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History Dept. Boosts Enrollment

Sophomore Concentrators Nearly Doubled; Tutorial Changes Cited

By Maia K. Davis

An improved tutorial program and a low faculty to student ratio has paid off for the History department. In the last two years, the number of sophomores choosing to concentrate in history has nearly doubled.

This year, 104 sophomores are enrolled in the fall sophomore tutorial, History 97a, as compared to a mere 58 in 1993. The rise in concentrators reverses a trend set between 1986 and 1995, when total enrollment dropped from 488 to 222 students.

James Hankins, professor of history and the head tutor of the department, cited the 5 to 1 faculty student ratio as a draw, as well as an increased number of courses in U.S. history.

"We've hired some new faculty in American and are now at an all-time high in the number of courses being offered in American history," Hankins said. "We're making a serious effort to hire four new senior faculty in American this year."

He also ascribed the rise in enrollment to a revamped tutorial program. "We've completely redesigned our tutorials so that faculty are involved in teaching and design of tutorials at every stage," Hankins said in an e-mail message.

Two of the department's biggest names, Professor of History Mark A. Kishlansky and the recently tenured Phillips Professor of Early American History and Professor of Women's Studies Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, are chiefly responsible for the current sophomore tutorial, which has proved a draw to sophomores.

"It is better than last year," said history concentrator Grace Tye '99, who said she appreciated the "well- rounded" quality of the syllabus.

The junior tutorial program has also been modified.

Last year, juniors met once a week with graduate students for discussion about a specific topic. Now, the first semester junior tutorial concentrates on research and writing skills, while the second semester prepares students to write a junior paper on self-selected topics. In addition, the junior's general exam has been replaced with a thesis conference.

"I'm impressed with the emphasis on writing," said Zachary M. Gingo '98, a history concentrator in Quincy House. "It's good to give undergraduates a chance to get their feet wet, so to speak, before writing their senior theses."

Seniors have not been affected by the tutorial changes. Advanced standing senior Joshua B. Marks '98-'97 remarked that he "didn't want to deal with the changes." He commended the department because "the professors take a real interest in what you're doing...I like the history department a lot.

The junior tutorial program has also been modified.

Last year, juniors met once a week with graduate students for discussion about a specific topic. Now, the first semester junior tutorial concentrates on research and writing skills, while the second semester prepares students to write a junior paper on self-selected topics. In addition, the junior's general exam has been replaced with a thesis conference.

"I'm impressed with the emphasis on writing," said Zachary M. Gingo '98, a history concentrator in Quincy House. "It's good to give undergraduates a chance to get their feet wet, so to speak, before writing their senior theses."

Seniors have not been affected by the tutorial changes. Advanced standing senior Joshua B. Marks '98-'97 remarked that he "didn't want to deal with the changes." He commended the department because "the professors take a real interest in what you're doing...I like the history department a lot.

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