December 1, 2000
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of the November 3 faculty meeting were approved as submitted.
With regard to strategic planning activities, President Studley thanked the many faculty members who participated in roundtable discussions. She said that strategic planning is importantly linked to the conversation about the core curriculum. Whatever the faculty decides about the curriculum, the results of the process should be implemented in the best interest of Skidmore and its students.
Professor Fehling, a faculty representative on IPC, encouraged the faculty to fill out the survey on the web even if they participated in roundtable discussions. She asked them to encourage their students and staff to fill out the web form as well.
DEAN OF THE FACULTY’S REPORT
In his tribute to Professor Eric Weller, Dean Berman stated that Eric had an incredible 38-year career at Skidmore. In addition to teaching, he also served as Dean of the Faculty for thirteen years, as well as Dean of Studies and Department Chair.
Susan Kress, Chair of CAPT, read the following resolution:
BE IT RESOLVED: The faculty of Skidmore College expresses its profound appreciation and admiration for Eric Weller, member of the Skidmore faulty, who has this year expressed his determination to retire. The faculty further resolves that the following biographical highlights be included in the minutes of the faculty meeting of December 1, 2000 as recognition and celebration of distinguished service and achievement. (See Attachment A.)
The motion was approved by acclamation.
Eric Weller thanked the faculty for recognizing him and for their warm wishes.
Speaking for CEPP, Professor John Brueggemann, informed the faculty that a few changes had been made to the core curriculum proposal that was presented at the November 17 meeting: Under Item 5, the term "intercultural education" was changed to "culture-centered inquiry." Another change made to the proposal was that all students would be required to take one foreign language course. (The changed motion is presented in Attachment B.)
President Studley, the Chair, accepted the above changes as a substitute motion.
Because of the gridlock students are experiencing during registration, reducing the core requirements is a very important goal for CEPP. Professor Brueggemann suggested that a general discussion about the proposal be held first, and then the faculty should discuss the proposed amendments.
A general discussion was held about the proposed core curriculum and the following comments were made:
- A reduction in natural science requirements is a change of direction for the College.
- It is not a good idea to reduce the science requirement to one course because our high school students lack preparation in the sciences.
- We need to retain science in the curriculum because looking only at the humanities and not at the rest of the universe would produce students who are less globally aware and less capable of making informed judgements.
- The current curriculum is favored because it has not been demonstrated that there is anything wrong with it.
- CEPP has worked very hard for months and months. Why the eleventh-hour objections?
- Goal of a core curriculum is to introduce students to different ways of thinking.
- Students should choose what courses they want to take.
- Add a second science course and have a two-course requirement called "nature centered" to balance the two-course requirements which are called "cultural centered" in the CEPP proposal.
- CEPP has presented a good proposal, and it is a template for the bare minimum group of courses every student needs to take to graduate from Skidmore. Many students are experiencing gridlock and have struggles filling the all-college requirements.
- Because of student stress over gridlock, the Academic Council stresses the urgency and students’ need for the approval of the CEPP proposal.
- Students need to do some exploration and find what they really like and then focus on that.
Regina Janes made the following motion to amend the proposal:
MOVED: Relative to the CEPP proposal, that under Item 4, the breadth component, we delete the social sciences and humanities requirements.
Motion was seconded, and there was a discussion. The comments included:
- We should include the humanities and social sciences in the core. We need to prepare our students to be active participants in the political and social life of our country.
- High school students study social "studies," not social "science." Social science and history are incredibly important.
- Professor Janes' proposal gives us room and flexibility. We need to put responsibility on the students for their education and their own learning. Give our students an opportunity to take courses that would interest them and be exciting.
- CEPP has worked long and hard on this proposal, and their work is a compromise. Faculty should not get caught up in the emotion of the moment and vote on a curriculum that has not been as thoroughly thought through as the CEPP proposal.
Do not eliminate humanities and social science breadth requirements because students
today don’t understand what economics is all about. Students need to understand how
the economy works to be informed voters.
Requiring students to take one course in each area is extremely important in maintaining coherence.
To try to undo all of the work recommended by the mixed group on CEPP, who are from all backgrounds and disciplines, would be a huge mistake.
Would like to see Professor Janes' motion pass to reduce the number of courses even further.
Students are frustrated with the free electives that they don't have time for and the number of courses they have to take.
Professor John Thomas made a motion to call the question. The motion was seconded and it carried with all voting in favor.
The result of the paper ballot of the Janes amendment was as follows:
71 Voted "no"
53 Voted "yes"
The motion (proposed by Regina Janes) to delete social sciences and humanities from CEPP’s proposal failed.
Paty Rubio and Rob Linrothe made the following motion:
MOTION: We propose that under "Cultural-Centered Inquiry," the non-western and the inter-cultural study requirements each be stand-alone requirements. The non-western requirement would remain as it is now, and that we phase in the inter-cultural part by academic year 2003-2004. Should the faculty approve the amendment, CEPP will immediately convene an ad-hoc committee to work on guidelines for courses, look at existing offerings in this area, and invite proposals for the creation of new courses.
There was a discussion about the Rubio/Linrothe motion, and the following comments were made:
- The amendment shows a real commitment to non-western and cultural diversity because it looks at the future needs of our students.
- CEPP's proposal streamlines, but this gives us the opportunity to be trustees of the curriculum.
- This amendment muddies the waters considerably, and we are confusing ourselves about what we are voting on.
- Need more thoughtful planning as far as resources are concerned.
- CEPP is offering a curriculum that can be delivered. Voting for this amendment would be a mistake because the curriculum cannot necessarily be delivered because the faculty cannot control the resources.
Professor Goodwin made a motion to call the question. The motion was seconded, and it carried with all voting in favor.
The Rubio/Linrothe motion was defeated by a show of hands.
The CEPP motion was called (as presented at the start of the meeting and presented as Attachment B), and the motion carried.
The results of the paper ballot on the new core curriculum were as follows:
- 89 Voted "yes "
- 33 Voted "no
- 3 Abstentions
The motion to accept CEPP’s proposal to amend the core curriculum was approved.
President Studley thanked the faculty for an extraordinary and constructive discussion and thanked CEPP for its hard work.
The meeting adjourned at 6:30 p.m.
Office of Vice President for Academic Affairs and
Dean of the Faculty
Retirement from the Skidmore College Faculty Fall 2000
BE IT RESOLVED: The faculty of Skidmore College expresses its profound appreciation and admiration for the following member of the Skidmore faculty, who has expressed his determination to retire. The faculty further resolves that the following biographical highlights be included in the minutes of the faculty meeting of December 1, 2000 - as recognition and celebration of distinguished service and achievement.
ERIC J. WELLER joined the Skidmore faculty in the fall of 1963 as an instructor in the Department of Philosophy. Eric had earned his A.B. at Hofstra University in philosophy and psychology in 1960 and was fulfilling the requirements for a doctorate at the University of Rochester under the guidance of Lewis White Beck. Eric's dissertation, titled "Causality and Agency: A Study in the Concept of an Act," was completed within the year. He was awarded a Ph.D. in 1964 and appointed to the rank of assistant professor at Skidmore; in 1968 he was promoted to associate professor of philosophy.
Skidmore was a women's college in 1963 with a student body numbering 1,300, and plans were already under way to move the in-town campus to a new location. The Philosophy Department had undergone a wrenching upheaval two years earlier, resulting in a department with no faculty. In the process of rebuilding the department, Dean of the Faculty Edwin M. Moseley hired three new philosophy teachers in 1962. When Eric came on board the following year and began teaching courses in aesthetics, existentialism, philosophy of the social sciences, and metaphysics, the Philosophy Department was back on solid ground. The institution itself, however, was rocked to its core in April 1964 when forty-nine-year-old Val H. Wilson, the College's third president, died suddenly. That Eric did serve for those few months under President Wilson puts him in the unique position of having worked with four of Skidmore's six presidents: Wilson, Joseph C. Palamountain Jr., David H. Porter, and Jamienne S. Studley.
From 1991 through spring 2000, Eric served as chair of what is now the Department of Philosophy and Religion; during that period and this fall semester, he taught introductory and advanced courses including his area of special interest, the philosophy of law. Younger colleagues of Eric's might naturally assume that he has spent thirty-seven years solely as a teacher of philosophy, but his contemporaries know his remarkable Skidmore career includes fourteen years as dean of the faculty, where he played an enormous role in initiating curriculum change and guiding the college administratively. Although he was a continuous member of the Philosophy Department and did actively teach most years, he has since 1968 held the following administrative titles: faculty coordinator of the 4-1-4 program (1968-70), dean of studies (1970-76), acting dean of the faculty (1976-77), and dean of the faulty (1977-90).
As chair of the Committee on Educational Policy and Planning, Eric Weller led a successful curriculum revision approved overwhelmingly by the faculty in May 1967 and, first as faculty coordinator and then as dean of studies, he oversaw the 4-1-4 program until 1976. In 1973, he initiated a comprehensive summer school program and administered it for its first four years, until it grew to the point where it moved to the newly created Office of Special Programs. Then, during 1982-83, he initiated a sweeping curriculum revision that moved the College from the 4-1-4 program to an interdisciplinary core program on a semester calendar. As dean of the faculty, he guided the innovative new curriculum from 1985 to 1990.
In 1988, when an honors program was under consideration, Eric delivered the Honors Convocation address. His subject that night was honor and dignity. Well into his thoughtful remarks, he said: "So for honor to be returned to its rightful place in our scheme of things we must have community. I can no more honor myself than you can honor yourself. If honor we must, and I suspect we must, we honor each other when, on occasions such as this, we recognize those who have met their obligations as students, as scholars, as committed learners, and have met them well. And that assumes that there are such obligations, and that there are such legitimate roles to be played by students, scholars, professors; roles that we elect to play, are not forced to play, but freely choose to play because we believe they are worth playing." Eric's nearly four decades of service to Skidmore College bear testimony to his belief that his role as professor and dean was worth playing. The College community, in turn, honors him for having met the obligations of his many roles and to have done so not only well, but in an exemplary fashion.
When Eric resigned as dean of the faculty in 1990, President Porter praised him for "being an absolutely splendid dean for this college" and told him: "the history of Skidmore will record the shaping role you have played in the development of the faculty, the curriculum, and the college itself. What would Skidmore be today without the presence of a dean who for many years has been an exemplar of wisdom, courage, fairness, integrity, tact, good cheer, and sensitivity? You have put your stamp on Skidmore in a myriad of positive and unique ways."
Eric and his wife, Patti, are well known for their warm hospitality and friendship, and especially for their efforts in reaching out to new faculty and including students and their families in their legendary soirees. Many of us have enjoyed their wonderful parties and extraordinary fare. In that same spirit of hospitality, the faculty invites Eric to visit us often and keep us apprised of his fruitful retirement endeavors.
Substitute Motion: CEPP moves that the faculty adopt the core curriculum described
CEPP proposes that the faculty revise the core curriculum, through reducing and rationalizing the all-college requirements. We believe that the existing curriculum serves us well in its focus on liberal arts educational values, but imposes constraints that may narrow students' educational opportunities.
Early in their discussions the members of CEPP agreed that organizing principles were necessary to guide the committee's thinking. The following statements summarize the principles that provide the basis for CEPP's recommendations to the faculty:
- All-college requirements should insure that students develop foundational skills and understandings in knowledge areas that are central to a liberal arts education. In defining these central areas, the members of CEPP have taken into account the views of Skidmore faculty (gathered in meetings and conversations throughout the 1998-1999 and 1999-2000 academic years), Skidmore educational tradition as articulated in the college's mission and vision statements, and current national trends as outlined in the American Association of College and University's white papers: "Contemporary Understandings of Liberal Education" (1998); " Education: The Changing Agenda" (1999); "Mapping Interdisciplinary Studies" (1999); and "Survey on Diversity Requirements" (2000).
- The language and intent of our revisions should focus on student learning and maintain a balance between the complementary goals of achieving (1) student understanding of central disciplinary content and (2) student competence in essential skills (e.g., critical reading, fluent writing, and quantitative understanding).
- A revised core curriculum should be efficient in its use of faculty resources and student time, and its structure should be readily comprehensible to both students and faculty.
- A revised core curriculum should enable students to take responsibility for their own educational goals by allowing them to select from a broad set of courses that are consistent with all-college goals. The role of academic advising will be critical in guiding students as they learn to take responsibility for their own education.
- The all-college requirements should provide an educational foundation, but should not be designed to achieve all of the goals of a Skidmore education. Work in both the major and elective courses should supplement the core curriculum, providing students with critical opportunities to pursue a liberal arts education.
- Expository Writing (1 course): Through the successful completion of one designated writing course, students learn
how to develop a thesis and organize an essay around it with appropriate transitions
between paragraphs and between sentences. They learn how to reduce grammatical and
spelling errors through proofreading. Students develop an understanding of the need
for evidence that supports assertions and to write with the reader in mind. This requirement
must be fulfilled by the end of the sophomore year. Those students who need to take
EN103, "Writing Seminar I," as preparation for meeting this requirement, must do so
by the end of their first year.
- Quantitative Reasoning (1 course): In QR1 students demonstrate proficiency in basic quantitative skills (e.g., arithmetic,
percentage and percent change, practical geometry, linear equations and linear growth,
compound interest and exponential growth, data presentation and description, basic
probability and statistics, and intelligent use of a computational technology). Students
must fulfill the QR1 prerequisite in one of the following four ways: (1) scoring 630
or better on the MSAT I exam; (2) scoring 570 or better on any mathematics SAT II
exam; (3) passing the College's quantitative reasoning examination beforethe end of
the first year; or (4) successfully completing MA100 before the end of the sophomore
Students build upon and apply quantitative reasoning skills in the context of specific academic disciplines by successfully completing a designated QR2 course. All students must fulfill the QR2 requirement before the end of the junior year.
- Interdisciplinary Study (2 courses): The Liberal Studies program provides an integrative educational experience for all
students. It includes two requirements:
Liberal Studies 1-Human Experience: In this single, team-taught course all first-year students learn the ways in which different academic disciplines raise questions and seek answers concerning human experience, and develop the ability to define central ideas in readings and lectures presented in a variety of forms.
Liberal Studies 2: Students engage in interdisciplinary study that extends and focuses the inquiries begun in LS1. Students are required to complete one LS2 course successfully before the end of their sophomore year.
- Breadth Component (4 courses): The purpose of the breadth requirements is to ensure that students come to know and
understand the central questions, content, and types of analysis that characterize
the major knowledge domains of the liberal arts: the humanities, arts, social sciences,
and natural sciences. Students who have completed these requirements should be able
to identify, understand and evaluate the significance of continuouslydeveloping knowledge
in each of these domains. Courses fulfilling the breadth requirements will ordinarily
be at the introductory level.
Students must successfully complete one course in each of the following fields:
Natural Sciences: Students actively engage in the process of understanding the natural world through the use of scientific methods. Students study phenomena that are the product of natural processes and are known through the senses rather than only through thought or intuition. Through the laboratory component of courses meeting this requirement, students will design and execute experiments (where appropriate as dictated by the discipline), collect data by observation and/or experimentation, and analyze data. Student learning goals thus include mastery of both content and process.
Courses in this category are typically, but not exclusively, offered in biology, chemistry, exercise science, geoscience, physics, and psychology.
Social Sciences: Students study the organizational structure of human societies. They learn about the origins, functions, dynamics and relations of large-scale social forces (such as institutions and cultures) and their intersections with the individual and small groups. In addition, students explore the connections between historical processes and contemporary social issues. Social scientific inquiry uses a combination of conventional scientific methods and humanistic, qualitative approaches.
Courses in this category are typically, but not exclusively, offered in American studies, anthropology, economics, government, history, and sociology.
Humanities: Students examine and reflect upon human culture as expressed in historical tradition, literature and languages, art and music, ideas and beliefs. Students learn about diverse heritages, customs and values that form patterns and analogies but not general laws. The humanities search for an understanding of the unique value of the particulars within human contexts and thereby create a climate that encourages freedom of thought, imagination, and inquiry.
Courses in this category are typically, but not exclusively, offered in art history, classics, dance, literature (in English and in other languages) music, philosophy, religion, and theatre.
Arts: Students actively engage in the making or performing of artworks as modes of creative invention, interpretation, expression, and discovery. Through the critique and analysis of artworks, students develop a context for and an understanding of their own creative output as well as the creations of others. The fundamental student learning goals include the advancement of technical proficiency and the refinement of critical aesthetic sensibility.
Courses in this category are typically, but not exclusively, offered in creative writing, dance, music, studio (visual) art, and theater.
- Culture-Centered Inquiry (2 courses): In Culture-Centered Inquiry students learn that culturally based perspectives and
values are not universal and in so doing enhance their ability to interact with persons
from diverse cultural backgrounds.
Students fulfill this requirement by completing:
- One course in a foreign language, and
- One course designated as either Non-Western Culture or Cultural Diversity Study.
Non-Western Culture: Students investigate a way of life and set of cultural assumptions significantly different from Western perspectives. In these courses, students examine the social, political, literary, aesthetic or linguistic arrangements of cultures.
Cultural Diversity: Students investigate the interaction of culturally distinct peoples within a given socio-political context. These courses may focus on diversity in the United States or on inter-cultural relations in other contexts. However, at least one of the groups examined will have non-western origins.
Foreign Literature and Language: Students expand their use of a foreign language or their understanding of the literature of that language by studying in its non-translated form. A student may choose a course from the language and literature courses offered by the departments of Classics or Foreign Languages.
Courses may "double-count" for two of the three following categories: the conventional proficiencies (EW, QR), Culture-Centered Inquiry, or Breadth. "Triple-counting" will not be permitted. Under this proposal students will need ten courses to fulfill the all-college requirements (not including Writing Seminar 1 or QR1) compared to 11-15 courses under the existing curriculum. With maximum double-counting, students could complete the requirements in six courses compared to eight courses in the current system.
- Adam Abramowitz (01)
- Sandy Baum
- Susan Bender
- John Brueggemann (Chair)
- Pat Fehling
- Pat Oles
- Lary Opitz
- Phil Ortiz
- David Peterson
- Kelly Sullivan (02)