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Old 02-20-2006, 06:09 PM
Lynne S. Darden Lynne S. Darden is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2005
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Default GDR Transition from CSGS to Theo School

Hey guys, here's the minutes from the GDR special meeting last February 8. Please post your comments here. Thanks!


February 8, 2006

Prepared by Prof. Stephen Moore

Around fifty students attended the meeting and met with Deans Beach, Rogers, and Yardley and GDR Chair Stephen Moore. Rogers relayed Dean Pain’s apologies for his absence, due to his having to attend a funeral. Beach provided a brief, preliminary account of the current state of affairs concerning the proposed relocation of the governance of the graduate programs in religion from the Caspersen School to the Theological School. She stated that the Board of Trustees would not take action on the proposal until their May meeting. She added that the administration and faculty would greatly appreciate student input as discussion goes forward, and invited questions from students.

Questions raised by students during the course of the meeting included the following:

· Would the GDR still be part of the Caspersen School?
· What would students’ diploma say upon graduation and which Dean would sign it?
· Would the admissions selection process remain the same?
· What is the rationale for the proposed relocation?
· Would tuition change?
· Would a PhD or a ThD be offered after the relocation?
· Could the GDR maintain a separate identity within the Theological School? Could it be successfully marketed as such?
· Would the ratio of theological students to graduate students in classes change?
· Would the move compromise current academic standards?
· Would the unique identities of the current graduate programs in religion survive the move?
· Would the move reduce the attractiveness of the programs for non-Christian students?
· How would diversity be maintained if fewer students are admitted to the programs?
· Would it be harder for graduates from the programs to secure positions at secular university if the programs were administered by the Theological School?
· How would the Theological School’s United Methodist affiliation impact the graduate programs?
· Would the Association of Theological Schools need to approve the relocation and will they accredit the graduate programs?

The questions were addressed as they arose by the Deans and/or Moore. Answers were as follows:

· The GDR faculty would fully continue its interdisciplinary collaborations with CSGS programs such as History, Women’s Studies, and African American Studies. The proposed relocation is primarily a shift of governance. It should not be construed as a flight of the religion faculty from the Graduate School. Graduate School connections would remain vital for the identity of the GDR and its constituent faculty and students.
· The diploma would say “Drew University,” as it always has. And the President, the Deans and the Registrar are all in agreement that current students may, if they wish, have their diplomas signed by the Dean of the Graduate School, as in the past.
· The key players in current graduate admissions decisions are the faculty in the individual areas, and that would continue to be the case after the relocation.
· The most pressing reasons for the proposed relocation include: the prospect of an improved graduate curriculum, as the graduate religion faculty attains full control of a curriculum no longer spread between two schools; the prospect of increased efficiency in the administration of the programs, as reduplication of work in the Theo and Grad Schools is eliminated and the administration is streamlined; and the prospect of being able to offer improved financial packages to students, due to the programs being able to benefit from the Theo School endowment.
· Possible reduction in tuition rates for the GDR programs is currently being considered. Comparative research is being undertaken on competitor schools in an effort to determine the “right price” for our graduate programs in religion, and discussion is underway with the chief financial officers of the university. It is not possible at present to predict what the outcome of these various deliberations will be. Any decisions reached will need to be ratified by the Board of Trustees.
· The degree offered after the relocation would continue to be the PhD. There are no plans whatsoever to switch to the ThD.
· Maintaining the GDR as an entity separate from the Theological School, and protecting its independence and identity, is a major concern of the religion faculty as discussion of this move proceeds. A GDR marketing brochure separate from the Theological School catalog is envisioned, and the GDR web pages would continue to be linked to the Caspersen School site.
· We hope to be able to create more seminars open only to PhD students. The necessary critical mass would be generated by offering courses on interdisciplinary topics that would be of interest to PhD students across different disciplines.
· PhD students will continue to be held to a significantly higher academic standard than theological students.
· We hope that certain CLA faculty may be able to teach graduate religion courses (graduate religion faculty teaching undergraduate courses in exchange), in accordance with President Weisbuch’s vision for a more integrated university. This should help increase the appeal of our programs for non-Christian students. The proposed relocation is emphatically not an attempt to “Christianize” the graduate religion programs.
· The graduate religion faculty shares a passion for fostering diversity within the student body, and this will continue regardless of the number of students admitted.
· It should not be more difficult for graduates from our programs to secure positions at secular universities if the programs are administered by the Theological School. The specifics of an applicant’s preparation for the position will be the key factor. Given the kind of scholarship with which our religion faculty is mainly associated, both nationally and internationally, there is little chance of our PhD programs being pegged as narrowly denominational or “excessively Christian” even after the proposed relocation.
· The Theological School’s affiliation with the United Methodist Church will not be allowed to compromise the graduate programs. The religion faculty is adamant on this point.
· Dean Beach has already discussed the proposed relocation with ATS administrator Dan Alshire. His response was unequivocally positive and supportive.

In conclusion, Moore asked that students, faculty and administration remain in conversation around these issues. He suggested the desirability of a student liaison through whom student questions, concerns and suggestions could be funneled to faculty and administration. He also invited students to contact him directly via e-mail or in person.

Last edited by Lynne S. Darden : 02-22-2006 at 05:24 PM.
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