Dec 042003
Authors: Lindsay Robinson

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

biomedical sciences.

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

interested in.

“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,”

Miller said.

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.”

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