Standard Four: The Academic Program


When students direct their own education, in consultation with intensively engaged faculty advisors, they learn to think independently, explore questions from multiple points of view, and develop habits of critical thinking that are hallmarks of a liberal education. Wesleyan upholds the principle that student choice fosters the drive to explore freely and seek connections across courses, generating the intellectual excitement that can fuel liberal education as a lifelong pursuit. Wesleyan espouses an open curriculum, admitting students who are poised to thrive in a flexible environment, who are intensely motivated to study broadly and deeply, and who push themselves and their peers to excel beyond what they may have thought possible.

The Wesleyan curriculum challenges students to create their own plan for general education. Academic coherence does not rely on a core curriculum or a set of required courses; instead, students propose their academic plan to their faculty advisors and recalibrate it with their advisors each semester as their discoveries lead them to pursue new areas or deepen existing strengths.

With the freedom to sample liberally from across the curriculum, students are able to experience the surprise of unexpected ability in fields new to them and to make fruitful connections across subject areas that do not traditionally intersect. This can generate innovative depth of study and new ways of seeing—with students posing questions from one discipline to the assumptions of another.i

Naturally there are challenges, and not all hopes are realized. Advising, so important, could be stronger still. The curriculum may be wide-ranging, but some areas are more popular than others, and difficulties of course access may skew the decisions students make. Nor is the openness of the curriculum always easily reconciled with Wesleyan’s general education expectations. And while double majors are common here, they tend not to involve disparate disciplines to the degree many assume.ii More on these and other challenges, including the interplay with Wesleyan’s graduate programs and the vexed question of learning outcomes, below.


Undergraduate Program

Wesleyan awards the Bachelor of Arts degree with 47 majors to about 700 graduating seniors yearly, with an undergraduate population of approximately 2900.


Arts & Humanities

Social Sciences

Natural Sciences & Mathematics

Interdisciplinary Programs

Art History



African American Studies

Art Studio

College of Social Studies


American Studies

Classical Civilizations






Computer Science

East Asian Studies

College of Letters


Earth & Environmental Sciences

Environmental Studies




Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies



Molecular Biology & Biochemistry

Latin American Studies

Film Studies


Neuroscience & Behavior


French Studies



Medieval Studies

German Studies



Russian & East European Studies

Italian Studiesiii



Science in Society

Iberian Studies



University Studies





Romance Studies
















Academic regulations for the B.A. degree require a student to: (1) satisfy the requirements of a major; (2) complete 32 course credits, of which no more than 16 credits in one department can be counted toward the degree requirementsiv; (3) maintain a cumulative average grade of 74 (equivalent to a letter grade of C-); and (4) complete at least six semesters in full-time residency at Wesleyan (fewer for transfer students). The major in University Studies allows students to define their own program of study.v

Wesleyan maintains programs with Columbia University, the California Institute of Technology, and Dartmouth for students wishing to combine the study of engineering with a broad background in the liberal arts.

The University offers 11 interdisciplinary certificates, each of which allows students to study in a coherent manner an otherwise disparate range of topics. Students who complete the requirements for one or more certificates have a notation on the transcript. Most certificates require students to complete about seven courses in specific areas or categories; some require a minimum grade point average; each has a faculty director.


Civic Engagement

Informatics & Modeling

Jewish & Israel Studies

Molecular Biophysics

Environmental Studies

International Relations

Middle Eastern Studies

Social, Cultural, & Critical Theory


South Asian Studies

Study of Education


The University by-laws assign responsibility for the Wesleyan curriculum to faculty, and faculty have delegated routine review to the Educational Policy Committee (EPC), which is an elected, standing committee of six tenured and tenure-track faculty plus two undergraduates and one graduate student. The EPC meets weekly during the academic year, conducts reviews of academic departments and programs, and regularly surveys their practices (most recently regarding capstones and FYI courses, for example).

The EPC has recently identified and taken actions to improve the system for pre-major advisee assignments (discussed below), the course access problem (partially resolved by requiring courses to be distributed more evenly across the time of day and day of week) and the abuse of the option of repeating courses for credit. It oversaw and regulated the 2008 adaptation of the teaching evaluation form to an online version. The EPC continues to seek to provide curricular coherence and multiple pathways through the Wesleyan course structure. In 2011, for example, EPC generated a proposal for minors—a traditional construct in academia but new to Wesleyan. The proposal was approved by the faculty, and Wesleyan’s first minors have been instituted in Economics, Archaeology, and German Studies. Through the proactivity of the EPC, faculty governance over the academic program is nimble, responsive, decisive in addressing critical problems, and focused on long-term solutions through consultation and extensive deliberation with all potentially affected groups.


It is unusual for an institution known principally as a liberal arts college to have a graduate program. That said, Wesleyan’s basic requirements for the M.A. and PhDdegrees are not unusual for universities. For the M.A., we require a minimum of 6 to 8 courses (depending on the department) beyond the B.A. degree. We also require a thesis, and there is an M.A. exam, either oral or written or both, depending on the department. Normally it requires two years of study to complete an MA degree for a student arriving from outside Wesleyan and one year for a Wesleyan B.A./M.A. student.

With respect to the PhD, there are no set course requirements, but every department administers an oral and/or written comprehensive exam that the student must pass. Normally the student takes courses for two or three years to prepare for the exam. Which courses and how many depends on their prior preparation, among other things. A PhD thesis is, of course, required and must be a significant, original contribution to the field of study. The student must defend his/her thesis either before a committee of faculty or before the entire department or both. It normally requires a minimum of 4 years to obtain a PhD degree.

Eight departments at Wesleyan have graduate programs leading to a PhD or M.A. degree: Astronomy (M.A. only), Biology, Chemistry, Earth & Environmental Sciences (M.A. only), Mathematics and Computer Science, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Music, and Physics. In addition, any Wesleyan department may admit students and organize a program of study for them leading to the M.A. degree, although this happens only rarely.

The graduate program is administered by the Graduate Council, which consists of representatives from each of the eight departments, a Director of Graduate Studies appointed by the Provost, the Director of the Office of Graduate Student Services (OGSS), and two graduate students. There are currently 123 full-time students in graduate programs. All of them receive tuition waivers and support for living expenses either as Teaching Assistants or Research The OGSS oversees graduate student compliance with degree requirements and supports graduate student life at Wesleyan.


Graduate Program

M.A. and PhD Degree Programs

The graduate program is a key part of what attracts many faculty in the sciences, mathematics, and music to come herevii. Graduate students make it possible for faculty members in these areas to participate fully in the scholar-teacher model. Grad students perform in music ensembles, serve as tutors in the Math Workshop program, and work on research teams in the field and in the laboratory. They are vital to science faculty who face stiff competition for the external funding required to carry on frontier research. The existence of graduate programs allows outstanding undergraduates the opportunity to do research alongside graduate students and to take graduate level courses for undergraduate credit.

It is not uncommon for graduate students at Wesleyan to sit in classes with undergraduates; the University, being relatively small, does not have enough staff to warrant separate courses on similar topics. (This is, of course, a real benefit for some undergraduates because it gives them access to an advanced class that they might not get at an exclusively undergraduate institution.)

When graduate and undergraduate students are both present in a class, expectations for their contributions and performance are different. Ways in which this plays out exactly depend on the class and the instructor, but the most common are: 1) graduate students may have extra or different homework assignments, 2) they may have additional class meetings, usually in the form of seminars, 3) they may have different reading assignments, often involving current research literature, 4) they may have different expectations within class, often involving their own class presentations on some parts of the course work, and 5) they are graded on a different basis, requiring a B- or better to get credit for passing the course.

The administrative structure of the graduate program is decentralized with most power vested in the departments, which handle admission, recruiting, and management of stipend budgets. The Graduate Council exists as the legislative body of the program but leaves most of the actual operations to the individual departments.

With regards to admission, each department has its own process and deadlines but makes use of a common application form. The lack of full standardization of the process can sometimes be problematic for the OGSS, which has not always been made aware of departmental decisions in a timely fashion. The OGSS is committed to finding ways to improve the admissions process.viii

Almost all graduate students during their first two years serve as teaching assistants as part of their service to the University and their training as future professionals in their fields. The Director of Graduate Studies organizes an annual Graduate Pedagogy course for arriving students designed to ease their transition from student to teacher. Only rarely do graduate students teach a course on their own; more commonly they serve as teaching assistants. In either case, they receive close mentoring from their faculty advisor.

(For more on graduate students at Wesleyan, see Standard 6.)

B.A./M.A. Program

In addition to its regular graduate program, Wesleyan has a B.A./M.A. program for undergraduates that allows them to stay for a fifth year and earn an M.A. degree. Students admitted to this program receive tuition waivers for the fifth (M.A.) year but do not receive stipends and do not typically have any teaching duties. Graduate student housing is available to them. These students must be sponsored by a faculty member who will serve as the student’s advisor and with whom the student will conduct research. The main purpose is to provide an extra year of course work and research for students who would benefit from that before moving on in their academic careers. The number of spaces is limited to 23. A three-person committee of the Graduate Council oversees admission decisions and administration of the program. While the tuition waiver is clearly generous, the absence of stipends means that students who are of socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds are not as able to apply for the program as other students whose parents can assist with their living costs. 

Continuing Studies

The Graduate Liberal Studies (GLS) program, established in 1953 and administered by The Office of Continuing Studies, awards the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree and the Master of Philosophy in the Liberal Artsix to students who study on a part-time basis in evening and take summer courses. There are approximately 280 active GLS students during any given year, and the program graduates between 45 and 80 students each spring. The program offers adult students, many of whom completed college several years (or decades) ago, the opportunity to re-experience academic work, explore the liberal arts, and take courses with Wesleyan faculty. Approximately half of GLS students are secondary school teachers; the other half come from a variety of fields including engineering, social work, performing arts, journalism, and information technology. Students may take up to a maximum of six years to complete the degree.

The GLS curriculum is an extension of Wesleyan’s model for a liberal education, with concentrations in arts, humanities, mathematics, sciences, and social sciences. Approximately 70% of courses are taught by regular Wesleyan faculty, with the other 30% taught by artists and scholars from other institutions. Over the past 10 years the program has become more academically rigorous by increasing the percentage of courses taught by Wesleyan faculty, by increasing the scrutiny of the non-Wesleyan faculty who propose courses, and by instituting stricter admission standards for the degree program. During this same time period, enrollments have declined by approximately one-third. The students who are in the program today are better able to handle the academic rigor, but there are concerns about the downward trend in enrollment. Program administrators are exploring the possibility of offering online components to reduce classroom hours in response to changing needs and expectations of adult students.

The Office of Continuing Studies also administers the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance: a non-degree post-baccalaureate certificate program for professional artists, arts presenters, and cultural leaders who want to learn to curate time-based art. The program was approved by the faculty as a pilot project for two years, to be evaluated in spring 2013. It began in 2011 with 17 students pursuing a nine-month program that combines intensive on-campus courses with off-campus tutorial/independent study courses. 

Undergraduate Program

Wesleyan engages in ongoing review and renewal of the curriculum through many sources: faculty, students, staff, the Office of Academic Affairs, and the EPC.

Decisions about the curriculum and resource allocation can be difficult. Should decisions be made on the basis of student demand (in which case we might double the size of the faculty in film studies, psychology, neuroscience, and writing – presumably shrinking other traditional staples of the liberal arts curriculum), or should additions to the curriculum reflect the faculty’s long-term vision for a liberal arts education?  The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and decisions take into account both concerns. (However, the result may not mollify students who could not get spots in the writing course they wanted...)

Renewal and enhancement of the structure of the major may be one of the more important but less noticed aspects of Wesleyan’s culture of self-reflection and improvement. Over the past ten years there has been systematic restructuring of majors in American Studies; Dance; East Asian Studies; English; Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; German Studies; Government; Neuroscience and Behavior; Psychology; Science in Society; Italian Studies; Spanish and Iberian Studies; and Romance Studies. The Environmental Studies major was added in 2009. The process of major review commonly involves an internal self-study and an external review by peer faculty.

Teaching and Learning

Wesleyan proudly espouses the “scholar-teacher” model, holding that engagement in scholarship is the foundation of strong teaching and that a commitment to outstanding teaching is at the heart of the educational mission for a small liberal arts college. Faculty expect themselves and each other to excel as both teachers and scholars, and the institution’s generous sabbatical policy, historically deep investment in library resources, and funding for research provide tangible support for scholarship. Internal pedagogy grants support faculty-initiated teaching projects such as Science across the Curriculum. Innovations in teaching have been funded by external grants from Teagle, Mellon, HHMI, and others. And the Center for Faculty Career Developmentx provides pedagogy workshops, coaching, video recording of class sessions for self-evaluation, and confidential consultation on those videos (roughly 10 per year) by Harvard’s Bok Center.

Since the last reaccreditation, increased emphasis has been placed on the admission and retention of students interested in the sciences.xi In 2002, Wesleyan ranked 10th of the COFHE schools in the percentage of students receiving a degree in science. (This appeared to be a problem of recruiting rather than retention, because Wesleyan ranked last among COFHE colleges in the percentage (20%) of entering students who expressed an intention to major in science and ranked 6th in retention.) From 2002 to 2011, there has been a 46% increase in seniors graduating with a major in the sciences and a 30% increase in enrollments in courses in astronomy, biology, chemistry, earth and environmental sciences, molecular biology and biochemistry, neuroscience and behavior, and physics. This growth is, in substantial part, the result of a focused effort by faculty and the Admission Office that began in 2005. Wesleyan also has been aided in this effort by the McNair Fellows program, which supports low-income, first-generation students who may not have the background to succeed in science, and the Hughes program, which has provided students with the opportunity to conduct research with a faculty member over the summer.

Curricular Coherence

Wesleyan’s open curriculum presents a challenge for curricular coherence, as has been noted in previous self-studies and NEASC documents. This is less a problem once students enter a major (typically at the end of the sophomore year) since majors provide more or less structured paths for much of the remaining two years, with required courses and in some cases specific sequences of courses. It has been felt, however, that the first two years and the time spent in the last two years outside the major require some mechanisms for ensuring a coherent experience. The mechanisms playing the major role in this have been the General Education Expectations and the essential capabilities.

The General Education Expectations, first adopted in 1968, encourage breadth of education by directing students to take courses in all three divisions of study; compliance with this general education expectation is required to earn University honors, Phi Beta Kappa, honors in general scholarship, honors in certain majors, and is required as a condition of completion of certain majors. The General Education Expectations are divided into Stages 1 and 2. The expectation for Stage 1 is that all students will distribute their course work in such a way that by the end of the fourth semester, they will have earned at least two course credits in each of the three divisions, all from different departments or programs. To meet the expectation of Stage 2, students must also take one course credit in each of the three divisions prior to graduation, for a total of nine general education course credits. Some 78% of students graduating in 2011 completed their general education expectations.xii It may be noted that non-compliance with these expectations has few repercussions, leading some to question the extent of Wesleyan’s commitment to breadth in students’ studies. New efforts to assess advising and general education here should bring this issue to the fore.

In 2005, the Wesleyan faculty adopted a set of ten “essential capabilities” intended to guide students in the development of skills for the various social, intellectual, and ethical challenges that they will encounter in their lives after graduation. The capabilities are:

  • Writing
  • Designing, Creating, and Realizing
  • Speaking
  • Ethical Reasoning
  • Interpretation
  • Intercultural Literacy
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Information Literacy
  • Logical Reasoning
  • Effective Citizenship

To help students develop these skills, courses have been marked in the course catalog to show which capabilities the course emphasizes. In their electronic portfolios, first-year students have done a self-evaluation of their capabilities, which their faculty advisors could compare to courses taken that emphasize those capabilities. The capabilities have thus been available for use as touchstones in advising sessions.

It was hoped that such a “scorecard” of the skills a Wesleyan education should develop would provide a form of curricular coherence that would co-exist easily with the open curriculum – students would not be required to take particular courses but encouraged to master particular skills. In theory, this approach seemed quite sound, and some students and faculty members still use the capabilities in precisely this way. But research carried out internally over the past two years has strongly suggested what many already suspected: that the capabilities are used only by a fairly small segment of the University and that their utility as tools for advising is, at best, uncertain.

First, a comparison of self-assessments by members of the class of 2010 at the beginning and end of their careers suggested that self-assessed gains in the essential capabilities were uncorrelated with courses taken. That is, though half of the reporting students said their skills in the essential capabilities had improved over their four years at Wesleyan, there was no correlation between improvement in a given capability and having taken a course that stressed that capability.

In April of 2011, Institutional Research conducted two surveys to appraise student and faculty use of the essential capabilities.xiii The report concluded that “the essential capabilities hold more of a theoretical than practical appeal to both students and faculty. Faculty spend significant time and effort designating courses as addressing specific capabilities, but students seldom consider these labels. Other aspects of the capabilities are also underutilized. Neither faculty nor students use with regularity the tools designed to facilitate consideration of the essential capabilities in advising and course-selection,” and 44% of the students described the capabilities as “not at all useful.”

Even given these results it was possible that the problems with the essential capabilities were a matter of disuse rather than a lack of usefulness; that is, it seemed plausible that if the capabilities were more intentionally used, they would be more helpful. This, too, however, was called into question by a third study, carried out in 2011–2012. In this study, one group of students was asked by their advisors to prepare for pre-registration advisor/advisee meetings by writing an essay reflecting on the student’s past and future use of the essential capabilities; another group of students was asked to write a similarly self-reflective essay on their learning objectives at Wesleyan but with no mention of the essential capabilities. Assessments of the students and the faculty of the quality of the ensuing advising meetings were then compared to those for students who wrote neither type of essay. The results further undermined confidence in use of the essential capabilities as a tool: Student ratings of the quality of advising sessions and their own preparedness were lower for the essential capabilities group than the essay group (and the essay group showed no improvement over students who wrote nothing at all). Thus overall, as Institutional Research concluded in one of these reports, “Survey results demonstrate that the essential capabilities are appealing as a framework for organizing a liberal arts education. This appeal, however, does not translate into use of the capabilities beyond the labeling of courses by faculty.”

Many faculty and students, when asked directly, still say that the essential capabilities are an accurate reflection of what skills Wesleyan hopes to develop in its students. Some minority believe they are useful for structuring course selection and aiding curricular planning and coherence. But clearly the capabilities have failed to serve that purpose for many; they do not seem to serve the structural role of aiding curricular coherence.

The problem may lie in the very approach of seeking this kind of structural solution to curricular coherence instead of thinking about the problem at the level of the individual student. Our belief in the benefits of “students direct[ing] their own education, in consultation with intensively engaged faculty advisors,” which began this standard, implicitly suggests that curricular coherence has to be achieved by each student in his or her own terms rather than through general expectations of courses or capabilities. The General Education Expectations and the essential capabilities may serve as guides for some, but what is essential at Wesleyan is that advisors—pre-major as well as in the major—and students work together to define a coherent program in relation to the each student’s aspirations and capacities.

Faculty Advising and Course Selection

In 2007 NEASC indicated that it would follow up on how we are “strengthening the decisions students make regarding courses so that they achieve a more coherent education at Wesleyan.” The structure and coherence of the open curriculum comes from interactive, engaged faculty advising. At Wesleyan, all faculty are academic advisors, responsible for meeting as needed with students to guide them in their academic choices. Faculty advisors are expected to motivate advisees to pursue depth and breadth of study. Advisors press the student to choose courses across the full range of the liberal arts and to justify the intellectual coherence of those choices. Because faculty advisors are responsible for approving student course selection, they are the linchpins of the open curriculum. But there are problems. Although students are required to meet with their advisor at least once per semester to register for courses, they are not compelled to do more than this, and some fail to actively engage with their advisors. Likewise, faculty are not required to meet an advisee more than once a semester. Students do fill out evaluation forms on their pre-major advisor,xiv but faculty are not required to read or act on them. In fact, Academic Affairs is not even privy to the feedback per agreement with the faculty. Because advising does not figure into tenure or promotion decisions, there are no consequences for poor advising and no rewards for good advising. There remain no mechanisms to make faculty accountable for their advising.

Since the last reaccreditation process, Wesleyan has worked on advising in three ways:

  1. Assigning pre-major advisees to faculty advisors –  In the early 2000s, faculty pressed the EPC to come up with a new model for allocating pre-major advisees because the system in place was not working: Faculty were having too many advisees when on rotation to advise, and too many students were being orphaned when faculty took sabbaticals. The EPC implemented a new model in which every faculty member advises pre-majors for three years, then rotates off pre-major advising for one year (presumably, the year in which that advisor would take a semester’s sabbatical)xv. This new model has succeeded in balancing pre-major advising loads across the faculty (more faculty have fewer pre-major advisees than before) and reducing the number of students who are orphaned by their advisor before they declare the major and become assigned to a major advisor.
  2. Improving the mechanics of advising and online course registration –  In the early 2000s, the online course registration process was re-invented to allow students to rank courses in the order of highest preference, resulting in more students getting into the classes that they most want. Because of the fear of faculty that the new system would reduce the intellectual component of advising (turning the advisor into a button pusher), the approval system requires students and faculty advisors to be physically at the same computer. Of course, even if the system requires them to meet in person, no online system can guarantee the production of intellectual engagement—that is still the responsibility of the advisor and advisee.
  3. Maintaining intellectual vitality in advising – Faculty see two primary threats to the vitality of advising: first, high advisee loads. While all faculty are assigned equal numbers of pre-major advisees, their number of major advisees varies widely. Faculty in populous majors have much higher loads, making it harder for them to give substantial attention to all of their advisees. The second threat is losing the bond based in shared intellectual interests between advisor and advisee. While the first threat could be reduced by assigning more pre-majors to the faculty with fewer major advisees, this would contravene the goal of matching first-year students to advisors based on shared interests.xvi A task force is looking into equity in advising loads.

Integrity in the Award of Academic Credit

The University’s policies regarding the award of academic credit are made clear to students and published in detail in the Academic Regulations. Here we describe some of the more notable elements.

Wesleyan University confers only one undergraduate degree, the bachelor of arts. Graduation requirements include satisfaction of requirements for a major; satisfactory completion of 32 course credits (see next paragraph), no fewer than 16 of which must be earned at Wesleyan or in Wesleyan-sponsored programs; a cumulative average of 74 percent or work of equivalent quality; and at least six semesters in residency at Wesleyan as full-time students for students entering in their first year.

One unit of Wesleyan credit requires 120 to 160 hours of academic work. This work typically consists of 40 hours of scheduled class time, which is made up of 39 hours of class meeting time (the established standard meeting times allow up to 10 minutes for transition to and from other classes) and one scheduled final exam or the equivalent of at least one hour of additional work. In addition, 80 to 120 hours of out-of-class work are expected. A one-credit course that does not conform to a standard meeting pattern of at least 40 hours must still require 120 to 160 hours of academic work. For courses that award more or less than one unit of credit, the required hours of academic work are normally prorated to conform to the above formula.

The University offers required and elective courses as described in electronic format (WesMaps) and in print (annual University Catalog). The academic deans review the curriculum annually at the time classes are scheduled for the upcoming year. Any newly proposed course requires a New Course Justification form submitted through a department or program. A new course must be reviewed and approved by the divisional academic dean before it may be posted to our curriculum. Certificates at Wesleyan are managed by the individual certificate directors, who are members of the faculty, and Certificate requirements are available on WesMaps. 

Performances in Wesleyan courses are evaluated by the usual letter grades (A-F, which may be modified by the use of plus and minus signs) or by the designations credit (CR) or unsatisfactory (U).xvii Whenever the credit/unsatisfactory mode is used, the faculty member is expected to submit to the Office of the Registrar a written evaluation of the student's work. The average GPA (Spring 2012) is 89.5 (a solid B+), and for the class of 2012, the GPA of 89.9 rounds up to A-. Two-thirds of our students are in the A- or B+ range; a mere 5% have a GPA at or below a C+. What to make of (and do about) the grade compression is unclear. Faculty do not seem to see this relatively undifferentiated grading to be a sign of lower standards or present a problem of any other sort. It seems that their grading is differentiated enough for their purposes, and it may even be that the compression contributes to a relative indifference to grades and a student ethos here that is often described as more collaborative than competitive.xviii

While a maximum of two credits earned before matriculation by entering first-year students may count toward the Wesleyan degree, all such credits must be duly approved by Wesleyan departments. Aside from AP credits and other credits regularly awarded on the basis of centrally administered examinations, no course that is listed for credit on a student’s high school transcript may be used for Wesleyan credit. Students studying abroad may earn Wesleyan credits through either Wesleyan-administered programs or Wesleyan-approved programs. The University’s policies in these regards—and for considering the transfer of credit—are published on its website (see Academic Regulations) and in other communications.

Faculty, with administrative support, work to ensure the academic integrity of the award of grades, where applicable, and credits for individual courses. While the Honor Code, published in the Student Handbook, is clear on the subject of plagiarism, the University is currently reconsidering the Code’s effectiveness.

New Programs

Most curricular initiatives develop through the standard path of faculty meeting together, becoming organized, and submitting proposals to the EPC. But initiatives can arise from other sources as well. For example, the disability studies course cluster (dating from 2011) was a student initiative: Students formed a group, organized meetings with faculty and departments to garner broad support, and wrote a successful proposal.

There are few bureaucratic impediments to implementing new programs at Wesleyan; the challenge instead is the legwork required to generate faculty support, and this has advantages as well as disadvantages: Non-controversial initiatives that require no new resources are approved easily, but it can be more problematic to gain support when faculty hold strongly divergent views over intellectual developments or resource allocation. Equally problematic is what to do with existing programs that aren’t attracting many students. Discussion around the “gentle sundowning” of those programs can be particularly delicate.

During the five years since the mid-cycle self-study, Wesleyan has implemented a number of exciting new programs, several of which are described in sections below. With the College of the Environment, new certificates, the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, the arts and sciences across the curriculum initiatives, and the Disability Studies cluster—the faculty wanted Wesleyan to be a leader in the production of new knowledge in emerging modes of study. With the Certificates in Informatics and Modeling; Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory; South Asian Studies; and Writing – the faculty created coherent plans of study that could be pursued concurrently with the major, that (with the exception of writing) required no new resources, and that made use of existing faculty expertise and curricular strengths whose affinities had not been fully apparent to students. With the Certificates in Civic Engagement and Middle Eastern Studies, as well as the Quantitative Analysis Center,xix the faculty strengthened subjects it saw as having increasing importance in the world. 

College of the Environment

In establishing the College of the Environment in 2009, Wesleyan created a new curricular model for the study of the environment. Its academic spine is the new interdisciplinary major in environmental studies that (1) requires a primary major in another discipline in order to give depth to this inherently multidimensional field, and (2) offers students cohort-centered learning emphasizing collaborative research skills, mentoring by faculty, capstone projects, and internship experiences. The College also nurtures research through its think tank. Three Wesleyan faculty members move for a year from their departmental offices to the College, teach only for the College, receive course relief in order to produce scholarship, and participate in weekly colloquia to provide peer mentoring on each other’s work. They are joined in the think tank by student fellows, postdoctoral fellows, and visiting scholars, all working together on a topic critical to international debate about the environment.

Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life

Fostering civic engagement is the goal of the Allbritton Center, which houses the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship, the Center for Community Partnerships, the Service Learning Center, the Wesleyan Media Project, the Working Papers Series, the certificate in civic engagement, and several endowed lecture series. The Center began offering civic engagement courses in 2012 and will host courses from the Koeppel Journalism Fellow every other year. The Center is still in development; a search is underway for a senior faculty member to become its director. Next steps include awarding fellowships to Wesleyan faculty to teach courses in the Center that feature areas of their scholarship that bear on civic engagement but do not fit into the curricula of their home departments. When fully implemented, the Center will teach students to translate the liberal arts into action through service learning courses, volunteer work, internships, and non-credit workshops on the components of running a public organization.xx  Likewise, the Center will also teach students to translate their work of social engagement back into the liberal arts.


As part of the engagement initiative, Wesleyan is pursuing the goal of providing an internship to every student who wants one. An internship coordinator was hired in October 2011 to work in both the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship and the Career Center to cultivate internships and promote them to students. The Board’s Campus Affairs Committee has set a goal of developing 100 paid internships to be hosted by alumni and their organizations. The University is also seeking to interest donors in endowed internship funding. While most internships will be located outside Wesleyan, some will take place on campus. A few University offices have redefined student employment positions as internships (where the work is a form of mentored apprenticeship into a profession and not just making copies and filing papers). These offices include the Quantitative Analysis Center, the Wesleyan Media Project, and the Wesleyan University Press. President Michael Roth announced in fall 2011 a contribution to the endowment of an operating surplus from the previous year that would provide $40,000 per year to fund student research internships with Wesleyan faculty.

Summer Session

Wesleyan Summer Session (managed by the Office of Continuing Studies) began in 2010. It gives students the opportunity to gain access to courses that they could not fit into the regular academic year and faculty the chance to offer experimental and thematically connected courses. Classes meet for an intensive five-week period, beginning immediately after commencement in spring. Summer Session enrollments grew 44% from the first year to the second, and the number of students grew by 47%. We believe this growth was the result of a greater awareness among Wesleyan students of the Summer Session option. In 2011 there were 98 enrollments in 15 courses from 69 students, of which 91% were Wesleyan students. Continued increases in enrollments are expected over the next few years, and the possibility of offering a second session in July is under consideration.

Student feedback has been positive, especially regarding small class size and access to courses difficult to take during the academic year.xxi

Study Abroad

Wesleyan sponsors four study abroad programs and has consortial arrangements with several other programs. Students also have the opportunity to study abroad through some 145 approved programs in 43 countries, and to petition the faculty Committee on International Studies for permission to participate in other study abroad programs; 38% of students spend a semester or academic year studying abroad. For more on Study Abroad, see Standard 6.

Service Learning

Wesleyan’s engagement initiative placing academic study in experiential contexts began with the establishment of the Center for Service Learning in 2003. Service learning courses are regular departmental/program courses that have an additional experiential component: all students in the course conduct some form of structured community-based research or practice that is connected to theoretical and methodological analyses in the classroom. When students see on-the-ground examples of the cases and theoretical issues they study in class, they can become more invested in both the theoretical concepts and the community context. A practicum in psychology in which a student participates in clinical evaluations of psychiatric patients provides a signal example. In administering diagnostic tools to assess the patient, the student’s engagement with the theoretical assumptions behind those tool increases profoundly and contributes to an extraordinary environment for classroom analysis. In past service learning courses students have:

  • Conducted the homeless count required by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development for the Middlesex Supportive Housing Coalition;
  • Examined the effect of local preschools on preparing kindergarteners to be school-ready, for the Middletown School Readiness Council;
  • Studied the North End landfill to determine whether the methane it produced could be harvested economically.

Beginning this year, students interested in reflecting further on their civic activities can do so by pursuing the Civic Engagement Certificate.


One of the areas where Wesleyan has experimented most in its academic planning is in the creation of “certificates”—collections of courses from a variety of departments, from which a student can choose in order to satisfy carefully crafted requirements. The EPC has drawn up a template to assist faculty in planning new certificates and conducts periodic reviews of existing certificates.

Since the last reaccreditation review, seven new certificates have been approved. Through these certificates, faculty from multiple disciplines work together to define a coherent course of study so that students interested in the field can pursue it in a programmatic way and have a credential on their transcript to document the achievement. Certificates are offered in addition to the major. The recent growth of certificates offers an unintended but beneficial consequence of providing outlets for emerging and non-traditional forms of study that might not enter the curriculum at the major level.xxii

While most certificates are mounted on a foundation of existing courses and faculty expertise, three new certificates, approved in 2010, require courses that had to be created in support of the certificate. The Writing and Civic Engagement Certificates require their own capstone courses, but all other courses are already in the curriculum. By contrast, the Middle Eastern Studies certificate was created as the fulfillment of a four-year Academic Affairs initiative to expand curricular strength in this area.xxiii.


Wesleyan faculty have long helped students with critical writing in most areas of the curriculum. Some First Year Initiative seminars (see directly below) are writing-intensive, enabling students to work on their writing in the context of a subject area (as opposed to learning in expository writing classes taught by a separate writing staff.) Since 2007 the University has made concerted efforts to enhance the writing curriculum: hiring two tenure-track creative writing faculty, establishing the Koeppel journalism fellowship to bring visiting journalists to teach writing, establishing the Kim-Frank Family University Writer in Residence position, bringing renowned visiting writers to teach for a semester, adding a writing concentration within the English major, creating the Certificate in Writing, and establishing the Shapiro Center for Creative Writing. The Shapiro Center administers the writing certificate, organizes public readings and lectures, and provides space for students interested in writing to meet and work together.

One of the challenges to the writing curriculum is that writing courses need, by nature, to have small enrollments, but student demand for these courses still outpaces the University’s offerings and can lead to some student frustration.

First Year Initiative Seminars

Every incoming first-year student is enrolled (during pre-registration) in one First Year Initiative (FYI) seminar, although the student does have the option of dropping the course or adding another during drop/add period. FYI courses are open (initially) only to first-year students and have a maximum enrollment of 19 students (some are smaller). Over the past three years, reviews of the FYI program have been conducted by the EPC, an ad-hoc committee of faculty and students, and most recently by the President and Provost. What is clear is that faculty are divided into three camps: those who would like programmatic connections among FYI courses, those who see FYIs as “advanced” research and writing intensive courses (but taught at the first-year level) to introduce students to university-level work, and those whose FYIs are simply first-year only versions of their regular courses. The attempt to clarify a vision for the FYI continues, and administration-faculty discussions have led to a focus on three learning goals for First-Year Seminars: writing, research, and oral presentation. In 2012-2013, we are running a pilot program to determine how we can be more intentional about planning courses that achieve these goals. We are also looking to FYIs to strengthen a sense of cohort among first-year students.

The “learning and living seminar” is a new segment (dating from 2008) of the FYI program. Each fall, three or four FYIs are organized as courses that students take while living together in one residence hall. The goal of the program is to encourage first-year students to continue class conversations in the more informal spaces of their residence hall. (For more on this, see FN 5, Standard 6.)

With a two-year grant from the Teagle Foundation, Wesleyan has created a project, in collaboration with Amherst College, to improve the teaching of expository writing in courses designed for first- and second-year students. Eight faculty members who are teaching writing intensive courses participate in a seminar reviewing recent scholarship on the effectiveness of various teaching methods, engage in peer mentoring, and are guided by a professional writing associate in syllabus construction and writing assignments. Key to this project is developing a program for tracking student progress over the span of a writing-intensive course. The Teagle project may be helpful in evaluating the efficacy of portfolio assessment more generally.

Beginning in 2012–13, incoming students will be able to choose from a selection of first-year seminars that introduce a variety of topics ranging from Greek myth to neuroscience. Some of these classes treat a specific thinker (e.g., Kafka); others provide a sweeping introduction into an interdisciplinary area of study that may be new to first-year students (e.g., animal studies). Students in first-year seminars will become familiar with the methods used to collect, interpret, analyze, and present evidence as part of a scholarly argument. All of these classes emphasize the importance of writing at the university level, which is a University priority.

Senior Capstone Initiatives

All majors offer students the opportunity of completing a capstone experience and many require one. In 2008–09, the EPC conducted a survey of departments and programs on their capstone opportunities and found that of Wesleyan’s 47 majors, 25 require a capstone experience, whether as a final thesis, project, essay, cohort-centered senior seminar with an extended research-based paper, or culminating research experience. In 2010–11, the EPC considered whether to press all departments and programs to require capstones, and concluded that capstones should be encouraged but not necessarily required. Many of the departments that do not require capstone experiences are those with high numbers of majors and high enrollments in courses—making it difficult for faculty to supervise theses for all their majors. Students in those majors who want to complete a thesis often say that they are unable to find a faculty member willing to serve as thesis advisor. If Wesleyan’s goal is to make it possible for every student to have a capstone experience regardless of the student’s major, then more capstone experiences outside the major may have to be created.

Over the past three years, at the request of the administration, the faculty have been looking at how to provide students with more capstone opportunities, and whether to develop more opportunities beyond the extended research paper or the individual creative arts/scientific project.xxiv In the Earth & Environmental Studies Department, for example, students assign themselves to collaborative teams in the fall to develop research projects that each will be responsible for in the field during January break; then spend the spring semester analyzing the results of the field research to produce scientific reports. Through this experience, students learn how to do the work of professionals in this discipline. Faculty in other departments and programs are considering how to implement similar capstone experiences.

Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes

Assessment of how effectively students learn what the faculty intend them to learn informs decisions in every area of teaching, advising, and curriculum design. The Wesleyan faculty began systematic discussions of assessment of student learning outcomes at faculty meetings and department chair meetings in 2008, bringing together disparate conversations on the topic that had been occurring across campus. In developing assessment plans, the faculty wished to preserve Wesleyan’s distinctive educational culture and take into account the fact that different fields use very different metrics and methods. The EPC conducted a survey of departments on assessment practices in 2009 and then selected faculty from seven majors to discuss and develop plans for assessment in their respective areas. The Provost and the EPC Chair sent these seven assessment plans out to the other departments and programs for use as resources in the development of their own assessment plans. Each department/program was asked to define its own goals for student learning, publish those goals, define a method for evaluating student learning in relation to those goals, and inform Academic Affairs annually of how the assessment information is used.

Wesleyan faculty were quite suspicious of the new discourse on assessment (and especially imposition from outside) when the issue was raised at a meeting of the faculty in 2008, but resistance to assessment mechanisms seems to have lessened. It may have been helpful that the assessment plans were designed by Wesleyan faculty for evaluating learning within the major.

As of this writing, 30 majors have implemented assessment plans. The majority of these (16) use the required capstone experience as the evidence of student learning outcomes. Four majors require assessment portfolios: Students create a portfolio of papers written for courses in the major, and in the senior year they write an assessment of their own intellectual growth as demonstrated by the trajectory of knowledge and competence in those papers. Four majors focus on faculty advising; in two, students are required to write short papers for their advisor assessing what they learned, as the basis for their course selection for the coming semester. One department developed a standardized test for all majors to complete twice, upon declaration and completion of the major. A few majors use student and alumni surveys or questionnaires, and student participation in milestones within the major, as the evidence for assessment.

The faculty interpret this evidence in departmental faculty meetings and retreats; in larger departments, committees of faculty are delegated to evaluate assessment evidence and report to the full department’s faculty. Departments use the assessment evidence to identify areas of the major requirements and course offerings needing change, and those changes are made in advance of the annual process for submitting next year’s courses. Significant changes to major requirements must be submitted to and approved by the Educational Policy Committee. At the end of each academic year, departments are required to submit an annual report to Academic Affairs; beginning in 2012, this report will ask each department to identify what it learned from assessment of student learning outcomes, and what actions were (or will be) taken in response. In addition to these departmental/program-level assessment plans, which focus on student learning in the major, Wesleyan is considering whether something like the Teagle-funded program focused on writing could be helpful in assessing general education.

Wesleyan has long participated in the COFHE Suite of Surveys: five related instruments designed to garner feedback at each point of the student lifecycle, from incoming freshman to alumni.xxv The recent revision of this suite will allow us to conduct more sophisticated analysis of the relationship between students’ incoming characteristics, their experiences as undergraduates, and experiences and trajectories following graduation. And while we have used data from this suite to a moderate extentxxvi, making better use of the data is an ongoing goal.


The Wesleyan Department of Athletics and Physical Education supports a broad range of intercollegiate teams that encourage scholar-athletes to develop their skills and themselves to their full potential and to benefit from the lessons learned from perseverance, competition, sacrifice, and teamwork. The Department of Athletics and Physical Education also provides a wide array of skill activities that encourage students to develop the habit of leading healthy and balanced lives. Included in the offerings are 29 varsity sports, 14 club sports teams, 12 intramural activities, and a comprehensive physical education curriculum for credit. Approximately 1,800 Wesleyan students each year participate in various components of the overall program. Wesleyan supports varsity sports for men and women on an equitable basis.

Wesleyan is a member of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) and shares its premise that athletes are representative of the entire student body and that athletics operates in harmony with the educational mission of the institution. Although the academic performance of athletes at Wesleyan slightly trails that of non-athletes, the athletes graduate at a rate equal to (or higher) than non-athletes. Wesleyan teams tend to rank very high in all of NCAA Division III for overall team GPA’s. Men’s and women’s swimming, wrestling, field hockey, and cross country are just a few of our teams that have been ranked nationally in the top five for team average GPA’s. At the end of the fall 2011 semester, all Wesleyan teams had an aggregate average GPA of 3.0 or better with 14 of the 29 teams having an average of 3.4 or better. However, there are challenges. A small number of matriculating student-athletes are less prepared than their peers and in need of extra academic support and help with course selection. Starting in the fall of 2012, faculty coaches will have permission from students to access their academic performance records, and increased communication between academic faculty and coaches will be encouraged.

Wesleyan provides outstanding sports facilities to faculty, staff, and students. In 2005, Wesleyan completed a 55,000 s.f. addition to the existing 220,000 s.f. Freeman Athletic Center. This addition provided the community with a 7,500 s.f. fitness center, eight international squash courts, an 18,000 s.f. gymnasium, and eight home and visiting team rooms. Also, eight tennis courts were resurfaced in the summer of 2011 and planning is currently underway to reconstruct the Andersen Track in 2013. At Wesleyan, over 60 percent of community members use the athletic facilities. Therefore, expectations for quality sports facilities are quite high. Strong athletic, physical education, and recreation programs require large spaces that are expensive to build and maintain. Also, our students’ expectation for quality coaching is much the same as it is for superb instruction in the classroom. In both cases, meeting high expectations requires substantial resources.

Student input is very important in modifying the physical educational and recreational offerings in fitness, aquatics, lifetime sports, and outdoor education. Each year surveys are used to determine the interests of students, and changes are made in the programs to respond to the rapidly evolving physical education activities. For academic year 2011–12, the department added courses in Indoor Cycling and Racketlon to the existing curriculum. In order to keep the curriculum current, faculty coaches are retooling themselves and gaining certification in these emerging activities. However, as the interests of the students become more specialized, it is difficult to train faculty coaches in these specialized areas. Teaching fundamental yoga is no longer acceptable, for students now want power yoga, hot yoga, and a dozen other forms of the discipline. The department is discussing how to respond to the explosion of fitness mediums.

(For more on Athletics, see Standard 6.)

Arts and Community Programs

Center for the Arts

Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts (CFA) serves as a cultural center for the campus and the region. It presents a wide spectrum of events and exhibitions featuring the work of students, faculty, and artists from outside Wesleyan. The presenting program emphasizes international artists and genres, extending the international focus of the performing arts departments. The CFA offers a broad range of contemporary dance performances, and artists often give master classes for students. With the support of national foundations, Wesleyan has commissioned new works from faculty and visiting artists – often with an emphasis on the exploration of environmental issues. The CFA integrates the arts into student life and across the curriculum through programs such as Feet to the Fire (a campus-wide cross-disciplinary environmental sustainability initiative) and the Creative Campus Initiative, which offers a variety of interdisciplinary arts programs, especially for first-year orientation, and provides for pedagogical and research exchanges between artists and faculty outside the arts. Among the challenges faced by the CFA due to space constraints is balancing its commitment to programs that engage the broader community with the curricular needs of the performing arts departments.

Davison Art Center

The Davison Art Center (DAC) houses a gallery and a nationally renowned permanent collection of 24,000 prints and photographs, which is actively used by faculty and students for teaching and exhibition. Teaching from the collections here is restricted, in part, by the fact that there is no space that is both appropriate for rare materials and big enough to accommodate classes larger than 18. The DAC presents 3–4 exhibitions annually, ranging from traveling exhibitions of contemporary graphic arts and photography to student-curated exhibitions organized from the permanent collection. Volunteer members of the Friends of the Davison Art Center contribute to the arts in Middletown by annually organizing tours of the DAC, CFA Zilkha Gallery, Mansfield Freeman Center, and gamelan orchestra for all fourth grade students in the Middletown Public Schools.

Green Street Arts Center

This center is a collaboration among Wesleyan, the City of Middletown, and the North End Action Team (a local neighborhood organization) to bring after-school arts programs to the poorest neighborhood in Middletown. The Center also offers private lessons, evening and weekend classes, programs for home schoolers, special events, and community seminars. Wesleyan students volunteer as tutors, and faculty give classes and talks in programs focused entirely on enhancing the educational opportunities and cultural life of the local community.

Center for Prison Education

Wesleyan students have long volunteered as tutors at area prisons, as part of the volunteerism initiative in the Center for Community Partnerships. Several students who tutor prisoners developed a campaign to have Wesleyan offer courses for credit at the men’s prison in Cheshire, Connecticut. The students cultivated faculty support, worked with administrators to learn how to draft a proposal, and proposed the Center for Prison Education to the EPC. The faculty approved the EPC’s recommendation for a pilot project, and beginning in fall 2009 two Wesleyan courses have been offered on a non-degree basis to 19 inmates each semester. (The inmates were selected through a rigorous admissions process in which undergraduates, faculty, and staff read applications and personally interviewed inmates.) The program review in 2011 demonstrated solid academic achievement, and the faculty granted the program a five-year extension.


The first overarching goal of Wesleyan 2020 is to energize Wesleyan’s distinctive educational experience. Tactics for pursuing this goal include:

  1. Complete the implementation of major-level assessment plans by spring 2013; EPC  to review outcomes and recommend specific actions by spring 2015.
  2. Increase the number of courses enrolling 19 or fewer students to 70% by fall 2013.
  3. Increase selection of first year seminars emphasizing writing and the use of evidence in scholarly argument.
  4. Complete the full cycle of external reviews of academic departments and programs by spring 2015; convene faculty to evaluate whether to repeat the cycle or develop a new model, by spring 2015.
  5. Give faculty access in their electronic portfolios to department-level data on teaching evaluations, grade point averages, and a variety of other measures pertinent to course demand, faculty advising load, and success of students after graduation.
  6. Complete a pilot project and develop a program of direct assessment of first-year and sophomore-level (pre-major) learning by fall 2014.
  7. Increase opportunities for students to pursue internships in conjunction with academic courses.

Wesleyan faces other challenges that will surely be the subject of further reporting to NEASC. For example, we are not yet satisfied with our efforts to ensure that every student has the benefit of the best advising (so important in making the most of the open curriculum). We are currently planning student focus groups to talk about what works best and worst in advising; the groups will be taped, and edited versions will be provided to faculty in their portfolios. And a task force is considering the topic of advising loads. Other challenges include making more progress in identifying shared learning goals for pre-major courses, reducing class size and alleviating course-access problems (the two are often in tension here), supporting interdisciplinary innovation while relying heavily on a traditional departmental structure, and reconciling our commitment to broad liberal learning with the recognition that some aspects seem less relevant to the student of today.

Wesleyan will attain a broader and deeper perspective on the academic program by providing a new level of internal data transparency to faculty and by coming to grips with direct assessment of student learning at the general education and the major level. The faculty will improve the academic program by analyzing these data and outcomes and recommending specific and overall changes to bring the outcomes into line with Wesleyan’s mission and goals for student learning.

Institutional Effectiveness

The faculty of the University are dedicated to maintaining the quality of the undergraduate and graduate programs which it oversees mainly through its Educational Policy Committee and Graduate Council. Academic Affairs, led by the Provost, regularly evaluates the academic programs by conducting three to four external departmental reviews each year, followed by EPC review of the full report. The goal for each external review is to identify areas in need of improvement, for external reviewers to suggest ways of making improvements, and to ensure that the department continues to be appropriate for the University’s mission and that each program meets standards of quality. Additionally, each department submits an annual report on its faculty, curriculum, and (beginning this year) assessment of student learning outcomes; the Provost and Academic Deans review these reports and follow up with departments where necessary.



i For a report on how faculty view the enhancement of student creativity at Wesleyan, see Creativity

ii In fall 2011 there were 927 single majors, 601 double majors, 43 triple majors, and 2 quadruple majors. The distribution of double majors is as follows:

12% are between NSM and HUM – these combinations are probably the most ‘disparate’
32% are within the same division
11% are between NSM and SBS
15% are between SBS and HUM
61% are within the same division or with one INTD major

iii Romance Languages and Literatures is phasing out two majors, Spanish and Iberian Studies, and replacing these with Hispanic Literatures and Cultures.

iv This “over-subscription policy” has two specific exemptions: double majors in art history and art studio or mathematics and computer science, for whom the limit is 20 credits.

v A University major must be sponsored (and supervised) by three members of the faculty and must be approved by the Committee on University Majors, a subcommittee of the Educational Policy Committee.

vi The support lasts for as long as they are active, full-time graduate students. This is normally two years for MA candidates and six or fewer for Ph.D. candidates. Occasionally, Ph.D.s take longer and the support continues as long as the student is active and supported in this by the department. Departments have limited numbers of stipends to use and therefore usually wish not to continue a student for too long because it keeps them from accepting a new one.

vii At the same time, the fact that graduate students are concentrated in the sciences creates some tension in the faculty around teaching load issues.

viii Initiatives include working with departmental administrative assistants to expand their use of PeopleSoft to manage admissions data, working with the Graduate Council to standardize communications to applicants, and working with departments on timely sharing of information about student acceptances, arrivals, and stipends. Keeping reliable data, consolidating deadlines, standardizing processes, and clarifying communication through accurate and up-to-date web pages and procedural documents will reduce confusion and provide better service to students.

ix The Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS) has been renamed the Master of Philosophy in Liberal Arts (MPhil). Despite the fact that the CAS has more rigorous requirements than the MALS (students must have already completed an MA or equivalent and must complete a significant thesis), the name did not sound as though it was an actual degree and the number of students who pursued this advanced degree was always very small. Since the announcement of the name change, there is renewed interest from both current and prospective students. There were no changes to the admission standards or degree requirement.

x The CFCD, administered by a single person who works in coordination with the Library and ITS, hosts 20–25 Academic (Technology) Roundtables on a range of pedagogical, technological, and policy issues per year. (The complete archive of the ATR calendars can be found here. Average attendance at a roundtable is 28 people: 12 faculty; 7 librarians; 5 administration or staff; 3 ITS; and 1 student, grad student or other. Over the past 3 academic years, 26 faculty members have made use of the video recording and consultation program.

xi The faculty work deliberately on retaining students in introductory science courses, where drop-off in students can be steepest. Faculty in Biology and Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, for example, work in concert to design and team-teach the introductory biology course. With support from the Hughes Foundation, over the past four years they added, in addition to the large (unlimited enrollment) lecture section of introductory biology, five small sections that focus on a problem-solving approach to learning. Faculty have found that fewer students drop the small sections and that retention of underrepresented minority groups was significantly higher there. With these data, they are now working to offer more problem-based learning – breaking up large lecture course into smaller problem-based-learning sections. The challenge here is that more faculty are needed to teach more sections, but the departments are committed to teaching in this new model with existing resources because the data convinces them of its success.

xii Gen ed completion has been very stable over the past six years, with rates ranging from 77.6% to 79.5%. As a group, science majors have the highest rates of compliance. The following stats are based on students in the graduating classes of 2006-10 who entered as frosh:

Division of major Gen Ed compliance rate
HUMA 69%
SBS 79%
NSM 88%
INTD 78%

However, there are non-science fields where the compliance rate is higher than in some sciences. For example, 90% of classics and economics majors were in compliance, surpassing physics (88%) and biology (85%).

xiii Surveys were sent to random samples of 144 faculty and 1,399 students (faculty response was 45%, n = 144; student response was 19%, n = 260).

xiv In 2009, Wesleyan implemented an online system by which pre-major advisees would, upon being admitted to a major, submit an evaluation of their pre-major advising experience. With these evaluations, faculty can understand how students experience their advising, assess how their advising fulfills the faculty member’s own goals for it, and have a basis for changing how they advise in order to better achieve those goals. These evaluations are accessible only to the individual faculty member and are not intended to be used for administrative assessment (e.g., as teaching evaluations are used for tenure, promotion, and annual salary review).

xv Under the new model, the rotation is as follows:

Year 1: 6 new first-years/transfers
Year 2: 6 new first-years/transfers (alongside year one’s cohort, now sophomores)
Year 3: 0 new first-years/transfers (continue advising year two’s cohort, now sophomores)
Year 4: sabbatical; no pre-major advisees

xvi To enhance advising at the pre-major level, for the first-year students entering in fall 2011, a committee from Academic Affairs and Student Affairs revised the questions asked of incoming students on the form they fill out to help us select their advisors. The improvement in the usefulness of students’ responses was impressive, and made for much more informed matching on the part of Academic Affairs.

xvii At the discretion of the instructor, all the students in a course may be restricted to a single grading mode, or each student may be allowed to choose between the two modes also referred to as student option (OPT). Instructors announce the grading options in WesMaps. In courses in which students have a choice of grading mode, the final choice must be made by the end of the drop/add period.

xviii Grade inflation was thought to be problem here in the 1990s. In spring 2001 the average GPA was 87.9, which is 1.6 less than today.

xx The Quantitative Analysis Center (QAC) prepares students for success in an information-driven future through the close collaboration of Wesleyan’s faculty with the Center’s staff. It provides support for quantitative analysis across the curriculum. In addition, the QAC provides opportunities for students to develop a practical quantitative analytical skill set, supports students and faculty whose work involves data analysis, and enhances Wesleyan’s appeal to new faculty engaged in quantitative research.

The QAC offers extensive tutorial services in the form of course-specific workshops and one-on-one or small group tutoring. The QAC also offers a summer apprenticeship designed to engage students in research projects, train student research assistants, and train students who can serve as tutors during the academic year. Examples of projects undertaken by students include: “The Earned Income Tax Credit and the Changing Face of Welfare Provision”; “Nocturnal Eating: Association with Obesity, Binge Eating and Psychological Distress”; “How Efficient is Your Bank? A Stochastic Frontier Approach”; and “What Influences the ‘Private School Effect’?”

In the fall of 2009, the QAC offered a new course in Applied Data Analysis, developed by faculty from Economics, Biology, Neuroscience, Government, Psychology, and Sociology.

xx The exemplary social entrepreneurship of Wesleyan students, such as those who created the Kibera School for Girls in Nairobi, has buoyed support for the vision for the Allbritton Center.

xxi Surveys indicated that students found that the best aspect of Summer Session was small class size. The most common reasons students cited for taking Summer Session courses were to take credit requirements for their major, to focus on a specific field of study, and to take courses that would be difficult to fit into their schedule during the regular academic year. In general, students indicated satisfaction with the academic side of Summer Session but some dissatisfaction with the non-academic side, in particular, the limited dining.

xxii In only one case so far has approval of a certificate been followed by the approval of a major in that area (Environmental Studies).

xxiii Until 2009, only one faculty member worked directly on this area, although others had related expertise. To begin the process, a committee was formed of those faculty with expertise related to the Middle East, Islam, and Jewish and Israel studies. When Wesleyan was awarded grants from the Mellon Foundation and the Education Department, this committee distributed small grants to faculty who were interested in expanding their courses to include the Middle East. Four new faculty who are Middle East specialists were hired; two to fill existing vacancies and two into new positions created for this initiative. One of the goals of this initiative was to enhance curriculum, integrating it with Jewish and Israel studies.

xxiv To be awarded honors, a student must complete a senior thesis/project.

xxv The specific surveys (and the frequency of administration) at Wesleyan are as follows: the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) survey of incoming freshmen/The COFHE Survey of Entering Students (annually); the COFHE Enrolled Student Survey (every five years; but now biennially); the COFHE Senior Survey (annually); the COFHE Alumni Survey (every five years); and the COFHE Parent Survey (every five years).

xxvi COFHE survey data has been used to understand the composition of our incoming class for Student Affairs planning purposes, to track Wesleyan’s performance in areas ranging from course access and academic advising to dining and housing, and to discover graduate education and employment patterns among alumni.