Curriculum committee has big role in UWRF courses

Posted April 26, 2021

The University Curriculum Committee at UW-River Falls does more than approve and review courses.

Other committee operations include being responsible for updating current courses, changing course content, titles, credits and numbers, UCC Chair Kaylee Spencer said.

“During the meetings — we usually meet every other week all academic year — we discuss the course proposals,” said Spencer, who also is an associate professor of art. “The other thing we do is we kind of look out for potential overlaps of courses that exist in different colleges.”

Math Professor Alexandru Tupan is in his 10th year as a committee member and is set to take over the chair for the upcoming semester. Tupan said the committee functions as a “bloodstream for the university.”

“Without the UCC, the university would not be able to function properly,” Tupan said. “This is a very important committee and the students are the beneficiary of our work.”

The process for approving a course is complex. Tupan said most requests originate in the college department where the course is held. A faculty member within the college department will begin the process by filling out an online form determining what modifications the course needs. From there, the request form is sent to university officials who review the proposed modifications. Once that step is completed, the form gets sent to the UCC where a meeting is held and a vote determines the outcome. Tupan said this process can take hours.

“We will look at issues with the classes and try to answer any questions we have with the courses,” Tupan said. “We also want to ensure that we don’t change too much of the course content.”

When the modifications are approved, the Registrar’s office is notified and the modified data is entered into the university’s system, completing the process. Despite the complexity, nearly all courses get their proposed modifications approved. Tupan said the UCC will modify about 200 courses per year. Of those 200 courses about 99% of class modifications get approved after their first proposed modification, but Tupan mentioned one example where this wasn’t the case.

“Last year we had to deny a proposed edit to a course that wanted to increase their course fees by doubling the amount,” Tupan said. “The department had to resubmit their form modifying their fee which ultimately got approved after the edit.”

Spencer said more focus goes into editing information about the course such as the objectives or the hourly breakdown.

“So it’s rarely a case of rejection but it’s usually a case of clarifying or adding slight modification to how it’s written up,” Spencer said. “So it’s almost never rejected because there’s such an investment working with that author to fix it.”

Both Tupan and Spencer said their favorite part of serving on the committee is being able to see what other college departments are doing around campus.

“It’s also so nice to see what’s happening in other colleges,” Spencer said. “Getting to learn about the new courses happening in CBE (College of Business and Economics), and CAFES (College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences) and CEPS (College of Education and Professional Studies) — that’s super exciting.”