Faculty votes to revise 'laude' calculations

by Maura Henninger | 2/17/98 6:00am

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences unanimously voted to change the current procedure for calculating "laude" honors at their Winter term meeting yesterday afternoon.

College President James Freedman also announced the appointment of Professor of Biological Sciences Mary Lou Guerinot to the position of Associate Dean of the Faculty, a position previously held by Physics Professor John Walsh.

Due to yesterday's resolution, the Grade Point Average targets for "laude" honors will no longer be based on just the previous year's graduates. Instead, the averages of all graduates during the previous three years will be combined and the cutoff points will be determined from these aggregate data.

Students who have GPAs in the top five percent of the past three graduating classes will graduate "summa cum laude," students whose GPA falls in the next 10 percent will graduate "magna cum laude" and students who graduate with a GPA in the range of the next 20 percent of former graduates will graduate "cum laude."

College Registrar Thomas Bickel reported GPA cutoffs given for students graduating in June 1998 have been lowered from the guidelines set in the Organization Regulations and Course book as of yesterday afternoon.

The new cutoffs are as follows: student must have a GPA of 3.82 and above to graduate summa cum laude, between 3.67 to 3.81 to graduate magna cum laude and between 3.47 and 3.66 to graduate cum laude.

The faculty's Committee on Instruction first put forward the recommendation for the changes to the Committee on Policy which approved the recommendation at its January meeting.

Bickel first suggested the change last November, citing the fluctuating nature of individual graduating classes as the major drawback to the just-changed system.

After the swift passing of the resolution, Freedman, who presided over the meeting, introduced Dean of the College Edward Berger, who gave the Dean's Report, which addresses the concerns of the faculty.

Berger spoke about Dartmouth's niche in the academic world. "I'd like to claim over the past 30 years that Dartmouth has deliberately behaved in ways to become excellent at educating undergraduates and graduates simultaneously," Berger said.

Berger cited the increased diversity of the faculty as well as the depth of the student body and departmental offerings as evidence of this.

The faculty's academic record, he said, is stronger than ever before. In accord with this, Berger said, the percentage of tenured professors, which is now 73 percent, must be pushed up closer to 80 percent.

Though he cited the College's tremendous strides in increasing ethnic diversity and gender parity among the faculty, Berger said he feels that more of an effort should be made.

The crux of Berger's address dealt with "transdisciplinary" relationships between faculty from different departments.

"The most intriguing academic challenges of the future will come at the intersection of different veins of study," he said.

For example, at the College, such problems as overpopulation and loss of biodiversity combine the efforts of faculty specializing in such disparate areas as policy studies and environmental studies, Berger said.

In order to accommodate the new pressures on faculty and facilities, he stressed the need to continue the renovations such as that of Burke Laboratory, Sudikoff Laboratory for Computer Science and Gilman Life Sciences and the upcoming Baker Library changes.