In 1931, it was proposed that all students, those completing liberal arts degrees and those completing technical degrees, would have a common freshmen and sophomore year curriculum known as the Lower Division. This proposal was part of a larger attempt to organize and unify the public higher education system in Oregon in order to limit the challenges faced by students transferring between universities or from a junior college. Establishment of a Lower Division curriculum was not initially supported by many Deans at Oregon Agricultural College (OAC). They stated that it would disrupt the four-year timeline that had already been established for the completion of most technical degrees offered at OAC.
A number of suggestions were made by OAC faculty in order to improve upon the initial proposal. Notably, Dean M. Ellwood Smith of the School of Basic Arts and Sciences and later Dean of the Lower Division, theorized that Lower Division curricula could be integrated throughout the four years of schooling received by students rather than being required in the first two years.
By 1932 the Lower Division was established with M. Ellwood Smith acting as Dean. The majority of the college's administration and faculty had acknowledged that requiring Lower Division curricula as a part of every student's education would not disrupt the curriculum already in place within each School.
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