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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained
After more than a year of drafting and debate, members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences unanimously voted in favor of legislation that will require students at the College to make an affirmation of integrity at the beginning of each semester, as well as on final papers and examinations, starting next fall.
The Faculty also voted to approve a new concentration in Theater, Dance, and Media, the proposal of which was first announced by the University in October 2014. The concentration will be available for students to declare starting next fall. Its governing committee, the Standing Committee on Theater, Dance, and Media, will be created July 1. According to FAS Dean Michael D. Smith, the Faculty Council—the Faculty’s highest elected body—voted unanimously in approval of the concentration, with no abstentions.
Faculty members congratulated a beaming Martin Puchner, the English professor who spearheaded the effort to create the new concentration, after the meeting. Puchner said that the unanimous approval was a “huge excitement and relief.”
“It’s been long in the making,” Puchner said after the meeting. “It’s just wonderful that it’s happened and with such universal support.”
Prior to the Faculty vote, Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay M. Harris presented the legislation for the affirmation of integrity statement that undergraduates will now be required to make as part of the College’s new honor code. Under the policy, students must affirm their awareness of the honor code each time they register for the semester. Students will also be asked to affirm their awareness of the honor code during final exams, on final papers and projects—including theses—and on other assignments at the discretion of individual faculty members.
“The idea is to refine [students’] awareness of our bedrock principle of integrity,” Harris said when presenting the legislation to the Faculty. The Faculty Council had voted 15 in favor and one opposed to the legislation, with no abstentions.
The Faculty also voted in favor of changes to the 2015-2016 student handbook, which Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana presented. These changes included the elimination of Pre-term planning, a system under which undergraduates were required to indicate the courses they intended to take in the following semester.
University President Drew G. Faust asked that all Faculty in attendance encourage their students to participate in Harvard’s sexual climate survey, which will be released to students across the University on April 12, in order to increase the survey’s statistical validity.
Faust also awarded three recently-tenured professors—Anthropology professor Jason A. Urr, Astronomy professor Edo Berger, and Chemistry professor Theodore A. Betley—honorary Masters Degrees from Harvard.
Smith also announced the newest members of the Faculty Council, who will begin their terms on July 1. They include Mathematics lecturer Paul G. Bamberg, Government professor Claudine Gay, Study of Religion professor Parimal G. Patil, Romance Language and Literatures associate professor Sylvaine Guyot, Anthropology associate professor Matthew Liebmann, and Molecular and Cellular Biology professor Susan Mango.
The meeting lasted about 20 minutes, and Faculty members asked no questions nor did they raise any concerns during the meeting’s question and discussion periods.
—Staff writer Meg P. Bernhard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Meg_Bernhard.
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