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IILE board seeks campus involvement as they move forward

At the Faculty Senate meeting Oct. 13, a few concerns were addressed regarding the process of implementing Intensive Integrated Learning Experiences and removing the Core Capstone. Some of the faculty member and student concerns that were addressed include faculty workload and campus-wide involvement in IILE.

IILE are learning experiences for students that involve but are not limited to internships, study abroad and co-ops that will replace the Core Capstone requirement no earlier than fall of 2017. These experiences will assist students in becoming responsibly engaged in the community and in the world, according to Dr. Mark Jensen, professor of chemistry and member of Faculty Senate.

Initially, it was stated that the dean of the college would appoint members for the IILE task force, which would consist of faculty members, one representative from Academic Affairs and one student.

Dr. Dawn Duncan, professor of English and global studies, said many faculty members felt that everyone should receive an opportunity to serve on the board and each should have a say in who becomes a member of the board.

Jensen was nominated for the task force. The Faculty Senate voted to make the decision on who serves on the task force into a voting process rather than being determined by the dean, according to Jensen.

“It’s important to make this a process that we all feel ownership of,” Jensen said. “It’s a big deal and we want it to be a big deal for everyone.”

Faculty members will now be elected for the IILE task force by all faculty through online voting. The ballot will be open to voting for one week. Nominations will take place one week prior to the voting process. Faculty will vote for up to four nominees. The four who receive the most votes will serve on the task force.

Kiersten McMahon, student representative for the core committee and Faculty Senate and academic affairs officer for SGA, said that Faculty Senate passed the incorporation of a SGA member to sit on the task force. SGA members have the experience and knowledge of sitting on boards and can accurately represent students on campus, according to McMahon.

“It’s our duty to represent the student body as a whole and not our own individual opinions,” McMahon said.

Faculty Senate decided that the task force would also find solutions for how cooperative supervision and non-credit IILE experiences would factor into the workload of faculty.

Duncan said that professors receive no release time or pay for overseeing internships, cooperatives, independent studies and research during the academic school year. While some students partake in internships and co-ops every year, with IILE experiences, every student will be required to partake in these types of integrated experiences.

“If this is going to become a very common thing, it needs to be counted as part of our load,” Duncan said.

Along with consideration to faculty load, another widely agreed upon notion by Faculty Senate was to develop a more compelling and memorable name for what is currently called IILE.

“There are a couple names in the works that I like a lot more than the current IILE and I’m hoping they move forward,” McMahon said.

The last change added to the task force’s work was to seek input from the various academic divisions, student groups, the Career Center and marketing. Jensen proposed this notion.

“I want the conversation about integrative learning to encompass the whole campus,” Jensen said. “I want the whole campus to feel like they have a say and that their voices have been heard.”

Poor communication on the Core Capstones led to its problems, according to Duncan.

“Core Capstones weren’t really marketed,” Duncan said. “You either found out about them or you didn’t. So how do we bring that new vibrant Career Center and staff into this planning? How do we make sure that faculty from all the disciplines feel a sense of ownership, of excitement, as they create these experiences?”

Jensen said that when the core committee passed goals for liberal learning, they sought written feedback from every academic department on campus. By taking what every department wanted seriously, the goals that passed were successful and remained successful. The college still uses them today. If the task force members can do the same thing with IILE experiences, they will have a better chance of becoming successful, according to Jensen.

The best way to do so is to involve the whole campus, Jensen said.

One of the problems with the Core Capstones was the lack of campus-wide involvement, according to Duncan. Many students did not even know or understand what the Core Capstones were until they were upperclassmen.

“We have got to do a better job of bringing people in during the planning stages and hearing their ideas and getting them excited so we don’t lose this too,” Duncan said.

While the task force now has set guidelines of what to accomplish this year, there are still expectations of change and room for improvement, according to McMahon.

“Everything is still in the beginning stages,” McMahon said.

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