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Present discussion within the Faculty may result in the abolition of the status of teaching fellows, Dean Bundy confirmed yesterday.
Bundy said that he "did not know whether the ayes or nays have it," but he emphasized that there were strong arguments on both sides of the issue.
Those in favor of abolishing teaching fellows feel that graduate students should not be encumbered by teaching responsibilities. They argue that students should obtain the Ph.D. as soon as possible and then begin to teach rather than attempting to combine the two activities.
This position complements the Dean Elder-Jaques Barzun report which calls for a shorter period in attaining the doctorate. At present, many graduate students spend five years or longer working toward the Ph.D.
Bundy pointed out, however, that other members of the Faculty felt that the present system has advantages over proposals to shorten the period of graduate study.
Advocates of the existing system feel that practice teaching while a graduate student is superior to exclusive interest in securing a Ph.D. They also argue that the present period is not too long for producing a first-rate thesis.
Another argument is that the University would lose many potential teachers by not using graduate students. After a person receives the doctorate, he may or may not remain at Harvard, depending on offers from other institutions.
A plan to abolish teaching fellows would necessitate increased funds to flnance the years of graduate training. Presumably such funds could come from additional prize fellowships, such as those of the National Science Foundation, or from long-term loans to students.
Replacement of teaching fellows would also mean increased costs in salaries to the University. Instead of paying graduate students small sums to teach parttime, the University would employ Ph.D.'s at the lowest teaching level which would be financially equal to the level of instructors.
Bundy commented that the financial aspect of doing away with teaching fellows "would not be ruinous." He said that the basic problem was to attract more persons to graduate school, to improve present Ph.D. instruction, and to strengthen undergraduate instruction.
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