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USAO Joins U.S. Elite 19 for ‘A-grade’ Curriculum


EXCELLENCE IN EDUCATION: Students Beatriz Rey (left), a junior speech language pathology major from Texhoma, and Bryan Byars (center), a sophomore physical education and business major from Oklahoma City, consult with Dr. Zachary Simpson, assistant professor of interdisciplinary studies, in Nash Library on the campus of the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha.



Only 19 universities in America scored an ‘A’ grade in the national What Will They Learn? project, aimed at improving essential core curriculum. That list includes the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha.

Each year, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni publishes “What Will They Learn?” which judges universities across the country based on how many of the seven core subjects that students study: composition, literature, foreign language, U.S. government or history, economics, and mathematics and natural/physical science.

While most universities have general education requirements as part of every degree program, the boundaries for what is defined as a “math” or a “history” class have expanded over time. In contrast, USAO’s Interdisciplinary (IDS) core has remained the centerpiece of the university’s degree program since the mid-1960s.

Only 15 Oklahoma institutions are ranked on the list of 1,000 schools. USAO is the only university to receive the highest mark of ‘A’ in addition to being the most affordable to attend. USAO also is listed as one of 16 “hidden gems” in America.

“When any Oklahoma institution earns national acclaim, all Oklahomans win,” said Dr. John Feaver, president of USAO and a former 18-year member of its faculty. “USAO proudly serves as Oklahoma’s designated public liberal arts university. This and every national distinction have been the result of collaboration between our regents, faculty, students and alumni to maintain the unique identity and mission of the university.”

Oklahoma Secretary of Education Phyllis Hudecki praised the results.

“If the U.S. wants to be competitive, our colleges and universities must ensure students learn about math, science, literature, history and other core academic subjects. And too many are simply failing to do so.

“I am pleased that our colleges and universities fared particularly well in ACTA’s What Will They Learn? College guide. The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, one of only 19 institutions to receive an A, is a fine example of that effort.”

Besides USAO, 18 other schools are on the ‘A’ list, including Pepperdine University, the United States Air Force Academy, Baylor University and Texas A&M.

ACTA’s stated goals are to support the liberal arts educational model with the purpose of encouraging high academic standards while insisting that every generation of Americans are able to receive a high-quality college education at an affordable price. The organization’s national network includes alumni and trustees from more than 700 colleges and universities, including 10,000 current board members.

ACTA President Anne D. Neal explains the report’s goal: “Our website asks a simple question about today’s students: What will students learn? Many college guides and ranking systems measure institutions’ prestige and reputation, but no guide has looked at what students are actually required to learn. That’s what we are doing here.”

Those interested in learning more about ACTA and USAO’s top-ranking score should visit WhatWillTheyLearn.com or www.usao.edu.

Updated 01-18-2012

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