ISU Today: Bengal Bridge, Holt Arena Updates & More – kpvi.com

On the fourth Wednesday of each month we tell you all the top stories from Idaho State University.

Now that it is June, school is out for the summer -well at least for some students.

Others they are getting a head start in college.

170 recent high school graduates are spending seven weeks in the classroom at Idaho State as part of the Bengal Bridge program.

Bengal Bridge helps students get ready for college with a major benefit – tuition is only $65 per credit.

Students earn 10 credits over the course of the program including both general education courses and specific classes that count toward their degree.

“This is a perfect transition for students who are coming from high school and don’t know what to expect,” explains Misty Prigent, the Bengal Bridge Coordinator/Instructor. “They don’t know what college is, they don’t know that the studying and rigor is a lot different from high school courses, so this is something we are helping the students understand.”

Bengal Bridge is the only program like this in the state.

In Blackfoot, The ISU Outreach Center has a new home.

The Outreach Center is now located on West Pacific Avenue in a newly renovated office space.

The Free Resource Center gives anyone 16 years or older an opportunity to complete their GED.

Students can also enroll in language, reading, writing and math classes to help strengthen their skills before applying to college or entering the work force.

“I didn’t finish high school so they offered the program to me and it was very helpful,” shares Mayra Flores, a student at the center. “They have helped me a lot with the subjects they offer for the GED. They have been very helpful with that.”

“Our job is to bring them in and get their skills up and get them ready to be prepared for their futures,” says Korey Mereness, the Director of Adult Basic Education.

Idaho State has outreach centers in Pocatello, American Falls, and Soda Springs.

They are also planning on going online starting this fall.

In sports news, next time you step into Holt arena things may look a little different as the dome is going through a renovation project.

85 LED lights are being installed and they are replacing two lighting systems that were installed in 1971 and 1981.

The $536,000 lighting upgrade will require 62% less electricity than the old metal fixtures.

Fans may not notice a major lighting difference in the stands, but players will see a change.

“The way the new lights are constructed is that they won’t be blinding so they won’t really notice but they should see a better coverage on the field when events are going on.”

Crews began installing the lights this week and they expect to be completed by August 21st.

Once installed, ISU is eligible for an estimated $183,000 Idaho Power incentive rebate.

ISU has a new Faculty Athletic Representative and it’s someone very familiar to the community.

Caroline Faure, also known as “Smitty,” was appointed by ISU President Arthur Vailas to be the Faculty Athletic Representative.

Faure is tasked with helping student athletes balance academics and athletics, assisting in NCAA compliance, and insuring the student athlete’s wellbeing.

Faure is a Professor and Graduate Program Coordinator for the Department of Sports Science and Physical Education in the College of Education and is an accomplished researcher on sport related concussion and prevention.

ISU Today: Bengal Bridge, Holt Arena Updates & More

On the fourth Wednesday of each month we tell you all the top stories from Idaho State University.

Now that it is June, school is out for the summer -well at least for some students.

Others they are getting a head start in college.

170 recent high school graduates are spending seven weeks in the classroom at Idaho State as part of the Bengal Bridge program.

Bengal Bridge helps students get ready for college with a major benefit – tuition is only $65 per credit.

Students earn 10 credits over the course of the program including both general education courses and specific classes that count toward their degree.

“This is a perfect transition for students who are coming from high school and don’t know what to expect,” explains Misty Prigent, the Bengal Bridge Coordinator/Instructor. “They don’t know what college is, they don’t know that the studying and rigor is a lot different from high school courses, so this is something we are helping the students understand.”

Bengal Bridge is the only program like this in the state.

In Blackfoot, The ISU Outreach Center has a new home.

The Outreach Center is now located on West Pacific Avenue in a newly renovated office space.

The Free Resource Center gives anyone 16 years or older an opportunity to complete their GED.

Students can also enroll in language, reading, writing and math classes to help strengthen their skills before applying to college or entering the work force.

“I didn’t finish high school so they offered the program to me and it was very helpful,” shares Mayra Flores, a student at the center. “They have helped me a lot with the subjects they offer for the GED. They have been very helpful with that.”

“Our job is to bring them in and get their skills up and get them ready to be prepared for their futures,” says Korey Mereness, the Director of Adult Basic Education.

Idaho State has outreach centers in Pocatello, American Falls, and Soda Springs.

They are also planning on going online starting this fall.

In sports news, next time you step into Holt arena things may look a little different as the dome is going through a renovation project.

85 LED lights are being installed and they are replacing two lighting systems that were installed in 1971 and 1981.

The $536,000 lighting upgrade will require 62% less electricity than the old metal fixtures.

Fans may not notice a major lighting difference in the stands, but players will see a change.

“The way the new lights are constructed is that they won’t be blinding so they won’t really notice but they should see a better coverage on the field when events are going on.”

Crews began installing the lights this week and they expect to be completed by August 21st.

Once installed, ISU is eligible for an estimated $183,000 Idaho Power incentive rebate.

ISU has a new Faculty Athletic Representative and it’s someone very familiar to the community.

Caroline Faure, also known as “Smitty,” was appointed by ISU President Arthur Vailas to be the Faculty Athletic Representative.

Faure is tasked with helping student athletes balance academics and athletics, assisting in NCAA compliance, and insuring the student athlete’s wellbeing.

Faure is a Professor and Graduate Program Coordinator for the Department of Sports Science and Physical Education in the College of Education and is an accomplished researcher on sport related concussion and prevention.

Dropping out of college to serve my country was the best decision I ever made

For most, going to college after high school is pretty straight forward. Some choose to move away to four year universities and state schools, while others stay local at community college and commute from home. Whichever way you decide to do it, pursuing higher education after graduating high school is almost always the move.

Now imagine starting down that path and realizing that it just wasn’t right for you, so you enlist in the military of all things.

Sound crazy? It happens more often than you might think. Numerous college students from all over the United States have left school to join a branch of the armed forces, and with absolutely no regrets.

Take a look inside the mind of a few college drop-outs who put their education on the back burner to risk their lives serving out great country.

Let’s get it straight, the military isn’t a last resort for failures

John Colbert of Manhattan, Illinois signed an eight year contract with the United States Navy in 2015 during his first semester at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. The 20-year-old was then studying biomedical sciences when he dropped out to join the military simply because, “college was just too easy.”

John serves as a Hospital Corpsman, a Navy medical specialist. Hospital Corpsman training involves twelve months of both classroom schooling and intense hands-on training, which John says is extremely fast paced and more challenging than that of college pre-med education.

“I didn’t drop out because I was failing. It was quite the contrary, I wasn’t being challenged enough,” he said.

In training, Hospital Corpsmen are challenged every day. “My training was all medical care in real situations, where my split decision would mean the difference between someone living and dying. That’s challenging. You won’t find that in a college classroom.”

John explained that the military offers incentives for quality performance in training.  “Your rank among everyone else in your class can mean you get to decide where you’re stationed after schooling,” he said.

Since signing his contract, John has completed his twelve months of Hospital Corpsman training. Eight of these months were spent working with the United States Marine Corps at Field Medical Training Battalion West in Oceanside, California this past year.

As a result, John is attached to a Marine Corps unit and will serve with them on any future deployments as a Fleet Marine Force Corpsman.

The military makes going to school worth it

It goes without saying that college isn’t free, and nearly every individual seeking higher education ends up paying for college by means of financial aid and student loans, ultimately leading to debt. John says that the military seeks to help its soldiers obtain the education they want.

“My friends in college are already in debt, going to school to find a career and make money to pay off the debt that got them exactly where they are. It’s a vicious cycle,” he said. “But the military will pay to send me to school so I can get a degree. So if I work hard for the military now, I can live a life that’s debt free later.”

For Hospital Corpsman like John, hard work spent in training is especially worth it, as classroom schooling operates on a credit system just like college does. His credits will transfer over as college credit later on when he goes back to school, meaning he won’t have to start from the very beginning with general education and core courses.

Looking forward, John maintains a positive outlook on the rest of his life. “I hope to put my training to good use in the future and save lives during my time with the military. After that I’m going to get a four year degree, move on to higher level schooling and aspire to be better than yesterday.”

Sometimes joining the military is all but a change of scenery

Zacharry Carel, 22 years old, from Mount Pleasant, Iowa enlisted in the United States Army in the summer of 2014. At that time, he had completed two years at Scott Community College in Bettendorf, Iowa, but simply found himself unsatisfied with his day to day life.

“I liked going to school, but my everyday college routine got pretty boring after a while,” Zacharry said. “I love my country, so I enlisted to shake things up and try something new. I ended up dropping out of community college to go active duty.”

Zacharry serves on a Howitzer cannon crew as a gunner, spending each day on base at Fort Stewart in Georgia working with heavy artillery. This year will be his last with the Army, as he plans to go back to school and finish his last semester of classes before getting his degree.

Although his time with the military is nearing its end, Zacharry says it has been a experience he will never forget.

“I’ve taken away a lot of great morals and life skills,” he said. “I’ve learned how to present myself, customs and courtesies. To always do the right thing even when no one is looking.

“I’ll always remember being so close with with everyone in my unit. We are a family. And I got to shoot cannons for a living, who else can say that!”

For some, returning to college after the military doesn’t always go as planned

Justin O’Donnell, now 31 years old, from Mansfield, Ohio enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at 21 years old after a semester at community college. Like most others, he planned to complete his education after his time with the military.

At the end of his five year contract with the Marines, Justin attended the University of Oklahoma and the University of Iowa, looking to pursue a degree in Business. However, after two consecutive years at two different universities, he realized that a career in Business simply wasn’t his calling.

“I wasn’t certain of my career path when I was 19, and I still wasn’t certain of it when I was 27,” Justin said.

“What’s important is that I’ve been productive in the meantime and made an effort to find a career that I can be passionate about.”

Although he strongly encourages anyone pursuing an education to find their passion in education regardless of how long it may take, Justin recalls his experience as an older adult returning to college. “There were times when I regretted being older than my classmates, however being a veteran I’ve always felt as if I have a great deal of institutional support at my disposal.”

Last year, at 30 years old, Justin chose to return to the military and re-enlisted in the Army National Guard where he now serves as a medic. That being said, re-enlisting doesn’t mean that he has given up on pursuing an education. He currently is enrolled in the nursing program at Kirkwood Community College in Iowa City, Iowa and works at a local hospital as a nursing assistant.

He recalls his decision to enlist as one he does not regret. “My experience in the Marines was great. For me it put a lot of my day by day struggles into perspective. It’s easy to get lost in the idea that different obstacles are the end of the world; for me The Marine Corps has helped me accomplish tasks as they come to me.”

As for the ‘college experience’, these drop-outs haven’t missed much

While college is a time of discovering responsibility and independence, let’s be honest, its also a time of partying and wild irresponsibility before settling down to be a real adult. However, the general consensus is that enlisted men and women haven’t missed out on partying just because they left college.

“College is nothing compared to how the military lives and parties,” said Zacharry.

John said, “I’ve done some of the craziest things with my enlisted friends that I know my other non-enlisted friends would never be up for, like going skydiving on a whim or spending weekends climbing mountains. The military is full of thrill seekers who do some of the most physically challenging activities just for fun.”

SLCC and UL sign agreement for business degree – KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

South Louisiana Community College and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette are in business – in more ways than one.

Representatives from the two institutions signed an agreement Tuesday that will enable SLCC graduates to apply course credits they earned at the community college toward a bachelor’s degree from UL Lafayette’s B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration.

The 2+2 agreement will take effect in the Fall 2017 semester. Under the plan, students complete 60 credit hours during a two-year tenure at SLCC and earn an associate degree. Those credits then transfer to UL Lafayette, where the student accrues another 60 hours over the remaining two-year period to earn a bachelor’s degree, which requires a minimum 120 hours to complete.

Dr. Natalie Harder, SLCC chancellor, and Dr. Robert McKinney, UL Lafayette assistant vice president for Faculty Affairs, signed the agreement on behalf of each institution.

Also present from the B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration were Dr. Gwen Fontenot, interim dean, Dr. Lise Anne Slatten, interim associate dean for Academic Programs, and Dr. J. Bret Becton, incoming dean. Representing SLCC were Dr. Vincent June, vice chancellor for Student Services and interim vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, and Sam Harb, dean of Business, Information Technology and Workforce.

UL Lafayette President Dr. Joseph Savoie was unable to attend the ceremony, but said last week that the partnership eases the transition to the University for SLCC students.

“Agreements such as these provide a way for students to move to a four-year institution without losing the course credits they earned at the community college. We are proud to strengthen our already strong collaboration with SLCC and look forward to more agreements such as this in the future,” Savoie said.

Past 2+2 agreements have enabled SLCC graduates to pursue bachelor’s degrees in environmental science and informatics from UL Lafayette’s Ray P. Authement College of Sciences.

Harder said the latest collaboration is “what our region needs to stay economically competitive. Being able to complete two years with SLCC and then transfer to UL Lafayette to complete a business degree in four years saves students money and ensures that area businesses have well-trained graduates as quickly as possible.”

Fontenot said the agreement “creates a pathway for students to earn a bachelor’s degree while connecting UL Lafayette with other educational institutions. Our partnership with SLCC is strong and today’s 2+2 agreement reinforces it.”

Harb characterized the collaboration as “a win-win for both our institutions, students and community. It provides a seamless transition for our students in an efficient manner.”

The classes students take at SLCC will include general education courses such as math, English and history.

Once enrolled at UL Lafayette, students can focus on one of eight majors the Moody College offers: accounting, management, finance, insurance and risk management, economics, hospitality management, marketing, or professional land and resource management. 

For more information, call SLCC’s admissions office at (337) 521-9622 or visit www.solacc.edu/admissions.

OSU student-athletes stay active through summer, take classes to lighten load for fall semester

Stillwater is a different place in the summer.

The masses of students rushing to early classes disappear, and lines for restaurants don’t wind throughout a jam-packed Student Union at Oklahoma State University. The hustle-bustle and noise are gone. Life drifts along at a relaxed, slower pace in the summer heat.

But for student-athletes such as Haley Woodard, a forward on the Cowgirl soccer team, summer mornings start early and require energy.

Woodard’s soccer workouts typically start at 6 a.m. or 7 a.m., and that’s just the beginning of her daily schedule. Although many OSU students are gone on vacation or at home for the summer, Woodard and several other members of the Cowgirl soccer squad stay on campus and attend classes.

Many student-athletes, from those who play fall sports such as football and soccer to those who participate in spring sports like baseball, take advantage of the laid-back summer atmosphere at OSU. They take classes to lighten their workloads for the upcoming school year, striking a balance between their academic and athletic activities.

Brad Lundblade, a senior center on the Cowboy football team, is from Argyle, Texas, but has lived in Stillwater and enrolled in summer courses since the summer before his freshman year.

“Stillwater’s pretty quiet during the summer,” Lundblade said. “There’s not as many people there, so it’s a good time to really just focus in on football and school, and really, there’s not a whole lot of distractions.”

The on-campus environment is calm and serene, but student-athletes’ lives are still busy. Woodard, who is entering her junior year, said she and her teammates quickly go back to their residences and eat after workouts before they dash to their classes, which often last nearly three hours. A trip to the Joe and Connie Mitchell Academic Enhancement Center is usually next on Woodard’s daily agenda.

The academic enhancement center in Gallagher-Iba Arena’s southwest lobby houses Academic Services for Student-Athletes, or ASSA. The ASSA assists student-athletes during the fall and spring semesters, and its staff members don’t stop working because it’s summer.

“We still have all the tutoring available, all the facilitators,” said Marilyn Middlebrook, Associate Athletics Director for Academic Affairs and Director of ASSA. “They have all the same benefits in the summer that they do in the fall and the spring. It definitely helps them get through classes.”

The roles of advisers and other OSU employees who guide student-athletes when they make academic decisions are important to individuals such as Woodard. Through the summer, Woodard and several other members of OSU sports teams often spend time together as they work on class assignments in the academic enhancement center, where tutors and facilitators are there to help.

Middlebrook, who has worked in the athletics department for 20 years, has seen the program evolve.

“It used to be, years ago, we didn’t have the people coming in the summer like we do now,” she said.

That all changed when the NCAA relaxed some of its rules and permitted student-athletes to attend summer classes on scholarships. Middlebrook said not every athlete chooses to take summer classes, but there are some students from every OSU sports team on campus.

Lundblade said he thinks all members of the football squad are in Stillwater for the summer.

As many football players take summer courses to stay on track in the classroom and prevent a stressful fall semester, they also participate in training for fall camp.

“Taking summer classes is beneficial because it helps you academically, but also, just the workout part of it really just helps you out getting ready for fall camp,” Lundblade said. “We’ve laid the foundation in winter workouts and spring ball, but then when we come back for the summer, that’s really when we make that big push to get ready for the season.”

For Lundblade, this season is critical because his final moments in an OSU jersey are not far ahead of him. He has transitioned from a freshman walk-on to a senior member of the starting lineup and a candidate on the watch list for the Rimington Trophy, an award that annually honors a Division I-A collegiate football center. Simultaneously, Lundblade maintains a high academic standing. In 2016, he earned First Team Academic All-Big 12 recognition for the second consecutive season.

Lundblade is on track to graduate with a marketing degree in spring 2018. This summer, he is enrolled in operation analytics and human resource management, two classes required on his degree sheet. Lundblade said coach Mike Gundy stresses the significance of academic achievement in college because it’s difficult to secure a professional football career after graduation, so athletes need to equip themselves with skills needed for success in other fields, as well. Woodard said soccer coach Colin Carmichael also encourages his players to focus on their performance in the classroom and prepare for life after college.

Selection of a career isn’t a trivial choice for any college student, and it can be especially tricky for student-athletes who must decide what path to take after participating in collegiate sports.

For Woodard, from Norman, it’s tough to imagine life without athletics.

“I have never had to really think about what I want to do because it’s always been basketball, soccer, track,” she said. “I’ve always played sports, so when I got here, I’ve kind of had to do some soul-searching to figure out what major I wanted to do first of all, which I just declared as a sophomore.”

Woodard has chosen to pursue a degree in strategic communications. This summer, she is taking two music courses to fulfill upper-level general education requirements. Middlebrook said this is typical for student-athletes: most of them enroll in six hours for the summer, usually either two June-July courses or one in June and another in July.

Like Lundblade, Woodard has enrolled in classes at OSU every summer since her freshman year. Woodard, who has taken summer courses that range from statistics to history, said taking classes in the summer is beneficial for multiple reasons. Enrollment in six hours during the summer allows her to limit her schedule to 12 hours of class in the fall when soccer season is in full swing. She can earn class credit within a few weeks instead of an entire fall or spring semester. Although this means Woodard must attend class for multiple hours for four consecutive days each week, she said it is helpful because it’s easier for her to retain knowledge this way.

“It’s almost like a review all week, and then you have a test, so you have a better chance of getting better grades,” Woodard said.

OSU student-athletes are constantly active, but even they have some time to experience the easygoing atmosphere of a college town during summer vacation.

“We don’t have mandatory practice every day, so you have time to study and take a nap and still hang out with your friends,” Woodard said.

For Woodard, a self-described social butterfly, opportunities to bond with her teammates and other student-athletes are some of best aspects of a summer in Stillwater. Toward the beginning of summer, members of the Cowgirl soccer team join to mentor children at OSU’s soccer camp. After a long day of class and homework, student-athletes swim in the pool or golf together.

“It’s really good to build that continuity and that team chemistry that ends up showing up on the field, so it’s just a really good time for us to come together as a team,” Lundblade said.

Lundblade said he enjoys the summer activities with his teammates, but he also said he recognizes the significance of taking his classes seriously, whether it’s summertime or the fall or spring semester.

“One thing that I’ve always kind of told myself is, ‘How you do anything is how you do everything,’ and so just having that discipline in the classroom helps you on the field as well,” Lundblade said. “You can really focus in on football as well whenever you’re taking care of business in the classroom, so it’s definitely important.”

sports@ocolly.com

DSU receives grant for Concurrent Enrollment math courses

Dixie State University DSU receives grant for Concurrent Enrollment math courses
Dixie State University received the Utah System of Higher Education’s Math Teacher Preparation Grant, which will help increase the number of high school teachers eligible to teach Concurrent Enrollment math classes. Photo courtesy of Dixie State University

Dixie State University received a Math Teacher Preparation Grant from the Utah System of Higher Education. The grant will increase the number of high school teachers eligible to teach math classes through the Concurrent Enrollment program, which allows students to earn both high school and college credit for general education courses. With more instructors available, the university plans to offer more sections of these math classes, making it possible for more high school students to complete quantitative literacy math courses.

“Dixie State University is committed to providing greater opportunities for high school students to successfully complete college math courses,” said Dr. Michael Lacourse, DSU provost and vice president of academic affairs. “This grant award will allow us to expand the preparation and support of additional concurrent math instructors to meet a growing demand.”

Scheduled to be disseminated over three years, the grant will provide the university with approximately $86,000 each year. Additionally, USHE awarded DSU another $75,000 in incentives for quantitative literacy math completion programs. More than 80 percent of this funding will go directly to high schools to add 14 new sections of quantitative literacy to the nine already being offered.

The grant will help DSU implement an Instructor of Record model, in which DSU will hire a mathematics faculty member to serve as a resource to Washington County School District teachers. With this support in place, more teachers will qualify to teach Concurrent Enrollment classes.

By fulfilling both high school and college general requirements, Concurrent Enrollment classes save students time and money. The state of Utah funds the program, leaving students to pay just $5 per credit. Plus, students who take Concurrent Enrollment classes from DSU can enroll as full-time students after graduating from high school without re-applying.

Ensuring the education meets university standards, DSU deans and department chairs approve the program’s teachers, course material, syllabi, and textbooks. The college-level classes have a higher level of difficulty and prepare high school students for college by starting their college transcripts.

For more information about Concurrent Enrollment at Dixie State University, visit concurrent.dixie.edu.

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What’s Wrong With Too Many Required Courses

Institutions across the country have been considering carefully scripted general-education courses in lieu of traditional distribution requirements (see “No Math Required,” “Rethinking Gen Ed” and “Gen Ed Redesigns”). Some months ago, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni issued a report pointing out the efficiencies that would be realized by sequenced general-education courses with prescribed curricula, little student choice and lots of requirements.

The same organization also issued a letter deploring the fact that most college students could not identify James Madison as the father of the U.S. Constitution (most chose Thomas Jefferson) and that 40 percent did not know that Congress has the power to declare war. Their solution: a course on civic literacy required of every college student.

The push to require courses even comes from student groups. Last semester, I talked with a group of student activists concerned about their classmates’ use of phrases that had been used historically to demean others and the chilling effect of such discourse. Their solution: a course on cultural competence required of every college student.

Other groups decry college students’ lack of mathematical and quantitative literacy, of historical knowledge, of basic financial knowledge, and of writing skills. Common to all is the proposed solution: new required courses.

Administrators also enjoy required courses. They are stable and easy to section and schedule. Pointing to a required course that purports to convey particular content or skills is a highly efficient way of satisfying accreditors.

Unhappily, however, taking a course does not guarantee a student will learn what the course purports to teach. Civics courses are required in most high schools. If they worked, college students would not be lacking civic knowledge.

Worse, requirements have unintended consequences. Colleges are marketplaces: ideas are exchanged, professors vie for students and students vie for professors. The currency is not dollars, but student enrollments. Make a course required, and you remove the incentive for whoever is teaching that course to make it attractive to students. Professors are busy and they need to allocate their time carefully. Subsidizing a course by guaranteeing enrollment will cause a professor to devote more attention to other, unsubsidized courses.

Moreover, because departments also care about enrollments, they will not place their most gifted faculty members in a course in which enrollments are guaranteed. They will use their best faculty members to attract students to the major or to get students through the hardest courses. It takes a lot of vigilance and energy to ensure that required courses remain exciting and inspiring. Anyone who doubts that should think back on the worst courses they ever took.

The Power of Serendipity

I’m not suggesting that colleges and universities should have no requirements. Just as unregulated free markets concentrate capital, unregulated curricula concentrate enrollments. Think massive, entertaining, undemanding lecture courses. But the opposite — centrally planned, highly sequenced curricula with lots of top-down requirements — are precise analogues of Marxist economies. And we all know how those work.

The trick is to find regulations that are unobtrusive and actually improve student learning.

The first step is easy. Markets function best when there is equal and easy access to information. And students must have good information about what they can expect to learn in a class and why it is important.

But the way regulations are structured also matters. Think back to the best educational experiences that you have ever had. Common to most such experiences will be serendipity: the intervention of a gifted professor, reading a spell-binding book at exactly the right time, taking an inspiring course or excitedly talking over an idea with a friend in a residence hall.

In a college or university, regulations should be designed to maximize serendipity. How one does that depends, of course, on the institution.

Good liberal arts institutions (and many others) go to great trouble to hire faculty members who love their disciplines and truly enjoy teaching. In such institutions, distribution requirements that simply demand that students take courses in different disciplines are effective. Although one can talk about breadth and exploration, the distribution requirements spread students over that faculty. They increase serendipity by increasing the odds that a student will encounter a gifted professor who changes their life.

In addition to maximizing opportunities for serendipity, a good college or university will make it difficult for students to avoid learning material or acquiring skills they will subsequently need. In fact, rather than simply requiring a course, it will make sure that the outcomes desired of students are reflected in many of the courses those students will take. To guarantee that students write well, for example, students must practice writing in most courses they take. The same goes for civics or intercultural competence. That is the job of a strong faculty working together to align many different courses. To do that, faculty members need an institutional culture where people in different disciplines talk with one another openly about what they are seeking to do in their courses, and what seems to be working and what does not.

In smaller institutions, faculty members must know one another and interact regularly. In larger institutions, one needs structures that ensure that department members in charge of large multisectioned courses crucial to other departments know and interact openly with their counterparts in those departments.

In both small and large institutions, trust is essential. Administrators and faculty leaders can’t order up trust, but they can model it and facilitate interaction across different departments. For administrators and faculty leaders, it requires thinking about what groups to bring together and how to charge them. It requires being present and gathering and sharing data that departments and faculty can use. It requires the patience and wisdom to realize that time spent allowing different groups to explore not only what their students most need but also how to entice those students into acquiring what it is they need will pay larger dividends than top-down edicts mandating courses to be completed and exams to be passed.

It’s not easy, and it requires time, thoughtfulness and a deft touch. Higher education, like the economy, would be simpler if a benign leader could just require things. But it wouldn’t be better.

Ambassadors Serve to Create Affordable Learning Solutions

Twenty-two faculty members have been named Affordable Learning Solutions (AL$) ambassadors and will be learning how to use open educational resources (OER) — freely accessible, openly licensed books, documents and media used for teaching, learning and research — in the classrooms.

“AL$ is a California State University project that enables faculty to choose and provide affordable, quality educational content for their students,” explains Shelli Wynants, director of the Office of Online Education and Training, part of the new Faculty Support Services located on the second floor of the Pollak Library. “By reducing students’ material expenses, more students can acquire the course materials they need to succeed and benefit from their classes.”

All full and part-time faculty members are eligible to become AL$ ambassadors, with priority given to those teaching general education courses. The ambassadors will complete two professional development certificate programs involving OER exploration, choosing and creating accessible instructional materials, and employing Universal Design for Learning principles in their teaching and curriculum, said Wynants. They receive stipends for attending the certificate programs and for implementing OER/library resources in their courses.

“Our goal is to reduce instructional materials costs by at least 30 percent per course for students,” she noted, adding that ambassadors will also be a part of the OpenStax partnership to increase awareness and grow adoption of OER beyond the ambassador ranks.

This year’s ambassadors are:
Joel Abraham, associate professor of biological science
Lucia Alcala, assistant professor of psychology
Gwendolyn Alexis, lecturer in African American studies
Anthony Alvarez, assistant professor of sociology
Tara Barnhart, lecturer in secondary education
Therese Cooper, lecturer in human communication studies
Dydia DeLyser, assistant professor of geography
Tamatha Esguerra, lecturer in sociology
Sara Ghadami, lecturer in computer science
Natalie Graham, assistant professor of African American studies
Emily Hamecher, lecturer in geological sciences
Gina Harmston, lecturer in kinesiology
Erin Hollis, associate professor of English, comparative literature and linguistics
Jinghui Liu, professor of modern languages and literatures
April Medrano, lecturer in English, comparative literature and linguistics
Jamila Moore Pewu, assistant professor of history
Ana Nez, lecturer in Chicana and Chicano Studies
Urvi Patel, lecturer in gerontology
Banafshe Sharifian, lecturer in health science
Valerie Smolek, lecturer in marketing
Lisa Tran, professor of history
Jindong Wu, associate professor of geography

ACE Institute students earn high school diploma and college degree

The Advanced College Enrollment Institute at Gadsden State Community College permits eligible high school students to dual enroll in college courses and high school classes. Students can even earn a high school diploma and college degree around the same time. Nathan Boatwright and Alyssa Winkles are two of those students.

 

“I knew the ACE Institute would help me further my education faster than most students my age,” said Winkles, 18. “I was so excited about going to Gadsden State and the ACE Institute gave me the opportunity to do that.”

 

Having a fast track to a career is the reason Boatwright enrolled in the ACE Institute.

 

“I was just ready to grow up,” he said. “I wanted to get everything done as fast as I could so I could start working.”

 

ACE Institute classes are offered online or in a traditional classroom at one of Gadsden State’s campuses or at the student’s high school. General education courses and career technical courses are offered.  Boatwright, an 18-year-old Hokes Bluff native, enrolled in the welding program at Gadsden State’s East Broad Campus.

Nathan Boatwright stands next to the truck he retrofitted with tools and equipment. A recent Hokes Bluff High School and
Gadsden State Community College graduate, Boatwright uses the truck as a mobile welding service.

“It’s cool to me that you can weld two pieces of metal together,” he said. “Plus, it’s a high-demand job so I know it won’t be hard for me to secure employment.”

 

He is one of 300 students who earned ACE Institute scholarships for the 2016-17 academic year. Students who are interested in certain career technical programs identified as high-wage, high-demand may qualify for the scholarship awarded to Boatwright. Those scholarships are available in the following programs: air conditioning and refrigeration, automotive body repair, automotive manufacturing technology, automotive service technology, carpentry, civil engineering technology, computer science, drafting design technology, diesel mechanics, electronic engineering technology, electrical technology, emergency medical technology, health information technology, industrial maintenance technology, mechanical design technology, machine tool technology, office administration, paralegal/legal assistant and welding.

 

Boatwright completed four semesters in welding and a semester in blueprint during his time in the ACE Institute. In May, he earned his associate degree in welding before he got his diploma at Hokes Bluff High School. Now he is working at his father’s heavy equipment business and has even started his own mobile welding service. The service is made possible thanks to a 2007 Ford F-250 truck retrofitted with the tools and equipment he needs. He and a friend built and painted the bed of the truck and installed toolboxes, which saved him over $5,000. They also found and installed an old electric welder on the back of the work truck.

 

“It is a 1978 Lincoln with an electric ignition and carburetor, and it had only been used nine hours,” Boatwright said. “We painted it and installed it on the truck so I can have all my tools and supplies right there when I need them.”

 

The mobile welding service is convenient for those using heavy equipment.

 

“My clients will call me and I’ll go out in the field and fix the equipment right there on the spot,” he said.

 

Though he has already embarked on a career with great potential, he has plans to take his trade on the road.

 

“I want to travel and work on the pipeline or an oil rig as an offshore welder,” he said. “It has good pay and good retirement.”

 

ACE Institute students, like Winkles, can also take general education courses. The Centre native will earn her Associate of Science degree following the summer semester, just four months after completing requirements for her high school diploma. She has been accepted into the nursing program at Jacksonville State University and will start classes in the fall.

 

A homeschool student, Winkles enrolled in an ACE Institute online course the summer prior to her junior year. She has since attended class at Gadsden State Cherokee and has been a full-time ACE Institute student for the past three semesters. Until recently, she also worked 26 hours a week at a veterinary clinic and still maintained a grade point average that earned her a spot on the Dean’s List.

 

“I wouldn’t say it’s easy to work and go to school but it doesn’t have to be difficult,” she said. “It takes responsibility and time. You just have to manage your priorities.”

 

Both Boatwright and Winkles agreed that Gadsden State instructors have been instrumental in their success to juggle work, high school and college courses.

Alyssa Winkles earned her high school diploma in the spring and will
graduate with an associate degree from Gadsden State in August.
She accomplished the feat by attending college classes through the ACE Institute,
Gadsden State’s dual enrollment program.

 

“Darren McCrary and Frank Miller are great instructors,” Boatwright said of the two men who taught his welding courses. “They helped me so much. They taught me what to do and what not to do. They were very strict about me learning the process. They were tough but encouraging. They make sure we are expert welders when we leave their class.”

 

Barbara Dorsett is the instructor who made the biggest impact on Winkles.

 

“She has always been so helpful,” she said. “I couldn’t ask for a better chemistry teacher. She has a great heart when it comes to helping students. She always wants to see us succeed.”

 

In the end, Winkles is happy she made the decision to enroll in the ACE Institute, and she encourages other sophomores, juniors and seniors with at least a 2.5 GPA to enroll.

“Earning a high school diploma and college credits at the same time is achievable,” she said. “Don’t give up. Be persistent. No matter how old you are, you can do it. Set your mind to it and succeed.”

 

For more information on the ACE Institute, visit www.gadsdenstate.edu/aceinstitute

William Elgin: From construction to teaching – Galesburg Register

After spending the majority of my adult life working construction, I found myself in a precarious situation. During summer of 2010, I suffered a serious injury at work and was faced with some hard decisions: either continue in my present job after healing from surgery or find a new occupation. Herein lay the dilemma. Although I completed four years of high school, I fell short of graduating with my class. This ruled out college, or so I thought.

Fall of 2010 found me on the mend from shoulder surgery and still nervously contemplating the future. During a casual conversation with my wife, Kimm — which upon reflection, was more by design then happenstance — a seed was planted. “You know, Sandburg has an adult literacy program” she said. Completely missing the point I replied, “I read just fine.” Noticing her facial expression (a matrimonial warning not worth ignoring) I attempted to salvage the rest of the day by saying, “I’ll look into it.” My wife immediately turned and handed me a note pad with all the information and phone numbers I needed. Realizing she had me in a box, I had no choice but to overlook her suspiciously well prepared information and make the calls regardless. A week later I was sitting in a classroom for the first time in 23 years. With the help of Sandburg instructors and the support of my family, I received my General Education Diploma in three short months.

After completion of my GED, I immediately enrolled in classes for the summer semester at Sandburg and never looked back. I had a couple of ideas of what I wanted to do, but nothing concrete. I had some general education courses to get out of the way, as well as some elective courses to choose from. As a 40-year-old nontraditional student, I had some concerns with Math and English — difficult subjects for me in high school. I was amazed at the amount of support I received from individual instructors as well as supplemental tutoring offered free of charge to all Sandburg students. In fact, the time I spent in the tutoring center ultimately changed my course of study. I had done so well in my English courses that I was offered a position as a tutor. It took me very little time to realize I was a teacher at heart and from that point on I became obsessed with that goal. At this point, I began taking all the social science courses I could fit into my schedule and even some that didn’t fit but I found ways to make it work. In a couple short years I had earned a degree. During my last semester at Sandburg, many of my professors diligently urged me to begin preparation for transfer to a four-year institution, but none so diligently as Lara Roemer, Dave Kellogg, and Garry Douglas. Without the guidance and support of these individuals, my life would be much different today.

After weighing my options, I decided to stay local to pursue my undergraduate degree. By transferring to Knox College, I was able to continue working at Sandburg doing what I loved while pursuing my undergraduate degree. This proved challenging at times but well worth the effort. I continued my studies in sociology and history and in a couple of not-so-short years, I found myself receiving another degree.

After completing my undergraduate degree, I was offered the position of adjunct English professor at Carl Sandburg College, and am currently enrolled in Western Illinois University’s graduate program of sociology. The support I receive as an instructor at Sandburg allows me the same success I had as a student. I consider myself extremely fortunate to work in this type of collaborative environment and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I’m the person I am today because of the time I spent here at Sandburg and sincerely hope to be that kind of positive influence that changes lives for others. 

This article is written by William Elgin, Sandburg alumni and adjunct faculty.