Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Life in the Ivory Tower

Got an email today about an idea that the Provost wants to implement.

In order to improve retention (which, admittedly is not so good here -- about 25% of our first-time freshmen don't return for their sophomore year), he has announced a program of first year seminars.

These would be one-credit hour courses led by a tenured or tenure-track faculty member and would "give students an insight into the excitement of the academy." Some suggested topics were Nietzsche and opera. Explains the Provost, "These seminars will bring students into close contact with faculty members in their initial year, which will introduce them to the excitement of learning in higher education."

Right, because the freshmen who don't come back for a second year don't find academics to be esoteric enough? The 64% of freshmen who couldn't maintain a 2.75 GPA in 2004-05 weren't challenged enough by the standard curriculum?

While I am somewhat gleeful that high-ranking administrators have committed themselves to this program and will be teaching freshmen, I suspect that students will self-select into these courses and the weak students who I see won't end up in these seminars. I'm thinking that in the fall that the math department should encourge students in our lowest-level courses to sign up for the seminars being offered by the Provost and by the Vice-Chancellor.