The University of the District of Columbia's much criticized plan to drop some graduation requirements for most students will be put on hold until public hearings are held on the proposal, UDC President Robert L. Green announced yesterday.
Under the proposed changes, which have drawn strong opposition from UDC faculty members and city officials, students seeking a bachelor's degree would no longer be required to take the minimum one year of a foreign language and a required sequence in writing and literature would be eliminated.
Some faculty members have criticized the plan, saying it would "loosen" requirements, and have complained that their opinions were not included in a five-year study that led to the proposal.
"Since there was such interest by the press and community, with some expressing concern that we were loosening requirements, we decided to have the hearings so everyone can ask questions. That should clear up a lot of things," Green said.
The hearings probably will be held in late February or March, delaying any final vote on the new requirements until March or April, a UDC spokesman said. Faculty members, students, and the public will be allowed to speak, he said.
City Council member Hilda Mason (Statehood-At Large), chairwoman of the education committee that oversees UDC, called a closed emergency meeting of the committee Wednesday to express concern about the plan and ask Green for a detailed explanation, UDC officials said. Mason declined to comment on the meeting.
The changes, which were recommended by Green and Ewaugh Fields, the college's acting provost and vice president for academic affairs, and approved by the board of trustees last December, "seems to be an issue of concern," Green said.
Green, who last year became the third president in the eight-year history of UDC, said, "My priority is to give students the ability to enter the job market or go on to graduate study. There is nothing shameful about preparing students so they can become employable."
"The proposed changes do not 'loosen' graduation requirements nor lower academic standards," Green said in a prepared statement. "Careful examination of the proposed requirements would reveal that they provide greater learning opportunities for students and improve our academic standards in several ways."
He said UDC should try to keep up with "changing times," and added that universities across the country have recently stopped requiring all students to take foreign languages, including most schools at the University of Maryland and Georgetown University.
Green noted that "As of March 1984, the Association of Departments of Foreign Languages reported that only 47 percent of American colleges and universities have foreign language as a baccalaureate degree requirement."