Faculty Mulls Concentration Report

Among Recommendations is Request For Dept. Policy Proposals

One week after Faculty officials issued a 10-page essay meant to prompt discussion about the undergraduate concentrations, faculty members are only beginning to dig it out of the mail, mull it over and assign committees.

The document, written by the faculty's Educational Policy Committee, is billed as the first thorough examination of the concentrations since the late 1970s.

It makes a variety of general recommendations, on everything from advising to section size to faculty-student contact, and asks each department to respond with policy proposals.

Dean for Undergraduate Education Lawrence Buell said he has not received much feedback yet. "I didn't expect a lot in a hurry," he said. "What little I've heard has been positive."

But in a decentralized faculty unaccustomed to even gentle initiatives from the administration, there is always the potential for apathy.


Professors said the main problem with deans trying to address faculty-wide issues is that each of the 40-plus departments has its own problems.

For instance, the document stresses the need for a "capstone experience" in each concentration. But that might not work in the Computer Science, said McKay Professor of Computer Science Harry R. Lewis '68.

"Many students take graduate level courses in their senior year," he said. "This opportunity to get education in state of the art technology may be more valuable than an independent project."

In the English Department, on the other hand, professors are concerned that too many students are writing these just for an honors degree and not out of genuine interest.

It is also unclear to what extent students will be involved when the departments actually try to draw concrete policy proposals from the document.

Buell said the degree of student participationwill be up to individual departments. TheCommittee on Undergraduate Education--whichincludes members of the UndergraduateCouncil--will also be involved.

In addition, Buell said he hopes students willapproach him individually.

"It can only thrive if students as well asfaculty take a serious interest in it," he said.

Small departments such as statistics willprobably conduct personal interviews with allconcentrators, said Statistics Department ChairDonald B. Rubin.

In larger concentrations like economics,however, such personal contact will not possible.

In the History Department, for instance, allconcentrators and some potential concentratorswill only receive a questionnaire.

The English Department plans to hold openmeetings of its undergraduate student council. Andthe Economics Department will send the matter toits undergraduate instruction committee, which"does include undergraduates in its discussions,"said Benjamin M. Friedman '66, who chairs thedepartment.

The key question is when the document's gentlesuggestions will filter back to Buell and Dean ofthe Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles in the form of solidproposals.

Buell and Knowles have said they hope to seeresults within a year, but in true Facultyfashion, professors counsel that no answer will beforth-coming until their committees have convened,caucused and concluded