December 3, 1974
Interim Policy on American History Requirement
Recent legislation requiring that students who receive the baccalaureate after July 1, 1978, must have passed nine hours of American history is inconsistent with the Charter of the University of Tennessee, under which the Board of Trustees is authorized to approve all programs and requirements through its delegated faculty and administration.
Since the beginning of the University the faculty has worked responsibly to devise and maintain curricula in the several fields of learning which provide a sound balance of general and technical instruction. This work is the main occupation of the faculty, and it has not taken such responsibility lightly or frivolously. As a result our curricula represent our best and most careful estimates of what is needed both in preparation for professional careers and in personal discovery of those fundamental humane values which we must hope every citizen of the republic will possess. Many of our programs are accredited by national professional authorities which impose very reasonable but also very severe guidelines for such accreditation.
For these reasons we do not believe that our present curricula can or should be wrenched into arbitrary shapes by the substitution of requirements imposed by the General Assembly. There is nothing now required or provided for in our curricula which is not the result of long-standing, ongoing testing, debate, and deliberation. There is nothing in our present curricula which we believe to be frivolous or unnecessary.
Thus the requirement of nine hours in American history must be recognized as something additional to our curricula. The costs of this requirement must be clearly understood. Additional faculty will be needed to mount such a teaching program. Most students in our programs will be hard put to avoid spending extra time at the university as a result. We cannot believe that the taxpayers of the State will, upon recognizing these costs, desire to pay for such increases in a time when every dollar spent on education is more difficult to come by than ever before.
We do not therefore propose to recommend alterations in our present curriculum until such time as we believe the General Assembly has had opportunity to review the manifold consequences of the American history requirement. Until that time students should be advised that the present curricula are in effect in their entirety and that the American history requirement is a legislatively mandated addition to the requirements of those curricula.
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