By Katie Oglesby, Editor-in-Chief
Thursday’s faculty meeting began with President Bob Iuliano thanking Vice President of Finance and Administration Dan Konstalid for his work as he leaves the College.
“There are very few people whose legacies are as enduring as Dan’s,” Iuliano said.
Iuliano also commented on the pending restructuring of the Provost’s Office, allowing Jamilia Bookwala, who will begin her tenure as Provost in July, to join via Zoom. Bookwala shared that there will be two new full-time positions at the associate provost level and there will be three part-time divisional leadership positions that will be filled by current professors. A search is beginning for the two associate provost level positions.
Proposed Curriculum Changes
The discussion switched to the amendment on the floor regarding the half-credit seminars in the proposed curriculum. These seminars include a sophomore seminar and a senior seminar. Chairperson and Professor of Environmental Studies Salma Monani, Thompson Endowed Chair in Environmental Studies and Professor Sarah Principato, and Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Andy Wilson brought forward an amendment that would allow the half credit senior seminar requirement to be fulfilled by a major capstone seminar with the same learning outcomes.
Principato noted, “We are not trying to undermine the strategic plan in any way.” She emphasized that this was not intended to remove the half-credit seminar from the curriculum, but instead to give flexibility to students already taking seminars that cover similar topics.
Principato explained that in the environmental studies capstone, there are discussions brought up by students about things they learned in other courses, and their experiences outside of the major, like studying abroad or in the Eisenhower Institute. She said that there is also a career development portion to the seminar. It was also noted that environmental studies majors already tend to double major and that the major is inherently interdisciplinary.
Wilson highlighted that this proposal could help the staffing concerns other faculty members have brought up.
Monani said, “We simply want to avoid redundancy in the proposed curriculum.”
Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies James Udden responded to something Monani said at the previous faculty meeting about students likely taking their half-credit seminar with professors they know and enjoy on topics they already like. Udden said that to keep the integrity of the Curriculum Review Committee’s (CRC) intention to make these seminars an instrument for cross-major interaction, there could be a cap on members of each division for the courses.
Tres Lambert, assistant professor of German Studies, commented that he had some issues with the half-credit seminars. He noted that the loss of the IDS and science, technology, and society requirements in this curriculum would cause him to not be able to teach many courses he has previously taught. He also expressed concern that these half-credit seminars would be carrying the weight of these previous requirements. He also said they might be too rigorous, having students write as much as they would in his capstone classes, and cause students to not double major.
Biology Professor Alex Trillo worried that underrepresented students may feel more comfortable with professors and students they know, especially in a class where they have “emotional labor” and are reflecting on their experiences.
The amendment was put to a vote. It passed with 61 votes in favor, 51 against, and one abstention.
Chairperson and Professor of Chemistry Tim Funk and Chairperson and Ronald J. Smith Professor of Applied Physics Bret Crawford brought forward an amendment that would remove the natural sciences and data first-year seminar requirements and would replace them with a scientific literacy requirement. This new requirement would include a scientific methods course (similar to the natural science requirement) and a scientific impacts course (most similar to the data science course, but not the same).
Professor of Mathematics Ben Kennedy said that he did not support the amendment because it would remove the first-year data requirement, which he saw as an essential skill. He said this weakened the original curriculum’s goal with data.
Professor of Physics Kurt Andresen noted that he thought this might make the data requirement stronger.
“[There’s] no point in analyzing data taken poorly…because you don’t understand the science behind it,” he said.
Chairperson and Associate Professor of Management Joe Radzevick said he was concerned with the latest amendments removing the requirements intended to create shared experiences. He said he saw it as replacing the original CRC intentions with “a bunch of requirements.”
The discussion ended with Funk saying that the proposed scientific impact course would not be the same as data science. He said it would be more limited in its scope, but that he hoped interdisciplinary discussions could still happen.
The amendment will be put to a vote at the next faculty meeting.
Editor’s note: The original version of this article misstated that Spanish Professor Beatriz Trigo spoke at the meeting. It was instead Biology Professor Alex Trillo. (- K. Oglesby)