May Term grading, study abroad change this year

by Sarah LefeberStaff Writer

Changes are in store for graduating seniors and students as faculty reviews graduation requirements as well as cornerstone offerings for May Term.

This year’s graduating seniors will have the chance to raise their status at graduation, as grades for May Term will be taken into account before the graduation ceremonies.

John Bolen, associate academic dean and registrar, said the new procedure will not hurt students’ graduation status, but rather it will only be used for those who are on the border between two levels.

For example, if a student graduating magna cum laude before May Term would graduate summa cum laude with his or her May Term grade, it will be factored into his or her GPA before graduation ceremonies.

According to Bolen, the policy only affects approximately 10 to 15 graduating seniors. The rest of the seniors’ May Term grades will be calculated into their final GPA but not at the time of graduation. This is done so the seniors who need their May Term grade will benefit, while the rest of the professors will have more time to calculate final grades.

“No student will be harmed by this,” Bolen said. “Any getting a change will get a bump.”

Senior Kelsey Volkens said she is definitely in favor of the change, as she is one of the students who will be affected by it.

“I’m definitely for it,” Volkens said. “I’m .02 away from graduating with honors, so I’m glad they’re coming on board with the idea.”

Aside from the grading changes in May Term, three domestic study trips will now count towards students’ cornerstone six requirement – Minority Perspective.

Professor of Philosophy John Pauley said these three courses, The Call of Service, Discovering Paha Sapa and Communities at Work, fulfill exactly what cornerstone six was designed to do.

“I’m doing whatever I can do to help students out in fulfilling their requirements without sacrificing the quality of the program,” Pauley said. “There’s no reason why those classes shouldn’t be cornerstone six.”

Pauley said the change in the May Term classes is just part of a curriculum-wide review.

“We’re going to be going into a longer, bigger process of probably reviewing the whole cornerstone program,” Pauley said. “It hasn’t really been brought up for serious review like what kinds of big changes maybe could be made, that hasn’t happened for a long time.”

He said that the process is in the beginning stages, saying that as far as student opinions go, “the more input, the better.” Welcoming their contributions, he said, students may call him with any suggestions they have.

While he will be listening to students’ opinions, he will also be looking at other schools similar to Simpson for new ideas.

“I am really interested in getting people to think about the cornerstone program and looking at other schools,” Pauley said. “We will look at how other schools do their basic general requirements at good liberal arts colleges and see if maybe there are better ways of doing this.”

Pauley also emphasized the fact that the Simpson Web site now has a place where students can read detailed course descriptions about senior colloquium classes. The description will include an overview of the course and a description of the topics covered instead of simply general information such as the name of the professor and time for the class.