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Senate extends Graduate Program in Humanities
STANFORD -- The 24th Faculty Senate wrapped up an extraordinarily busy academic year by approving the Graduate Program in the Humanities for another five years and receiving a major report on the future of the university.
The latter half of the shortened Thursday, June 11, meeting was devoted to a farewell to President Donald Kennedy (see separate story).
On the "very strong" recommendation of the Committee on Graduate Studies, the senate unanimously approved the Graduate Program in the Humanities for the maximum five years.
The program seeks to give its students a "systematic examination of our cultural and intellectual heritage from its classical origins to the present and to provide training for teaching interdisciplinary humanities courses." Doctoral students in any of 13 participating departments are eligible. The degree offered is a joint Ph.D. in, for instance, classics and humanities, English and humanities, etc.
In making the committee's recommendation, Albert Gelpi, English (who did not attend the meeting), wrote of its last review, in 1988. Then, the committee felt the program "needed some serious rethinking and updating," particularly in redesigning the required sequence of graduate seminars. The program was renewed for a two-year period, August 1990-August 1992.
In the meantime, Program Director Paul Robinson and others on various task forces and committees drew up changes that, Gelpi noted, "rightly retain the historical organization and textual base [that] have defined the distinctive character and excellence of GPH, while at the same time introducing into the sequence a stronger, more explicit and consistent focus on theoretical and cultural issues."
In her letter of recommendation, the cognizant dean, Carolyn Lougee (senior associate dean of humanities and sciences), wrote that the changes had led to a "rejuvenated program that promises to move forward in tandem with other departmental and interdisciplinary programs in the humanities."
During discussion, George Dekker, English, said he was in favor of the revisions but cautioned that the "curriculum outlined in the document seems to go about as far in the direction of prescribing the content of courses as it should. . . . I'd hate to see the content of courses specified any more than it is here."
Limited discussion on major report
The senate also heard a brief summary of the final report from the Senate Committee on Education and Scholarship at Stanford (SC-ESS), delivered by its chairman, Richard Zare, chemistry.
The committee was created in June 1991 to give the faculty a role in protecting academic integrity during the process of reducing the operating budget, and then to look at larger issues that should be addressed by the university.
Zare said the committee, with input from 75 non- administration faculty members, focused on three areas: the administration, the structure of the School of Humanities and Sciences, and undergraduate education. (The complete report was printed in the June 10 Campus Report.)
While not offering any specific "blueprints," the report calls for fresh, new looks at the "management culture," the structure of the huge School of Humanities and Sciences, and the lack of an officer or body that can serve as an advocate for all levels of undergraduate education.
Regarding Humanities and Sciences, the committee said, "There is strong support for a unified school," but that it has "major structural problems."
"Constraints on resources for H&S over a long period have created the impression that H&S does not have an adequate resource base to support and further the intellectual agenda of its faculty," Zare said. "The dean has to do too much."
Marsh McCall, classics, said some work was already being done to give Humanities and Sciences faculty a stronger role in intra- school matters.
McCall said a Humanities and Sciences Faculty Council was being formed and that elections would be held over the summer.
"It will be a formal governing structure within H&S," he said.
Tony Siegman, electrical engineering, also commented on the report, expressing his appreciation for the "extraordinary" job done by Zare and the other committee members.
Senate Chair James Sheehan said that although the committee was being disbanded, its members would be invited back to discuss the report in greater detail this fall, after Gerhard Casper takes over as president.
"The main burden of the discussion will come as these long- range developments begin to be thought further about in a new year, by a somewhat new cast of characters," Sheehan said.
Sheehan cited for leadership
William Northway, who will chair the 25th Senate; President Kennedy; and several others at various points during the meeting singled out Sheehan for his leadership during a difficult year.
"It's been a busy year," Northway said. "[Sheehan] relieved the tensions associated with these difficult issues, with consummate style and grace."
Kennedy, during his last "Report from the President," also cited "Jim Sheehan's very special kind of leadership" in making the senate "a remarkable experience this year."
The president also praised the work done by the Zare committee and the role of the senate during the painful budget discussions.
"It kept us together in a way that you can only assess, unfortunately, by what happened elsewhere," Kennedy said. "The Stanford experience was one of marvelous cohesion and consensus, and it was not created by anybody except you all. It was a stunning accomplishment."
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