Faculty Votes to Continue Gen Ed Course Offerings


The Faculty of Arts and Sciences gave an overwhelming vote of confidence to the basic outlines of the General Education program yesterday--and immediately found itself in sharp disagreement over how that program ought to be continued.

The Faculty voted unanimously to continue to offer General Education courses.

The largest meeting in the Faculty's history also went on record, 222-4, in favor of requiring undergraduates to take courses outside their area of concentration.

These motions, first in a series of six which the Faculty will debate, were introduced by Paul M. Doty, chairman of the Special Committee to Review General Education, after he had withdrawn his motion for blanket approval of his Committee's report.

Doty said last night that the votes on the six questions would be only straw votes, or expressions of Faculty opinion, and that he planned to reintroduce his motion to accept the Committee report. "If certain points of view develop strongly, the report will either have to be amended or voted down," Doty said.


Following yesterday's meeting, Dean Ford said he was "greatly relieved" by the two votes. "We have cleared away the underbrush and can now get the formulated opinions and views of Faculty members," he said.

The Faculty began debating yesterday whether undergraduates should be required specifically to take General Education courses, and it is on this point that the most significant debate is expected to come.

Ford said he hoped for a vote on this point by the end of the next meeting, on Jan. 3, but he cautioned that "we are in an area of serious disagreement and real policy choices." If a vote is impossible next month, Ford added, he will ask the Faculty to consider scheduling some extra meetings in the Spring.

Once the Faculty has decided the proper role of the Gen Ed course, Ford said he will then ask for three votes on specific sections of the Doty report. The first vote will come on the program proposed by the report and will cover the bipartite division of courses into the Sciences and the Humanities in addition to the specific course requirements which the Doty report sets up.

The second vote will involve the strong administrative structure proposed by the report, and the final vote will test the report's suggestion that the advanced-standing program, the freshman seminar program, and General Education Ahf be placed under the Gen Ed committee.

Ford indicated that if any portion of the Doty Report were defeated "the floor would be open to alternatives." He said his hope "ultimately is that we will come to an endorsement of the Doty program with modifications."

Once past the areas of easy agreement, the Faculty moved into the most significant debate: whether undergraduates should be specifically required to take General Education courses.

H. Stuart Hughes '24, professor of History, and George Wald '16, professor of Biology, urged that Gen Ed courses not be required and instead be put into "open competition" with departmental courses. Both Wald and Hughes are well-known teachers of Gen Ed courses. Giles Constable '50, professor of History. urged this idea at last month's Faculty meeting.

Garrett Birkhoff '32, professor of Pure and Applied Mathematics, and E. Bright Wilson, Jr., Theodore William Richards Professor of Chemistry, also favored this position which seems to be attracting widespread support among the Faculty.

Carl Kaysen, Lucius N. Littauer Professor of Political Economy, also argued for putting Gen Ed courses into open competition with departmental courses. But although he did not feel students ought to be required to take Gen Ed courses, he suggested that Gen Ed courses be given a higher value in satisfying a distribution requirement than departmental courses.