By Jae Wasson
Patrick Henry College
Jackquelyn Veith, Assistant Professor of Education
Patrick Henry College’s administration has recently approved the addition of four minors: classics, music, pedagogy, and philosophy.
This change will allow students the chance to add a minor program to their major degree program.
The process to create the new minors began last spring when Veith reviewed the CLA major. It was scattered, she said, and seemed to be viewed as nothing more than a pedagogy major.
With the revision of the CLA major into an interdisciplinary major, the CLA faculty also utilized the opportunity to develop the CLA tracks into separate minor programs open to students of all majors. The College policy on minors provides "secondary academic studies consisting of 15-21 credit hours from a single discipline. A maximum of 6 credits that fulfill a major requirement may be also applied to the minor course of study provided that a minimum of 12 credits are unique to the minor. Students are not required to minor, may choose only one minor, and may not minor in the discipline of their major. Once declared, minors must be completed or withdrawn prior to graduation. Minors cannot be added once a degree is conferred. The minimum satisfactory grade for a minor course is C-. Students must take at least 60% of the credits applicable to a minor at Patrick Henry College."
“It’s a fairly substantial change,” said Jackquelyn Veith, Assistant Professor of Education. “This is really designed to give the students so much more flexibility and the ability to mix and match.”
Before the faculty in the CLA Department could submit their changes to the administration, they met often to discuss what the core CLA courses should be, what the distribution of the credit load should look like, and how to define the purpose of the major.
The CLA major, according to the new description, is a “rigorous interdisciplinary focus in the liberal arts, preparing them for graduate school, seminary, or the work force.” It now has a unifying core from five disciplines: history, classics, philosophy, biblical studies, and literature. But now, after completion of the core and the required CLA courses, the CLA students will still have 24 open credits. They are encouraged to use these credits to complete one of the new minors.
“The shift had two goals: to create the appropriate linkages in the curriculum, also then to put it into a form which is recognizable to everyone,” said Dr. Steven McCollum. McCollum will head up the music minor, which replaces the CLA: Music track. “Minors are something people feel familiar with.”
McCollum also believes the music minor will extend the attraction of the PHC music program.
“It’s for students who aren’t specifically called to music as a vocation, but who want to develop their musical gifts for a lifetime of service,” McCollum said. “We offer in the music area so many things. The more music we do, the borader amount of attention we get from these potential students.”
These minors will also expand the options available to the incoming students. Current students came in with only five options for majors. Starting next academic year, there are six majors and four minors. But the CLA department has worked hard to ensure that a number of incoming juniors will be able to add a minor and still graduate on time.
Veith, however, advises that current students considering a minor should consult with their advisor and formulate a plan to finish on time.
McCollum explained that in order for a current student to transition into a music minor, they need a strong precollege background. “A student might discover that they are interested in philosophy when they are undergraduates and go in that direction. In music, that would be harder.”
Dr. Matthew Roberts, who will be heading up the philosophy minor, believes the new minor is a very positive change.
“Any school whose ethos is both Christian and classical should offer a course of study in philosophy, given its central nature to all of the liberal arts,” Roberts said. “Minoring in philosophy is a great means to sharper and deeper thinking in virtually any vocation.” Roberts hopes the philosophy minor will become a major if enough interest is expressed.
This is another reason Veith believes the choie to revise the CLA major will be a benefit to the school. “The breadth of the liberal arts make the CLA major an obvious incubator for new minors, and, perhaps, new majors,” Veith said.
Correction: The previous version of this article implied that minors were only open to Classical Liberal Arts majors. While the CLA major is especially suited to adopt one of the new minor tracks, minors are open to students of any academic major.