$40,000 allocated to Oregon community colleges and universities to improve undergraduate education
On Oct. 3, the Association of American Colleges and Universities, in collaboration with the Lumina Foundation for Education, announced an $880,000 grant program for eight selected states, including Oregon.
The Quality Collaborative Initiative is a three-year project designed to improve the learning experiences for students here at PSU, as well as at other Oregon universities and the state’s 17 community colleges. The project will be allocating $40,000 of the $880,000 total grant money to Oregon’s two and four-year colleges.
The project plans to test the Degree Qualifications Profile, which ensures that recipients of baccalaureate and associate’s degrees have graduated with a combination of applied learning, specialized knowledge, intellectual skills and broad integrative knowledge.
“[The QCI] is a way to help ensure and better specify what baccalaureate degrees are,” said Sona Karentz Andrews, the vice chancellor for Academic Strategies for the Oregon University System. “It’s really helping to make sure that students know what they’re getting into when they enter baccalaureate programs, and that they know what they can expect when they graduate.”
The QCI’s goal is to improve undergraduate learning that will further develop the skills needed to be a successful individual in the workplace as well as in daily life. It specifically wants to ensure that minority students and students transferring from a two-year to a four-year university gain a well-rounded and dynamic college education.
OUS plans to integrate this program into specific departments. “For instance, biology faculty will be interested in trying to better understand what it is that biology majors graduate with,” Karentz said. “What are the skills and knowledge, and how can they connect into this bigger vision as to what it means to get a baccalaureate degree?”
OUS is still working out the details as to how it will integrate this new learning strategy into their four- and two-year colleges. They’re currently working with the mathematics faculty at the University of Oregon to help develop a model that other universities and community colleges in Oregon can work with.
The educational grant’s kick-off will take place at Lane Community College on Oct. 21, where PSU representatives will be able to discuss the program’s possibilities with representatives from other four- and two-year colleges here in Oregon.
The University Studies program is expected to be a point of focus here at Portland State.
“PSU is very well-regarded for its University Studies program; it is an obvious place where we can build on the past strengths at PSU,” Karentz said. “I would be thrilled to see departments coming together and crossing disciplinary boundaries to work together.”
The program is still in its early stages of planning and OUS is just beginning to formulate ways to incorporate this program into PSU, as well as the other universities and community colleges across the state.