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The final lists of members of the this year’s curricular review committees—who will be responsible for transforming the 57 recommendations of last year into concrete legislation—were presented to the Faculty Council at its meeting yesterday.
Forty-three Faculty members will staff the four primary committees that will be responsible for bringing to life changes—from assigning freshmen to upperclass Houses upon matriculation to axing the Core curriculum—that will transform the Harvard undergraduate experience.
A handful of familiar names are among the committee members, including Jay M. Harris, professor of Near Eastern languages and civilizations, Eric Jacobsen, professor of chemical and cellular biology and Richard M. Losick, professor of molecular and cellular biology. Harris, Jacobsen and Losick all served as co-chairs on last year’s committees.
Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) William C. Kirby and Dean of the College Benedict H. Gross ’71—the two leaders of Harvard’s third-ever curricular review—chose the committees’ Faculty members.
“The Dean does that. There’s not, as far as I know, any consultative process. And that was true of the previous committees also,” said Baird Professor of Science Gary J. Feldman.
Kirby and Gross did not respond to repeated requests for comment yesterday.
Other repeat committee members are Bass Professor of Government Michael J. Sandel, McKay Professor of Environmental Chemistry Scot T. Martin and Senior Lecturer on Literature Sandra Naddaff.
In addition to general education, this year’s committees will examine teaching science and technology, the College’s advising and counseling networks and the Expository Writing Program. Kirby will also eventually convene a group to plan the parameters of a possible January term.
While Kirby wrote in an e-mail to the College on Sept. 21 that he wanted “to have a set of formal proposals that can be presented to the Faculty by the end of the academic year,” Undergraduate Council President Matthew W. Mahan ’05 said that the powers behind the review are aiming to move faster than that.
“Despite the fact that the deans want to move into legislation as early as this fall, we need to have adequate discussion,” Mahan said, “which leads me to believe that they already know what they want to get out of it, which seems short-sighted.”
Mahan, who followed the progress of last year’s committees, said this year’s effort will be more focused.
“These committees are going to be much more goal-oriented,” he said. “These committees are going to be looking to come up with specific actions that should be taken. The committees are going to be drafting legislation for the Faculty or putting final approval on changes that can be done by some other part of the administration.”
Mahan will sit on the Committee on General Education, along with Nicholas F.M. Josefowitz ’05, a veteran of one of last year’s committees and also a Crimson editor. This committee will be charged with developing Harvard College Courses, a set of nondepartmental courses that can be used to fulfill a distribution requirement under the revised curriculum.
Each committee will have two students, but the remaining six will be chosen by the Undergraduate Council at a later date.
Also at yesterday’s meeting, Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) Peter T. Ellison proposed a new doctorate program and reported on the status of international applications to GSAS this year.
Ellison said that overseas applications to GSAS are down 15 percent this year, while across the country they plummeted by 30 percent.
Most of the drop, predictably came in applicants from China, he said.
The Faculty Council unanimously approved Ellison’s motion to establish a graduate program for doctoral studies in chemical biology.
Chemical biology is “a relatively new discipline that brings hard-nosed chemistry to the study of biological problems,” Ellison said. “This is the real hot area of chemistry these days.”
Yesterday’s vote comes on the heels of last week’s decision by the Faculty Council to create a doctoral program in systems biology.
The proposal to award Ph.D.s in chemical biology will go before the entire Faculty for a vote in October.
Ellison said if approved by the whole Faculty next month, the doctorate program would place Harvard at the forefront of chemical biology.
The program, which would involve faculty from both the Harvard Medical School and FAS, will consolidate Harvard’s position as “a leader in moving aggressively into this new area...[and] the place to come if you are a faculty member,” he said.
Ellison said he is confident that the Faculty will approve the program and that doctoral candidates will begin applying by the upcoming admissions cycle.
—Staff writer Laura L. Krug can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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