The proposed changes to the General Studies curriculum was voted down Oct. 28 by a full faculty vote, bringing an to end to more than three years of work by Elon faculty and more than two years of work by the General Studies Review Committee. The final vote was 145 against the proposal and 119 in favor.

The committee, which consisted of 18 faculty members from various departments, presented a seven-part proposal that had been passed by the University Curriculum Committee (UCC) in September. The final vote was given to the full faculty because of its significance to the university.

"We deferred the decision to the full faculty because it is such a big proposal and it affects every faculty member across the board," said Jean Schwind, associate professor of English and chair of the Curriculum Committee. "The faculty bylaws provide that if 15 percent of the full-time faculty petition the UCC and say we want to vote on this proposal, then it goes to full faculty."

Elon faculty members voted in favor of the New General Studies Mission Statement and Goals in 2010, a document that outlined the initial proposed changes. But when it came to approving the amended version of the proposal, votes came up short.

"We now have a general studies mission statement and goals and we don't have a curriculum that adequately addresses them," Schwind said.

Although the proposal was voted down by faculty, The Pendulum interviewed numerous professors, none of whom would say on record they voted against the proposed changes.

Primary concerns and opposition expressed in Friday's meeting addressed the proposed additional four semester hours in foreign languages, definitions to some of the new categories in the studies in the arts and sciences and the scope and definition of the Arts and Sciences, according to Rosemary Haskell, professor of English, and Tom Mould, associate professor of sociology and anthropology, co-chairs of the General Studies Review Committee.

The result of the vote comes as a disappointment to the committee, which worked at length creating the proposal to analyze research in general education, hold open forums with faculty and participate in national conferences on general education.

"We are extremely disappointed in this result, needless to say, and wish that more of the debate had been focused on the extensive national research that suggests valuable ways of strengthening Elon's general education program," said Haskell and Mould in a joint statement. "We continue to believe that the proposal is a good one."

This disappointment isn't limited to faculty on the committee. Other faculty members who were looking forward to improvements in the curriculum are also frustrated by the outcome.

"Elon had the opportunity to really advance its general studies curriculum, and unfortunately the faculty as a whole wasn't able to see the positive in the potential change," said Jessie Moore, associate professor of English. "I think that folks had a hard time wanting to put the energy into the changes that it would have required, but we really saw an opportunity for great change at Elon and it didn't happen. I think that there is a lot of division across the faculty about it."

Fred Rubeck, chair of the performing arts department, participated in Friday's discussion and voted on the proposal. Like Moore, he recognizes the disagreement among faculty.

"I cared very much about the issues surrounding the proposal, as did my colleagues in the department," he said. "Clearly there was enough strong opinion to move a majority of the group to vote as they did for all their various reasons. I know that we all want what is best for our students. In this instance I guess we just did not all agree on what this should be."

Some faculty expressed concern over the format of the meeting and the quality of the discussion. Schwind was surprised that the motion of voting separately on the seven parts of the proposal was not discussed; instead, the faculty voted on the proposal as a whole. She noted that the UCC meeting, where the seven parts were each voted on individually, allowed for a more constructive conversation than the full faculty meeting.

"We had a very good discussion of the proposal at the UCC meeting," she said. "We discussed it in detail. We discussed reservations and people responded to things we were worried about. It was very thoughtful, it was very careful, it was very considerate. Thoughtfulness and careful consideration were in short supply on Friday."

Kristin Ringelberg, an Art History professor, was also surprised when the motion to vote on the entire proposal was brought up for the first time at the meeting. Ringelberg had made a suggestion per Academic Council recommendations that all amendments be submitted in advance so the council could discuss them prior to the meeting. But only one amendment was submitted.

"Some of the things that were brought forward at the meeting were brand new to most in the room, and I don't think we had the time and forum to discuss them adequately and vote in a truly informed manner," she said.

The meeting, which was led by the Academic Council, was held in Whitley Auditorium from 3:00 to 5:30 p.m. Faculty were told that the meeting would end at 5:30 p.m. regardless of the state of discussion at the point, which concerned those who recognized the irony in rushing the meeting after spending a considerable amount of time working on and learning about the proposal.

"I think a decision of this magnitude should not be driven in part by the urge to have a shorter meeting," Ringelberg said. "The proposal was quite different by the end than it was at the beginning of the meeting, and to then rush our consideration of it seems foolhardy."

Mould and Haskell are hopeful that some parts of the proposal will be re-considered and potentially end up in a future version of Elon's General Studies curriculum. For now, Moore sums up the sentiment felt by much of the faculty. "It's definitely a disappointing day at Elon," she said.

Correction: In the original version of this story, as printed in the Nov. 2 edition of The Pendulum, Kirstin Ringelberg's name was misspelled.