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| the history of wake forest
were planned in such a way as to take effect in the fall of 1971. The
faculty endorsed the Committee’s proposals by a vote of about two to
one, and, in spite of opposition from both extremes of the spectrum,
most observers seemed convinced that, at least for the time being,
a friendly consensus had been reached. The Student Legislature
also announced its support for the Committee’s recommendations.
The most radical feature of the Committee’s proposals—and
the one that provoked the most passionate protests at the time and
that would lead to continuing controversy in the future—involved
the rearrangement of the College calendar from the traditional
two-semester year into a three- term academic year that would
include a “winter term” of four weeks. Under the proposed plan
two weeks would be subtracted from the fall term and another two
weeks from the spring term, and the month of January would
constitute a short term all by itself. The fall semester would be con-
cluded before Christmas, thus bringing to an end the old practice
of scheduling final examinations after the holidays. This calendar
was commonly called a “4-1-4” calendar and was at the time a fash-
ionable way for a faculty to assert a willingness for innovation and
experiment; it had been adopted by many institutions, especially
smaller liberal arts colleges, across the country. Although there
were differences of opinion across the faculty about the “4-1-4”, it
was generally more favored within the humanities and social
sciences than in the natural sciences.
The “winter term” was envisioned by its proponents as provid-
ing an opportunity for faculty members to design short courses
that they would have neither the time nor the opportunity to offer
during a regular semester. It would be possible, for instance, for
a teacher to organize a study trip abroad or a visit in this country
to art galleries or historic sites; or another teacher who remained
on campus, knowing that students would be devoted exclusively
to one subject or one theme, could invite an intense concentration
of a kind that cannot be expected in the middle of the four or five
courses that a student typically takes during a normal full-length
term. And the Curriculum Study Committee did specify that, of
the four “winter term” courses a student would take over a four-year
period, two would have to be designed “especially for the winter
term,” one in the student’s major and one outside the major, and
that they would be graded on “a pass-fail basis.”
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