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Approval of new curriculum makes UIS full four-year university

September 8, 2005

SPRINGFIELD – The University of Illinois at Springfield became a full four-year university Thursday for the first time in its 35-year history. The milestone was reached when the U of I Board of Trustees approved a new general education curriculum that will allow UIS to enroll a larger number of freshmen in a full baccalaureate experience in fall 2006.

“We are now a four-year university in the truest sense of the word,” said UIS Chancellor Richard Ringeisen.  “This new curriculum is fundamental to UIS’ emergence as a premier small public university with highly innovative programs in the liberal arts and professional program areas,” he said.

U of I President Joe White called the Board’s approval “a watershed moment for UIS.  With this action, UIS will have a full four-year undergraduate program that will enable the university to serve many more students with a superb education,” he said.  “It will bring youth, energy, a 24/7 environment, and great new challenges and opportunities to UIS in the years ahead.”

Beginning next fall, UIS will give potential first-year students the option of enrolling in the general education curriculum, which is an expansion of UIS’ Capital Scholars Program, or the option of enrolling in UIS’ existing Capital Scholars Program, which was renamed the Capital Scholars Honors Program following board approval Thursday.

Karen Moranski, UIS’ Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education, explained the difference. “First-year students will all be called Capital Scholars no matter which program they’re in, but the admissions requirements will be different,” she said. “Honors program students should be in the top 25 percent of their high school class and have a higher class rank and higher GPA (grade point average) than the Cap Scholars in the other program.”

Moranski said UIS plans to enroll between 280 to 300 freshmen next fall, about 80 to 100 of whom will be in the honors program and the rest in the other program. Honors program students are required to live on campus in Lincoln Residence Hall during their freshman and sophomore years.  Students enrolled in the expanded Capital Scholars program will not be required to live on campus if they are from Springfield or the surrounding area.

“We anticipate that first-year students, both honors and regular, will take some coursework together and will engage socially with one another right from the beginning,” Moranski said.

The Capital Scholars Program, now called Capital Scholars Honors Program, was launched in fall 2001 for a small number of highly qualified first-year students, about 100 per year.  The successful program, which was UIS’ first four-year baccalaureate program, graduated its first class last May.  From 1970 to 2001, the university was considered “an upper division” university, offering bachelor’s degree programs to juniors and seniors as well as graduate-level education.

Moranski said the new general education curriculum is guided by two educational principles: to provide students with the basic skills and knowledge to become lifelong learners as well as engaged citizens.  “The curriculum is a flexible one that will improve students’ lifelong learning skills and show them how they fit into the world around them,” she said. “It will engage them intellectually, both in the classroom and in real world experiences.”

Ringeisen said the new curriculum connects the university’s past with its future. “The curriculum carries on a long tradition at this university of graduating students who understand and appreciate the value of lifelong learning and engaged citizenship,” he said.

The curriculum for the Capital Scholars Honors Program, which uses a team teaching approach, features interdisciplinary and collaborative learning with an emphasis on creative thinking, problem solving, and leadership skills. The curriculum, based in the liberal arts, also emphasizes lifelong learning and engaged citizenship.

Ringeisen said funding for the expanded program will be come from reallocation and the tuition generated by students entering the program.

 

    The University of Illinois at Springfield, one of three U of I campuses, is a small, public liberal arts university that offers 42 degree programs – 21 bachelor’s, 20 master’s, and the Doctorate of Public Administration. UIS has a special mission in public affairs and service and is known for extraordinary internships, a wireless campus, extensive online offerings, and a commitment to teaching.
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