Cultural Life Program Committee
Annual Report, 2004-05

Cultural Life Program Committee:   Faculty and Administrative Members:
Christopher Blackwell, Vaughn CroweTipton, Paula Gabbert, Glen Halva-Neubauer, Si Pearman, Sandy Roberson, Wade Worthen, Laurel Whisler (Chair);  Student Members: Brandi Childress, Maggie Holmes; Student Services Resource: Scott Derrick.

The Cultural Life Program Committee engaged in a variety of activities at the beginning of the academic year to communicate with faculty, staff, and students the goals and procedures for the Cultural Life Program.  An “Event Proposers FAQ” was added to the program web page.  An announcement about deadlines and application procedures was sent to Faculty, Public Announcements, and Student News.  The Chair attended an Association of Furman Students (AFS) meeting and addressed concerns brought by those student leaders.  The committee drafted a letter to the Paladin Editor to respond to concerns about decisions last year to deny credit for wellness events.  The Chair also met with Harry Shucker to discuss wellness events and what cooperative measures the CLP Committee and Student Services might undertake.  

Over the course of the year the committee responded to students and faculty about their concerns for both approval and denial of credit for a number of events.  The committee also gave considerable attention over the year to a concern by a faculty member about the issue of appropriate credentials for panel participants and presenters for CLP events.  In conjunction with this conversation, the committee approved additional language that will be added to the Guidelines webpage to clarify ideal traits of CLP approved events:

A CLP event will increase its audience's understanding of the world, its people, their history and beliefs, or the forms of art or forms of government that they have created. Its topic will be a serious one and a significant one, with implications reaching beyond the immediate world of Furman University. Its spirit will be harmonious with the mission of Furman University in inviting consideration and discussion, in assuming that the members of its audience hold various beliefs and honoring those differences of belief, and in insisting on fundamental respect for all of humanity. A CLP event will be presented by a person or people qualified toward their topic by virtue of formal credentials, artistic mastery, extraordinary experience, notable accomplishment, or positions of prominence.

To date a record 218 proposals have been submitted with 195 approvals, 11 rejections, and 7 withdrawals.  Our high acceptance rate was due to our concentrated efforts to work with proposal authors to offer opportunities to revise and resubmit marginal or poorly-written descriptions to change content and focus to make the events acceptable under the guidelines.

A continuing challenge for subsequent committees will be the disconnect between the committee’s understanding of its mandate and what seems to be the prevailing view of most of the campus community.  The committee’s interpretation is that the Cultural Life Program does not exist primarily as an incentive device for enhancing (or coercing) attendance.  Likewise, the committee believes that a multitude of events are offered daily that are valuable regardless of the CLP imprimatur.  We are hopeful that the new language inserted in the guidelines will provide additional clarification of the mandate of the program and assist event planners as they decide whether their proposed event merits consideration by the CLP Committee.

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