Faculty Senate extends greek pledge programs
Vol. 17, No. 27April 16, 1998

Faculty Senate extends greek pledge programs

At its April meeting, the University Faculty Senate endorsed the creation of a new department in the College of Engineering and allowed campus fraternal organizations to continue their pledge programs for the next academic year.

The senate unanimously supported the establishment of a new Department of Materials Science and Engineering from the existing graduate program in materials science, which has operated within the college for more than 10 years. John Rabolt, head of the program, told senators that graduate enrollment had increased 20 percent since 1986 and, since 1995, four faculty members have joined the 10 faculty holding joint appointments in the program.

Presentations to the senators on the proposed extension of the pledge program were made by Tim Brooks, dean of students, Noel Hart, coordinator of greek affairs, and representatives from the Panhellenic Council and Interfraternity Council.

Speakers pointed out that the academic performance of both sororities and fraternities had improved over the past year since the Five Star chapter evaluation program was established, and behavioral problems have diminished dramatically over the past two years. In passing the resolution allowing pledging to continue in 1998-99, senators agreed to expand the pledge program from four weeks to six weeks.

In other business, the senators passed a resolution expressing appreciation to Genevieve, Robert and Sarah Gore for their $17.5 million gift for Gore Hall. A slightly revised proposal regarding the promotion and tenure policies of the College of Engineering also was approved, allowing the "department representative to participate in the discussion and vote on the candidates from his/her own department at the college level, but neither participate nor vote at the departmental level."

Senators also made some revisions to the termination and complaint procedures of the Faculty Welfare and Privileges Committee. The resolution states that "the standard of proof of guilt is that the evidence must be clear and convincing" and allows faculty to influence the content and design of sanctions applied to reluctant hearing witnesses.

Before the meeting, Provost Mel Schiavelli spoke to the senators about next year's incoming class, indicating that 20 percent more minority students had accepted enrollment offers and 1,000 more students were offered financial aid than last year. He also said that the academic quality of Delaware residents accepted was "up significantly."

Noting that "we have responsibility for the rigor and quality of the academic experience," Schiavelli applauded the work of the senate's Ad Hoc Committee on General Education, which, he said, will "set the tone for the institution for many years to come."

Carol Hoffecker, Richards Professor of History and chairperson of the ad hoc committee, told the senators that focus groups of alumni, students and faculty indicated that the multicultural requirements of the current curriculum have been successful, but many students "feel a lack of articulation between their major and the general education requirements." The University should do a better job of preparing students for the real world, she said, indicating that a strong foundation is necessary in the freshman year.

According to information provided the senators, the committee is proposing to create a series of new, four-credit pathway courses, each to enroll 80-100 students and to be taught by a single faculty member assisted by teaching assistants. The pathway courses will be organized into interdisciplinary themes, such as oceanography, food resources, world trade, social justice, bioethics and the like.

Six committees have been formed to work on these courses and related issues through the summer, Hoffecker said. In addition to designing the foundation courses, the committees will determine how to prepare faculty to teach these new courses; how to incorporate critical skills such as writing, math and public speaking; how to mesh the new undergraduate curriculum with the existing one; how to help students expand their studies beyond the classroom, whether through research projects, study-abroad programs, internships or public service; and how to improve student advisement in relation to all of the topics above.

Hoffecker said she expects to bring the senators a complete report in the fall.

-Cornelia Weil