Margaret Slattery appointed to lead the Office for General Education

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Margaret Slattery has been named assistant dean and director of Penn State's Office for General Education, effective July 1.

Having served as assistant dean and interim director since the office’s establishment last August, Slattery said she is eager to continue coordinating and advocating for General Education.

While the perceived value and appreciation for general education has struggled nationally, Slattery said it remains a hallmark of Penn State baccalaureate degree programs.

“I firmly believe that a well-rounded education creates more flexible citizens who are able to adapt in times of great change," Slattery said. "Many students will eventually hold jobs or work in fields that don't currently exist, so we need to help students be prepared to live and work in our global society.”

Updated general education requirements will begin for students who start in the summer of 2018, based on recommendations from the General Education Task Force. As a co-chair, Slattery worked intensively to champion general education and support faculty members. Plus, serving as chair of the Faculty Senate’s Committee on Curricular Affairs helped Slattery understand the complexity of the curricula Penn State offers.

Two new types of courses will be offered with the General Education update: linked and inter-domain courses. Linked courses follow a thematic progression, while inter-domain courses offer two different perspectives of a topic in a single course.

"It's building on the idea that you can gain additional insight and better solutions when you have an understanding from multiple theoretical frameworks,” Slattery said. “The sum is hopefully greater than the two parts."

Slattery said her priority is advancing the Office for General Education — an initiative already well underway. In the past year, she implemented a faculty fellows program, with the goal of helping to recognize faculty engaged in general education at Penn State. More than 70 integrative studies courses are also in the development pipeline following Slattery’s administration of a seed grant program.

An engineer by trade — earning a doctorate degree in bioengineering from Penn State — Slattery is poised to promote general education with a breadth of facts and figures. In collaboration with the Learning Outcomes Assessment Office, she’s currently evaluating general education surveys to prepare for long-term success.

"I'm inspired to help students, and this is one of the largest scales that you can do this,” she said. “There's a lot of room for us to advocate for general education. We need to change how we talk about general education and how it fits into the big academic experience, helping students see it as a way to make a more complete academic experience."

As the former undergraduate program coordinator in biomedical engineering, Slattery called it “incredibly satisfying and rewarding” to guide her advisees through their academic journeys. But, in this new role, Slattery said she is afforded the opportunity to help all Penn State students excel.

“I am doing this for students — to foster their learning. That's why they're here, and that's why we're here,” she said.

The Office for General Education is part of Penn State Undergraduate Education, the academic administrative unit that provides leadership and coordination for University-wide programs and initiatives in support of undergraduate teaching and learning at Penn State. Learn more about Undergraduate Education at undergrad.psu.edu.

For more information about the Office for General Education, visit the Office for General Education website at gened.psu.edu.

Last Updated June 29, 2017