The Overseers' Visiting Committee for the College and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) last week listened to harsh student criticism of the quality of undergraduate education, and to the problems of graduate teaching fellows. The committee may recommend changes to improve these areas, members said yesterday.
Representatives from the Committee on Undergraduate Education (CUE) and the Committee on Graduate Education (CGE) criticized the perceived lack of student faculty contact, faculty preference for research over teaching, and the lack of incentives for good teaching, Maxine S. Pfeffer '81, a CUE member, said yesterday.
John D. Hanify '71, a member of the visiting committee, said yesterday one graduate student told the committee of a professor who informed her that if she enjoyed teaching, she was not a scholar. "If that attitude is pervasive, it's very dangerous," Hanify added.
Sidney Borowitz, a committee member, said yesterday the Overseers may recommend forming a separate committee to suggest ways to improve undergraduate education. Hanify said other possible recommendations may include more uniform financial aid for graduate students, and more involvement between teaching fellows and faculty.
Hanify added that because the visiting committees on the College and on the GSAS are combined this year, committee members saw "the substantial interrelationship between the graduate school and the quality of undergraduate teaching."
He said committee members learned that teaching fellows usually teach because they need financial assistance, and not because of any strong interest in teaching.
Hanify added he also believes "there is no uniform program, with the exception of the Danforth Center, to help teaching fellows teach."
Borowitz said the committee also discussed the declining job market for graduate students, and the effect the smaller number of graduate students will have on faculty teaching.
Frederick A.O. Schwarz Jr. '57, chairman of the visiting committee, said yesterday that although he has not yet drafted the report, undergraduate education will be "of highest priority."