Five University faculty members were unanimous yesterday in their approval of recent proposals to "redefine" Ph.D. and A.M. degrees. Only a few "escape clauses" were tacked on to the statements of complete support.
Myron P. Gilmore, chairman of the department of History, echoed the sentiments of many of his colleagues, saying that he had "long felt that the Ph. D. needed overhauling." He maintained that the thesis should not be a "magnum opus," but rather a "specimen eruditionis," but feared that broad changes in the degree would be opposed by a "conservative attitude" on the part of present graduate students.
Graduate students concurred in this estimate of their views and said that there was a tendency to feel that they could not get their degree in the three-year period proposed by Elder. Another view voiced was that the degree should not be made easier for future students, who, it was implied, should suffer as their predecessors had.
Reuben A. Brower, Master of Adams House, also anticipated adverse graduate student reaction and predicted a "period of painful transition" if the changes were effected. However, he voiced his approval of the Elder suggestions, and said that a large scholarship program would have to be set up to supply students with funds they would otherwise get by teaching.
The comments were made in relation to a report written by Dean Elder, of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, for the Association of Graduate Schools. Elder recommended that the Ph.D. degree program be restricted to three years and that the A.M. be limited to one-half that time. He further urged that both degrees represent more original work as well as "technical ability."
Edward S. Mason, Dean of the Graduate School of Public Administration, concurred with Elder, though he anticipated that exceptions would have to be made for teaching fellows. Jabez C. Street, chairman of the department of Physics, supported the Elder suggestions, saying that the "point of view does not change the sciences, but represents the right direction for them, too."
Raphael Demos, Alford Professor of Natural Religion, Moral Philosophy and Civil Polity, added that he favored "putting some limit" on time spent getting degrees and encouraging "ability, not just research."