Thursday, September 8, 2011

College Curriculum Debate Continues

By Meg Grzenia

Change may be the only certain thing in life, but Monmouth College’s latest faculty meeting proved that some change is dead without a fight. Nearly 100 faculty members met at the Stockdale Center Tuesday night to discuss and vote on the proposed calendar change for the college. The vote to pass the proposal was extremely close, with 47 faculty members in favor of the calendar change and 48 against it. According to The Courier, Monmouth College’s student-run newspaper, the proposal would have altered several aspects of the current curriculum beginning next year.

The introduction of a 4-4 schedule would see that students took only four courses each semester and that professors would teach only three courses. The proposal also demanded that the two science course requirements be lowered to one and the same would go for the two art course requirements. The human societies (i.e. history, religion, and sociology) requirement would be dropped altogether. What followed President Mauri Ditzler’s welcome address was a 2-hour dynamic dispute between opposing stances on the proposal. Farhart Haq, professor of political science and a member of the faculty senate, said that she believes substantial time was spent developing the motion over the summer. “We can reject the work that the summer group has done and the work that we have been talking about for a year and a half, or we can say we trust our fellow colleagues and administration,” said Haq. “I have been here for over 24 years and this is the most trustworthy administration I have seen thus far. It’s time to move forward and take the risk.”

Faculty members like Haq had hoped for the vote to pass, fervently considering the 4-4 schedule as a way to delve deeper into course material and enrich students’ learning experience. English professor Mark Willhardt was also among the proposal supporters and expressed that he valued the students’ right to choose.

Those who had misgivings about the proposal were anxious to speak as well. Kenneth McMillan, professor of economics, stated that his opposition began early on and wondered why the 4-4 proposal was the only solution offered if the faculty senate “truly wanted to improve the academic program.” He also voiced concerns for transfer and double-majoring students. “They’re going to have a harder and harder time meeting their degree requirements [if the proposal passes],” McMillan said.

An unexpected turn came at the beginning of the meeting when history professor Simon Cordery moved to postpone the vote until February 2012. “I feel that this should be revisited in a thorough fashion; we need to take a step back and say ‘is this really the structure that we want?’” Cordery said.

Despite the outcome of the vote, there is still hope for the 4-4 plan, or, at least a calendar change. Under President Ditzler’s request, the faculty senate remained after the meeting to discuss a modified proposal which will be announced to the entire faculty before surfacing at the next faculty meeting.

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