Faculty Council Debates Class Pre-Registration

The Faculty Council discussed Wednesday the possibility of implementing a new policy of pre-registration, a council member said last night. The policy would replace the present system of submitting study cards after shopping period.

"There was a preliminary discussion," Professor of English and American Literature and Language Daniel G. Donoghue said.

"It was enough for us to realize that it's fairly complex and we need to get more information, [including] finding out updated information from other universities with which we like to compare ourselves."

The exploration process will likely include the offices of the dean for undergraduate education, the registrar and the dean of the College, according to John B. Fox Jr. '59, secretary to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS).

Donoghue said he believes support for the change in policy is strongest among professors accustomed to universities where students pre-register, as many find Harvard's system of delayed registration inconvenient.


"Some professors have found [shopping period] perplexing, and I think it's safe to say many professors who find it perplexing come from institutions where they do have pre-registration," he said.

Donoghue said there are both educational and financial concerns motivating the discussion.

"The problems consist of planning from the point of view of the professor," the council member said. "We're sometimes not sure if 20 or 80 students will show up."

"There is greater control and greater planning if you know you can utilize the first two lectures to really advance the subject matter," Donoghue said.

"They've found it frustrating to begin a course and avoid getting into the meat of the subject for [the] first two lectures because they don't know the finalenrollment."

Donoghue said the ambiguity of enrollmentfigures also impacts professors' abilities to hireteaching fellows.

"[Shopping period] affects grad students andthe employment prospects they have as teachingfellows."

Donoghue said he thought it was unlikely thatpre-registration would be implemented soon, giventhe tenor of the Council's discussion.

"It's really hard to tell," Donoghue said. "Ourdiscussion was so preliminary, it was basicallyanecdotal. That's not really a good sense forcoming to a final decision."

According to Fox, pre-registration could beimplemented as early as next spring.