Faculty Approves New Regulations
(By Katie Schwarz)
The MIT faculty approved changes in the regulations concerning Institute and departmental requirements in a meeting on May 15, according to Professor Arthur C. Smith, chairman of the faculty.
The changes, proposed by the Committee on Educational Policy (CEP), will eliminate options for the chemistry requirement, limit the number of subjects a department can require for the bachelor's degree, and modify the Science Distribution Requirement. Most changes will take effect beginning with the Class of 1990.
The new regulations were adopted by the necessary three-fifths majority vote after extensive discussion and some opposition, Smith said.
All new policies adopted by the faculty were proposed at least a month before the meeting, according to Smith.
The CEP's recommendations on the structure of the undergraduate program were discussed in an enclosure to the call to the April faculty meeting. A subcommittee of the CEP made the recommendations after several years of study, according to the enclosure.
Chemistry Options Removed
The faculty passed a proposal to remove General Biology (7.01) and Chemical Thermodynamics (5.60) as options for satisfying the General Institute Requirement in Chemistry with little discussion and no dissension, Smith said. The proposal will affect classes entering the Institute in and after the fall of 1985.
An enclosure with the call to the April faculty meeting stated that 7.01 and 5.60 were "unrealistic beginning courses" and that few students used them to fulfill the requirement. The purpose of removing the two subjects as options is "reducing confusion among the entering students," continued the enclosure.
Gene M. Brown, head of the Department of Biology, and Mark S. Wrighton, undergraduate curriculum chairman of the Department of Chemistry, introduced the proposal at the April meeting.
Introduction to Solid-State Chemistry (3.091) and Principles of Chemical Science (5.11) are the remaining classes which satisfy the chemistry requirement.
Number of Required
An enclosure calling for an April faculty meeting stated the need for changes in undergraduate program structure. Concerns about the "pace and style at MIT" prompted recommendations to limit departmental requirement, according to the call to an April faculty meeting. They are not intended to "change the character of an MIT education," but to "more clearly [reflect] our goals," the enclosure continued. The changes affect the structure, not the content, of the undergraduate program.
The new regulations specify that departmental programs should be measured in terms of subjects rather than units.
"Departmental requirements shall permit the student to schedule his or her program each year within a normal load of the equivalent of eight or eight and one-half subjects ... All approved Course curricula for the degree of Bachelor of Science shall make it possible for students to complete all degree requirements in the equivalent of 32 to 34 subjects," the regulations state.
The CEP believes that the number of credit units does not sufficiently characterize the difficulty of a student's load, according to another CEP enclosure accompanying the call to an April faculty meeting. "In terms of work for students, the number of subjects is a more reliable indicator of effort," the enclosure stated. None of the proposals were voted on at the April meeting.
An amendment approved at the May meeting excluded an earlier CEP recommendation that most undergraduate subjects be 12 units. "It is very important that all departments make certain that 9-unit subjects really are no more than 9 units of work," the amendment states.
The CEP recommendations are a reaction to "a preponderance of 9-unit subjects" in some departments, according to the enclosure discussing the original proposal.
The new regulations redefine the General Institute Requirements, including the Humanities Requirement, in terms of subjects rather than units.
The CEP hopes that more humanities subjects will become 12 units to "encourage students to take the [humanities] areas of study more seriously," according to the new guidelines.
Undergraduate degree programs will now guarantee at least 48 units of unrestricted electives.
The new regulations require students to take at least one science distribution subject outside their departmental program. The CEP expressed concern that some students fulfill the Science Distribution Requirement without taking science distribution subjects beyond those required by their department.
The CEP's April enclosure states, "We recognize that many departments feel that their programs provide ample breadth, but the proposal allows students to choose the area of breadth -- which can be particularly important in the process of selecting a major."
Three Science Distribution subjects are currently required as part of the departmental program in the Departments of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Nuclear Engineering, Ocean Engineering, Earth and Planetary Science, and Applied Biological Science.
Funding Committee Formed
Smith announced that a committee to examine the impact of increasing military funding of research and education on MIT has been formed.
Smith chose the faculty members of the committee in consultation with the officers of the faculty. The student members were nominated by the Graduate Student Council and the Undergraduate Association. Professor of Physics Vera Kistiakowsky proposed the formation of the committee at the March faculty meeting.
Comma or semi-colon? - Maybe we can leave this graph out
Carl Kaysen, director of the Program in Science, Technology, and Society chairs the committee. Other members are James L. Kirtley, Jr. '67, associate professor of Electrical Engineering; Allan F. Henry, professor of Nuclear Engineering; George W. Rathjens, professor of Political Science; Herman Feshbach, Institute professor; James R. Melcher, professor of Electrical Engineering and Physics; Kistiakowsky; Louisa Koch G, and Daniel J. O'Day '87.
The responsibilities of the CEP will be divided between two committees. The Faculty Policy Committee will be the top ranking faculty committee, and the Committee on the Undergraduate Program will oversee undergraduate education. The latter committee will work with the new Dean for Undergraduate Education.
Smith proposed a reorganization of the CEP. "The CEP has been expected to take on a broader range of tasks than a single Faculty committee can effectively undertake," stated an enclosure in the call to the May 15 meeting.
Smith said the faculty unanimously voted for reorganization of the CEP in the May 29 meeting, a meeting normally devoted to the approval of degrees.
"Recent surveys of the faculty and student body reveal high levels of satisfaction with IAP [Independent Activities Period]," according to a summary in the call to the May 15 meeting. The committee recommended no fundamental change in IAP, but urged that "faculty and departments ... become more involved in helping undergraduates plan their IAPs."
Professor Shaoul Ezekiel, chairman of the IAP Policy Committee, reported on the status of IAP at the faculty meeting. The committee is charged with reviewing IAP and reporting its findings to the faculty at intervals of not more than four years.
Faculty Officers Elected
Professor of Psychology Mary C. Potter was elected to a two-year term as chairman of the faculty. She will succeed Smith in the fall. Professor of Ocean Engineering J. Kim Vandiver was elected associate chairman of the faculty. Professor of Electrical Engineering Jack Ruina was reelected secretary.