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Summaries from the Fourth Stakeholder Conference



Question 2

What recommendations do you have for ensuring the success of the proposed Pillar of Distinction?

Residential Learning Communities

  • Emphasize sound academic approach through clear criteria for successful communities, including links to academic curriculum integrating clusters of courses that might embrace first year seminars and English composition. Carefully consider the sorts of courses that will work best in this environment.
  • Integrate interdisciplinary themes, global perspectives, problem-solving and service learning experiences.
  • Make diversity a goal of the program and offer a wide array of opportunities to address particular interests.
  • Group students by major and class and offer opportunities for students to participate beyond the freshman year, perhaps also requiring residence for sophomores.
  • Provide faculty development and incentives such as release time, stipends, and credit in the tenure and promotion process.
  • Seek widespread faculty participation in the program.
  • Explore and base program on national models that have been successful.
  • Provide sufficient funding and open opportunities for competitive proposals to provide resources that would distinguish each group.
  • Study design considerations for teaching needs within halls and seek faculty input.
  • Make communities contextual rather than solely programmatic, and develop competitions to teach real life skills, such as who can be the cleanest, live the most cheaply, etc.
  • Develop clear expectations for participation, such as attendance, academic, and dress code requirements.
  • Allow students to choose their communities and to move to new ones if they do not have a satisfactory experience.
  • Have support structures for shy students and those having difficulty adjusting. The pressure of having to choose a community in addition to choosing major and courses might be difficult for some students.
  • Have libraries in each hall.
  • Allow students to have input into designing the communities and developing themes and develop buy-in by making communities attractive place to live. Develop a democratic process that allows students to set the agenda/goals of each group and responsibilities of each participant.
  • Determine factors that are already in place and then add additional components to create test pilots.
  • Diminish territorial division between academics and residential buildings and programs.
  • Focus on advising needs.
  • Develop administrative center for these projects.
  • Have campus wide expectations for involvement for students, faculty, and staff.
  • Use residential learning communities to develop the honors program.
  • Use program to develop student leadership opportunities.
  • Avoid developing too many small cliques.
  • Consider allowing external constituencies to participate.



Learning Beyond the Classroom

  • Develop a centralized support structure, which might include a senate ad hoc committee or a subcommittee of the horizontal chairs.
  • Perfect the experiential learning transcript to enable better tracking of experiences and have an open forum for input.
  • Provide effective faculty development and support through workload reduction, rewards based on student achievement of learning outcomes, research funds, and credit in the school tenure and promotion guidelines to attract participation.
  • Model this program on the mentored cohorts in the School of Education.
  • Develop a clear assessment plan with outcomes that apply to all programs.
  • Stress connection of liberal arts theory to practice.
  • Implement program slowly and in phases.
  • Provide multiple experiences, including local and study abroad programs and try not to duplicate programs already in existence.
  • Develop clear criteria for out-of-classroom experiences with a strong academic component and a minimum amount of time to be spent in field experiences.
  • Ask departments to focus on real-world themes and to go beyond capstone courses in developing their programs.
  • Provide a support structure for students to enable them to manage a more time-intensive commitment and the academic expectations of this program, including clear protocols for registration, deadlines, assignments, and other relevant details.
  • Provide a support structure for cross-disciplinary/department/school collaborations.
  • Rely on departmental input.
  • Require students to engage in at least one out-of-classroom experience a year and give academic credit for the work.
  • Involve students in creating their own plan for completing these experiences and poll them for their interests.
  • Market to better students and target appropriate populations for particular experiences.
  • Tailor experiences to the particular disciplines.
  • Develop strong connections to the community and rely upon faculty who have cultivated effective working relationships with local community figures.
  • Consider assigning advisement to others to accommodate increased demands on faculty. This may require more support staff.
  • Ensure adequate funding.


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