| the history of wake forest
by the University’s choosing no longer to pay any attention to it.
Ironically, by this time in the 1960’s, after so many decades of agi-
tation about dancing, students, having forsaken jazz and swing for
rock and roll, seemed no longer that eager to dance, at least in the
old-fashioned ballroom manner.
The College faculty also showed a new willingness to examine
its own regulations about the curriculum and about class attendance.
In the fall of 1967 a pass/fail system was instituted, whereby each
junior and senior student would be allowed to take one course each
term on a pass/fail basis, so long as the course was not in the stu-
dent’s major department or among the courses specifically required
for graduation. The intent of this plan was to encourage students
to select courses in fields in which they might be interested but for
which they might fear they would be inadequately prepared.10
Motivated by a similar spirit, the faculty decided to abandon
long-standing requirements about class attendance. Henceforward,
students would not be required to go to class, and no penalties for
class absences, such as the loss of quality points,11 would any longer
be imposed. Individual teachers might still, if they chose, establish
more stringent attendance policies for their own classes, and some
departments did develop requirements of their own, much to the
chagrin of the students.
Almost as a kind of supplement to actions being taken by the
faculty, a group of forward-looking students—led by Norma Mur-
doch, a junior from Macon, Georgia—proposed the creation of an
“Experimental College,” its first courses to be offered in the spring
of 1968.12 The courses would carry no credit; they would typically
meet two hours a week for eight weeks; and they would be open not
only to Wake Forest students and staff but also to students from
Salem College, Winston-Salem State University, and the North
Carolina School of the Arts. The purpose of the “College” would be
to satisfy a “desire for knowledge” that springs “from an aroused
interest in subject matter rather than an aroused interest in grade
points.” It would be “a laboratory for new teaching methods and
subject matter.” Some of the courses would be taught by faculty
members; others by students. The founders of the “College” were
justifiably proud to note that only one such program existed in our
state—at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—and
only thirty-five in the nation.
Credit for this plan
went to Professor
David Smiley, who
had suggested such
an approach in a
speech he gave in
May 1966.
Grades were then
assigned “quality
points” as follows:
for each semester
hour of A, 4 points;
of B, 3 points; of C,
2 points; of D, 1
point; and of E
and F, no points.
See the “In Retro-
spect” essay, “The
Experimental Col-
lege and Other
Memories,” by Nor-
ma Murdoch-Kitt.
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