By Paul A. Anthony, Editor in Chief
After a year of Chapel uncertainty, President Royce Money has accepted a number of task force recommendations that will affect this year’s programming.
The changes will be announced in Chapel Tuesday by Wayne Barnard, dean of Campus Life, and Dr. Jack Reese, dean of the College of Biblical Studies. Both are members of the Chapel Task Force, which made the recommendations over the summer.
The changes include: a limited return of announcements; the elimination of gender Chapels; a shift to a credit-based, as opposed to absence-based, system; and the inclusion of evening events that would allow students to gain Chapel credit.
The Chapel Task Force, a group of 18 faculty, staff and students, spent most of last year releasing possible changes and making decisions on resulting feedback. Several of the decisions made for this year came as a result of student and faculty feedback, said Dr. Charlie Marler, professor emeritus of journalism and mass communication and task force chair.
“We didn’t find anyone who wanted to do gender Chapels,” Marler said, noting that even some faculty applauded when he announced the change in Wednesday’s pre-session conference. “They didn’t have to go, but they knew it was stupid.”
One change this year did not emanate from the task force-the requirement that no student workers be allowed to work on campus during Chapel without written exception from the office’s dean or vice president. The policy was approved by the President’s Cabinet.
Money, in accepting the recommendations Wednesday, applauded the task force’s work.
“The Chapel Task Force is a shining example of this type of collective wisdom” among faculty and staff, Money said.
The task force submitted nine recommendations-eight changes and a list of five points to continue discussing. Among those still being discussed, Marler said, is changing the time Chapel takes place.
The task force had overwhelmingly approved releasing a proposal that considered changing the time to earlier in the day, but after a decidedly mixed reaction, the committee voted to table any immediate recommendation.
“Staying as it is, you’re going to have people who are disappointed,” Marler said. “To change it, you’re going to have people who are mad.”
Among the changes taking place this year, the shift from absence-based to credit-based attendance is one of the most fundamental. The change is partly driven by technology and partly by positive thinking, Barnard said.
“With the technology we were able to do this, so it made sense to make the change,” he said.
Students will be required to attend Chapel 55 times and would be put on probation should they fail to earn those credits. If students fail to earn 55 credits during more than two semesters while at ACU, they would be suspended.
However, Barnard said, students could earn Chapel credits by attending forums, discussions and other events sponsored by Campus Life that will be held throughout the semester
The Chapel format itself also is changing, with two Wednesdays each month taken by class and departmental Chapels and the other two allowing for community-based presentations. Monday will also feature a limited announcement time conducted by the day’s speaker.
“What we’re talking about is really restricted to presider announcements,” Barnard said, noting that not every group or club will have its event or meeting publicized in Chapel. “That’s just going to be impossible.”