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All University Research Committee records

 Record Group
Identifier: UA-1.7.1

Scope and Contents

This collection comprises largely the work of the All-College Educational Research Committee, also later referred to as the All-University Research Committee.

The bulk of the materials fall between the years 1949-1955. The main emphasis of the collection focuses on the committee’s work with: the study of and changes in faculty organization; changes in the college’s course and credit structure; establishment of a standard calendar; and change from a term to a semester plan.

Other committees and their work, mentioned in the history, are noted as they related to the work of this committee. Materials also contain the financial records and correspondence, meeting minutes, notes and membership lists of this committee.


  • Creation: 1940 - 1968
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1949 - 1955


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from this collection must be obtained from University Archives & Historical Collections, Michigan State University.

Historical Note

Following World War II the experience of Michigan State College with the legislature revealed the fact that publicly supported institutions would, in all probability, need to find ways of providing higher education of the same grade as previously provided at a lower cost to the public. As a result of this experience, the first step taken was that the Governing Board of the College asked the President’s Office to review with the deans and department heads in the spring of 1948 their future staff needs. As a result, staffs in the various schools were pruned to the extent of some 80 positions within a year or so. This job had to be done on a rule of thumb basis as there was no scientific data or studies which would indicate what constituted optimum class size or service load of staff members, both of which were related to the problem of optimum staff size. The above decrease in positions was accomplished without any violation of tenure rules. The release of part-time and temporary staff and the normal turnover were sufficient at this point to take up the necessary slack.

At about the same time that staff size was being cut, the President created an All-College Educational Costs Committee composed of one representative from each of the seven schools, the Office of the Dean of Students and the Office of the President. This Committee was charged with the study of unit costs of instruction and any other related matters. This group did make an elaborate study of the cost per student credit hour of instructional work in the various departments and schools. This survey provided the various departments with data for a study of comparative costs. The Committee discovered among other things that there was an enormous number of courses being offered and that class size was exceedingly low in some areas, facts attributable in part to the “undue proliferation or splintering of subject matter” in the various fields at the undergraduate level. Furthermore, this Committee and the Committee on Course and Curricula Changes, which is mentioned later, discovered that (1) there was much duplication of courses offered in the various departments (a few cases where even the same text was used in courses in different departments); (2) no serious effort had been made to fit well the curricula of the upper schools upon that of the Basic College with much duplication resulting from this failure to adjust; (3) courses and curricula in departments were proposed and adopted without reference to what was being done in other departments; in fact, the competition was such in some cases that areas were preempted by the establishment of proposed courses which were not to be offered until sometime in the future.

By action of the President and approval of the faculty, there was then established a Committee on Course and Curricula Changes composed of a representative from the President’s Office as chairman and two faculty members appointed by the President and the Assistant Registrar as an ex-officio member and secretary. Its primary purpose was to discourage the bad educational practices and policies referred to above, to make sure that in the technical curricula there would be courses of a liberal and cultural nature at the upper school level, and to discourage proliferation of subject matter fields.

At that time, no new courses or new curricula could be adopted, nor could any changes be made in existing courses and curricula, until they were passed upon favorably by this Committee and by the faculty. If proposed courses or curricula appeared to duplicate those already established in other departments, the department proposing such courses or curricula was obliged to secure the approval of others concerned. Even if clearance and approval were properly made, the Committee could call any or all parties concerned before it for an examination of the proposals and it could hold up the proposals or even refuse to clear them. Such drastic action was taken in only a very few cases.

Obviously the above Committee was one whose powers were largely police in character and, therefore, because of its nature it could hardly be charged with policy matters in the instructional and research programs of the institution. Consequently, there was established an All-College Educational Research Committee composed of representatives of the several schools. This Committee had wide powers of investigation of any question which had to do with educational policy. For example, it could study or request that studies be made of proliferation of subject matter areas, the optimum class size at the various levels, counseling services in the institution, educational costs, etc. It reported to the President and faculty and, if faculty approval was given, its recommendations were put into effect. This Committee was organized in such a manner that it had counterparts in the various departments, divisions, and schools of the College. This made it possible for ideas to flow up and down and for participation in the various studies by several faculty members.

The following was the plan of organization:

1.Each department nominated to the Dean of its school two of its teaching members. These two members and the department head, or someone designated by the department head, constituted the Departmental Committee. 2.From the two nominated by the department, the Dean selected a School Committee composed of one representative from each department. 3.In Schools other than Science and Arts, the President and Dean selected a member from the School Committee for the All-College Committee, which person also became the chairman of the School Committee. 4.In the School of Science and Arts, the Dean and Director of each division selected from among those nominated a Divisional Committee, one person for each department included in the division (for Education, at least three members) and also the Dean and Director designated the chairman of each Divisional Committee. The Dean and President selected from among these six chairmen the person who is to represent the School of Science and Arts on the All-College Committee and be the overall chairman of the School Committee.

The President named the chairman of the All-College Committee, who may or may not have been one of the members of the All-College Committee.

The All-College Committee reported to the President through the Administrative Assistant in Charge of Academic Affairs, who could be a member ex-officio of the All-College Committee.

The All-College Educational Research Committee recommended, and the faculty approved, a study of the course offerings in each and every department of the school with a view to reducing the number of undergraduate courses in those areas where a great deal of “splintering” has previously occurred. Many one and two hour courses would be abandoned and courses carrying four and five hours of credit would be established. By this arrangement it was hoped that the University offered fewer courses broader in scope for the undergraduate student.

In addition, this Committee studied all counseling services in the institution with a view to recommend reorganization which reduced costs and provided a more effective type of service. The Committee also launched a study on class size and service loads of staff members.


2 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Legal Status

Copyright: Michigan State University Property Rights: Michigan State University

All University Research Committee Records (All College Educational Research Committee)
3 Ready For Cataloging
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives and Historical Collections Repository

Conrad Hall
943 Conrad Road, Room 101
East Lansing MI 48824 US