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Major requirements bumped from 8 to 10

Faculty approved several significant changes to the undergraduate curriculum and the freshman experience last week.

The Arts and Sciences Council voted Thursday to increase the minimum requirements for a major from eight to 10 courses, eight of which must be at the 100-level. The council also approved a proposal to allow students to earn a minor, which would consist of at least five courses.

Minors can be created across departmental lines, according to the council's resolution.

The council also agreed to lift the limit on the number of major courses, 17, that can count toward graduation requirements. Faculty also decided to extend freshman orientation by two days, to require all freshmen to take a seminar and to delay freshman registration until incoming students can meet with their advisers.

The changes in the major requirements and freshman life will not take effect until August 1995, but departments and programs can begin developing minors immediately, said Ellen Wittig, associate dean of Trinity College.

The curricular changes were originally recommended by the curriculum review committee, which last spring proposed a total of 18 changes. However, faculty in the Arts and Sciences Council never debated formally or voted on several of the recommendations for procedural reasons.

"There was less debate than I had anticipated [at Thursday's meeting,]" said Robert Gleckner, professor of English and chair of Trinity College's committee on academic standards.

His committee was asked to review curriculum recommendations in January by David Sanford, chair of the Arts and Sciences Council and professor of philosophy.

The academic standards committee hoped that departments and programs would be allowed to set up flexible minors so students could play a large role in designing them, Gleckner said. To encourage this flexibility, the academic standards committee proposed calling them secondary concentrations.

But faculty argued that by calling them minors, students from outside the University would automatically know what they entail.

William O'Barr, professor of cultural anthropology and chair of the curriculum review committee, said he was pleased with the council's decisions.

"For all intents and purposes, everything that the committee recommended has been adopted in one form or another," O'Barr said.

The only significant recommendation from O'Barr's committee that the council rejected was a proposal to require students to take courses in all six areas of knowledge. Students can now opt out of one of the areas.

The changes in the freshman-year experience, which will go into effect for the Class of 1999, were proposed by the council's standing committee on the first year.

Under the new policy, freshmen will be required to take a seminar during their first year. Currently, students must take one before their junior year.

The orientation period will be extended to allow more faculty-student interaction, said committee chair Stefan Pugh, associate professor of Slavic languages and literature.

"There is very limited faculty-student contact [during orientation] as far as I know, aside from the lectures and several discussion groups already taking place," Pugh said.

The new policy also delays incoming student registration. Students will specify during the summer what courses they would like to take so departments can allocate teaching resources, but they will not register until after they meet with an adviser.

The only one of the committee's proposals that the council rejected would have prohibited freshmen from parking cars on campus. But that setback did not bother Pugh.

"It was an idea, one I wasn't going to die for. We had more important things on the agenda, and I'm glad we got those through," he said.

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