Mary Evelyn Tucker, a scholar on religion and ecology from Yale University, is visiting this week for a couple of events related to her film "Journey of the Universe." There will be a screening and panel discussion at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Liberty Hall, a colloquium 9:30 a.m. Thursday in Spooner Hall, and a lecture 7 p.m. Thursday at the Spencer Museum of Art.

• Cory Doctorow, a science-fiction author and co-editor of the blog Boing Boing among other things, will talk from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Thursday in Alderson Auditorium at the Kansas Union. The talk's descriptive title: "The Coming War on General Purpose Computing: Every single political issue will end up rehashing the stupid Internet copyright fight." It's free, but it's in the smaller of the union's two auditoriums, so space will be limited. It's sponsored by the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction.

Again, if I failed to note anything you think is important, add it in below in the comments.

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