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For the most part, the task force on concentrations affirmed the existing concentration framework. It found concentrations to be a valuable part of the undergraduate program, the present requirements to be appropriate, and the number and degree of specialization of concentrations to be satisfactory.
The biggest issue the task force raised is whether or not all concentrations should be open to all students. Most persons within the so-called elite concentrations say that they would be happy to open up their field--as long as the Faculty provides them with sufficient resources to meet increased numbers of students. Members of some interdisciplinary elite majors questioned the possibility of providing such resources, especially as graduate students with an interdisciplinary background are few and far between.
The Faculty Council recently voted down a motion to open up the closed concentrations, but one administrator said last week that a reworded motion would be sent to the Faculty next fall, with a good chance of passing.
Another issue arising from the concentration report involves the percentage of faculty members in each department that should be teaching undergraduate tutorials. This question has passed out of the task force's domain into the office of the dean of undergraduate education.
The Faculty has already accepted many of the task force's other recommendations, including the uncontroversial proposals that supervisiors of each concentration should review both the substance and the form of their program at regular intervals and that every department should offer basic instruction for non-concentrators.
Advising and Counseling
One of the major recommendations of the task force on advising and counseling was to have been the installation of four-year Houses throughout the college. But because of the Fox plan, the report is now being altered so that some of the advantages of the four-year system the task force perceived can be incorporated into three year Houses, and it will not be released until next fall.
Like the task force on College life, the advising task force, chaired by Radcliffe President Matina Horner, will come out in favor of pre-assignment of freshmen to Houses.
Although the group has not yet finalized its recommendations, the introduction of the task force's report states that it is attempting to deal with the problems in advising and counseling created by the changes in the College and society since 1969, including coed housing, more open admissions policies and changes in the socio-economic background of the student body.
The report of the task force of pedagogical improvement was essentially a document aimed at raising the Faculty's consciousness about the importance of teaching quality. Its major recommendation--that evaluations of teaching ability accompany all nominations for tenure, promotion or appointment--was designed to provide more concrete incentives for investing time in teaching. Administrators claim that the committees who consider nominations for tenure or promotion are already beginning systematically to take teaching ability into account.
Perhaps the most innovative proposal the task force offers is for the creation of a center for excellence in teaching that would serve as a resource center for faculty members anxious to improve the effectiveness of their teaching. Apparently, funds are already being sought for this center.
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