"Anatomy of a Delay..."
E-mail exchange between HFA and Marcuse re: GE reform
March-October 2003

posted on the GE website May 8, 2004

On March 18, 2003 several HFA chairs met to follow-up on the 3/3/03 meeting with the GE work group (link to 3/3/03 meeting notes). The correspondence below documents their concerns and how the work group followed up on them.
See also this summary of the work group consultations with HFA: link.

From: "W D. King" <king@dramadance.ucsb.edu>
To: marcuse@history.ucsb.edu
Subject: HFA chairs discuss GE
Date-Sent: Tuesday, March 18, 2003 2:01 PM -0800

Hello Harold,

We had a meeting today of some HFA chairs, along with David Marshall and E. Cook, to discuss the issues raised by our last meeting. One thing we realized is that it is awkward for HFA to respond as a body to some of the issues because HFA is larger and more multi-disciplinary than other divisions. (It is for this reason that any approach to requirements that looks at proportional reduction by divisions will most likely prove simplistic.)

One thing is clear, and that is that we would like to have at least one more meeting face-to-face with your committee or a representative group to raise our issues, preferably early next quarter. Prior to that meeting we would like to have a summary of what your workgroup can agree on. I have looked at the most recent set of notes you posted on the website, and these appear more in the nature of reminders of some of the issues you are addressing, but it is difficult to read which points have strong group support and which are merely reminders of ideas that have been floated. What we would prefer is something that looks more like a proposal, or ideally a few alternate proposals. We very much appreciate your inviting chair groups to offer feedback as you are developing those proposals, to involve us in the generation of a proposal, but it is difficult to know what we are responding to at this stage. It would also be helpful if you would give us an idea of what you would like us to comment upon.

We also want to advise your group that further on, when one or more proposals are being offered, we will require some time to research and respond.

When we meet with your group, we will most likely organize the discussion to reflect what we see as the relevant subdivisions within the division. For example, those departments that offer fine arts training have certain issues that might be different from or even opposite to other departments within the division. Foreign language departments, too. The upper division/lower distinction in HFA is not nearly as relevant as it is in MLPS, that is, except in fine arts programs and foreign languages. Then, too, I'm sure the division would like to be more directly involved in the framing of an Area X requirement, should your group go in that direction. Some departments in HFA have a stake in that. Others do not. So, I would foresee organizing the discussion according to topics suggested by the proposals AND subdivisions within the division.

Again, we thank you for opening up your process, and we look forward to further discussion with you and the group.

All best,
Davies King

From: Harold Marcuse <marcuse@history.ucsb.edu>
To: "W D. King" <king@dramadance.ucsb.edu>
cc: gegroup@mail.lsit.ucsb.edu
Subject: Re: HFA chairs discuss GE
Date-Sent: Tuesday, May 20, 2003 2:37 PM -0700

Davies, I'm sorry I've waited so long to respond to your memo. Since early April I've been preparing summary documents about the GE workgroup's deliberations, and by now relatively clear contours of what we are are considering have emerged.
However, there is still substantial disagreement on some issues, while others have not yet been the focus of in-depth discussions.
I would like to make these documents available for wide discussion on campus, but some members of the workgroup are very uncomfortable with that, given the lack of complete consensus. It is already clear that due to absences we cannot finalize even our preliminary recommendations at our remaining meetings this quarter, so we won't be able to begin a broader discussion until well into fall quarter.
I am unsure how to proceed. I would like to send my summary documents out with the strong caveats suggested by these workgroup members.
I wonder how great your interest in these documents is, and how strong your desire to begin discussion given the incompleteness of our deliberations on some issues.
Please let me know.
In any case, the GE workgroup is very eager to meet with the divisional chairs, if we can find a time.
Harold Marcuse

That same evening Davies responded:
Harold, Thanks for the update, which all comes as little surprise to us thanks to the update we received from Sue McLeod at our last HFA meeting. As she might have told you, I have been regularly notifying HFA chairs of your updated website posts and have several times distributed them. It's been ten days or so since I looked last, but I will do so soon in anticipation of our June 2 meeting (last of the year). My sense is that the chairs would rather wait till a little more of the dust had settled in your committee before we make an official reply. I hope that Sue will attend our June 2 meeting and provide a conduit for the loosely organized sentiments of our group at your meetings. I don't envy you your job. We will be resuming HFA meetings in October, and I expect I might continue to convene, so keep me posted on the unfolding.
All best, Davies King
In early October, Elizabeth Cook followed up:
From: Elizabeth Heckendorn Cook <ecook@english.ucsb.edu>
To: marcuse@history.ucsb.edu
Subject: GE update?
Date-Sent: Friday, October 03, 2003 10:31 AM -0700

Dear Harold:

As the year begins we are eager to learn what's on the program of the GE Working Group for the year. As you'll recall, the WG's first meeting with HFA Chairs (March 3) was understood as informational, and it was agreed that a second meeting would be scheduled. That was never set up, and HFA Chairs are looking forward to a second meeting with your group so that they can provide their feedback on specific proposals.

It would be very helpful to have information about the WG's current thinking, so that our feedback can adjusted to developments since. I've reviewed the material on the WG website, but it doesn't appear to be entirely up to date (for example, there are no notes for the "marathon" May 9 meeting of the WG). I see that the new (turquoise background) page is still under construction so perhaps this just hasn't been posted yet.

Do you have a draft-in-process version of the proposal that you are circulating? If not, could I meet with you to hear about where the WG's thinking is at present?

Thanks very much for your time. I look forward to talking with you soon.


From: Harold Marcuse <marcuse@history.ucsb.edu>
To: Elizabeth Heckendorn Cook <ecook@english.ucsb.edu>
Subject: Re: GE update?/almost...
Date-Sent: Monday, October 06, 2003 11:44 PM -0700

Elizabeth, I'm close to getting the various minutes published on the GE web site, but both the weekend and now another day has passed and I didn't get to it. I am hopeful that I will be able to get to it on Wednesday morning.
The workgroup has basically decided to finalize a document and go to the divisions to discuss primarily the issues on which we have not achieved consensus among ourselves.
So: stay tuned, I will have something for you soon.
Do you already have a meeting scheduled?

From: Denise Segura <segura@soc.ucsb.edu>
To: Harold Marcuse <marcuse@history.ucsb.edu>
Subject: Re: [gegroup] edited draft
Date-Sent: Saturday, October 18, 2003 12:21 PM -0700

Hi Harold,

After you left [yesterday's GE workgroup meeting], the group continued to have a lively discussion until a little after 3 pm. It was the general consensus that they felt they needed more time to digest your report. They realized that much of it was a refined reworking of the group's conclusive (and less conclusive) work thus far. But, they wanted more time to review it. [6 sentences omitted]

All this to say that the group felt not quite ready to send this report to the Ug Council for dispersal to the FEC of L&S. I was asked to ask you if we might delay it another week and discuss things more thoroughly this coming Friday. Then, you can send the Ug Council the report. I will put it on our agenda for our next meeting and request the endorsement of the Council to send it to L&S asking for their comments and the comments of the departments. That will also give me time to personally meet with the new chair of L&S (whose name I have yet to be given) so it won't be a surprise.

[three sentences omitted] But, we don't want a document out that not everyone feels fairly comfortable with [parenthetical remark omitted]. Elizabeth agreed with this and suggested that maybe a brief note to Davies, Marshall and the other Deans indicating the progress and procedures for comment coming up would be sufficient. What do you think about this?

From: Harold Marcuse <marcuse@history.ucsb.edu>
To: gegroup@mail.lsit.ucsb.edu
cc: Denise Segura <segura@soc.ucsb.edu>
Subject: when to release draft proposal
Date-Sent: Saturday, October 18, 2003 2:34 PM -0700

Dear work group members,
Denise sent me a long message about your discussion after I left yesterday, including the paragraph below.

--On Saturday, October 18, 2003 Denise Segura wrote:
> All this to say that the group felt not quite ready to send this report
> to the Ug Council for dispersal to the FEC of L&S. I was asked to ask
> you if we might delay it another week and discuss things more thoroughly
> this coming Friday. Then, you can send the Ug Council the report. I
> will put it on our agenda for our next meeting and request the
> endorsement of the Council to send it to L&S asking for their comments
> and the comments of the departments.

In truth, I share your misgivings about releasing a document that is not the absolute best we can do. However, I also feel that we have been working on this for months (some of us for years). We will not only never achieve full consensus among ourselves on some of the issues, we will never find language that will appear optimal to all of us.

The real question here is when to involve the broader campus community in our discussion. From the start I have been a strong advocate of having this open discussion EARLY and continuously. I had originally proposed an open forum on ETH/WCIV in February, for example.
I would like to make clear that we are not releasing a final proposal, but starting a discussion about difficult issues. The more final our release proposal is, the less room there is to incorporate feedback.
If there were a single convincing intellectual rationale for GE, all GE programs would look alike. Instead, GE programs in reality strongly reflect the priorities and cultures of a campus: its faculty, students, and administrators. We may represent parts of those constituencies, but we are not them, and we need their input in order to finalize our proposal.

Whoever cares enough to read our proposal and give us feedback will honor the tremendous time and effort we have invested thus far, not criticize us because we have not offered them an utterly finalized document. They will probably buy into it more if they have constructive feedback that we can incorporate without dismantling something we have already constructed.

If we wait as you and Denise suggest, our next version will go before the UgC on Nov. 6. There will probably be additional feedback to be incorporated before we can send it out. That moves us into January before we can expect feedback from the various recipients. I note that I think we should again send out to the entire campus whatever we come up with AFTER we incorporate that feedback (with reasons for what we choose and reject). We will again be pushing the end of the winter and possibly even spring quarter.

I propose that we release what we have this coming week (after the QGE meeting Wednesday, or after UgC Thursday, which would actually mean after our next meeting Friday), and keep working and discussing in parallel. But let's not wait any longer than that. Let's trust our colleagues to understand that we want their creativity and expertise BEFORE we finalize our recommendation.

When you send me your feedback on the draft, please indicate your AYE or NAY on releasing our best effort UP TO THAT POINT to the entire campus on this coming Friday, Oct. 24.


At that time I was teaching a full load, trying to meet deadlines for three major grant applications, and working with Senate members to implement the GE course criteria that had been decided upon in May. Nonetheless I drafted the promised summary document (10/30/03 final disc. doc.), which I named "GE Proposal for Discussion," so that it could be discussed by the work group on Oct. 17. From Oct. 23-26 I added to the GE website all of the remaining 8 sets of GE work group minutes to that date (link), as well as the two GE task force reports (2001 & 2002 TF reports), and the notes about its 11 meetings. I also provided a linked table about the GE programs of our comparison institutions (comparison institutions), and other documents produced by the GE Task Force and GE committee that preceded and precipitated the formation of this GE work group.

for the continuation of the story, see my never-sent email about the 11/3/03 meeting, and the documentation of my (Marcuse's) March 2004 correspondence with Davies King about his objections to things I wrote in my 2/18/04 work group report to the Undergraduate Council. (link to HFA-Workgroup 2003-2004 master narrative)

document created by H. Marcuse, posted on GE website 5/8/04
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