PORTLAND – The University of Southern Maine has received a gift of $100,000 from the Davis Educational Foundation to support ongoing development of its general education curriculum.

It is the foundation’s second gift in support of general education and “represents a wonderful vote of confidence in the university’s ability to give students a strong core of skills and knowledge to excel in their academic and professional careers and throughout their lives,” said USM Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Joseph Wood.

USM’s general education curriculum, in use since the early 1980s, is a group of required courses for undergraduate students that develop skills in writing, critical thinking and the use of quantitative information. It also aims to develop a broad appreciation of diverse ways of knowing and methods of inquiry. It is presented largely through the College of Arts and Sciences, the Honors Program, the Russell Scholars Program and USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College.

The grant will allow faculty and administrators to begin building a foundation of interdisciplinary courses as part of the general education curriculum. Specifically, the Honors Program will be expanded to include courses in the sciences; Lewiston-Auburn College will offer general education courses within its own curriculum of integrated studies; and new multidisciplinary models will be created for core courses in the general education curriculum across the university.

USM has grown dramatically since the inception of its general education curriculum, both in terms of programs and students. Today, for example, nearly 40 percent of each entering class consists of transfer students who bring with them a significant number of credits that are applied toward general education requirements. Consequently, it becomes increasingly important to ensure that all USM students are exposed to a coordinated, well-articulated common learning experience.

“We’re working to ensure that our students understand shared cultural references, value diversity and build competencies for long-term professional success, effective citizenship and lifelong learning in an information-rich economy,” said Wood.

Revitalization of USM’s general education curriculum is part of the university’s long-range strategic plan to gain national recognition for the breadth, quality and accessibility of its programs.

The Davis Educational Foundation was established by Stanton and Elizabeth Davis after his retirement as chairman of Shaw’s Supermarkets Inc.

For more information, contact Joseph Wood at 207/780-4485 or e-mail [email protected]

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