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Stanford Report, May 31, 2000

Senate approves extension of African and African-American Studies, Urban Studies

The Faculty Senate last week approved reauthorizations for two interdisciplinary programs: African and African-American Studies and Urban Studies.

Russell Fernald, chair of the Committee on Undergraduate Studies, said the African and African-American Studies program was "in very good hands" under the leadership of John Rickford, linguistics. Russell Berman, associate dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences, called the program "vibrant" and concurred with the recommendation that it be reauthorized for five years.

Rickford said that while the program's students "are not many in number, they're of an extremely strong quality." Six of the program's graduating students this year are doing honors theses, he said.

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The senate also approved reauthorizing the program in Urban Studies for five years. Fernald said the program, directed by Leonard Ortolano, civil and environmental engineering, was providing "a remarkable service" to undergraduates.

But Fernald and Berman also noted that Urban Studies, like some other interdisciplinary programs, could face leadership problems when its current chair steps down.

If that is the only criticism, Ortolano responded, "I think we should move this forward and get on with it and leave me the next few years to figure out how to find a replacement."

He said the program has had an extraordinary record in placing its graduates, many of whom wind up at such top graduate schools in architecture as Harvard, Yale and Berkeley.

In other action last week, the senate approved new undergraduate degrees in environmental engineering and in management science and engineering. SR