Until the year 2000, the general-education requirements were distributed across five areas: composition, health and physical education, humanities, social sciences, and science/mathematics. With the exception of the two composition courses and the single health education course, students could choose from literally hundreds of courses to satisfy these distribution requirements. Students' general-education experiences shared very few commonalities.
In 1993 the dean of Arts and Sciences appointed a committee to study the general-education program. After examining the issues extensively, the committee forwarded a set of general-education goals to the Academic Standards Committee of the Academic Senate. After modification by the committee, the goals were approved by the Senate.
In 1994 the Senate, in conjunction with the provost, appointed a General-Education Requirements Task Force to develop a program based on the approved goals. For the next three years, members of the task force studied the literature on general education, attended national meetings, and reviewed the programs of several dozen other universities. They visited academic departments, developed surveys, analyzed student transcripts, held open hearings, and made periodic reports to the Senate.
In fall of 1997 the task force submitted its recommendations to the Academic Standards Committee of the Academic Senate. After lengthy and lively debate the amended program was passed in spring of 1998. The university switched to the new requirements in the fall of 2000 and simultaneously from quarters to semesters.