University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Division of General Studies | University of Illinois Archives

Name: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Division of General Studies

Historical Note:

As approved by the Trustees on June 8, 1939,1 the Division of General Studies was established in 19402 to offer undergraduates a four-year "non-departmental" program in liberal education, with a provision that the curriculum be regarded as "tentative and subject to continuous study and possible revision."3 The division's purpose was to promote the ideal of the "well-rounded man" by offering a balanced program in the sciences and humanities to those students who wished to have a general introduction to learning and culture before entering upon more specialized training or who had conflicting inclinations toward different professions.4 The freshman and sophomore curriculum consisted of seven general courses, whereas juniors and seniors chose one of four fields of concentraion for a total of 32 semester hours in the chosen field, (15 semester hours in one department of that field.)5  Those students who met the requirements and had a minimum of 120 semester hours of credit received a B.A. degree from the division.6 In 1945, upon a recommendation made in 1943, the Trustees reduced the program to a two year course of study aimed at setting up a curricula of basic, general well-balanced courses for students who have never completed college, or thos desiring a preliminary orientation before entering another division, college, or professional school.7 Major revisions were introduced into the program in 1961,8 and in 1962 the certificate of Associate in Arts was discontinued "because of lack of interest."9 In 1968, the division was discontinued entirely due to a serious problem of "self-identity" and its courses and functions made a primary administrative responsiblity of the Committee on General Education in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The College offered instead a two-year general curriculum in which freshmen and sophomore students could register according to their own option rather than select a departmental major.10 Operations were terminated in 1969.

1. Board of Trustees Transactions, 40th Report, June 8, 1939, p. 349.

2. University of Illinois Annual Register, 1940-41, pp. 262-63.

3. Board of Trustees Transactions, 40th Report, June 8, 1939, p. 347.

4. University Archives, RS 15/11/24, Harold R. Wanless Papers, 1916-1970, Box 4, "A Well-Balanced Program," p. 2.

5. "A Well-Balanced Program," pp. 2, 5.

6. "A Well-Balanced Program," p. 6.

7. Board of Trustees Transactions, 43rd Report, June 30, 1945, pp. 513-14, and November 23, 1945, p. 918.

8. Board of Trustees Transactions, 51st Report, September 21, 1961, pp. 1087-88.

9. Board of Trustees Transactions, 51st Report, April 18, 1962.

10. Board of Trustees Transactions, 54th Report, April 17, 1968, p. 996.

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