Baccalaureate core reform possible at OSU


Alex Koetje, Illustrator

This illustration depicts a backpack with folders containing labels for common Bacc Core classes such as math and biology. Other previous Bacc Core classes like health may no longer be included in the Bacc Core requirements.

Riley LeCocq, News Reporter

Correction: The article, also published in the April 4 issue of the Barometer, incorrectly stated that OSU’s Bacc Core requirements could possibly be decreasing from 45 total credits to 30 credits. This has been changed to reflect the correct Bacc Core credit requirements. The Barometer regrets this error.

Oregon State University’s Baccalaureate Core credit requirements may be decreased to about 45 credits with the possibility of removing the health and wellness requirement in the course revision process.

The Bacc Core is a set of course requirements that students of all majors must fulfill in order to graduate. Currently, the Bacc Core requires 52 to 62 credits to complete, depending on which courses students take. The university Faculty Senate is aiming to reduce the Bacc Core credit requirement to approximately 45 credits at the maximum credit count, according to McKenzie Huber, the Bacc Core Director for the Office of Academic Affairs.

The current requirements students have to complete are the same as when the requirement was first implemented back in 1991, making the Bacc Core more than 30 years old.

“The needs of students and employers has changed quite a bit the past 30 years,” said Kaplan Yalcin, co-chair of the faculty Bacc Core committee and assistant dean for the College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences.

“The state of Oregon requires that every public institution in the state accepts the common package of 30 credits towards the general education requirements,” Yalcin said. 

According to Yalcin, the common package includes courses such as writing, arts and literature, social sciences, lab science and math to make credits more transferable across universities. This means, however, any course not in this group is up for debate, such as the health and wellness requirement. 

Ellen Smit, the associate dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs and professor of epidemiology in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences, said the health and wellness requirement is not only necessary, but requested by students as health is a priority for them. 

“The proposed templates that were presented in June 2021 to the faculty senate did not contain any requirement in health and wellbeing,” Smit said in an email. “This was very disappointing. We [CPHHS] do not want this removed as we feel like this is important information and application for students to learn and engage with while also helping to keep our campus focused on student’s well-being during college and beyond.”

The Bacc Core reform committee, led by John Edwards and Lori Kayes, has been seeking input from students, faculty and groups on campus in what they call “roadshows” to sort through possible topics to include in the revamped Bacc Core. 

Smit and the CPHHS have been collecting data on students’ opinions of the currently required health class, which Smit believes shows students want to keep health and wellness as a part of the Bacc Core requirements. 

“Seventy-six percent of students in the last five years said a course in personal health, nutrition, mental health and physical activity was very important or extremely important,” Smit said. 

According to Edwards, in the undergraduate student roadshow, no plans have been finalized. These are merely ideas and research to find what best serves students’ preparation for life skills. 

Edwards also said the process is a lengthy and complicated one that involves decisions agreed upon by the faculty senate and course changes. 

“We want it to be set for a vote in the faculty senate by the end of [spring] term but it will take two years to get it implemented,” Edwards said. 

Smit said students should know their input is important in the decisions currently being made. A survey made by the committee and Bacc Core director McKenzie Huber is available for students to provide their own input and be a part of the conversation. 

“Two years ago, HHS 231 was voted by students as the best Bacc Core course,” Smit said. “I feel hopeful that there is a place for a required course that addresses physical and mental health and well-being within the new categories.”

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