The University of Louisiana will emphasize interdisciplinary studies by changing the name of the College of General Studies to University College, according to Dr. Jim Henderson, UL's provost.
Also, the division previously known as University College will be renamed University Connection. University Connection and UL's Honors Program will become part of the new University College.
University Connection serves students who are not seeking academic degrees, but who wish to take college courses. First-time freshmen who are admitted to the University Honors Program live on campus in living-learning communities.
The University of Louisiana System's Board of Supervisors approved the changes Friday. Henderson said he expects they will be fully implemented, with updates to the University website, letterhead and signage, by the end of the Fall 2014 semester.
"These changes are intended to bring together units that have similar functions and to increase our support for interdisciplinary programs. These programs provide students with more options to earn degrees and engage in programs that meet their needs," Henderson explained.
UL will still offer bachelor's degrees in general studies in five concentrations: arts and humanities, natural sciences, behavioral sciences and two areas of applied sciences. One includes areas such as architecture, computer science, engineering and nursing. The other focuses on business curricula.
Dr. Bobbie DeCuir, interim dean of University College, said the General Studies Program has served many students since the academic college was established in 1978.
"Many of our students are non-traditional students. Perhaps they are already in the workforce and are seeking specific credentials to get a promotion at work," she said.
"We offer a lot of flexibility, so that students can design their own degree program. And we also emphasize career preparation, teaching students how to market themselves after they earn a degree. Many of our graduates continue their education in graduate school or professional school."
University College also oversees the Department of Special Services, which administers UL's federal programs to support disadvantaged students.
Special Services Director Robert Carmouche, who began working at the University in 1970, said UL has been "persistent" in its efforts to improve retention and graduation rates for all students, but in particular, it has given attention to students from low-income and first-generation families.
The Department of Special Services includes Student Support Services, which serves undergraduate students; Upward Bound, Veterans Upward Bound and Educational Talent Search programs, which help students prepare for college; and the Ronald E. McNair Program, supports students for entry into Graduate School. The Department also oversees a National Science Foundation program, the Louis Stokes-Louisiana Alliance for Minority Participation. LS-LAMP helps students pursue doctoral degrees. It is focused on undergraduates who study science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
"When one person earns a college degree, it can break the cycle of poverty for generations," said Carmouche.