University President Richard Levin will reveal the details of a comprehensive review of undergraduate education at a faculty meeting today, Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead said.
After announcing the endeavor at the Tercentennial academic convocation Oct. 5, Levin will now lay out a more concrete set of guidelines and describe the nature of the various working groups that will conduct the review, Brodhead said.
But the full roster of the review committee will not be announced until next week because the student participants have not yet been selected.
A five-person group from the Yale College Council will conduct student interviews this weekend and make recommendations to Brodhead, who is heading the review committee. He will then select four to eight students to formally serve as members of the committee.
Brodhead will lead a group of administrators, faculty, alumni and students in conducting a yearlong review of the undergraduate curriculum, a project the University has not undertaken in over 30 years.
“This is a good time to conduct this review,” Brodhead said. “Yale is in the process of making so many investments and we want to make sure that those investments pay off to the highest degree of undergraduate education.”
In particular, Brodhead said the committee will align its educational goals with the University’s recent investments in Science Hill, the Yale Center for Globalization and various art museums.
“We’re going to look at all the things that have grown up around Yale College and ask how Yale can take the fullest advantage of these resources,” Brodhead said.
Faculty members emphasized that while the undergraduate curriculum is in great shape, there should be a constant movement to improve it further.
“Good times shouldn’t make us complacent, it should make us confident,” said Peter Salovey, psychology chairman and member of the academic review committee. “Yale offers a tremendous undergraduate education, but we should embrace the idea that it could always be better.”
With the first formal meetings this month, Brodhead said the committee will meet regularly throughout the academic year and into the summer. Based on their research, the committee will prepare a report in the fall and recommend possible curriculum and policy changes.
“This is a big mandate,” YCC President Vidhya Prabhakaran ’03 said. “It’ll be a lot of research and real involvement, so if they put in the time, I think it’ll have a big impact.”
Prabhakaran said he expects the committee will take measures to diversify course offerings, improve the quality of sections and change the Credit/D/Fail option.
Many said they expect to discover several areas for improvement once the review begins.
“It never hurts to look,” English Chairman Ruth Yeazell said. “Right now, there don’t seem to be any glaring problems that need fixing, but they might be there.”
In researching the various facets of undergraduate academics, Brodhead said the committee will solicit advice from a variety of sources.
“It’s our hope to get many people involved in the thinking process,” Brodhead said. “Many people will be consulted in addition to those who formally serve on the committees.”
YCC Vice President EB Kelly ’03 said she expects student participation to play a big role in the decisions the committee makes.
“There will be constant solicitation of student input,” Kelly said. “It’s exciting because [the committee] has the potential to dictate the evolution of the academic future of many Yale students.”
Prabhakaran said the students will have the most important perspective within the committee.
“The students know best,” he said. “Students have a real feel for how classes work. They know how well a class is taught, how a class should be taught and what constitutes a good class.”
But in addition to addressing present issues, the committee will also look ahead.
“We should be asking ourselves what an educated person will look like in the future and how we can prepare now to give our students the education that will serve them best and equip them for the future,” Brodhead said.