Faculty Meet to Review Five College Strategic Plan
By Elaine Teng ’12, Editor-In-Chief
In their Nov. 2 meeting, the faculty reviewed advising policies and debated the merits and drawbacks of the proposed Five College Strategic Plan.

After a presentation on tools to aid faculty advisors by Dean of Students Allen Hart and Dean of New Students Patricia O’Hara, the faculty raised questions on the efficiency of the system and proposed possible mechanisms to streamline the process. For example, many professors complained of the cumbersome nature of the online system that requires them to download each piece of student information separately, and President Tony Marx concluded that the online system was very much a work in progress and that the recommendations would be taken into account.

Afterwards, the faculty moved to the topic that dominated most of the evening’s discussion: a preliminary evaluation of the new Five College Strategic Plan.

The plan proposes the increase of collaboration between the Five Colleges in many different areas, from further integrating curriculum, sharing services such as information technology, recycling, student health and public safety, and strengthening Five College identity through programs such as the Five College Radio and co-curricular projects.

Two faculty committees, the Committee on Priorities and Resources (CPR) and the Committee on Educational Policy (CEP) were tasked with evaluating and debating the proposal, and members of the two committees gave speeches summarizing their respective group’s decision. Both committees applauded the plan’s vision of the future, but also sounded notes of caution as the process moved forward.

“It is mostly a visionary document, so as detailed proposals emerge with time, they [should] all be reviewed carefully by the committees of different schools,” said CEP member Lyle McGeoch, Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science. “We did have specific concerns about how external reviews of different departments will be handled. Across a discipline, the departments at the different schools would be reviewed together, and we think that would be over-prioritizing Five College collaboration. Five College possibilities are a nice adjunct to what we can do in departments, but in each school in almost all fields is going to maintain a major that doesn’t depend on students having to take certain electives or requirements elsewhere.”

CPR chair Catherine Epstein, Associate Professor of History, lauded the closer cohesion of the five schools and supported the development of a better transmit system between the institutions for students, but echoed McGeoch’s warning tone.

“It (the CPR) is not willing to do so (integrate) at the cost of our own academic integrity,” she said. “Many of the details may sound good in the abstract, but in concrete details, they might not turn out so well.”

Many other faculty members also weighed in on the debate, essentially arguing that the College must be careful to balance efficiency and effectiveness as it looks to integrate its departments and other resources. These comments, as well as those from the faculty of the other four colleges, will be presented to the Five Colleges Inc. as they look to take the next step in the strategic plan.

Issue 08, Submitted 2010-11-03 02:52:23