LTCC not all about standard curriculum
December 19, 2003
College keeps eye on students’ interests
By William Ferchland
Tribune staff writer
An inaugural class at Lake Tahoe Community College only has two terms to prove itself for acceptance into the full-time curriculum.
Popularity, scope of the teaching and academics are some of the checkpoints needed for the class to survive the incubator.
“Faculty are extremely visionary,” said Lori Gaskin, vice president of academic affairs and student services. “They’re always looking ahead and seeing what are the needs or interests of students that curriculum is not meeting.”
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The winter quarter, which begins Jan. 5, has 55 classes that are the brainchildren of different staff members. Some are seasonal, such as advanced telemark skiing, winter snowshoe challenge, ski conditioning and backcountry skiing.
Others are more academic. History of the American musical theater, introduction to digital imagining and introduction to basic English skills are testing the waters for student participation.
Pilot classes in culinary arts, music and technology are other popular areas.
A discussion class on terrorism and the Middle East was organized by Scott Lukas, chair of the anthropology department, shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Some, like an advanced course in avalanche awareness, teach more specific skills to students who took the beginning class.
If the class is popular and meets the academic needs of students, it goes through a lengthy approval process to be part of the mainstay curriculum.
First a dean reviews the curriculum, then a librarian, counselor, the disability resource center director and then a curriculum committee. The final three hoops consist of approval by the curriculum committee, Gaskin and college President Guy Lease.
Pilot classes that made the final cut recently include spin cycling and indoor soccer. Some, like kite boarding and weight loss, haven’t even made it to the experimental level.
Anybody with the applicable education and experience can propose a class, usually to the full-time teacher in charge of the particular topic. The proposal would then be sent to a dean, then to Gaskin, who has the final approval for a special topic class.
“It’s not difficult but I don’t want to say we’ll take a look at any and all ideas,” Gaskin said. “They have to be related to what a college is all about.”
For the spring quarter, a whitewater rafting class will be introduced, said Cynthea Preston, dean of student services.
So will a rock, tree and star class. It will be co-taught by a geologist, a biologist and an astronomer.
“It gives us an opportunity to try it out as part of our curriculum,” Preston said.
– E-mail William Ferchland at firstname.lastname@example.org