Tuesday, February 27, 2007

News: Major Paperwork

Accreditation, from the dean's office to Albany

Linh Tran

By Linh Tran

As heavy three-ring binders slowly make their way from Eugene Lang College’s mailbox to the New York State Department of Education in Albany, Lang moves ever closer to offering its students state-certified majors.

For years, the only major offered at the college was a Bachelor’s of Arts in Liberal Arts. According to administrators, though, a full list of majors will be offered at Lang as soon as next semester.

“I’m hoping by the end of next year that we could have everything done,” said Kathleen Breidenbach, Associate Dean of Lang.

The Department of Education has already approved four majors. These include Psychology, Philosophy, Economics and Culture & Media, which will replace the Cultural Studies concentration. The Dean’s Office is currently preparing proposals for majors in History, Political Science and Social Inquiry, while the Provost’s Office is reviewing The Arts, the new Arts in Context major.

Lang has always offered "concentrations," which are, essentially, majors that have not been registered with the state. The requirements for a concentration are more flexible because they are not accredited.

The accreditation process for an individual major begins when faculty of each concentration review the existing program and create a curriculum for the major. Then, they submit the curriculum to the Dean’s Office to be reviewed. The curriculum is passed back and fourth until both the Dean’s Office and the concentration's faculty agree on a final product. Then, the Dean’s Office begins to compile information on each professor and every class they teach.

“It’s not a top-down thing—it’s a bottom-up thing from the faculty of Lang,” said Liz Ross, Vice Provost of The New School.

The bulk of the work consists of gathering each professor's curriculum vitae, or academic résumé. The curriculum vitae are then collected into a binder along with the syllabi for every class taught in that particular concentration.

The proposals need to show that Lang has the faculty resources to support the major. The Dean’s Office must outline the classes that will be offered within the major and decide how often they will be available. They are also responsible for naming the professors that will teach the courses.

“It’s hard to imagine just how much work it is,” Breidenbach said. “It’s hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of little details.”

The proposal is then passed on to the Provost’s Office for review. Ross and her assistant review its text and forward questions back to the Dean’s Office. Once the Provost’s Office is satisfied, the proposal is sent to all of the different departments of The New School to sign off. Each department has to review their resources and decide if they need to make changes in order to support majors. The binders are then finally shipped to the Department of Education.

On average, the Department hands down a decision after a time period of anywhere from one to eighteen months. The discussion does not end in Albany, though—the Department commonly has questions for the school about proposals. Ross handles all contact with Albany.

The Liberal Arts major will continue to be available at Lang after the new majors are available, administrators told Inprint. Students who have already declared concentrations in approved majors, though, do have the option of graduating with a degree in their specific field, provided they have completed all of the new requirements.

“I don’t think it’s really going to be as drastic a change as people think it is,” said Ava Herceg, sophomore at Lang. “It’s all just semantics. We’re still going to get the same education.”

Josh Kurp contributed reporting.

No comments: