The interior of Galpin, the administrative building which houses the office of the President and the Provost. Photo by Paul Xing ’26.

Tori DiPasquale

Investigative Staff Reporter

To fight the $6 million budget deficit facing the College, it was decided in October of 2022 that an Academic Program Review (APR) would be carried out. This involved the creation of a task force charged with reevaluating the academic programs offered at the College and recommending changes based on “alignment with mission, quality of the academic program, market opportunities, and cost.” Dr. Fitz Gibbon, professor and department co-chair of sociology and anthropology and department chair of urban studies, and Dr. Lehman, Victor J. Andrew professor of physics and pre-engineering advisor, were elected co-chairs of this taskforce and provided their Final Report, or recommendations, to the Voice in a Nov. 9 interview.

The process began Oct. 2022, when Interim President Wayne Webster and the Board of Trustees called for the APR to take place. In December, several professors were elected by faculty to head the taskforce. This includes Dr. Fitz Gibbon, Dr. Herrmann of the German and Russian departments, Dr. Hertzmann of the psychology and neuroscience departments, Dr. Lehman, Dr. Morrow of the art, art history, museum studies and South Asian studies departments and Dr. Sene of the history and global and international studies departments. 

These professors gathered data such as enrollments, number of majors and demographics; they also asked each department to give context to these numbers in order to see where stresses lay in the departments and to gain an understanding of what courses are necessary to be offered and where student interests lie. A series of meetings and discussions then took place starting in January involving the members of the taskforce and faculty. Around 85 faculty members met in a retreat before the school year began to discuss what the programs First Year Seminar (FYS) and Independent Study (IS) looked like and what changes may need to be made.

After the final recommendations were completed, they were shared with Provost Lisa Perfetti and President Anne McCall. Further meetings and discussions with individual departments are currently taking place to decide what the Provost and President will keep from the Final Report. The specific departmental recommendations were not shared with the Voice as they are still currently incomplete.

13 Broad Curricular Recommendations were made and shared by the task force. Dr. Fitz Gibbon described the first as “the hardest, and maybe the recommendation.” It involves “leave-proofing” almost every department which would have professors on leave no longer be replaced by visiting professors. Dr. Lehman explained, “we want departments to work to develop their curriculum such that even if somebody is going on leave that the remaining faculty can still handle the curriculum that’s there.” This has by far the largest impact on professors, as it requires a total reevaluation of each majors’ requirements and how the classes themselves are taught and provided to students. It also, in the words of Dr. Fitz Gibbon, “puts a lot of burdens on departments…but that’s better than firing staff and faculty.”

The next recommendation states that each department – to better become leave-proofed – should become more flexible and less redundant with what requirements are needed. An example of this includes making interdisciplinary courses count as credits for interdisciplinary majors or minors, as courses often teach similar skills and overlap in certain areas. Alongside this, it also discusses cross-listing courses more often, like having Shakespeare-related English courses also count for theater, an example given by Dr. Lehman. This also involves limiting the number of courses required for all majors, as well as simplifying majors by removing tracks or clusters from which a student can choose.

The third recommendation discusses creating a more equal workload between professors who have larger class sizes on average and those that typically deal with smaller classes. They wish to accomplish this by relabeling and advertising courses differently to hopefully create more balance between class sizes and thus equalize the amount of work each faculty member is doing.

The fourth is a recommendation to add in more half credit courses to assist students in achieving the necessary amount of credits, as well as making more flexibility in requirements and what can be taught within a department. 

Similar to the second recommendation, the fifth discusses consolidating classes that teach similar or the same skill sets. This would “provide greater flexibility for leave replacements, allow for more elective offerings in multiple departments, and help to even out enrollments,” according to the Final Report.

The sixth recommendation re-emphasizes the desire to cross-list and better map out what professors specialize in as well as which courses teach what skills. This is in an attempt to better advertise smaller courses and make scheduling more intuitive for students. 

The seventh is more in depth, as it discusses how the school can make IS more sustainable. This most notably includes a change making it so that double majors will now have their IS centered in only one department with only one advisor. There are exceptions to this, but the broad recommendation stands to reduce the number of resources needed for each student to complete an IS. Faculty are still divided on this issue, and further discussions will take place regarding this in the spring. There is no threat to IS or FYS, however. “We don’t want to get rid of either,” Dr. Lehman continued. “They’re critical to the experience.”

Other recommendations include the need for faculty and staff to have control over their own websites, as well as marketing what their department offers. Additionally, an APR should be completed every four to six years, and build off what this one found. Dr. Lehman explained, “taking a look at how the curriculum as a whole worked together was just something that needed to happen, regardless of the budget pressures,” which led them to conclude this type of reevaluation should be completed regularly. Similarly, it was also suggested that a Non-Academic Program Review be conducted to analyze where things can change and money can be saved between all divisions of the College. Within this it was recommended that all of this information be released to the campus community.

Another large recommendation includes adding in a “lectureship” position. Currently, the College can only have visiting professors stay for six years, and then they either have to leave or be tenured as a protection for faculty. The lectureship position serves as a way around this, where professors are not tenured, but still serve in a long-term position. They are not obligated to complete research or serve in any role other than teaching. This is meant to fill spaces that are usually filled by visiting professors without having to deal with tenure or rehiring once the visiting professors leave. This is another controversial recommendation, however, as Dr. Fitz Gibbon explains, “because folks worry about exploiting, or are we creating a second class status.” This will also come to further discussion in the spring. 

Finally, the APR discusses reducing the tensions between the three divisions: Humanities and Social Sciences, Arts and STEM. They seek to bridge gaps between these categories including classes combining skills from different disciplines as well as bringing about new programs for the school that combine these things. Some examples of these new areas of study include digital humanities, global public health, medical ethics, among others. These will also be further discussed in the spring semester. 

When asked whether the Provost and President will make any significant changes to the recommendations, Dr. Lehman stated, “I would expect maybe some changes around the edges, but certainly I wouldn’t expect anything substantial.” Further discussions and recommendations will take place in the upcoming semester, and results of the APR will be seen over the next few years as new policies are implemented.