Director proposes addition to catalog

An explicit condition that students must complete TCU Core Curriculum requirements to graduate doesn’t exist in the catalog, and some faculty senators are questioning whether it should stay that way. At the April 5 Faculty Senate meeting, Ed McNertney, a faculty senator and the director of the TCU Core Curriculum, proposed the addition of a requirement in the undergraduate catalog to address the problem.

McNertney’s proposal sparked a series of questions and concerns from other senators and was eventually tabled. The decision whether to bring the issue back for a vote or to drop it will be made at a later date.

Several senators, McNertney said, were skeptical of the need to add the requirement because they thought it was already implied in the catalog. Others, he said, responded with questions regarding how the new condition would apply to students with learning disabilities.

“Can a student who has, say, a documented math disability be waived out of a math requirement?” McNertney said. “That’s something that schools grapple with and generally what happens is that it’s not a waiver, it’s a substitution that will fill the requirement in a different way.”

McNertney said he looked at some other schools whose disability policies enumerated courses that could be substituted for each course.

The problem with that, he said, is a potential substitute for a given requirement could just become part of the core is because of the way the TCU Core Curriculum is set up.

Marsha Ramsey, director of the Center for Academic Services, said the way her department handles students with disabilities wouldn’t be dramatically affected by the addition.

“If you add the requirement,” she said, “all you’re doing is saying up front that the university has certain standards and all students have to meet those standards in order to graduate.”

Ramsey also said TCU will consider a substitution for some students but TCU’s goal in most disability cases is to find a way to accommodate the student so that he or she can meet the core requirement in question.

After the proposal was made at the Faculty Senate meeting, Provost Nowell Donovan addressed the senators and said the requirement shouldn’t be too rigid.

“I think we need to allow ourselves some flexibility,” he said, “because the thing is there is always someone somewhere who has not done things right and faces that dreadful decision that he or she can’t graduate because one particular requirement hasn’t been satisfied.”

Before any individual cases are addressed, however, McNertney said the next step is to talk to other people about the catalog’s wording and decide whether it is clear that the requirement is already implied.