Moratorium set on individual studies

Aaron Kunkler, Staff Reporter

At the last Faculty Senate meeting, the Senate voted to place a moratorium on the individual studies program until it can be reviewed by Academic Affairs and the Curriculum Committee.

Prompting this moratorium were concerns about a possible partnership between Central and the Seattle Film Institute (SFI), an unaccredited trade school pushed for by the Associate Provost office. In addition, the individual studies program at Central, which allowed students to create faculty-approved interdisciplinary degrees, had been changed to allow the Associate Provost office to directly oversee and approve a new specialized studies degree.

“It became apparent to me that SFI was looking for students,” said Michael Ogden, director of interdisciplinary film and video studies.

Ogden voiced his concerns through a letter to the faculty, as well as at the latest Faculty Senate meeting. SFI approached Central last February with various programs, including ones which were pitched to the music, film and video studies and theatre departments.

Washington college accreditation guidelines allow for a university such as Central to grant credits for courses from other institutions if the accredited institution’s faculty retains control and approval of the programs. The theatre department’s involvement with SFI meets this criteria, however, the programs proposed under Specialized Studies for Film and Video did not.

According to Scott Robinson, the theatre arts chair, the partnership between SFI and his department has been approved and specifically outlined by Central faculty. Students who choose to take the courses offered at SFI and transfer to Central are routed into the specific majors program, instead of into a Specialized Studies degree.

This was not the case with the Specialized Studies in Film and Video pushed by the Associate Provost office and SFI.

“What SFI wanted was essentially what we see working out in the Associate Provosts office,” Ogden said.

In essence, what SFI wanted to push for was a path whereby students take a one year certification degree from SFI, transfer to Central to take two years of general education courses and graduate with a dual degree: One from SFI, and the other in specialized studies from Central, overseen by the administration, not the faculty.

This would have placed SFI in direct competition with Central’s film and video studies program, and possibly placed Central’s accreditation in jeopardy as this year is Central’s three year mark for re-accreditation by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

A motion to disallow the specialized studies degree, returning it to the previous individual studies degree under faculty direction was approved. A moratorium was also placed on new students enrolling in individual studies programs. Students already enrolled in individual studies will be allowed to continue their degree.

“We did this the right way,” Ogden said. “Nothing was hidden, everything was open.”

Ogden believes that following proper form grants more credence to the faculties’ decision, and stated that this was not an issue that affected just the film and video studies program.