For Immediate Release 29 June 2001
Universities Report to Regents on Sharing System Resources
Cooperation Creates More Student Opportunities
SIOUX FALLSAt its regular business meeting, held on the campus of the South Dakota School for the Deaf, the South Dakota Board of Regents created a Fine Arts Discipline Council to coordinate the delivery of fine arts instruction among the six Regental universities. Since 1997 the Regents have created councils in Education, Foreign Language, Science, Business, Mathematics, English, and Information Technology.
"A few years ago the Regents directed the universities to be more efficient by sharing scarce resources," said Regents President Harvey C. Jewett, Aberdeen. "At the time we told the universities to develop the discipline councils, we wanted to create opportunities for the faculty at the six public universities to collaborate in the delivery of instruction. Not only are they doing that, they are also working together to promote their disciplines, sponsor conferences, and plan for future state needs."
"Initially, many people were skeptical that the discipline councils could work," said Regent Pat Lebrun. Lebrun was chair of the Subcommittee on Academic and Student Affairs at the time the councils were formed. She added that the discipline councils show that faculty can be very successful at working together and increasing opportunities for students.
Jan Vandever, Professor of Mathematics at South Dakota State University and Chair of the Mathematics Discipline Council, thanked the Regents for establishing the council. Vandever said, "The members appreciate the opportunity. We think it is a real benefit to meet to talk about our courses."
More students are taking advantage of study abroad programs, in large part due to the efforts of the Foreign Language Discipline Council. Students at any of the Regental universities are able to join overseas programs sponsored by any of the other Regental universities. "South Dakota students are becoming more global in their perspective," said Robert T. Tad Perry, Regents Executive Director. "The cooperation among the state universities opens up many more opportunities for them." Perry added that the Foreign Language Discipline Council has also promoted foreign languages in the elementary and secondary schools and began to address the concerns of elementary and secondary teachers of foreign language.
At the time of its formation, each discipline council is expected to inventory its curriculum and faculty expertise. It is also directed to develop collaborative activities and to recommend state needs for the discipline. Each discipline council identifies its own projects, said Perry. "Some of the discipline councils are asked to address pressing state issues, such as teacher preparation. The Education Discipline Council is developing proposals for alternative teacher certification to ease the pending teacher shortage, for example."
The discipline councils in English and mathematics reviewed the freshmen placement and remediation processes. This is the process used to determine whether entering freshmen are prepared to perform college-level work in these two subject areas. "Often the discipline councils are called upon to explain Board of Regents policies. This year the Mathematics Discipline Council presented a panel discussion about placement policies at a joint conference of math and science secondary teachers. This interaction between high school and college teachers is good for South Dakota public education," said Jewett.
Perry added that one of the most useful activities of the discipline councils has been to review all courses taught at the six state universities in a particular subject area. They then try to align course content and course numbers in as many courses as possible so that students can easily transfer the credits earned at one state university to another.
For more information, contact: Dr. Robert T. Tad Perry, Executive Director, (605)773-3455
Education: Dean Myers, Chair, (605) 642-6550
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