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First Year Seminar Program Cancelled

The Curriculum Committee has recently made the decision to eliminate the First Year Seminar course as of the upcoming fall semester.

Coordinated by Dr. Lisa Stepanski, Professor of English, the course was developed ten years ago and had two primary goals: to provide a common experience for the incoming students and to increase retention.

“I think over time the feeling was that the sessions really didn’t continue to be a common experience…They were all united around a theme of social justice [and] ethics, but really what happened in each individual section was very different from one another,” Cindy O’Callaghan, Associate Dean for Academic Program Support, shared.

The elimination of the course, however, will not result in an elimination of the program as a whole.

“The committee supported the elimination of FYS1101, but at the same time they developed an opinion about four things that they wanted to remain,” O’Callaghan explained.

The Curriculum Committee is made up of eight faculty members, three students, and two administrators and is co-chaired by Dr. Aren Gordon, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Dr. William Leonard, Dean of Arts and Sciences.

They advised retaining the fellows of the FYS program, the information literacy component, which is coordinated by the library, the student engagement program, in which faculty members are provided with funding to take students off-campus to movies or museums, and to retain a common experience.

“This right now is being developed and we’re calling it a Transition Seminar… We’ve done this type of thing in the past, other colleges do it, but the curriculum committee’s position was that we wanted to retain that common experience among every incoming student,” O’Callaghan said.

Despite being in its early stages of development, the committee is currently looking at a six-week window during the fall with four large sections of first-year students meeting, which would then break off during alternate weeks to meet in smaller groups and expand on various skills.

“For example, using ECLearn. It’s one thing to find out [about it] during orientation, it’s another thing entirely when you have to find a syllabus,” O’Callaghan said.

O’Callaghan explained that this portion of the program hasn’t been staffed yet, but one of the models used in the past included faculty, administrators, and staff that would take a lead role in working with the smaller groups. The larger sections of the group would be run by senior faculty members.

“Sister Janet herself has expressed an interest in delivering the mission [within] a liberal arts context as a part of this program,” O’Callaghan explained.

As for the FYS fellows, they will be available to faculty members teaching 1000-level courses that are primarily made up of first-year students.

“At the end of registration week [we’ll] see which courses have many spaces open for first-year students and encourage those full-time faculty members to volunteer to have a fellow and then we’ll send out a call for students to serve in this role,” said O’Callaghan.

The Transition Seminar will not be a 4-credit course, which will leave incoming first-year students with the opportunity to take an extra elective during the fall semester.

Chelsea McDonnell is Assistant Managing Editor at the Hub. She can be reached at or on Twitter @chelsea_lynn_!

Posted by on March 31, 2015. Filed under Around Campus. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.