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President Bok said last night that many colleges are considering a three year B.A. program for reasons they don't often admit: to pave the way for tuition increases, and to increase the enrollment of women.
Bok spoke to welcome 130 college deans and officers to Harvard for a two day discussion conference on the changing structure of undergraduate education in America.
Harvard is sponsoring the conference titled "Less Time, More Options," along with the College Entrance Examination Board.
Bok pointed out that the reasons cited by the Carnegie Commission in favor of a three year B.A.--the increased number of students, the earlier maturity of students, the fact that education continues throughout life, and the more extensive pre-college training that students receive--do not necessarily lead to a three year A.B.
"Yale's deficits have a great deal to do with their decision to consider a three year program," Bok said.
Bok concluded that he would favor a three year program if it would provide a wider range of experience for undergraduates.
"If this is to be the goal," Bok said, "I think we would come up with a more cautious program, a program providing options rather than compelling a three year degree."
The day's earlier speeches included a proposal by Dean K. Whitla, lecturer on Education and Allston Burr Senior Tutor in Lowell House, for a three year B.A. that would eliminate the sophomore year.
Whitla suggested that the sophomore year be replaced by a year of experience in a foreign country.
"The sophomore year is usually the worst of the four." Whitla said. "If students spent the year learning about another culture they would be much less restless and more manageable when they came back."
Ernest L. Boyer, Chancellor of the State University of New York, predicted that the current model of the college as a "four year youth ghetto" will change to include a much wider age range.
Boyer noted that along with this change, learning may become much less "place centered."
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