Garrett P. Kirk ’24
Faculty met early this week to discuss two possible motions regarding academic policies for the spring. The first motion proposed that three classes be considered a full course load for seniors who are scheduled to graduate in the spring. The motion ultimately passed unanimously by a vote of 66 to one with one abstention following deliberation.
Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of History Cheryl Greenberg commended the faculty given the nature of the challenging decision presented, while also suggesting that Trinity hire more professors to teach additional courses in order to combat the difficult job market for academics. Greenberg noted this as more of a generalized concern than a criticism of the school, however.
Acting Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs Sonia Cardenas noted in response to Professor Greenberg’s point that Trinity has added over 70 new courses while hiring new professors to offset the challenges presented by COVID. Cardenas also mentioned that the college has been going through the same experiences as all of their peer schools. Cardenas said that the school’s response to COVID was intentional, that it would be unwise to have 100 students in a remote course as this would be inconsistent with the liberal arts pedagogy Trinity uses.
Cardenas mentioned that while this practice has been logistically complicated she doesn’t think the issue at hand is a case of not adding sections, given the fact that the college has been more liberal than ever in that respect.
Cardenas added that she has recently engaged a consultant who used to be the Registrar at Duke University to do a thorough review of Trinity’s registration process. This consultant will be speaking with the chairs, faculty, and students. Cardenas cited this development as a way for Trinity to improve as a whole, as she suspects there is more going on with the class sizes and the registration procedure than just Covid.
The second motion presented to the faculty proposed that students on academic probation will not have this distinction show up on their transcript. Faculty noted the challenges of learning in a COVID-19 semester and discussed how they did not want this to negatively affect students in their job search.
Allan K. Smith and Gwendolyn Miles Smith Professor of English Hilary Wyss noted to the faculty that this policy may look familiar because Trinity had in fact already instituted this practice but for the fall only, and that this is simply extending it to the spring. This motion passed with 92 percent of the faculty upholding the proposal.
The faculty passed similar proposals last March that afforded relief to students amidst the unprecedented academic upheaval prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.