Promoting Academic Excellence at UNL

Logo for Achievement-Centered Education, UNL's General Education Initiative

General Education Reform Review and Revision of General
Education at UNL

The University's present general education program-known as the Comprehensive Education Program (CEP)-was implemented in 1995 with a good deal of investment from the University community. The CEP was an innovative program that attempted to provide students with a broad knowledge base through the Essential Studies component and with essential skills through the Integrative Studies component. In discussions across campus this past year, it became clear that while there is still support for many of the goals of our CEP, there is widespread concern about the present incarnation of the program.

Key reasons why UNL should review and reform general education now:

  • Our CEP is now 10 years old and has never been comprehensively assessed; small-scale assessments have resulted in some action.
  • The CEP has grown to include over 2300 courses, calling to question its purpose and design.
  • Many students and faculty no longer understand nor see the relevance of the CEP.
  • The CEP is too often seen by students and advisors as an obstacle to timely degree completion and as a barrier to new students, particularly transfer students.
  • The CEP is out of step with national trends in general education.
  • This effort allows us to renew our commitment to the State to be a major land-grant, research-extensive university welcoming to undergraduate students.
  • In the past decade budget reductions, increased external funding, reports from broad-based University committees (A 2020 Vision; Intellectual Engagement and Achievement at UNL; and Everyone a Learner, Everyone a Teacher), strategic planning, and our ever-more sophisticated understanding of our students and the generational and geographic forces that have shaped them have all worked to help the University clarify our priorities and our academic vision, positioning us well for success.

Key characteristics of our next general education program:

  • Elegant, simple, and transparent to students, faculty, and advisors
  • Based on student outcomes
  • Reflects the mission and core values of the university
  • Integrated with and reinforced within the majors
  • Constructed so that it satisfies the graduation requirements of all of our undergraduate colleges
  • Accommodates the full range of undergraduate students (e.g. transfer students, distance students, diverse students, rising achievement levels of incoming undergraduates, etc.)
  • Enhances the undergraduate experience by providing broad exposure to multiple disciplines, complementing the major and helping students develop important reasoning, inquiry, and civic capacities
  • Sustainable within existing resources

Core group responsible for reviewing and revising general education at UNL: the General Education Planning Team

Responsibilities of the GE Planning Team:

  • Coordinate the review and reform effort.
  • Prepare-with broad input from the UNL community and the General Education Advisory Council-four proposals for review and approval (UNL General Student Learning Outcomes, Structural Criteria for General Education, a General Education Program, an Assessment and Oversight Process).


John Janovy (Biological Sciences)


  • Scott Fuess (University Curriculum Committee and Economics)
  • Jessica Jonson (Assessment, Undergraduate Studies)
  • Rita Kean (Undergraduate Studies)
  • Nancy Mitchell (APC and Journalism & Mass Communication)
  • Deb Minter (English)
  • Wes Peterson (Academic Senate and Agricultural Economics)
  • Dave Wilson (Academic Affairs)
  • Gordon Woodward (Mathematics)

Expanded group responsible for reviewing and revising general education at UNL: the General Education Advisory Committee

Responsibilities of the GE Advisory Committee:

  • Provide advice and broader campus perspectives to the General Education Planning Team.
  • Review and approve the four proposals (UNL General Student Learning Outcomes, Structural Criteria for General Education, a General Education Program, an Assessment and Oversight Process) and forward them to the college curriculum committees.
  • Assure that the campus community has the opportunities and resources necessary to successfully review and reform general education at UNL.


John Janovy (Biological Sciences and GEPT)


  • Dennis McCallister (AS&NR Curriculum Committee)
  • Kathy Ankerson (Arch Curriculum Committee)
  • Amy Goodburn (A&S Curriculum Committee)
  • Terry Sebora (CBA Curriculum Committee)
  • Linda Young (E&HS Curriculum Committee)
  • Curtis Weller (E&T Curriculum Committee)
  • Pete Pinnell (F&PA Curriculum Committee)
  • Larry Walklin (J&MC Curriculum Committee)
  • Nancy Busch (University Libraries)
  • Al Casullo (University Curriculum Committee)
  • Rita Kean (Undergraduate Studies and GEPT)
  • Scott Hackman (ASUN)
  • Ryan Hassebrook (ASUN)
  • Alan Cerveny (Admissions)
  • Jessica Jonson (assessment, Undergraduate Studies)
  • Bill Nunez (Institutional Research and Planning)
  • Greg Gunderson (finances, Academic Affairs)
  • Arnold Bateman (Extended Education and Outreach)
  • Scott Fuess (University Curriculum Committee, Economics, and GEPT)
  • Nancy Mitchell (APC, Journalism & Mass Communication, and GEPT)
  • Deb Minter (English and GEPT)
  • Wes Peterson (Academic Senate, Agricultural Economics, and GEPT)
  • Dave Wilson (Academic Affairs and GEPT)
  • Gordon Woodward (Mathematics and GEPT)
  • Jennifer Nelson (General Studies)

Former members:

  • Meghan Lyons (ASUN)
  • Pat McEvoy (ASUN)

Consultative bodies:

  • Academic Planning Committee
  • Academic Senate
  • Academy of Distinguished Teachers
  • Admissions, Advising, and Retention Committee
  • Associated Students of the University of Nebraska
  • Deans' Council
  • Department chairs/heads
  • Enrollment Management Council
  • Reinvigorating the Humanities Committee
  • Teaching Council

Four proposals to be developed:


  • UNL General Student Learning Outcomes-This proposal will identify specific learning outcomes common to all undergraduate students at the University (e.g. students will distinguish interpretations, beliefs, and theories from more factual information).
  • Structural Criteria for General Education-This proposal will spell out the structural criteria for the general education program (e.g. no general education course may have a prerequisite).


  • General Education Program-This proposal will identify a framework and the initial set of courses and experiences which meet the approved structural criteria and are intended to help students achieve the UNL General Student Learning Outcomes.
  • General Education Assessment and Oversight Process-This proposal will establish and assign responsibilities for managing and assessing general education.

The approval process:

  1. General Education Advisory Committee
  2. Colleges (in accordance with their bylaws)
  3. University Curriculum Committee
  4. Academic Planning Committee
  5. SVCAA