A Short History of the Office of Undergraduate Education

In the late 1960s, Ohio State developed an innovative program, called University College, or UVC as it was commonly known, as a common entry point to the University for all incoming freshmen. All students enrolled in UVC, and took their Basic Education Requirements, or BER courses (these are now called General Education courses.) When they were ready, after at least one full year in UVC, undergrads executed an IUT, or IntraUniversity Transfer, to the major of their choice, assuming they were admitted to that major. If not, they remained in UVC until selecting another major.

In 1986 the Board of Trustees determined that OSU should move to a selective admission model, which was fully actualized in 2002 (OSU had been an open admission campus since 1914.) At the same time, there was much discussion about the way academic advising was organized – this was one of the major functions of UVC. There was a palpable tension between UVC and the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Board of Trustees insisted that there be an effort to reform advising, creating a closer relationship with faculty in the departments and their student majors and pre-majors.  They sent a message to the provost that there needed to be a new university-wide policy that would set the standard for academic advising.

This was the beginning of the end of UVC. In 1988 it moved from its location on West Campus to the central campus, and was ultimately (around 2001) reorganized out of existence, with most of the UVC advisors moving to the central Arts and Sciences college (ASC). The predecessor of the current Dean of Undergraduate Education was appointed out of this reorganization. The position was defined as the Vice Provost of Arts and Sciences and Dean of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Studies, and Robert Arkin was hired from the University of Missouri to take on the responsibilities of the new position. He primarily served as the head of campus-wide advising, overseeing the ASC advising unit.

In 1994, Provost Richard Sisson and Vice President for Student Affairs David Williams charged a new committee to investigate the environment at the University related to undergraduate students and to “refocus attention on quality undergraduate education.” The Committee on the Undergraduate Experience included 23 faculty and staff and 23 undergraduate students, and was chaired by Martha Garland from the College of Humanities and Eric Busch from Student Affairs. Their report, called the CUE report, was issued in May of 1995 and recommended sweeping changes to the University that would have significant impact on the life of undergraduates on campus. General recommendations were made in three categories: (1) basic needs (social involvement, safety and security, transportation, and financial issues), (2) academic experience (first-year experience, advising, curriculum, and quality of instruction), and (3) reducing red tape and valuing the individual. Some of the specific recommended changes included:

  • the establishment of Campus Partners to deal with east of High Street issues
  • increased safety escort, emergency phones, and student safety services, and improved crime reporting
  • upgrades to the campus, including lighting and bike racks
  • parking enhancements and bus services
  • First Year Experience (FYE), enhanced orientation, and Welcome Week
  • enhanced support for transfer students
  • a review of the General Education Curriculum, or GEC
  • closed course solutions
  • student advocacy services
  • the University Scholars program
  • a recommendation for a Learning Management System
  • academic advising restructuring and advising technology support
  • financial awareness education and services and on-campus job database
  • improved disability services

As a result of this new focus on undergraduates, and a continued frustration with the ASC advising and organizational structure, in 1996 the Vice Provost and Dean position was moved from ASC to report to the Provost, and was retitled the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education and Dean of Undergraduate Studies. Former Associate Provost for Instruction and Curriculum, and Vice Provost for Academic Programs Robert Arnold was hired to take on these revamped responsibilities. A year later, Martha Garland, who co-chaired the CUE efforts, replaced Arnold as the VP and Dean.

At this time, Garland oversaw all of enrollment services and undergraduate education, including admissions, FYE, financial aid, the Registrar, and all units of Undergraduate Education. In about 2008, the Board of Trustees wanted a more strategic planning process for enrollment at the University that would result in a more plan-ful and predictable approach to the demographic of the student body. As Garland was ready to retire, the office was divided, with the Undergraduate Education academic units remaining with the VP and Dean, and the admissions and enrollment related units reporting to a new Vice President of Strategic Enrollment Services. In 2009, Dolan Evanovich was hired from UConn to take on the Enrollment Services effort, and Wayne Carlson (yours truly) was brought over from his position as Chair of Design to be the Vice Provost and Dean, and the current Office of Undergraduate Education was established.

I am often asked what are the different responsibilities assigned to each title of VP and Dean. Here is an outline:

• Dean of Undergraduate Education (according to Faculty Rule 3335-3-30.1)

  • oversee and implement policies related to UG academic programming
  • promote, direct, and support UG educational activities of OSU, and encourage learning
  • work with colleges to propose and implement policies of the faculty with respect to the development of programming for challenging academic experiences
  • work with colleges on curricula and requirements for baccalaureate programs and new and useful UG programs
  • work with colleges on GE requirements
  • oversee a general University Honors program
  • oversee rigorous interdisciplinary programming
  • coordinate University advising and curricular counseling
  • achieve consistency in advising across the University

• Vice Provost of Undergraduate Studies (according to the Office of Academic Affairs guidelines)

  • supervise and have budgetary authority for academic support units
  • collaborate with Student Life to enhance intellectual experience
  • collaborate with enrollment services to develop admissions and FYE programming and experiences
  • oversee and collaborate with units to assure that all students have the opportunity to be educated for citizenship
  • establish and maintain a financial and operational environment that meets compliance expectations
  • work with external constituent groups, including academic, governmental, community, and industry on programming impacting UG students

Note: much of the historical information herein was culled from a KnowledgeBank entry representing an interview with Martha Garland by archivist Raimund Goerler.