February 25th, 2008

  • Location: Sayles-Hill 251
  • Time: 4:15 pm
  • Present: Staff Members: Staff Members: President Rob Oden, Robbie Groth; Faculty Members: Deborah Appleman, Peter Balaam, Victoria Morse, Mary Savina; Students: Tricia England, Evan Rowe, Tim Singer and Tommy Walker.
  • Absent: Staff Members: Scott Bierman, Austin Robinson-Collidge and Fred Rogers; Faculty Member: Sam Patterson; Alumni Observers Sara Anderson and Lee Mauk; Trustee Observer Louise Heffelfinger.
  • Guests: Staff Members: Joe Baggot and Paul Thiboutot; Faculty Members: Justin London and Éva Pósfay; Student Caitlin Fleming.
  • Secretary: Anna Losacano

Approval of Minutes

The minutes from the meeting of January 28, 2008 were approved unanimously.

President’s Report

President Oden opened by sharing with the Council that his recent trip to Egypt with Carleton students went very well. He was excited to see all the ways the student lived up to their Carleton reputation as adventurous and inquisitive. He especially enjoyed seeing how the students were able to study comparative religion first hand and to see the wonderful tours they gave to the visiting alumni.

President Oden also briefly updated the Council on the recent Board of Trustees meeting at which the budget for the 2008-2009 fiscal year was approved. The most important parts of this budget are the Access Scholarships and the addition of four more faculty. President Oden also updated the Council on the capital campaign. The College has passed the $190 million mark on its way to the goal of $300 million. The campaign’s objectives are to contribute to financial aid and the endowment, to finance adding faculty and to increase Carleton’s international footprint. He also reminded the Council that the participation rate in this year’s Alumni Annual Fund, which is usually the highest in the country, is 3% ahead of last year, which is especially impressive considering the state of the economy.

Pre-Freshman Trip Update

Associate Dean of Students and First-Year Student Class Dean Joe Baggot updated the Council on the recent decision to cancel Pre-Freshman Trips. He first outlined the events leading up to the decision. In the last year, the class dean was changed so that the dean no longer follows a class. Instead, the dean is stationary. This means there is a first-year dean, sophomore dean, etc. in hopes that the deans would learn the specific programming needs of each class. Dean Hudlin Wagner then soon asked Joe Baggot to evaluate new student orientation and its two main components: the Pre-Freshman Trips and New Student Week.

After looking at Pre-Freshman Trips it was decided that the trips were wonderful for those who were lucky enough to go on them. Students were able to bond in small groups with students with similar interests. This bonding happened away from the pressures of schoolwork and the students on the trip couldn’t get away to other things. Despite these benefits for the students on the trips, it was decided the trips had harmful consequences. It was decided students not on the trips felt left out and insiders and outsiders existed at the beginning of New Student Week. The Dean’s Office felt that all new students need to have a common starting point and that Pre-Freshman Trips prevented this common starting point. They decided it would be best to end the trips but try to somehow take some of their virtues and spread them throughout New Student Week and the year.

Joe Baggot then addressed the two main criticisms of this decision. The first is that it was the incorrect decision. The second is that the process by which the decisions was made was not open enough. He feels that this second criticism is valid and is working to change this. One main way they are trying to open up the process is by taking proposals from the CSA with the requirements that they create a common starting point for the whole freshman class. There will be an advisory board to review the proposals and to form from them a proposal for Fall 2008 New Student Week. There are also plans to create a permanent advisory board.

The issue was then opened to questions. Student Tricia England first mentioned that she went on a Pre-Freshman Trip and found it invaluable in her adjustment to Carleton. She then discussed the fact that there are other insider groups at Carleton such as sports teams and POSSE and wondered how these other group will be taken into account when trying to create a common starting point. Joe Baggot responded that the College is restricted in their actions with sports teams because the conference establishes when they need to be ready to play and this requires them to be at school early. He addressed the issue of POSSE by saying he believes POSSE’s purpose is more important than any insider or outsider groups it creates. He concluded by saying that the Pre-Freshman Trips were something the College could control and that he believes the College was creating an unnecessary situation of exclusivity.

Student Tommy Walker brought up students’ worries about the need for outdoor education. He commented that there is a huge amount of interest in outdoor education and CANOE has reported getting more and more interest for weekend and spring break trips. Joe Baggot said that this will be taken into account. He also mentioned that the leadership development the trips provided was important and they will also take that into account. Student Tim Singer mentioned that the fact the trips were time away from campus was very important to students. Student Evan Rowe mentioned it was important that whatever replaces the trips remains student directed. He also mentioned that the trips had been instrumental in developing relationships across class years. Student Caitlin Fleming mentioned that it would be great if whatever replaces the trips could appeal to a larger group as possibly the pre-freshman trip options did not appeal to the whole class.

Student Evan Rowe then asked who would make the final decision about what program(s) will replace the trips. Joe Baggot responded that the advisory board will be important but the final decision is his. Faculty Member Peter Balaam then asked whether the insider/outsider issue was also created by economic issues. Joe Baggot responded that there was a fee to participate in the trips. Peter Balaam asked how much the fee was and where the money for a different program would come from. Joe Baggot responded that the fee for the trips was $200 and that he had not calculated how much a replacement program would cost. He concluded by saying the reason for New Student Week is to provide experiences that help students thrive academically and socially at Carleton.

New Access Scholarships Program

Faculty Member and Admissions and Financial Aid Committee (AFAC) Chair Justin London and Director of Admissions Paul Thibotout updated the Council on recent financial aid developments. Professor London reminded the Council of the many recent financial aid developments (mainly involving changes in loan programs) that have contributed to the feeling that Carleton must do something to compete. AFAC began discussing what Carleton could do with a limited budget (initially $250,000.00 for this Fall's entering class) to address these concerns.

They decided to begin a new program called the Access Scholarship as a way to reduce loan debt to the neediest students. To be eligible for a Carleton Access Scholarship, you must be an admitted student, apply and qualify for need-based financial aid and have a family income of less than $75,000 a year. The value of each scholarship will be between $2,000 and $4,000 each year, depending on the student’s family income. Those with the lowest incomes will receive higher scholarships. The scholarship is used to reduce the loan component in each eligible recipient’s aid award. Justin London emphasized the College would like to do more but they hope it will help students reduce loan debt and reduce the pressure of loans on their decisions about their major or graduate school.

Student Tommy Walker asked for clarification on exactly how the loans are calculated. Paul Thibotout responded that financial aid will be calculated and then they will subtract from the loan the amount of the scholarship. Student Evan Rowe asked how they decided on the $75,000 cut off point. Justin London responded that this was the highest amount possible with their budget. Evan Rowe then asked how many students this will affect. Paul Thibotout responded that it will affect 98-100 students in each class, which is about one-fifth of each class.

Student Tricia England encouraged Admissions to consider including a hand out in the admissions packet with information about loans. She suggested it would be helpful, for example, to have something explaining you don’t need to major in economics to pay back your loan. Justin London and Paul Thibotout agreed, commenting that it might be helpful to present an actual repayment schedule. Faculty Member Victoria Morse also mentioned that departments could do more to let students know what different jobs people do with different majors. Justin London also added that the scholarship unfortunately will not help middle-class families.

DIG Update

Associate Dean of the College Éva Pósfay updated the Council on the Diversity Initiative Group’s recent work towards their mission of trying to align the College’s policies with its statement on diversity. The Statement of Discrimination and Academic Freedom as well as the Statement of Non-Discrimination will probably be updated. She also updated the Council on the Subcommittee on Campus Climate. They are having weekly discussions with Sue Rankin, their diversity consultant. The Campus Climate survey should be available online and on paper this April.

DIG is also looking at the retention of black students at Carleton. Last February, staff, faculty and Sue Rankin (by phone) attended a meeting with the Board of Trustees’ Student Affairs Committee to discuss the retention issue and the challenges involved with addressing it. Dean Hudlin Wagner reported that the Board took the issue very seriously and hoped that the campus climate survey will help Carleton know what it needs to reach the goals articulated in the Statement on Diversity.

Pósfay informed the Council about the eight faculty and staff members who attended the ACM FaCE conference on Racial and Ethnic Diversity held last fall at Colorado College. They then reported to the faculty, deans and DIG on the main issues of the conference. One of these issues was diversification of faculty. Ways to diversify the faculty include defining positions more broadly and looking at the curriculum with the hope of attracting underrepresented groups.

The other issue brought back from the conference was the desire for more visibility for DIG. They feel that not enough faculty and staff know about DIG and the issues of diversity the committee is working on. They suggested DIG be restructured. Suggestions for this restructuring include electing or appointed members. President Oden has asked for volunteers to help guide this process.

Pósfay concluded by mentioning the February 12 DIG-endorsed first Chili Night for faculty and staff (supported by the LTC and the Dean’s Office), and the upcoming LTC presentation on “The Faculty Role in Providing Access to a Carleton Education” on February 26 by DIG members and ACM FaCE participants.

Curriculum Review Update and Next Steps

Faculty Member Mary Savina updated the Council on behalf of Scott Bierman on the recent developments related to the Curriculum review. The Curriculum hasn’t been systematically reviewed for forty to fifty years. The curriculum review is guided by their ideas of what they want the Carleton student to be and to do when they graduate. The process began when former dean Shelby Boardman had students study the curriculum in the summer. These students put together reports to consolidate their ideas for the faculty. Then last spring Dean Scott Bierman formed curriculum design teams. With 28 faculty members in these teams, 6 faculty members on EC and 4 faculty reporting members, about 25% of the faculty is participating directly in the process.

The faculty recently heard reports from the three curricular design teams. Each prepared a one page hand-out as well as fifteen pages of text. A Moodle site has been opened for faculty to comment on the proposals. The faculty also discussed the proposals in break-out sessions. Mary Savina noted a trend of moving from comparing the actual plans to more general discussion. She believes more focused discussion is needed for about six broader issues.

The EC will make the final curriculum proposal most likely in the fall of 2008. This spring term there will be continued faculty discussions and opportunities for students to hear more about the proposals. Two proposals will be presented to the faculty to choose from next fall. It’s possible that one of these proposals could be very similar to the current curriculum.

All of the proposals have some features in common. They all include a shared freshman experience. There are breadth requirements (distribution requirements now) featured in all proposals although many are tied to modes of thinking rather than individual departments. Each proposal also had a senior year activity in addition to the comprehensive exercise. This would be a capstone experience related to the transition after college and not to a student’s major.

All the proposals retained the Physical Education requirement (with a reevaluation of credit for club sports), the language requirement and the comprehensive exercise. The curriculum review process will be in hiatus for the next three weeks.

Student Tim Singer thanked the curriculum review groups for taking the club sports issue into account as it an important issue to many students. Student Tricia England asked whether international students’ different levels of English fluency would be taken into account when setting the writing requirement. Faculty member Victoria Morse responded that that was very important. Faculty member Deborah Appleman also commented that they have taken how the student body has changed and who students are as a starting point. She also reminded the Council that the one page hand-outs are only the tip of the iceberg for the proposal and asked that members hold judgment until they see complete proposals.

The meeting adjourned at 5:30 pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Anna Losacano ‘10

College Council Secretary