FAS Dean is Ill; Curriculum Review Continues

The president urged the faculty to address the business at hand so all present could “give a good account of ourselves” when Knowles was able to resume his duties...

The president urged the faculty to address the business at hand so all present could “give a good account of ourselves” when Knowles was able to resume his duties...

Faculty of Arts and Sciences interim dean Jeremy R. Knowles was absent from the faculty meeting on Tuesday, April 17—the second of three weekly sessions at which legislation on the undergraduate general-education curriculum is being amended. Interim president Derek Bok began the meeting by announcing that “[F]or some time, Jeremy has been battling prostate cancer.” Last week, he said, Knowles had had a “setback,” resulting in “acute and persistent pain,” so on doctors’ orders he was at home while physicians at Massachusetts General Hospital work on an effective means of relief. Bok said he had spoken with Knowles on the previous day, that the dean was in good spirits, and that he hoped to be back at work shortly. The president urged the faculty to address the business at hand so all present could “give a good account of ourselves” when Knowles was able to resume his duties.

In a message circulated to the faculty Tuesday evening, Knowles wrote:

“I am sorry that I had to miss today’s Faculty Meeting and our continuing discussion of General Education.

“A few years ago I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, but—with superb medical care—this didn’t really affect my decanal routine. The past several weeks have become a bit more complicated, however, and today I’ve begun a rather more aggressive treatment. So I’ll be working from home for a week or so, trusting (and believing!) that I shall be fully re-harnessed thereafter.

“Meanwhile, my splendidly supportive colleagues in University Hall will—I know—keep the wheels of University Hall turning smoothly.

“As Christopher Robin put on his door for Winnie-the-Pooh to read:  ‘Bak Sun’!”

In Knowles’s absence, Weary professor of German and comparative literature Judith L. Ryan, a member of FAS’s executive Faculty Council, led the discussion. Faculty members continued detailed debate on and amendment of a lengthy and complex draft motion for the new College general-education courses, intended to succeed the Core curriculum. Ryan had led the drafting of the motion, based on the recommendations of the faculty’s general-education task force (see “General Education, Finally Defined,” March-April, page 68).

A final discussion of the motion is scheduled for next Tuesday, April 24. If all amendments are addressed on time, the faculty will begin a full debate at its regularly scheduled meeting on May 1, from which may emerge the last component of the comprehensive undergraduate curriculum revision begun four years ago.

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