Faculty senate discuss adding freshman seminar to Kent State’s curriculum

Megan Wilkinson

President Lester Lefton opened senate discussions Monday by bringing up the possibility of creating a freshman seminar course in upcoming academic years to improve student retention rates.

“A high impact freshman seminar would enable all students to learn to reflect and apply knowledge as a first-year student,” Lefton said. “I believe this could be a win-win retention program for students and faculty.”

Lefton said a freshman seminar would get small groups of students together to discuss a variety of ethical and social issues, depending on a student’s major and college. However, he said the seminar won’t come without a cost, and it would require a few additional faculty members.

Some faculty senate members said there are conflicts with the seminar proposal. Jonathan Selinger, chemical physics professor, said though the concept could boost student retention in the long run, this model of curriculum might not work for all students.

“When we make these kinds of courses a requirement, it’s just another hurdle students can trip on that could stand in their way of graduation,” Selinger said.

Lefton said he hopes to continue discussions of the freshman seminar during the spring semester.

“I think (the seminar) can be completed in steps,” Lefton said. “We can choose to ignore it, or we can embrace it and have fun with it.”

Faculty senate members also agreed to make the following changes to the academic forgiveness policy for Fall 2012 at Monday’s meeting:

  • Students can request academic forgiveness to return to Kent State after only one year, as opposed to three.
  • Students can request academic forgiveness if they only have 12 credit hours and a 2.0 GPA.
  • Kent State associate degree students can receive forgiveness for any coursework they take after they earn their associate degree.
  • The policy removed the rule that students cannot take credit at another institution for at least three consecutive years.

Timothy Chandler, senior associate provost, said the new academic forgiveness policy aims to make it easier for returning students to continue with higher education.

“This is just an attempt to upgrade the policy and meet the needs of 21st century students,” Chandler said. “The old policy seemed harsh to have students have to stay out of the university for three years before returning.”

Faculty senate members concluded their meeting with discussions on issues that will affect students in the upcoming academic year such as the experiential learning requirement and proposals on SSI evaluations from the Lovejoy Report. Senate members had no general consensus on these topics.

Michael Mikusa, associate professor of teaching, learning and curricular studies, said most of these proposals still need to be worked out for the best academic results.

“A lot of the things that come up at our meetings are big ideas such as the experiential learning requirement,” Mikusa said. “You don’t want to push these (proposals) through when they aren’t strong enough, and you don’t want these good ideas to grind to a halt.”

Contact Megan Wilkinson at [email protected].