The average number of House seminars has dropped to two seminars per House this year, well below the three to five courses most Houses have offered since the program was initiated four years ago.
Although two Houses, Dunster and Dudley, are offering a full complement of five seminars this year, three Houses are offering only one course and two Houses, Lowell and South House, are offering none.
Most House masters yesterday attributed the drop to faculty members' workloads, which masters said do not permit faculty to take on extra-departmental responsibilities, and to an increasingly rapid turnover in House masters, who set up the House programs.
William H. Bossert '59, master of Lowell House, said yesterday no faculty members offered to give House seminars there this year. He said he refused to allow House tutors to give seminars with senior faculty members listed as the instructors.
Faculty rules prohibit people without teaching appointments to give courses for credit, but Bossert said it has been a common practice for graduate students to give courses using faculty members as "fronts" in the course catalogue.
He said he does not consider that practice fair to the tutors, who receive little credit for their work in the courses, or to students, who come to the course expecting to work closely with the faculty member listed for the course.
Edward T. Wilcox, director of the General Education program, said yesterday the House seminar program was initiated to bring senior faculty members into House life, and that allowing tutors full responsibility for courses does not meet that goal.
The Committee on Gen Ed must approve all House seminars.
Rulan C. Pian '49, co-master of South House, said yesterday the House plans to offer some seminars in the spring, but has not yet organized the details of those courses.
Kirkland House is only offering one course this year, Evon Z. Vogt's "Ancient Metalsmiths." Vogt, master of Kirkland House, said yesterday, "It's always something of a struggle to meet the requirements of the Committee on General Education, since House tutors can't do it and senior faculty members can't get relief" from departmental duties.
Although North House is offering only two seminars this year--one of which has not yet been announced--John Woodland Hastings, the House's new co-master, is teaching a House seminar at Eliot.
"Eliot House needs help anyway, don't you think?" he asked.
Associate dean of the faculty Charles P. Whitlock, who replaced Jean Mayer as master of Dudley House last summer, yesterday attributed his House's five seminars to Mayer's energy in soliciting faculty. The program relies heavily on the master's initiative, he said.
Money budgeted for House seminars that is not used goes back into the College's unrestricted funds at the end of the year