Middle States Again? Good progress has been made to prepare for the 10-year self-study reaccreditation report and evaluation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. An initial site visit will occur this May, with the evaluation visit occurring during the 2014-15 academic year. The 2013-14 academic year will be devoted to the self-study process.
Arts & Sciences Forever! There are exciting curricular improvements in several fields. The History Department revised its curriculum so that World Civilizations will serve as the introductory course for the major and minor (and a great choice for students in the general education program, I might add!). The Liberal Studies major will be transformed into a self-designed major to encourage high achieving students to think creatively about new ways of knowing that join two or more disciplinary perspectives. A new Minor in Sustainability; new courses in Green Theology, World Religions, and Communications in the Cloud; and enhanced service learning coursework will enrich the connections between Alvernia’s mission and problem-solving opportunities relevant to the 21st century.
Med alert! Our Health Services staff provided medical services to 651 students and counseling services to 307 students during the fall semester. Our second biennial administration of the National College Health Assessment included more than 375 students. The data will fuel the next phases of our health education initiative.
Calling Long Distance! The Bernardine Lecture Hall was configured with SKYPE to accommodate a videoconference for an Occupational Therapy collaborative learning activity between Alvernia and Penn State-Berks students and a medical professional from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The session involved using gaming and small device applications during rehabilitation, and was facilitated by Dr. Karen Cameron.
Gift with class! This year represents a change in direction for the Senior Class Gift. In the past, seniors’ contributions funded gifts such as podiums and chairs. The class of 2013 will be making a donation to the Campus Community Scholarship Fund. Their gifts will be used to create scholarship awards for students with senior standing in fall 2013. Recipients of the scholarship will demonstrate financial need and a commitment to service.
At your service! Service-learning opportunities that link classroom activity directly with community service are growing across all disciplines. Seventeen courses are being held this semester. Examples include a Federal Taxation class that is supporting local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance for elderly and low-income residents and an Honors Spanish class that is assisting residents of the Berks Family Center in their work to help groups awaiting the outcome of their immigration proceedings.
Interfaith dialogue: Alvernia hosted "A Common Heart" in February to explore Jewish, Muslim and Christian perspectives of God. Sponsored by the Holleran Center, the program attracted a crowd of nearly 200 and featured remarks from Rabbi Brian Michelson of the Reform Congregation Oheb Sholom, Rev. Philip Rodgers from St. Benedict Roman Catholic Church and Dr. Khalid Blankinship, professor of religion at Temple University.