This open letter to the Simpson College community is being written to clear-up any potential misunderstanding about the recent activities of the Educational Policies and Curriculum Committee and the Learning Programs Working Group. First, a bit of background might be helpful.
The EPCC is the faculty committee responsible for vetting potential changes to the curriculum of the college before they are sent to the full faculty for approval. The committee meets at least twice per month throughout the academic year. It is made up of faculty, administrators and students. Changes in general education requirements, majors, new courses and other academic issues must normally pass through EPCC before the faculty vote on them. The LPWG is a special task force created by me to address the issues raised in last year’s strategic planning process and to review the state of our current academic program. It is made up of faculty, members of the student development area, and administrators. We recently added students. The LPWG has been meeting since September 2007.
Early in this semester, the LPWG sent the EPCC a list of proposals it believed that would strengthen the academic program and the Simpson Experience for students. The proposals were essentially ideas for future exploration that the LPWG felt faculty should discuss and indicate whether or not they (the faculty) believed were something that might work at Simpson College. It was not the intention of the LPWG that the proposals if approved by faculty would be immediately implemented. The EPCC reviewed the proposals, suggested some changes, and forwarded them to the faculty for discussion and a vote. This is the normal process of making large changes to the curriculum at Simpson College and other institutions. Both the LPWG and the EPCC knew that much more information would need to be collected before the ideas in the proposals could be implemented. The decision to take the proposals to the full faculty was a request to find out if the proposed changes were headed in the right direction, and to hear the concerns of the community, should the proposed changes be implemented. This discussion and vote happened on April 2, 2008. This letter is to bring you up to date on what happened and where we are now.
Most of the ideas presented in the EPCC/LPWG proposals received positive feedback in the faculty voting. This does not mean that we will move ahead with implementing the proposed changes, it simply means that a majority of faculty believe that more information about the ideas should be gathered before a final decision is made. Students and other members of the community should know that no changes will be made that reduce the educational or financial integrity of the college, or lessen the quality of the Simpson Experience. Quite the contrary, changes will only be made if there is enough evidence to suggest that making them would strengthen the college and the student experience. It is especially important to note that the earliest any changes might be made would be the fall of 2010 and even then, care would be taken not to disadvantage any current student in completing existing programs and majors.
With the information gained from students, faculty, and staff, during the open meetings and discussions, the LPWG will continue to gather the information needed to answer the important questions that remain about the proposals and their potential impact on the college. At the same time, the LPWG will also be discussing potential changes to the Cornerstone Program. In the coming weeks and months, there will be many more open meetings and opportunities for community members to provide feedback on the ideas that come from the LPWG discussions. It is important to remember, no final vote on any of the issues is expected until the spring of 2009, at the earliest.
The EPCC and the LPWG pledge to involve all members of the Simpson community in the continuing discussions about how to enhance and strengthen the Simpson Experience. They look forward to future discussions and working together to make sure that the education at Simpson College continues to be of the highest quality and one that responds to the changing needs of Simpson students.