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Faculty Senate Oks New Adult Degree Program

January 15, 1999 -- The Faculty Senate voted unanimously to approve the University's newest degree offering, a bachelor of liberal studies, at its Dec. 10 meeting. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has granted preliminary approval for the new program. Pending OKs from the Board of Visitors, who is re-examining the name of the degree, and the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, U.Va. plans to enroll students in the program by this fall.

Richard DeMong, chair of the senate's Academic Affairs Committee, said the program was developed to meet the educational needs of adults unable to enroll in U.Va.'s traditional degree programs. The new BLS program will enable students with an associate's degree or 60 hours of acceptable college credit to continue their undergraduate studies on a part-time basis at U.Va. in courses offered year-round during evening and weekend hours. Classes will be taught by U.Va.'s general faculty, its "newly minted Ph.D.s" along with graduate students who've completed all but their dissertations, emeritus professors, community college professors, and occasionally teaching faculty at U.Va.

The curriculum for the BLS program, and all academic and administrative policies, were designed by a committee appointed by Vice President and Provost Peter W. Low, in consultation with the deans of Continuing Education, Arts & Sciences, Commerce and Engineering and Applied Science. The group, chaired by History professor Thomas Noble, has met every week since May, DeMong said.

"The new Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree will enable us to make available to members of the community the extraordinary resources of Thomas Jefferson's University in a way that is meaningful to their economic and intellectual well-being," said Sondra Stallard, dean of Continuing Education, which will administer the new program.

The BLS program was developed in response to U.Va.'s new initiative toward public service and outreach. Planning for the new degree program was endorsed last March by the Board of Visitors, which had heard a report in 1997 from Curry School Dean David Breneman, based on a year-long task force study on continuing education. The study recommended an undergraduate degree program be offered at U.Va. through Continuing Education. This recommendation stemmed from citizens' requests that there be such a program, Stallard said.

Students enrolled in the new BLS program will choose from four areas of concentration: information technology, business, humanities and social sciences. As the program develops, other concentrations may be added to meet student demands.

Tuition will be assessed at the same rate as for residential U.Va. students. The University will continue to pay for employees to take one course per semester.

Residential U.Va. students will not be able to take BLS classes.

Similary, BLS students will not be able to take regular U.Va. courses without several levels of approval.

There have already been 485 inquiries about the program with little publicity, Stallard said. U.Va. expects to admit between 75 and 100 students initially and enrollment could grow to 350. The provost has given seed money, which the program should recoup in two to three years. "It will be self-sufficient and may in time generate revenue," DeMong said.

Also during the Faculty Senate meeting, President John T. Casteen III spoke on several topics. He gave an update on the Campaign for the University -- $800 million has been raised to date. He also reviewed the charge to Virginia 2020, the name recently given to the four planning commissions for the fine and performing arts, science and technology, international activities and public service and outreach. [Inside UVA will cover the work of the commissions in an upcoming issue.]

Progress reports on the commissions' work will be available online at http://www.virginia.edu/virginia2020/. Individuals can also subscribe to VIRGINIA2020 -- Subscribe Majordomo mailing list.

Faculty Senate chair Ed Ayers mentioned a new senate effort to communicate faculty concerns with local legislators. The senate has also continued working with peer bodies around the state, he said. Faculty Senate chair-elect David Gies recently attended the groups' statewide meeting as U.Va.'s representative.

Complete minutes of the Dec. 10 Faculty Senate meeting are online at http://minerva.acc.Virginia.EDU/~facsen/facmeet.html. Spring semester Faculty Senate meetings will be Monday, Feb. 8, in the Dome Room of the Rotunda, and Tuesday, April 6, in Minor Hall Auditorium. Both meetings will run from 3 to 5 p.m.

For information on Continuing Education's Bachelor of Liberal Studies program, call 982-5274, e-mail blsdegree@virginia.edu, or visit website http://uvace.virginia.edu/adult_degree.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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