Worcester Polytechnic Institute

A Planning Program for Worcester Polytechnic Institute: The Future of Two Towers - Part Four: A Plan



The Plan for WPI is designed to meet the Goal of the College to impart to the individual student an understanding of a sector of science and technology and a mature understanding of himself and the needs of the people around him.

The Plan is structured so that the student himself would be responsible and accountable for his life style and for his becoming educated. The Plan requires that the student, supported by excellent instruction and an effective advisory system, demonstrate that he can learn on his own, that he can translate learning into worthwhile action, and that he has become aware of the interrelationships among basic knowledge, technology and human need.

The Plan is flexible enough to accommodate the varying backgrounds, needs, and maturities of students. With its innovations and sound academic approach, it is a justifiable and exciting undertaking for an independent college of engineering and science. It would create a community where both the student and the faculty member would find about them a group of people enjoying learning and attempting to solve some of the most difficult problems of the time.

Undergraduate Degree Requirements

The Bachelor of Science degree from Worcester Polytechnic Institute would be awarded upon completion of the following:

1. A normal residence of 16 Terms.*

2. Acceptable or Distinguished completion of a Comprehensive Examination in the major field of study.

3. Qualification in a minor field of study either by Sufficiency Examination or by overall evaluation of two Units of work in the area. Students majoring in a scientific or engineering field would normally fulfill the requirement in a humanities area. Students majoring in a humanities area would normally fulfill this requirement in a scientific or engineering area.

4. At least two Units established by Acceptable or Distinguished work in an advanced level activity involving Independent-Study or Project work. one of these Units would have to be in the student's major field. An activity relating science or technology to society is recommended for the second Unit. Examinations may not be substituted for this requirement.

*Students with exceptional backgrounds or who would have demonstrated unusual accomplishment at WPI might, upon recommendation of the Council of Advisors (See IX, THE ADVISORY PROGRAM), take their Comprehensive Examination before the completion of the normal 16 Terms and receive their degree early if other requirements were met. In any case, however, early examination would not be recommended before completion of 8 Units in residence.

Educational Program

Each student's academic program would consist of a mixture of Independent-Studies/Projects, Studies, and Study-Conferences selected to meet his individual goal and the College's degree requirements.

One of the most important aspects of the proposed educational program is that each student, in conjunction with his advisor, would structure his own program. Thus, in a very literal and practical sense, each student's course of study would be tailor-made for him, and he would have a large part in the tailoring process. The average WPI student, while concentrating in the scientific, technical, and sociological areas, would most benefit by establishing a minor in a humanities area to increase his personal perspective and ability to make reasonable judgments.

The overall educational program would be conducted as follows: Studies and the lecture portion of Study-Conferences would be given to relatively large groups (but less than 100 students) and would be formally scheduled.

The Conference portion of Study-Conferences, formally scheduled, and IS/P's would be conducted in small groups, providing for close personal contact between students and faculty. Short "how-to-do-it" presentations would be available on demand to aid in acquiring specific techniques as needed. The Intersession period would be devoted to concentrated presentations of specific topics.

Some students would undoubtedly wish to follow programs similar to current departmental programs, and they could so allot their time; but the allocation of effort for traditional programs or for new combinations would vary for the average, above average, or for the outstanding student. Such a student-centered and flexible curriculum should develop self-reliance and responsibility in the student. This aspect, coupled with meaningful humanities and project work, would enable the WPI graduate to make real contributions to the society of which he becomes a part.

Advisory Program

It would be the responsibility of the advisor to assist his advisees in defining their educational goals, and developing with them academic programs directed toward achieving those goals. The advisor would direct his advisees in their preparation for their Comprehensive and Sufficiency Examinations and would ultimately certify that they were ready for those examinations. Occasionally, he might have to recommend to the Council of Advisors that one of his advisees withdraw from the College. The assignment of a faculty member to the role of advisor must be based on his interest in students, the diversity and depth of his knowledge, his commitment to the academic program, and on a thorough analysis of the way he could best contribute to the total educational program. The advising, of course, should be recognized as an integral part of the faculty member's teaching assignment.

The Council of Advisors would have responsibility for the overall operation of the advisory program, supported by the Registrar's office, Faculty Curriculum Committee, and Committee on Academic Policy.

The Registrar would be the executive secretary of the Council of Advisors, and would supply secretarial support to the advisors, maintain the student transcripts, and record the evaluations of faculty members. Two other groups would play particularly important roles in the advising system, the Independent-Study/Project supervisors and the faculty groups preparing and evaluating the Comprehensive and the Sufficiency Examinations. Calendar

The Calendar recommended consists of four seven-week Terms; a three-week January Intersession for a series of special, intensive seminars; and an optional seven-week Summer Term.

Each Term consists of 35 class days followed by a recess of approximately five days. The first Term begins early in September; two Terms are completed before the Christmas recess of approximately two weeks; and the fourth Term is completed before the end of May. Three weeks are provided throughout the year for comprehensive evaluation and program review. Environmental Principles

A campus environment must be created to help the student assume the role of an adult in a community. This environment includes his total experience--his living, social life, and day-to-day relations with staff; fellow students, and Worcester community.

The College would encourage each student to make his own decisions and be fully accountable for them and to develop and demonstrate his many capabilities. The environment would provide a congenial atmosphere for living, where the common campus morality would be good manners, not a set of rules. To the extent that the undergraduate population exceeds 1500, it would become increasingly difficult to provide the kind of environment needed.

Graduate Studies

The graduate program should support the educational Goal of WPI and should complement the undergraduate program. In considering the development of areas of graduate research emphasis or support, the governing criterion should be the relevance of the program to the Goal of the College and to the education of our students. Programs that support this criterion should receive funding priority.

Only those graduate areas that show strong promise of significant self-support should be given Institute funding for development. Such funding should be sufficient to provide for realistic development, but it should be for a limited time period.

For the immediate future a large portion of the energies of the faculty should be devoted to implementing the proposed undergraduate program. In the meantime the present graduate program should be strengthened, but no major change in this program should be attempted concurrently with the changes in the undergraduate program.

It is expected that as the undergraduate program gains momentum, a multidisciplinary graduate interest and need would evolve. This interest and need should be developed into a graduate effort that meshes naturally with the undergraduate program.

Organizational Concepts

Generally, the administrative structure of colleges or universities is the responsibility of the boards of trustees and presidents with their administrative officers. The faculty should play an advisory role to insure that the administrative structure promotes the educational goal of the college. To this end, only those organizational concepts considered important to the functioning of the Plan are considered.

The work of the present Dean of Faculty would be divided into two parts under a Dean of Academic Resources and a Dean of Program Operations. The two Deans would report to an Academic Vice-president.

The Dean of Academic Resources would direct the faculty groupings, the library, the computation center, and consortium instruction. Chairmen of faculty groups would report to the Dean of Academic Resources, would have primary responsibility for the recruitment and development of faculty, and should be appointed for renewable terms of service with the advice and consent of the faculty concerned. The faculty groupings must be flexible enough to sustain capabilities in areas where perhaps only one person with a particular disciplinary interest would be on campus. The groupings should encourage meaningful faculty and student interaction among engineer, science, humanities, and social science fields.

The Dean of Program Operations would be responsible for Study, Study-Conference, and Independent-Study/Project operations. He would, in co-operation with the Dean of Academic Resources, draw upon faculty from the academic resource groupings as needed.

A graduate program should be incorporated within the same organizational pattern. A co-ordinator of graduate studies should be appointed to serve the special needs of graduate efforts. He should report to the Dean of Program Operations.

The organizational structure should be integrated with the advisory system and with the faculty government outlined in the CONSTITUTION OF THE WPI FACULTY.

[WPI] [Library] [Table of Contents] [Top]

Last modified: Fri Mar 5 15:28:11 EST 1999