Dean awaits education department response

by Maggie Lockwood | 5/12/93 10:00pm

Three weeks after an internal faculty review committee recommended the termination of the education department, the committee's report remains secret and the department continues to work on a response.

But Professor Faith Dunne, the department chair, said the response may not come until Fall term.

The report cited internal strife as one of several reasons for closing the department, according to administrators and professors who have seen the document which was submitted to Dean of Faculty James Wright.

The Student Assembly has made repeated requests to see the report while students and faculty across campus can only speculate about the future of the College's teacher certification program.

Wright said each member of the education department has a copy of the report and he is now awaiting a response.

"I do not expect to hear from them before the end of the term," Wright said.

According to Dunne the report will not be released until the department formulates a response. Because professors are busy with course loads, Dunne said she also does not expect a full response until fall.

"It's the end of the term and this is a long process," Dunne said. "Professors are doing the same things that students are doing."

Nothing will happen until the department and the Dean's Office sit down and discuss the situation, Dunne said.

The entire faculty would have to vote to approve the closing of the department and several administrators said that such a vote would probably not happen until next Winter term.

"No change of any consequence can be considered without full faculty participation and approval," Wright said. "If there is a matter on which we wish to take action, I would guess such a discussion could take the better part of next year. Following this, I will consult with the Committee on Organization and Policy on how to proceed."

A large student outcry has gone up since the committee's recommendation was made public. Jana Friedman '94 said a woman in her education class stood up and told students to write administrators in support of the department.

The review committee, which consisted of senior faculty members from various departments, conducted the first review of the education department in 20 years.

Usually departmental reviews are conducting by committees which include academic experts from other colleges and universities.

"There seemed to be so many problems that it made sense for an internal group" to review the department, said Professor Richard Sheldon, the chair of the Russian department who headed the review committee.

Students will continue to be informed and included in the decision making, Wright said. "During this time there will be full opportunity for students to become informed about the issues and, through elected bodies as well as individually, to express their views," he said.

Laura Frem '94, who is a teaching assistant for Education 55 and Education 20 this term, said she was surprised at the report of internal strife.

"As a TA, I work closely with teachers, but I had no idea that anything was wrong," she said.

"I'm in the Ed hallway at least three times a day, and there is no tension. If they are fighting, if the rumors are true, they're keeping it to themselves," she added.

Much of the speculative debate prompted by the report has centered on the future of the College's teacher certification program and whether, as a pre-professional program, it fits in with the College's four-year broad liberal arts curriculum.

The review committee did look at the department's reputation for strong teaching. "That was part of the picture, but just a part of it," Sheldon said. "We made our recommendations based on an analyses of historical information that we collected. I'd rather have people read that and then make a decision"

Sheldon said he was unhappy with people jumping to conclusions before seeing the committee's report. "It kind of surprises me that so many people criticized and analyzed it before they have read it," Sheldon said.

Dunne also said people should not jump to conclusions. "There are a lot of the rumors running around," she said. "People should approach them with great caution."