By Shaughan Sparks
A war of words took place in the Kennedy Center conference room on Jan. 9.
Hundreds of students flocked to hear Noel Reynolds, the associate academic vice president for undergraduate education, address concerns about a possible overhaul of the Kennedy Center”s academic majors.
Students filled the seats, spilled out into the hallway and stood for hours to speak in opposition to the possible changes.
Reynolds sympathized with the students” feelings, but said lack of faculty support plus lack of funding equal the inevitable elimination of some academic majors.
On the chopping block are the master”s program for international and area studies, the undergraduate majors in European and international studies, and the proposed international development major.
The suggested changes came as a result of a reinvention panel Reynolds headed last semester.
Faculty, students and alumni have condemned the panel”s findings. Some critics say recommendations were reached through an unjust process.
In particular at the meeting, the panel was criticized by one student for being slanted.
Reynolds refuted allegations the panel was biased, insisting he requested faculty members “who would bring mature judgment to the committee but who don”t have a personal stake in the outcome.”
However, Stacie Long, 21, from Federal Way, Wash., displayed evidence the panel didn”t come out according to the ideals Reynolds expressed. Long, who is majoring in international studies with an emphasis in development, said at least one of the panel”s members was biased.
She presented an e-mail sent March 27, 1998 by Clayne Pope, who has served as associate academic vice president and dean of the college of family, home and social sciences. Pope currently serves on the reinvention panel.
His memo said, “My reservations about the master”s program are based on my belief that there cannot be an intellectual basis for the program. … I also worry that the international studies program cannot be based on an intellectual platform and will never develop as a major. I think you should consider its elimination. … Furthermore, I would take these steps now.”
As Long finished reading Pope”s comments, the majority of students cheered in support for her evidence.
In response to this information, Pope said, “I brought opinions to the issues. Those opinions were open to be changed by evidence or by presentations.” He also noted he did not seek a position on the panel. Rather, his membership was requested.
All comments about the proposal, regardless of content, are being reviewed by the panel. Academic vice president Alan Wilkins will consider them before making his final decision about which parts of the proposal to implement.
Comments will be accepted on Jan. 10. Wilkins will then have five days to deliberate before issuing his decision on Tuesday.