March 19, 1998
Vol. 17, No. 12

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    Senate council approves report of Committee for Year of Reflection

    The Council of the University Senate voted overwhelmingly this month to approve the report of the Faculty Committee for a Year of Reflection.

    The committee was formed in 1996 in response to President Sonnenschein's call for an increase in the size of the College from its then size of 3,500 students to approximately 4,500 students over a period of 10 years. The committee report, which is published in today's issue of the University Record (see insert), makes several recommendations to ensure that the expansion takes place in ways consistent with the University's historic commitments to top-quality teaching and research.

    "We have a unique intellectual culture at Chicago," said Melvyn Shochet, the Elaine M. and Samuel J. Kersten Jr. Professor in Physical Science and spokesman of the Committee of the Council. "We want to be sure that this culture is preserved by continuing to provide a Chicago-style undergraduate education in a larger College, while also maintaining the very best graduate teaching and research."

    Shochet said the key to that effort will be a partnership between the faculty and the administration to plan for and monitor the growth during two distinct phases. In the first phase, which will last two years, two key faculty governing bodies -- the Committee of the Council of the Faculty Senate and the Committee of the College Council -- will study the quality of the applicant pool, and predict and offer responses to any expected effects of a larger college on either teaching quality or research. In the second period, the councils will monitor the slow growth in the College and offer any necessary modifications to the process.

    While the student-faculty ratio will increase slightly as the College grows -- from its current 4-to-1 to about 5-to-1 -- Chicago's ratio will still be lower than that of any other major university in the country.

    "I'd say I'm optimistic about this effort," Shochet said. "I think it will allow us to provide a Chicago education to more of the very best students, and to do it in a way that preserves what makes Chicago such a unique institution."

    In addition to the vote on the size of the College, other recent innovations in the College include the creation of several new study-abroad programs in foreign language and civilization, as well as a new curriculum in the biological sciences.