Freshman seminar classes were designed to give freshmen a sense
of community by giving them at least one small class in a schedule
most likely filled with huge lecture courses and help get them
acquainted with college life.
On Tuesday, Faculty Council chose to permanently do away with
these seminar courses starting with the Summer 2004 semester.
“We feel like it wasn’t accomplishing what it was set about to
be,” said Faculty Council Chair C.W. Miller, a professor of
Miller said the decision was reached for several reasons. The
classes were unpopular with students and faculty, it was very
costly, the content was geared more toward college orientation and
students stopped wanting to take the courses when they became a
mandatory part of the All University Core Curriculum.
“We’re talking about hundreds and hundreds of thousands of
dollars at a time when the budget was tight. And also, nobody liked
them. Colleges had a quota; they had to give so many of them so
basically you had to teach them,” Miller said.
In place of the mandatory freshman seminar, incoming freshmen
will have the option of picking from several 1-credit classes.
Abstract descriptions of each class will be posted online so
students can make sure they are taking something they are
“The target is to get 75 percent of freshman students to take
this thing. The way it’s going to be proposed is during Preview to
the students and their parents and we hope that they and the
advisers will be excited about enrolling students in the classes,”
Faculty Council’s decision received varied reactions from
students and faculty. Jennifer Nyborg, a professor in the
biochemistry and molecular biology department, taught the
biochemistry freshman seminar for the first time this year. She
said she had mixed feelings about the class termination and will
miss teaching it.
“I think the major reason I enjoyed it is because I’ve been
surprisingly impressed by our freshmen in terms of how smart they
are,” she said. “I sort of underestimated them going into it and
I’ve been very pleasantly surprised.”
Nyborg believes the class is helpful for freshmen because it
gives first-year students an opportunity to get used to college
life and get to know at least one professor.
“I think it really does serve to orient the students to college
life and to the major they’ve selected at that point in time. It
gives them an introduction to campus life. They can get acquainted
with professors and the things that relate more to what it’s like
to be on campus,” Nyborg said.
Michael Keys, an open option sophomore who is taking his
freshman seminar this year, agreed and said he enjoys the seminar
he is taking.
“It’s better if you have a small class as opposed to a large
one,” Keys said.
However, not all students agree that the seminar classes are
efficient or worth taking and are glad that they will be done away
Cat Brown, a freshman biology major, does not feel that she got
the intended benefit from the seminar.
“It took my time and attention away from my classes that I
actually cared about,” she said.
Miller hopes these new, optional seminar classes will work out
better than the current freshman seminars and that both students
and faculty will be excited to be involved in them.
Of the current classes, he said, “It was an experiment that was
tried and it was only moderately successful.”