Lawrence speaks about honorary degree issue
At the final faculty meeting of the academic year on Thursday, University President Fredrick Lawrence announced the winner of the Wellington Prize and University Registrar Mark Hewitt disclosed some statistics about the Class of 2014.
The meeting began with a tribute to Prof. Michael T. Gilmore (ENG), which was delivered by Prof. John Burt (ENG). Gilmore, known as Timo by friends and colleagues, passed away at the age of 72 on March 3. Burt highlighted Gilmore’s ability to help students “find what they had to say … and coming to understand that they had something to say at all.” Burt closed by calling Gilmore a role model, a support and a fantastic colleague.
Lawrence began his president’s report with a discussion of the then upcoming commencement exercises, noting that the University has “lived through a tough month as a community.” Lawrence said that much of the reaction to the rescinded degree of Ayan Hirsi Ali was negative, but taught an important lesson in the process.
“The easiest lesson … and therefore most painful, is to have substantially revamped the vetting process,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence continued his discussion of commencement by announcing former executive editor of the New York Times Jill Abramson’s decision to skip the ceremonies, but ended on a more positive note—saying that he was “delighted” with commencement speaker Geoffrey Canada.
The discussion then moved into a report on the incoming Class of 2018, about which Lawrence remarked “all arrows … are pointing in a better and good direction.” Lawrence explained that for the first time in recent history, the University will not need to accept applicants from the waitlist since it has “overaccepted” applicants. Lawrence cited figures of more than 10,000 applicants and a projection that median SAT scores of accepted students were higher than previous years. He also noted that although the criteria for international applicants had risen, it had not deterred more international students from applying.
Prof. Eric Chasalow (MUS) next took the podium and briefly mentioned that a subcommittee on operations, which will be in contact with Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Steve Manos, will be established within the Faculty Senate.
Hewitt then presented statistics on the Class of 2014. He noted that there were 833 bachelor’s degrees awarded to the class, with 142 departmental honors and nine who received the honors in more than one major. Hewitt noted that those figures comprised 17 percent of the class, a figure down two percent from last year.
Hewitt noted that both Latin Honors and departmental honors were “trending downward,” and that double majors declined while triple majors rose in numbers.
Hewitt then went through the voting process to approve the degrees, which was unanimously conferred.
Lawrence continued the meeting with a second reading of a proposal to introduce an English Literature program with a minor in Creativity, the Arts and Social Transformation. With no discussion at the meeting, the motion passed. The program will be introduced starting in the fall for a period of five years before being reviewed, though Lawrence did not specify who would review the program.
Lawrence closed the meeting by announcing that Prof. Ana Villalobos (SOC) was the winner of the Wellington Prize. The prize, created by an anonymous donor, is given to a professor drawn at random and carries a $2,000 stipend that cannot be used for standard scholarly advancement. Villalobos will present a full account of her use of the funds in the fall.