The main agenda items for the October meeting of the faculty last Monday (Oct. 3) were a presentation by Dean of Admission Paul Steenis on the incoming class and the faculty Executive Committee’s (ExComm) straw poll on the calendar for the 2012-2013 academic year.
According to Steenis, this year’s entering class had 397 new students, 13 percent of whom were transfers. He also reported that a lower proportion of this entering class graduated from high school in the top decile than in previous years.
The male-female ratio is 53 to 47, “which is the most balanced since 2005,” Steenis said, adding that this is the most diverse class yet, as “over 40 percent are either international or students of color.”
Dean of the College Lawrence Breitborde presented the ExComm calendar proposal, which sought to address student and faculty stress by adding reading days to the end and middle of the term.
Adding a second reading to the exam period was very popular, and in the straw poll, only four professors voted against it. The reading day in the middle of the term, inspired by the snow days during winter term 2011, was more controversial.
Professor of Political Science Sue Hulett led the charge against it. Her main points were that removing a day of class would further take away content from her courses which are already abridged, and that such a move would benefit everyone unevenly, depending on the structure of individual courses.
Other faculty made the case that because of Flunk Day, there should not be a reading day in the middle of spring term.
Another common objection was that students would not use the day productively.
As a rebuttal, Breitborde said, “This is the same discussion we had for Fall Institute Day.” However, he said that all the evidence shows that many students do use Fall Institute wisely.
In the straw poll, there was a fairly even split between those who favored an institute day for winter term only, and those who supported it for both winter and spring terms, with the latter getting slightly more votes.
The meeting wrapped up with Breitborde’s presentation on the Alumni Hall “gateway project.” By eliminating the auditorium, the project will have significantly more ability to decant the most crowded areas of campus, with the exception of the Sharvy G. Umbeck Science and Mathematics Center (SMC) (as Alumni Hall would not be able to accommodate its labs and other specialized needs).
This discussion led professor of Computer Science John Dooley to inquire as to when SMC’s renovations would be completed. According to Breitborde, Alumni Hall is a higher priority, as “Alumni Hall is a 12 million dollar project. SMC is a 70 million dollar project.”
President Teresa Amott gave a brief report, mainly to say that she is keeping up her fundraising effort for Alumni Hall, but that she has not yet found a “pot of gold.”
“Rome wasn’t built in a day. Alumni Hall wasn’t funded in two weeks,” Amott said. She also is considering the effect of an increase in the overall enrollment.