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Faculty approve four course semesters

April 8, 2011

After almost two years of discussion and debate, the Monmouth College faculty voted Tuesday night on a new curriculum calendar. Four models were presented to the faculty and in the end, the four class per semester option was chosen, meaning students will take no more than four courses per semester, with a choice of taking half-semester courses.

“Personally, I was hoping we would vote for the 4-4-1,” said Professor Craig Vivian. “Since the 4-4 calendar is the option most similar to our existing calendar, our vote probably means one of two things: either we are a conservative faculty that does not embrace change, or we feel we currently have a model that works and it only needs tinkering or adjusting.”

Throughout the process, many, like Dean of the Faculty David Timmerman, have stressed that the changes will allow faculty and students to “do fewer things, better.”

But, according to professor of biology Tim Tibbetts, “this only works if students do in fact embrace this system as a way to do more and do better in their courses and if faculty holds students to higher standards, because students should be working more and harder in the fewer courses they are taking.”

The closest vote of the evening was on the subject of whether or not to include a one course interim course in January or May. The faculty voted 29 to 27 to go ahead without the interim, with three abstentions. Despite this, professor Hannah Schell, Chair Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, who led the committee to explore the 4-4-1 option, had a positive reaction to the vote.

“I’m pleased with how the vote went last night and especially that we are moving to a new chapter of this discussion,” Schell said. “There has been a lot of frustration about the need for details, decisions about how this might affect general education, etc. My sense is that we couldn’t begin to flesh out those details until an official committee was designated for that purpose.”

Likewise, the new curriculum is expected to make Monmouth more appealing to potential professors.

“Monmouth has a very high teaching load,” said Schell. “It makes it difficult to recruit and sometimes retain good faculty. Lowering our teaching load will make us more competitive.”

Despite the ongoing progress, some professors were weary to make changes to the curriculum and schedules.

“We shouldn’t switch to anything unless we know for darned sure it’ll work,” said Professor Howard Dwyer.

The change is expected to go into effect in fall 2012. The faculty will work to ensure the class of 2013 will graduate on time promising that there may have to be minor adjustments to their course schedules.

“I believe the class of 2014 will be most affected if it is set to go into affect fall of 2012,” said Professor Lee McGann. “This class will already have two years of our traditional curriculum now, and they will have two years of a new curriculum.”

McGann also said some majors will be affected more than others. He is part of the communication department, and expects to see some changes but nothing too major.

The Faculty Senate also appointed a special committee to work through the summer to grind down all of the details for the new curriculum. According to Tibbetts, the summer group will consist of members the Senate along with outside voices who will volunteer to work on the committee. They also will consider any students wanting to become part of the group that is willing to take the time over the summer to work on the model and express their opinions.

Contributing Writer

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