Review input is limited, mixed



Five days after the Committee on Yale College Education released its findings, the report garnered mixed reviews this week from a small handful of students and faculty members.

The report, which was released Thursday, includes recommendations based on more than a year of evaluating Yale College education. Committee members now plan to solicit input on the report before beginning to implement recommendations in the fall. Though the Committee’s Web site offers a means for e-mail feedback, fewer than five students had responded as of Monday afternoon, Associate Yale College Dean Penelope Laurans said.

Students and faculty members who said they read the document offered mixed reviews of the recommendations, which include changing the makeup of distributional requirements, enhancing science and international education and increasing faculty size by 10 percent over the next five years.

Laurans, who served on the committee, said in an e-mail that students might not have had time to read the report.

“We have had a few responses from graduate students reflecting on what Yale students seem to need from the graduate students’ teaching fellow experience and perspective, and a few responses from alumni, reflecting on the nature of their Yale experience and how the report addresses this,” Laurans said.

Astronomy chairman Charles Bailyn, who led the working group on physical sciences and engineering, said Committee members will spend the next month accepting comments from the community. He said he expects a lot of discussion during the period.

“I think it will take a while,” Bailyn said. “I think it’s going to be a large conversation.”

Bailyn said students should not be concerned that the changes will be forced on them without adequate warning. He said the changes to the distributional requirements would happen gradually.

“Nobody has any intention of changing the rules in the middle of the game,” Bailyn said.

Comparative Literature chairman Michael Holquist said he thought the report was a good document because all of the recommendations were possible, but said he had reservations about certain recommendations.

“I had expected something more directive and novel,” Holquist said. “[But] the fact that it’s not a flaming manifesto is a mark of its seriousness.”

Holquist said he thought the proposal to increase the size of the faculty was crucial. Under the Committee’s recommendation, the University would create a “pool” of faculty positions not yet assigned to specific departments that could be allocated to meet specific needs for undergraduate teaching.

“The increase in the faculty is a bold recommendation,” Holquist said. “It puts Yale in stark contrast with other universities it is competing with.”

Joshua Bendor ’05 said he thought the recommendations did not address problems directly.

“My general reaction was that they were trying to get at some of the big issues in kind of a peripheral way,” Bendor said.

But Bendor said he approved of the recommendation to increase the faculty positions because it would have widespread positive effects.

A major portion of the report focused on changes in the foreign language requirement. Under the report’s proposals, student would be required to take three semesters of a foreign language for proficiency, down from the current four, or two semesters and receive credit for studying abroad. The report also recommended that students who test out of basic language requirements continue language study.

John McCormack ’04 said he disagreed with the decrease in requirements but liked the idea of requiring all students to take a language even if they pass the requirement.

But Holquist said he thought the weakest part of the report was the reduction in the language requirement.

“It has to worry anybody who cares about this University as a global university,” he said.

Holquist said he was concerned with the lack of attention devoted to the humanities in recent years, and cited the possible reduction in the language requirements as part of that trend.

In response to widespread concern about science education and distributional requirements, the Committee recommended adopting a system that would require two courses in the arts and humanities, social sciences, natural science, writing skills and quantitative reasoning.

Comments