Considerably more difficult to capture are the qualitative changes occurring in
the academic world of the college. The universal official assumption mixes together
scholarly degrees with scholarship and scholarship with teaching. To what degree
this is true in practice is a question most committees on tenure either wrestle
over as individuals come up for tenure or establish a priori and then agonize over
the consequences. Certainly more was involved in the changes between 1945 and 1967
than simple growth of numbers. The curriculum became richer.
The tendency in the disciplines of the nineteenth century such as English, mathematics,
and the sciences was toward enlargement of staff and a greater number of specialized
courses. In the later forties mathematics had a staff of three; by 1967 - 68, it
had risen to seven. English, over the same period, went from four to eight. Latin
and Greek remained the same: one each. Romance languages went from two to three.
It is in the areas of the fine arts and the social sciences that the most noticeable
Arts, unrepresented in the curriculum down to the thirties, had a staff of three,
including part-timers, in 1968. In 1946-47, one man taught history and government.
By 1967, political science was a full-fledged department of two men, while history
had grown to six (one of whom was part-time). One man in 1946 had taught both economics
and sociology; in 1967, there were three men in economics and two in sociology.
The one man who had taught philosophy and English Bible had been replaced by two
philosophers and three theologians. Psychology as an independent department had
appeared with Noble McEwen in 1948 and by the late sixties had three men. By 1963,
the school had its own great calculating engine and was offering a course in Introduction
to Digital Computation, better known now as computer science.
The proliferation of courses constituted a qualitative change as well as the obvious
quantitative change. The tradition of hand cultivation that had characterized the
Blackwell era could not be continued in the same form in a college with two or three
times as many students and four or five times as many faculty members. The effort
of the faculty to resolve the problem between such an ideal and the reality ultimately
produced a curricular solution, or more properly, a series of curricular solutions.
Although the philosophy is not clearly articulated in these terms, the effect of
change in the period 1947 to 1967 was to make the academic program the means of
controlling the student's intellectual growth, rather than the consensus of faculty
opinion. The press of business, the increasing complexity of problems, the extension
of meetings of the faculty by virtue of a greater number of opinions being expressed
allied to seeking answers to individual problems outside the meeting of the whole
faculty. The evidence from the minutes suggests that far from being the result of
a consciously expressed philosophy, this change occurred in bits and pieces. The
old traditional practice of academic oversight yielded reluctantly and gradually
to a new method.
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Reprinted from Professor James Scanlon's Randolph-Macon College: A Southern History