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Faculty Council Mulls Advanced Standing, Search for New Dean

University Hall houses many administrative offices of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
University Hall houses many administrative offices of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. By Charles K. Michael
By Angela N. Fu, Crimson Staff Writer

Members of the Faculty Council met Wednesday afternoon to discuss changes to the Advanced Standing program and the search for a new Dean of Undergraduate Education in a “happily routine meeting,” according to Council member David L. Howell.

The Council—the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ highest governing body—continued the discussion started during a December meeting of the full Faculty concerning a proposal to revise Advanced Standing, a program that allows students to graduate in three years or receive a Master’s degree in four years.

The proposal, introduced by outgoing Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay M. Harris, would make all College students eligible for the Advanced Standing program if passed. Previously, students had to enter the College with Advanced Placement credit to qualify.

After several faculty members said they were concerned by Harris’s proposal at the meeting, the committee tasked with creating the new plan added amendments to make the proposal more “modest,” according to Howell. Though the Council voted to pass Harris’s proposal last semester, they chose to discuss the plan again with the added amendments. The Council did not vote on it again, though, given the amendments did not constitute “a major substantive change.”

Howell said the Council also discussed the ongoing search for a new Dean of Undergraduate Education “in general terms.” Harris announced he would step down at the end of the academic year in December, after holding the position since 2008.

Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana and Dean for Faculty Affairs and Planning Nina Zipser are overseeing the search and are currently in the process of soliciting opinions from the Faculty and other Harvard affiliates, Howell said.

“They want to think about the qualities in the new dean before actually narrowing it down to any specific candidates,” Howell said. “So we didn't talk about any potential candidates, just in general what we are thinking about the undergraduate curriculum and things of that sort.”

Howell said he hoped the next dean will be able to address existing “structural problems” by allowing faculty members to focus on pedagogy and teaching instead of worrying about logistical issues like section size and finding sections for their graduate students.

“I thought that it would be important, as not just part of the search but in general, to try to figure out some way to review or change graduate school funding to make it easier for faculty to put the pedagogical mission first,” Howell said.

The Council also heard about a potential new concentration in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The proposal, which Howell said garnered “a lot of support,” suggested changing an environmental science engineering track within the engineering sciences program to a formal concentration.The Council also briefly discussed a proposal to create a Ph.D. program on bioinformatics integrated genomics.

The next full Faculty meeting is slated for Tuesday, Feb. 6.

—Staff writer Angela N. Fu can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @angelanfu.

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