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Reform spells end of 'grade inflation'
By K. S. HENDERSON
Copyright 1974 by The Daily Princetonian Publishing Co.. Inc.
In a sudden move to counteract grade inflation, Princeton University has instituted a mandatory bell-shaped curve effective immediately for courses in all departments, The Daily Princetonian has learned. Grades in all liberal arts courses will curve sharply around B-, while the median grade for science courses will be C-. The pass-fail option will be eliminated across the board, and grades of pass will be converted to C4on the fall grade reports to be issued in two weeks. Contacted at his home late last night, Dean of the College Neil L. Rudenstine '56 explained, "The grades here in recent years have climbed so high that graduate and professional schools have begun to discount them completely. "We've heard that some medical and law schools in particular have - been subtracting a full point from the grade averages of any Princeton students who apply." The Princetonian learned about the new compulsory curve when reporters obtained a memorandum submitted in secret to the Board of Trustees by the Committee on Examinations and Standing. The trustees had planned to withhold news of the grade reform measures until students recovered from receiving their fall grades, which will be compiled according to the new system. Although professors were surprised to learn that the plan had been discovered, most of them admitted having voiced strong support for strict grade reform.
One notable exception was R. W. van dc Velde '33, director of the undergraduate program of the Woodrow Wilson School. "There go those A+ averages," he said sorrowfully. "What will become of — our pipeline into law schools?" In contrast, Marion J. Levy, Jr., professor of sociology, expressed elation that the grade reforms had been passed by the trustees. "My only regret is they didn't go far enough," Levy said. "I'm going to have to raise all the curves in my
courses." Marvin Bressler, professor of sociology and chairman of the Commission on the Future of the College, was noncommittal. "On the one hand," he said, elaborating on this telling point for at least half an hour with gestures. "But on the other hand, it wasn't in my report." "John Coverdale's students aren't likely to notice the difference," said Chairman of the History Department Richard D. Challener '47. "But I heard a group of them are planning a thanksgiving service to be held in the chapel at noon." English professor Carlos Baker, distinguished in his safari togs and brandishing a .350 magnum pipe, commented, "These kids are soft. When you grade, you gotta grade hard. It felt good to grade hard. "There's nothing like a good
academic Veronica. The kid runs in hard for an A, you use a lot of fancy capework, and then the moment of truth —you stick him with a B-. It was like that back in Spain in the twenties. It felt good." In response to a reporter's query, Professor of Mathematics Goro Shimura said, "I'm here to teach, not to answer questions." Victor S. Preller, associate professor of religion, will lead an angry contingent of students who will burn their grade reports in a mass meeting at the chapel later this month. The entire anthropology department is expected to attend.
MANDATORY LIBERAL ARTS CURVE: According to the new grading reform measures passed by the Board of Trustees and the faculty, grades for all liberal arts courses will curve sharply around B-.