Faculty Notebook: FAS Shows Some Love

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences meeting Tuesday night featured expressions of mutual love, in stark contrast to the contentious debate on free speech that marked the previous meeting.

A proposal to create a new Ph.D. program in Education, which is intended to bridge the gap between FAS professors and their colleagues at the Graduate School of Education, was met with adoration by faculty members.

Fourteen professors took to the microphone during the discussion on the proposal. After half a dozen expressed their “strong support” for the new program, Psychology Chair Susan Carey dubbed the whole affair a “lovefest.”

Then Government Chair Timothy J. Colton stood up. “I’d like to join the lovefest as well,” he said.

The term caught on, with nearly every professor after him participating in the “lovefest,” ¬or at least paying homage to it.

“I truly don’t wish to break up the lovefest,” said W. James Simpson, chair of the English department, prefacing his remarks.

Although he thought the proposal was “profoundly meditated and finely engineered,” Simpson suggested that sub-par educational quality in the United States may actually be a product of the rise of schools of education.

“My question is a big, bold, blunt question,” he said. “How do we account for the fact that the institutes of education have been around for 40 years, precisely in conjunction with the decline in education [quality]?”

Even when the faculty considered other proposals, the catchphrase remained a source of comic relief.

“I don’t expect it will instigate a lovefest,” said Sean D. Kelly, Philosophy department chair and Vice-Chair of the FAS Docket Committee, about his proposal to change the schedule of monthly faculty meetings. “But I hope it won’t instigate the opposite,” he added.

In fact, the change to the meeting calendar, considered a “substantive” point of business and hence open for “discussion only,” prompted no discussion at all.

Faculty will have to vote on the proposed schedule changes at a later meeting, a development which appeared to amuse University President Drew G. Faust.

“We do not vote on this today, but will return to the matter for a vote at or next meeting—in which case you have to explain it all over again?” she asked, turning to Kelly.

Though faculty will have to return to University Hall to vote on the proposals at a later date, FAS Dean Michael D. Smith invited them back to the faculty room in University Hall before that for a Dean’s Noontime Concert on Thursday, Mar. 22. Faculty will be the treated to Bartok and Hayden, performed by the Chiara String Quartet.

—Staff writer Radhika Jain can be reached at radhikajain@college.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer Kevin J. Wu can be reached at kwu@college.harvard.edu.

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