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Summa Degrees Will Include Elective Grades

Faculty Alter Criteria for Current Seniors

By Ariel R. Frank and Charles G. Kels

The Faculty voted yesterday to make grades in elective courses count toward summa cum laude degrees, despite concerns voiced by some faculty that the change will unfairly affect this year's seniors.

As a result of the decision, candidates must demonstrate "outstanding work across a range of fields" and in "upper-level courses not directly related to the concentration in each of the broad curricular areas."

The new rules also state that the "level and rigor" of courses taken for a student's concentration will be considered, as well as "one other indicator of the candidate's mastery of the field, such as performance on a substantial piece of independent work or on a written or oral general examination."

Gary J. Feldman, chair of the physics department, moved to resubmit the proposal to the Faculty Council for further consideration, but the motion failed by an overwhelming margin.

He expressed worry that the proposal was not fully researched and amounts to a Faculty experiment on current students.

"Students I've talked to do not fancy themselves as guinea pigs," Feldman said.

"We're possibly changing the rules in a way not predictable for students," he added after the meeting. "That could be slightly unfair."

Feldman urged the Faculty to conduct a trial run of the new criteria, using the transcripts of last year's summa candidates as examples.

But Theda Skocpol, professor of government and of sociology, opposed sending the proposed changes back to the Faculty Council for reevaluation.

She said she did not want the Faculty to run a simulation because it might result in the creation of a rigid list of criteria for recommending summa candidates.

James T. Engell '73, professor of English and comparative literature, echoed Skocpol's sentiment that the Faculty should look at a variety of factors when making recommendations for summas from their departments.

"Pure GPA is not the most reliable indicator," he said after the meeting. "It doesn't take into account the different types of transcript we have."

According to the new guidelines, a six-person subcommittee of the Faculty Council, chosen at random, will review the transcripts of the students recommended for summas and will make the final decisions.

In addition, the guidelines state that the number of summa degrees awarded each June should ordinarily fall between 4 and 5 percent of all degree candidates.

According to Dean for Undergraduate Education David Pilbeam, the Faculty could not explain why 7 percent of last year's graduating class received summas, almost double the proportion of the previous year's class.

Relating personal experiences, the Faculty also discussed at length a report about junior faculty recruitment and support.

Saying Harvard pays its junior faculty far below market rate and does not make enough offers of tenure, they voiced distress that many talented junior faculty turn down offers from Harvard or leave the University as a result.

Alyssa A. Goodman, assistant professor of astronomy, said junior faculty in her department are treated like second-class citizens.

She added that Harvard should make more offers of tenure because junior faculty want to teach at a place where they have a chance of staying in the long run.

Mary M. Gaylord, chair of the department of Romance languages and literatures, said some junior faculty in her department must teach summer and extension school classes--giving up research time--to supplement their incomes.

Skocpol termed the title of associate professor at Harvard "a lameduck status," explaining the position is tenured at other universities, but not here.

Susan G. Pedersen, professor of history, said she favors the report's suggestion that the University provide a term of paid leave to some junior faculty who are promoted from assistant to associate professor.

"It was crucial to my development in the department that I was able to take two full years of leave," she said.

The Faculty also debated whether or not junior faculty salaries should be increased more in fields where the rate of pay is significantly below the market.

William H. Bossert, Arnold professor of science, disagreed with the report's recommendation to raise salaries differentially.

He said implementing such a policy would cause the Faculty to value some fields above others and instead proposed raising the salaries of junior faculty across the board by $5,000 to $10,000

"Pure GPA is not the most reliable indicator," he said after the meeting. "It doesn't take into account the different types of transcript we have."

According to the new guidelines, a six-person subcommittee of the Faculty Council, chosen at random, will review the transcripts of the students recommended for summas and will make the final decisions.

In addition, the guidelines state that the number of summa degrees awarded each June should ordinarily fall between 4 and 5 percent of all degree candidates.

According to Dean for Undergraduate Education David Pilbeam, the Faculty could not explain why 7 percent of last year's graduating class received summas, almost double the proportion of the previous year's class.

Relating personal experiences, the Faculty also discussed at length a report about junior faculty recruitment and support.

Saying Harvard pays its junior faculty far below market rate and does not make enough offers of tenure, they voiced distress that many talented junior faculty turn down offers from Harvard or leave the University as a result.

Alyssa A. Goodman, assistant professor of astronomy, said junior faculty in her department are treated like second-class citizens.

She added that Harvard should make more offers of tenure because junior faculty want to teach at a place where they have a chance of staying in the long run.

Mary M. Gaylord, chair of the department of Romance languages and literatures, said some junior faculty in her department must teach summer and extension school classes--giving up research time--to supplement their incomes.

Skocpol termed the title of associate professor at Harvard "a lameduck status," explaining the position is tenured at other universities, but not here.

Susan G. Pedersen, professor of history, said she favors the report's suggestion that the University provide a term of paid leave to some junior faculty who are promoted from assistant to associate professor.

"It was crucial to my development in the department that I was able to take two full years of leave," she said.

The Faculty also debated whether or not junior faculty salaries should be increased more in fields where the rate of pay is significantly below the market.

William H. Bossert, Arnold professor of science, disagreed with the report's recommendation to raise salaries differentially.

He said implementing such a policy would cause the Faculty to value some fields above others and instead proposed raising the salaries of junior faculty across the board by $5,000 to $10,000

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