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Contributed by Marisa Kelly on 02/10/2009
Several years ago, under the leadership of then-Provost Peter Bardaglio, and informed by the input of several task forces and advisory committees, Ithaca College began the process of transforming the freshman seminar program in the School of Humanities and Sciences into a campus-wide Ithaca Seminar program that could eventually be required of every freshman.
In a pilot program over the past two years, approximately half of each incoming class has enrolled in Ithaca Seminars, and their feedback shows that the experience has been a positive and important experience. Likewise, many faculty and student affairs personnel have found participation in the Ithaca Seminar enjoyable and meaningful. The number of seminars expanded slightly, but has now leveled off, with 37 sections planned for fall 2009, substantially short of 75, the number of sections that would be necessary if the seminar were required for every freshman. Indeed, the goal of expansion has proven to be far more daunting than initially anticipated.
While acknowledging the success and importance of the individual sections of the Ithaca Seminar program, I must now conclude that expansion to involve all freshmen is unfeasible. At the recommendation of the deans, I am moving the administrative “home” of the Ithaca Seminar to the School of Humanities and Sciences, under the leadership of Dean Leslie Lewis. This relocation will assure that the administrative decisions occur closest to the group of faculty who are most actively involved. The Ithaca Seminar program is still expected to involve some faculty from across campus, and be open to a wide range of students, but expansion to include every freshman is not set as a goal.
I thank everyone who has been involved in the leadership of the Ithaca Seminar program, including Warren Schlesinger, Ithaca Seminar coordinator, and Bonnie Solt Prunty, director of residential life and judicial affairs and assistant dean of the First-Year Experience. I am confident that this change in the direction of the Ithaca Seminar will ensure that it remains a vital and vibrant part of the curricular mix of Ithaca College.