By Paul A. Anthony, Editor in Chief
Academic credit and an earlier time are among the objectives laid out in the Chapel Programming Team’s five-year plan, obtained by the Optimist last week.
Although such plans are not concrete, they are among the most serious proposals on the table, Campus Life officials said.
“Some of those things are preferences,” said Brad Carter, director of Chapel programming. “Others are up for debate on whether they are preferences.”
Along with making Chapel count for academic credit and moving the program to earlier in the day, the document lays out plans for portable card readers and a continued use of themed structure.
Long-term changes to Chapel, however, are suggested to the president by the Chapel Task Force, not the programming team. The document will be studied further by the task force.
“Nothing is off the table,” said Dr. Charlie Marler, professor of journalism and mass communication and chair of the task force. He said President Royce Money “will probably take our recommendations and present the part he approves to the whole Board of Trustees.”
Marler declined to comment on the five-year plan.
Along with specific plans for the next few years, the document also gives insight into what Chapel leaders feel is the mission of Chapel. Carter was the plan’s principle author.
“Those who attend Chapel should be transformed by their time in worship and in the atmosphere of worship,” the report reads. “Entering Moody Coliseum should become…the entrance to a worship space.”
Another goal listed in the plan is to improve Chapel attendance. Three major changes are listed with goals for the next two years:
*Changing Chapel’s time to earlier in the day
Although a specific time is not mentioned, officials said a possibility is 9 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and 9:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Carter, echoing the report, told the Optimist that students would be hard-pressed to schedule work during Chapel with classes immediately before and after. Likewise, he said, the pre-lunch evacuation of Moody would be calmed by an earlier Chapel.
*Purchasing portable card readers for Moody and for small-group and break-out Chapels
Technological difficulties have plagued such an implementation, but Barnard said a test-reader would be used this semester.
*Changing “the Chapel attendance policy to reflect academic credits” by the 2004-05 school year
Such a change would need the vote of the faculty, said Faculty Senate chair Paul Piersall, questioning whether the idea would have enough faculty support.
“It’s really not part of the regular curriculum,” Piersall said. “Chapel’s an important part of what we do, and I believe strongly in what we do. But it’s co-curricular, not part of the curriculum.”
Piersall, chair of the Department of Music, said he did not speak for other members of the faculty, but that he did not believe the faculty would vote to approve such a change. That sentiment was echoed by past-chair Cheryl Bacon, chair of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, and chair-elect Joe Cardot, chair of the Department of Communication.
Barnard said students would not have to pay for the credit should such a change be made.
All the proposed changes could meet their goals and be in place by 2005. Or they could be vetoed by the any number of people or circumstances.
Barnard said the five-year plan is “meant to be a way of organizing strategies and goals. Some things have been on five-year plans for years and haven’t happened yet.”
Every program and department on campus must submit five-year plans to the president’s office, and they often provide useful information about what the program wants to do. However, many goals are dependent on full funding from the university, which is unlikely.
Carter said the Chapel Task Force’s role also discourages an absolute view on the proposals.
“Especially in view of people like the Chapel Task Force, it’s not that concrete,” he said.