Faculty Rejects Fleming Proposal To Reinstitute Thesis Deadline
Liberalized Rules Reaffirmed, 64-51
In one of its most heated sessions in recent years, the Faculty yesterday voted 64 to 51 to retain the present liberal regulations for the degree cum laude in general studies.
After 90 minutes of debate, the Faculty rejected a proposal by Donald H. Fleming, professor of History, to reinstitute the November 10 deadline after which a senior could not drop his thesis and still graduate CLGS.
The vote was generally seen as a significant defeat for the History, Government, and Economics Departments, which are unhappy with the present rules governing CLGS and strongly supported the Fleming proposal.
Departments with the heaviest tutorial loads were said to be strongly in favor of reinstituting the deadline, and it was reliably reported that more than 90 per cent of members of the History, Government, and Economics Departments present at the meeting voted for the Fleming proposal.
Administrative Board Vote
In a surprise move, the Administrative Board met shortly before the Faculty meeting, and then recommended unanimously that the Faculty reject the Fleming proposal.
The Board, which consists of the Senior Tutors and the Deans, had not been expected to present a formal recommendation. Its stand was considered decisive, especially since most Senior Tutors are members of major tutorial departments.
Dean Monro, speaking for the Administrative Board, summarized the familiar arguments against reinstituting the deadline. He said that a student should not be penalized in advance for being ambitious enough to attempt a thesis. He stressed that a good student, whose thesis "just doesn't work out," should still be able to graduate cum laude in general studies. Monro pointed out that a deadline might discourage a student from undertaking a difficult thesis and argued that Harvard College should be willing to support risk.
David Reisman, Henry Ford II Professor of Social Sciences, Henry C. Hatfield, professor of German, H. Stuart Hughes, professor of History, and Laurence C. Wylie, C. Douglas Dillon Professor of French Civilization, all spoke in opposition to the Fleming proposal.
In defense of his motion, Fleming argued that the November deadline encourages a sense of responsibility in students and claimed that a senior should know by the middle of November if he wants to write a thesis.
But Michael Shinagel, associate director of the Office for Graduate and Career Plans, pointed out that the first six weeks of the senior year are taken up with graduate school applications and fellowship forms. "Most students don't start thinking about their thesis until November," Shinagel said.
Fleming also argued that the current regulations for CLGS pose serious administrative problems for major tutorial departments. He claimed that there is a significant waste of manpower when a student can drop his thesis in the middle of the year and leave his tutor without any teaching responsibilities.
Richard T. Gill, lecturer in Economics, also supported the Fleming proposal, because the present system "tends to cheapen the CLGS degree." He urged that a deadline for dropping the thesis be reinstituted so that a candidate for honors in field is not able to slip dishonorably into CLGS.
The present rules, under which a senior can drop his thesis at any time and still graduate CLGS if he has the requisite number of A's and B's, were adopted by the Faculty in December 1964. Dean Ford said yesterday that he does not expect another debate over CLGS for "quite some time."