Gross Speaks at Council Meeting

Dean of the College Benedict H. Gross ’71 updated Undergraduate Council members last night on the progress of Harvard’s ongoing Curricular Review, currently in its second year.

Gross, who is co-leading the review, said that “greater flexibility, more opportunities and fewer requirements” were its central objectives.

Gross cited a number of changes proposed by a preliminary Curricular Review report last spring, and told council members that new review committees convened this fall would report to the Faculty later this year.

Concentration choice may be postponed from the spring of freshman year until the fall of sophomore year, while the calendar might be altered so that the fall semester begins after Labor Day and ends before students leave for winter break, he said.

Under a revised calendar, Gross said, the spring semester could potentially begin in early February and finish at the end of May.

Gross said this would leave space for the possibility of a January term, an ideal time for students to pursue a language program abroad.

But Gross did not say for certain when changes would be implemented, should the Faculty vote in favor of them.

In other business, Gross said he would not recommend that the Faculty adopt an optional $10 termbill fee to support renewable energy.

“I don’t want to get to the point where every good thing becomes a check-off on the termbill...it came up without any consultation,” Gross said.

The proposal comes several months after a vigorous campus debate over increasing the student activities termbill fee.

Gross’s warning that he would not endorse the fee spurred a lively council debate that lasted over an hour, but a proposal to send the fee to a College-wide referendum eventually passed by a unanimous vote (see story, page A1).

The council passed its eighth grants package of the fall semester on a 32-5 vote, with one abstention.

The package included three $2,000 allocations to House Committees (HoCos), a fulfillment of the council’s promise to provide each HoCo with an extra $2,000 from the Grants Fund to supplement its basic $1,500 allocation set aside from Committee Fund for each semester.

Council member Ian W. Nichols ’06, a representative from Leverett House, said that the grants package—at $14,734.60—was unusually large because of the HoCo allocations.

“There are no restrictions on how HoCos spend their money,” said Nichols, who is also running for vice president of the council. “Cabot is spending it on a big fish costume with internal refrigeration.”

Besides Cabot, Eliot and Winthrop HoCos also claimed their Grants Fund money.

A position paper by council members Annie Riley ’07 of Pforzeimer House and Teddy Chestnut ’06 of Quincy House to restructure the Peer Advising Program, a volunteer-based system in which upperclassmen provide academic advice, to freshman in their concentration, also passed unanimously.

—Elena P. Sorokin can be reached at sorokin@fas.harvard.edu.