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A Talk with Dr. Mitchell, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

By Christine Rojas
On May 18, 2011

Students at Texas A&M International University who choose to pursue a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree will now be allowed to take more electives as the number of hours needed to complete the major requirements has now been decreased. Dr. Thomas Mitchell, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences recently discussed the implementation of liberal arts electives into the degree program.    

          The changes to this degree program come from a study completed by Dr. Mitchell where seven Texas state universities Bachelors of Arts and Sciences degrees were analyzed in respect to the hours dedicated to their major. The results indicated that TAMIU degrees held an excessive amount of hours dedicated to the major, some as high as 48 hours according to Dr. Mitchell. However most universities only required 33 hours within the major. The study also found that most universities asked for two years of foreign language requirements as opposed to TAMIU who only needed one year of foreign language as a university entrance requirement.

          In an effort to comply with the lower state average, the hours in the major have been reduced as described by Dr. Mitchell.

          "This year we pushed to get more of the hours devoted to electives. So, we cut back the hours in the major two years ago from an average of 40 to 45, down to 39. Still, we're about six hours higher from other schools in the state. So, this year we've been working on reducing the hours in the major to 33 hours which is the state


          The decrease in hours dedicated to their major will allow students to take more electives as described by Dr. Mitchell.  

          "This is going to give students the opportunity to take courses that they're interested in and that they cannot take right now."

          In the past, students who received financial aid and decided to take additional classes such as an extra fine art class beyond what was allowed in their degree plan would have to pay out of their own pocket. With more electives now being required, a student will be able to take an additional dance or music class with no additional cost to them.

          "This will open it up so that they can use elective hours to take art, music, and dance,"

          Dr. Mitchell continued by stating that beyond the fine arts, there are classes available that do not have majors but there are


          "Having more electives allows you to explore these different areas and yet it fits the degree."

          Dr. Mitchell encourages a cross-fertilization of students with different majors in order to make classes much more exciting allowing for courses to allow different points of view during class time.

          Benefits in taking more electives gives students an awareness of other subjects aside from their major as described by Dr. Mitchell.   

          "What a good education does is it inspires you to be hungry, to constantly want to learn. The one thing it does not do is make you complacent. Complacency is a form of ignorance or a symptom of ignorance. You're satisfied with who you are and what you know. You got to be hungry."    

          Ultimately, Dr. Mitchell stated that students should do what they enjoy with their lives in respect to their careers in order to be happy. It might not necessarily be a high paying, perfect job but as long as you. "Love what you do," as stated by Dr. Mitchell, you'll be fine."

Christine Rojas may be reached at

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