| the history of wake forest
science, psychology, sociology, or anthropology (to be selected
from no more than two departments); and one-half course in
physical education. The Department of English was authorized to
require students in “freshman English” to meet up to five times a
week, and the language departments were similarly permitted to
arrange intermediate level courses on a five-times-a-week schedule.
Wishing to encourage more flexibility in course selection by
the College’s most intellectually gifted students, the Committee
proposed—and the faculty approved—an “open curriculum” plan
by which “superior students,” so identified by a faculty committee,
might waive standard degree requirements in favor of other cours-
es more suited to their perceived needs or their academic goals. No
more than three to five per cent of a freshman class, it was ex-
plained, would be eligible for this opportunity. In practice, not as
many students volunteered to be in the “open curriculum” as the
Committee had anticipated, some of them saying that they did not
want to run the risk of missing some course that the faculty
thought necessary for their full education.
The Curriculum Study Committee concluded its report with
several general observations about the College curriculum of the
future: “innovation and experiment, responsibly undertaken and
carefully evaluated,” should be encouraged; more opportunities for
“seminars, tutorials, and independent study” should be available;
and departments, especially those in the same division of the cur-
riculum (like the languages, the natural sciences, and the social
sciences) should work together toward offering more courses of an
interdisciplinary nature.
However divided members of the Wake Forest community may
have been about a future college calendar and curriculum, discus-
sions had proceeded in a calm and orderly fashion, and the work
of the Curriculum Study Committee came to an acceptable conclu-
sion. Such was not the case with several other issues that inflamed
the campus during the 1969–1970 academic year: a year that, at
least from my own perspective as one who has worked at the Uni-
versity for more than half a century, must be remembered as the
most turbulent period in modern Wake Forest history.
First of all, America was still in the midst of the war in Vietnam.
During the preceding year conversations about the war had con-
tinued, and protests had occurred, but they had been mild, and
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