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College Identity

Discussing the Identity of the College as a Liberal Arts Institution

Pursuant to a charge by the Faculty Senate to conduct a campus-wide faculty discussion on the identity of the College as a "liberal arts and sciences university", the organizing committee comprised of Rita Balaban, Jean Everett, Lynne Ford, Alex Kasman, and Simon Lewis, designed a process by which faculty across campus could meet one another and talk about the identity of the College of Charleston during the Spring semester of 2006. The level of participation by the faculty and the amount of interdisciplinary discussion on the true nature of the College of Charleston was both impressive and encouraging. The results of this process are recorded below for immediate use in moving the College forward as well as for archival purposes.

  • Round One: Eighty-seven groups of five faculty each were formed randomly with attention to balancing school, department, and rank within each group. One faculty member in each group was identified as a "convener." The convener was responsible for contacting the other four members of the group and arranging for a time for the members to meet face-to-face. Groups were given two questions to frame their discussion and asked to take a vote on whether or not individuals favored continuing to use the phrase "liberal arts and sciences" to describe the College's identity.

    In total, 327 faculty members participated in this discussion with a vote of 278 in favor of continuing to describe CofC as a "liberal arts and sciences" institution. The answers to the other questions are, of course, more complex. The Round discussions and the documents presented below under "Forum" attempt to either summarize or capture the spirit of these answers. However, those who have the time are encouraged to read the original, unedited responses as contained in the round one responses recorded below.

  • Round Two: Groups in the first round were asked to identify one person from the group to represent their diverse viewpoints in the next stage of the conversation. During this second round, the representatives from the round one teams attempted to "collate" and "synthesize" all of the responses from their respective groups in the first round.
  • Forum: The process itself culminated in a Campus Forum held on Friday, March 24 in the Stern Center Ballroom. President Higdon and Provost Jorgens were in attendance to participate in the dialogue.
    • Opening Remarks: Introduction written and presented by Simon Lewis on behalf of the ad hoc committee.
    • Memo: A memo to the senate from the committee describing the results and our interpretation.
    • Summary: An attempt to present a comprehensive summary of the viewpoints expressed by the faculty in their Round One and Round Two discussions.
    • Minutes: These are notes taken by the secretary of the Faculty Senate at this forum.