Ronan will focus on math, writing competencies as general education director

George Ronan will be in an optimal position to see his passion for improving higher education come to fruition as the new general education director.

Ronan, a psychology professor who started the job for the Academic Senate Jan. 4, said he cares about the future of CMU students graduating with the skills necessary to become well-informed.

“In many ways, the general education program is our commitment to Michigan,” Ronan said, “to train its citizens to be aware of what’s going on and be able to reason through complicated issues facing the state.”

For the past seven years, the general education program has updated and implemented new programs. Ronan said he thinks it gets to the heart of what an undergraduate education should be.

“I am very excited about the possibility of updating it,” he said.

Academic Senate Chairman Phil Squattrito, a chemistry professor, said he thinks Ronan is qualified to be in his new position because he has been involved in general education since starting at CMU 20 years ago.

“He is interested and he was motivated enough to apply,” he said, “and I am confident that he will do a good job.”

Ronan and several other applicants went through an interview process for the position by fall 2010; based on the interviews, Ronan was aked to fill the position.

According to the General Education Committee’s website, the Academic Senate is a curricular body that serves as the faculy advisory and policy-making body for the General Education Program.

The committee develops, reviews and evaluates programs and policies pertaining to the operation of the General Education Program.

Professor of philosophy and religion Robert Stecker has known Ronan for 20 years.

“Ronan was very interested in general education,” he said. “He’s proposed a plan advising the University Program before the senate took it up. It played some role in their visions we implemented.”

Stecker said Ronan works very hard and follows through once he starts something.

One of Ronan’s responsibilities will be to oversee the implementation of components the university has adopted, including the quantitative reasoning component. This involves competency in the writing and math skill sets.

“I am very actively involved in that right now,” he said. “As society becomes more complex, citizens are really required to reason with numbers and that is what this competency deals with.”

The goal is for students to be able to reason with numbers by the time they graduate and apply that math to solve common every day problems, he said. These skill sets will be embedded in major requirements.

“A lot of that will be embedded in the major,” he said. “We do that so we can ensure by the time students graduate they can reason well mathematically and have good writing skills.”

Minnesota graduate student Kimberly Maurelli said she has known Ronan for more than two years.

“He has done a lot for the clinical program,” she said. “He probably won’t have too much difficulty (in the new position) because he has taken on leadership roles in various organizations (and is) definitely confident to take on that sort of a role.”


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