Staff-Faculty Big Questions Session 06/19/17

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 1. If Providence College were to be best known for one thing only within the next 10-20 years, what should it be?

  • 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0
  • Since we are moving toward a robust business program, as well as more diverse, we should be known as the chill that helps previously underrepresented groups launch strong careers in business.
  • Must very deliberately maintain our identity as a Catholic, liberal arts college. Must sustain a substantial core curriculum. DWC must still have a central place there; what shape it takes will be another critical decision. Must be a strong focus on the humanities, regardless of the shape it takes. Distribution among clenches, social sciences, and traditional disciplines, including philosophy and theology.
  • Evidence of Christian/Religious thinking or awareness.
  • The colleges that thinks outside of the box. (On-Line courses; creativity and flexibility).
  • Revolve around Catholic and Dominican identity. Many of the things we do could be done at another college. Must be unique. Enable students in whatever discipline they are in, must be able to relate their lives to the “Big Questions” that we explore, for example, in DWC. Think outside of the box. Ask the big questions.
  • The Dominican identity sets us apart through the philosophical and theological questions that we are good at. Thinking and scholarship done in the context of spirituality and prayer—something we might do better than others. Contemplation is a big part of this. Affects other areas of our lives (prayer, etc.). Similar impact on students?
  • In Thomistic tradition, one of the big issues coming out of Aquinas is the disputed question. This sets us apart, and this is the approach we must take to all issues. “Disputable questions” should be at the core of our curriculum.
  • College should pursue more robustly the interreligious dialogue we’ve been involved in. Should be a wider, broader program to engage with Islam, as well as other Christian traditions.
  • Need to market ourselves as a primarily undergraduate institution with a strong liberal arts, Dominican identity, D1, business program, strong science program. Provide strong student support; be well-know for quality teaching. Oral and written communication skills, critical thinking.
  • Term “liberal arts” not that attractive to a 17 year-old. Perception of that word can be interpreted as “not going to get me a job.” Sell/market ourselves as a primarily undergraduate institution with strong associations/opportunities with faculty. “PC doesn’t sell itself as a science school.” Missing a lot of students.
  • Students should enjoy the intellectual curiosity journey. Goes back to the disputed question—how to approach it in all areas.
  • Must let know people know about outcomes. At our price level, students need to know what a PC education will get them. “This is where you’re likely to end up.”
  • What do we want to be known for in the day to day life of students? Faculty /student ration? Summer internship opportunities; meeting full financial need…
  • Do we define ourselves in relation to, or in response to market forces; or define ourselves the way we want and then address market forces. All going to be ok; don’t worry approach will not work.
  • In SCE, lot of resources focused on marketing. Employers seek students with the skills that a liberal arts education delivers for many careers. Many companies are now requiring a college degree.
  • PC should be best known as a Catholic liberal arts college, true to its mission statement and clearly identifiable on those terms. Ultimately this is its raison d’etre and it should be recognizable as being faithful to that statement. Its religious identity is one of the reasons that many applicants seek to come to PC, precisely because its respect for a religious tradition is central to its existence;  and its liberal arts structure means that students at the college are expected to have achieved a substantial breadth to their education. The term liberal distinguishes our sort of college from institutions that are more narrowly focused. Some music schools or some business schools are so concentrated on their primary interests that there is no time or space for liberal education. A medical school is not liberal education, nor is a graduate program in history, or an MBA program. Our liberal education at PC involves a prescribed core, some of which is mandated and much of which involves options. In that way, there is a common experience and there are personally chosen emphases within the core. This breadth should include science, mathematics, humanities courses, philosophy, theology, art and social science, with other options available for election.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 2. What should the College be doing in the next 10-20 years, that it isn’t doing today?

  • 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0
  • Focus on integration of the disparate forces we’ve been discussing. Liberal arts is not in opposition to true “real world” skills. How does our preparation prepare them for careers or graduate school? Can students articulate this? Why are questions of diversity so important? Students should be able to understand and articulate this—not just those who market the college. Clearer articulation of the importance and the value of a Catholic, Dominican, liberal arts education.
  • Emphasis on outreach/recruiting to Native American students.
  • Should be doing more to recruit veterans into the day school. Round out our diversity goals. GI bill provides financial opportunities. Would broaden the experience of the students. Students who take classes in SCE get more opportunities like this. Should be more opportunities for SCE students to take day courses; day students take SCE courses. Provides value/enrichment to both adult and day students.
  • Why is DWC in first two years? Might it be more beneficial in later years? Previously, a “Great Books” program in junior and senior year? First-year students are not well-prepared. Uninformed. What must we do so that unprepared students are supported early on to allow them to succeed? More resources into support, but still maintaining high standards. “Point of need,” on-demand tutoring. On-line tutoring/tool kits? Serves as a refresher. FAQs? (Alex).
  • Some students have a complete lack of knowledge that goes beyond simple remedial approaches to providing information. Content knowledge. Greater communication with high schools?
  • Make enrollment in DWC more flexible? Take 2 years at any point in 1st three years. Current approach is not working. Trying in PCSB to build n the 4 semesters of Civ; it’s not working. Consider a more thematic approach? Students learn the questioning and examination process. Would better enable them to make the connections with other courses of study. Example of negotiation.
  • Should we allow students to complete degrees in 3 years? Meet students where they are.
  • Competency-based education? People learn differently, lot of ways to complete/satisfy competencies. Thinking outside of box. Alternate pathways. Optimal learning environment for students. Could be better for them to grapple with the bigger issues in their junior year. But, by time students get to junior year, focused on primary area of study that they are “impatient” with other core requirements.
  • Process should be more important than content, especially in Civ. More Dominican approach to process would be a greater emphasis on contemplation, rather than content. Practice contemplation more in our community to make us more true to our unique mission. Problem is that there is no “space” to do this.
  • Students ignore the data they need to grapple with the big questions. They consider the details unimportant. Must be a combination of both an understanding of data, and the contemplative to approach.
  • Strengthen our intercity schools partnerships with local Catholic or public schools, grammar and middle. Bring them into our environment, encourage collaboration, leaning experiences, and interaction within our curriculum. Collaborative outreach by our students and faculty to expose young students to the learning experience at the college level. Provide exposure/involvement in the laboratories, theatre, music, history, art, where the young student connect, explore and develop their interest.
  • The expansion of internship programs that will introduce our third year students to professional environments that will challenge their skill level and test their thinking processes while providing a real life experience.

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 3. If you had $100M+ new dollars to spend, how would you spend it?

  • 6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0
  • Student aid. Access is so important. Students who have drive and ability to succeed are precluded from coming here.
  • Back to 1917 roots: Meet 100% of need for all RI students. Including SCE students. Does this include living on campus?
  • What are we NOT going to do?

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 4. What should be the most important measure or indicator of the College’s success? Why?

  • 8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0
  • Quality of the students who graduate from PC. Civic engagement, meaningful contributions to society. Difficult to quantify.
  • What are our graduates doing?
  • Engagement of alumni.
  • What our students do with their lives. “Values that endure”
  • Meaningful careers (strong workforce of judges, doctors, etc , who have served well in their communities. Many were able to attend because PC was made affordable to them.
  • Acceptance rate (must go down) and admission yield (must go up).
  • Retention
  • Measuring the success of the college should not be a matter of listing all the famous alumni. Granted, the college hopes to turn out graduates who will be leaders in their fields. But the essential measure of the success of our enterprise is the extent to which our graduates are prepared to lead a good life, with a sense of purpose that guides them through their private and public lives. This means that their learning experiences have so shaped them that they can be good citizens, good family members, responsible and honest persons, and reflective persons who have a capacity for introspection, for respecting the people around them, and for continuing to cultivate the life of the mind. For most of our graduates, this will involve a religious faith, while for others their sense of the good life may be more philosophical than religious. But the success of the college is to be gauged by the way that is has enabled its alumni to live a life of integrity and dignity. Fame, celebrity, wealth, comforts are not reliable measures, and as Boethius said emphatically they may be fleeting. If the college  should not succeed in shaping its students to pursue the good life in the best sense of that term, , the whole enterprise will be largely a failure.
Page 60

Source: http://library.providence.edu/fhertr/index.php/staff-faculty-big-questions-session-061917/