By Katie Oglesby, Editor-in-Chief
Proposed Curriculum Changes
Thursday’s faculty meeting began with discussion of an amendment to the scientific literacy amendment brought forth by Chairperson and Professor of Chemistry Tim Funk ’00. Funk gave background on the amendment. It would add two courses: one in scientific methods and one in scientific impacts. The amendment would eliminate the data and society requirement/seminar in the first year.
Associate Professor of English Joanne Myers brought forth an amendment that would make a “technical change.” Funk’s original amendment would move the science courses out of the modes of inquiry section of the curriculum. Myers’s amendment would return them to modes of inquiry to make the amendment more understandable.
In order to pass, the amendment would have to receive two-thirds of the vote because Myers did not bring it forward over 48 hours in advance. The amendment did not pass.
Discussion then shifted to Funk’s original amendment.
Chairperson and Associate Professor of History Dina Lowy said, “I thought we were voting on a new curriculum, not keeping what we have.”
She noted that this proposed amendment was similar to what the curriculum has for the sciences, and said that removing data and keeping the two science courses seemed to be because, as she said, “Science is more important than everything else. I disagree.”
Associate Professor of Art and Art History Tina Gebhart agreed that the amendment seemed to be bringing back some of the same parts of the current curriculum.
Associate Professor of Africana Studies Abou Bamba said, “I see this as a regression.”
He also commented on the value of the science, technology, and society requirement that the current curriculum has, which would be lost in the Curriculum Review Committee’s (CRC) proposal.
Chairperson and Professor of Environmental Studies Salma Monani expressed concern that without the science, technology, and society requirement, and with the inclusion of this amendment, there would be pressure on the environmental studies department to teach these courses. She noted that the environmental studies department has a staffing problem.
Professor of Economics Charles Weise expressed opposition to the amendment as well. He noted that the amendment would “disrupt” the CRC’s proposal, and said, “Getting rid of the data science requirement is a mistake.”
Chairperson and Professor of Psychology Daniel McCall said this amendment would weaken the curriculum. He said that putting a data course as a first-year seminar indicates its importances. He noted that “scientific literacy” sounds “remedial.”
The amendment was put to a vote, and did not pass. It needed a simple majority, but there were 85 votes against it and 35 votes in favor.
This led Funk to put forward his follow-up amendment that had been set aside for the situation where his original amendment did not pass. This amendment, which he explained, is about “flexible data” and would take the data requirement out of the first year and allow students to take it throughout their entire college career. He called it a logistical amendment with the intention of making it less burdensome for students who would struggle to fit the potential three first-year requirements. This is given the passing of an amendment to the curriculum brought forward by Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies Ian Isherwood where students would at most have to take three courses their first-year depending on the first-year seminar they chose.
Associate Professor of Health Sciences Josef Brandauer commented that this is not a purely logistical amendment, noting that it is important that first years take the data course. He also noted that the health sciences department made their major 12 credits, rather than 17 to allow for students to minor in other areas.
Associate Professor of Economics James O’Brien said that he hasn’t heard a compelling argument to have data be taught in the first year because there isn’t the same commitment in the curriculum to data throughout the years as there is to writing. He liked the flexibility in Funk’s amendment. He also commented on concerns that the CRC is trying to support marginalized students, but that the students who need more room in their schedules to try courses out (and who don’t have the experience and AP courses carrying with them into college) tend to be underrepresented students. He said that equal access doesn’t necessarily mean the courses must be taught in the same year.
Associate Provost for Academic Assessment, Dean of Natural Sciences, Computer Science and Mathematics and member of the CRC Darren Glass said that according to the research the CRC did prior to making the proposed curriculum noted that more structure tends to be better for underrepresented students at the beginning of their college careers.
Report from Enrollment and Educational Services
Vice President for Enrollment and Educational Services J. Carey Thompson spoke about the admissions results and the current concerns about revenue.
He said the central challenge is the decline in net tuition revenue, which is the money the College makes after financial aid. He said there are fewer students and they are paying less than before. He spoke on some strategic directions to improve this.
He noted that Admissions added early action for fall 2023, and that this gives the College an advantage among regional competitors who tend to only offer early decision. He said they received around 3,000 applications from early action, and this was almost the same number as received from regular decision. He said the extra six to eight weeks between early action and May 1 gives the College more time to make their case to prospective students.
Admissions also received a record number of applicants this year: 7,070. The acceptance rate for this year was 47 percent with 3,371 offers of admissions, and a target of 650 for the Class of 2027.
He said, “[The] quality seems stronger than last year,” though he noted that it is more difficult to quantify the students than ever due to a shift away from standardized testing.
He also noted that international applications are up. They increased 23 percent this year, and not just at Gettysburg College. Previously, one out of six applicants were international students, now one out of two-and-a-half students are international.
The faculty will meet again on March 30. At that time, they will vote on Funk’s second amendment.
Editor’s note: The original version of this article misstated that Funk’s first amendment passed. It did not. (- K. Oglesby)