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Faculty Senate reauthorizes Latin American Studies; approves new degree in epidemiology
_STANFORD -- The Faculty Senate wrapped up its 25th year on Thursday, June 10, by approving renewal of undergraduate and graduate programs in Latin American Studies, approving a new interdisciplinary program in epidemiology, endorsing candidates for bachelor's and advanced degrees and modifying charges to three Academic Council committees.
The senate also gave a rousing send-off to William Northway, diagnostic radiology and pediatrics, who chaired the senate and its Steering Committee this year.
"At every turn," linguistics Professor Elizabeth Traugott told Northway, "you have show patience, warmth of feeling and, above all, the ability to diagnose problems with accuracy and speed."
She saluted Northway for canceling "a record number of senate meetings," and for leading the body through "some long- winded and complicated votes with fairness and thoughtfulness for all.
"You have repeatedly prevented us from getting submerged in word-smithing, and have steered us firmly on the Northway High Road to conceptualization and policy," Traugott said.
Both Latin American Studies programs were unanimously reauthorized for five years, although the senate agreed with a Committee on Graduate Studies' recommendation that the program report about several issues to its cognizant dean in two years.
Committee chair Judith Goldstein, political science, pointed to a program review report from Tom Wasow, linguistics, that raised questions about student dissatisfaction and problems with the program's curriculum.
Wasow's committee said that students have difficulty fulfilling in nine months the master's degree requirements: 40 units of coursework, including a core curriculum, and completion of an interdisciplinary research paper. One member of Wasow's committee dissented from the reauthorization recommendation, based largely on student comments, Wasow told the senate.
The committee did praise the program's lectures, workshops and brown-bag lunches at Bolivar House, and director Terry Karl's energy and leadership. Latin American Studies, started in 1965, draws faculty from 15 academic departments and works closely with Overseas Studies on the campus in Santiago, Chile. It employs a full-time associate director and support staff (2.5 FTE).
Three-quarters of the graduates go on to professional schools - medicine, law or business - or earn doctorates. Some end up in journalism, others in the diplomatic corps or human rights organizations.
Karl, associate professor of political science and member of the current senate, became director of the program three years ago.
She told the senate that the program had had difficulty implementing recommendations from its last review, which occurred in 1988. The earlier committee "gave detailed instructions on how the core curriculum should be structured," but this made it difficult for master's students to finish in one year, she said.
The program had a "very distressing completion rate," she said, and many students had to stay summer quarter to finish their papers. That was problematic for many reasons, including the fact that faculty do field research during the summer, she said.
The master's paper is not a thesis, which would require field research.
The curriculum has since been modified, so both the core courses and research paper can be completed in nine months, but it still is a difficult program, Karl said. Other similar programs require two years to earn a master's degree, but Stanford's faculty is not large enough to expand the program, she said.
Karl also defended the program against charges that its faculty list in Courses and Degrees is bloated.
The senate unanimously endorsed an interdisciplinary program in epidemiology that would begin recruiting master's and doctoral students for fall 1994.
Epidemiology is a division in the Department of Health Research and Policy. Its faculty would offer the degrees with help from colleagues in gynecology and obstetrics, medicine, microbiology and immunology, neurology, neurobiology, pathology, the Program in Cancer Biology, and the Stanford Center for Disease Prevention. Jennifer Kelsey, chief of epidemiology, would lead the program.
Epidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants of diseases in populations. Health-related issues that would be addressed include causes of cancers, risks and benefits of hormone replacement therapy, and how to reduce the frequency of cardiovascular diseases. Students would be required to have a grounding in biostatistical methods and to acquire knowledge of the pathobiology of specific diseases.
The program initially would be supported by the Medical School, but would eventually become self-supporting.
Asked by senators if they thought the program would become mired in a "turf war," Kelsey and Charlotte Jacobs, senior associate dean for education and student affairs, said they anticipated cooperation among specialists from the various disciplines.
The senate also approved three changes recommended by its Committee on Committees.
Starting next fall, the Committee on Undergraduate Studies and the Committee on Academic Appraisal and Achievement each will be expanded from 10 to 11 voting members, with the additional person being a lecturer or senior lecturer. Education Professor Myra Strober, chair of the Committee on Committees, said her group sought the change because lecturers and senior lecturers "teach a large proportion of our undergraduates and, therefore, will have useful insights to offer these committees."
Strober also asked that the charge to the Committee on Research be expanded to give that body responsibility for monitoring the indirect-cost rate.
That proposal originally was made by the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on the Structure and Functions of Academic Council Committees (STANCOM), headed by electrical engineering Professor Joseph Goodman.
His group made the suggestion, Goodman said, because it noticed during its study of committees that none played any role in monitoring the overhead rate.
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