The Graduate Council will decide whether or not to suspend the Islamic Studies program following a meeting today between the council and members of the Islamic Studies Faculty Advisory Committee.
The possible suspension of the Islamic Studies graduate program spurred a public forum Wednesday discussing improvements and adjustments to the interdepartmental program.
Present at the forum were both students and faculty members who would be affected by the suspension of admission to the program.
The Graduate Council has suspended admission in the past. In fact, this year's class is only the second new class in several years.
The Council's main issues with the Islamic Studies program are the need for stronger leadership and a more active Faculty Advisory Committee, and problems with the core classes, said Professor Michael Morony, chair of the Islamic Studies interdepartmental program. The council also cited the lack of a sense of community among students and problems with funding.
The suspension would not directly affect the completion of the program for current students. But Ayman Shabana, first-year doctorate student of Islamic Studies, expressed his concern for the stigma that may be attached to graduating from a program that is suspended.
Morony agreed, saying, "There is a lot of anxiety and concern ... (a suspension) affects the reputation of the program."
Morony and others from the program organized the forum when the Graduate Council told the committee that they needed to have a comprehensive plan for future improvements.
"I thought it was a good idea, because everyone gets alarmed and wants to do something," Morony said.
The forum addressed the creation of a "backbone" to the program – core classes that would focus on Islam as a religion.
While those present at the forum debated the specifics of the classes themselves, they generally agreed to the need for change. Most wanted to hire an Islamist who could head the program.
If the council decides to suspend admission for next year, a condition for reinstatement of the program is the hiring of a new program head.
Funding was a source of general concern, with many blaming past problems of the Islamic Studies program on their lack of money.
Adrienne Lavine, vice chairwoman of the Academic Senate, said the role of the council, a committee under the Senate, is to find the problems that need fixing.
"The Senate does not control the money," Lavine said. "When they make reviews, they direct it to either the department or dean."
The administration holds the ultimate authority for funding the program.