In Spring 2005, President McNairy shared her thoughts with Faculty Senate regarding what future directions might be indicated for our major campus lectures and events. She asked the group if they felt the Academic Theme was continuing to fulfill its purpose and received an interesting array of responses. She commissioned a presidential task force to explore this matter, which commenced meeting in July 2005 and has continued its work throughout the fall semester. It was anticipated that the task force would develop recommendations to be shared with the Faculty Senate for review and input in January 2006. In the course of its work, the Task Force determined that it was important to wait for the final report of the institutional identity initiative, which will delay the report to Faculty Senate until early April. The charge of the task force is:
In investigating responses to the questions identified in the charge, the task force first reviewed the history of the academic theme at the University. The theme commenced in 1990 with the inaugural Arthur Miller Festival, and it has continued with the conclusion of the 150th anniversary celebration in Spring 2006. In its review of past themes, the task force determined that some themes were more successful than others in providing an integrating, coherent perspective to programming that fostered interdisciplinary conversations and exploration.
The Arthur Miller Festival
Encounter of Two Worlds [Columbian Quincentenary]
Encounter of Two Worlds [Columbian Quincentenary]
Earth: The Next Generation
Technology and Human Evolution
In Search of Justice: Balancing Rights and Responsibilities in a Pluralistic Society
Preparing for Life in the 21st Century
Culture and Communication in the Electronic Village
MU, a Community of Learners
Achievements throughout the 20th Century
Building a Community of Partnerships: The Role of Arts in Society
World of Cultures in Our Own Back Yard
Crossing Boundaries: Decolonializing the Curriculum
Unity, Excellence and Strength through Diversity
150th Anniversary: Tradition and Innovation
150th Anniversary: Tradition and Innovation
A brief review of the major lectureships on campus, including their mission/charge and basic funding information also was undertaken. This yielded the following information, noted below. Generally, these lectures have not considered the current theme selected by the Academic Theme Committee in selection of lecture speakers and/or focus of the lecture itself.
Christie Lecture: An annual lecture by an up and coming economist (sometimes a business/economics journalist) with name recognition. Speaking fees are a real issue. Most economists of any distinction are commanding $15K and up. The lecture is funded by corporate sponsorship obtained by the Advancement Office. Past speakers have included Nobel Prize winners.
Kenderdine Lecture: Endowed annual lecture on a current issue in international political affairs. Usual cost is $6,000-8,000 per speaker but can vary given the speaker if additional funds available.
Lockey Lecture: Endowed lecture in the field of education. Currently do an all-call to the education faculty for nominations in the spring for the following year. Amount that can usually be spent is $2,500, although supplemental funds have been received to support special speakers (Jonathan Kozol was about $10,000).
Carter Woodson and Hazel Jackson Lectures: Woodson lecture is sponsored and has a budget of approximately $8,000. The Commission on Cultural Diversity pays for the Hazel Jackson Lecture ($5,000). Black Culture Celebration has a $10,000 budget.
Millersville University International Holocaust Conference: Founded in 1980, the conference brings world-class scholars to the University as part of the ongoing struggle to understand this horrific event in human history. During the last several conferences, a close working relationship has formed with various departments of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Beginning with the 25th conference in 2005, the focus of the conference emphasizes various genocides in world history. The conference has a $10,000 budget.
University funds of about $35,000 provide additional support for the lectures. This allocation has not changed in recent years and has not kept pace with costs today.
Recommendations of the Task Force:
Purpose of University Theme:
The primary purpose of the academic theme is to provide a co-curricular experience in the Liberal Arts, designed to build intellectual community, engaging students and faculty in discussions of broad questions of importance across a two academic year span. The theme will be informed by the goals and purposes of general education, serving to make the University’s liberal arts curriculum more explicit. The selected thematic question must also foster interdisciplinary and inclusive conversations.
As a secondary purpose, the university theme will serve as a bridge to the regional community.
An important consideration is that it will support and address the University identity.
Planning and Organization
The academic theme (or question) will cycle for two years to facilitate intentional planning for course development (topics or seminar courses) and related events, and available monies may be allocated differently. Where possible, major lectures will “take turns” at getting a larger portion of available funds so that special, big name speakers may be brought in one time per cycle. Also, while we want to maintain a rich array of offerings, LESS is BETTER, and we must look for natural synergies across existing or newly planned programs in both Academic and Student Affairs to see where they might be combined. This reduces competition among many offerings and should facilitate attendance and active participation.
The theme committee will be reconfigured to be a combined Joint Faculty-Student Theme Committee, so that we will foster programming across the major lectures, an array of other programs, courses, co-curricular and extracurricular activities. It will permeate the entire campus experience as best as is possible, without force-fitting(some years, some major events may not lend themselves well to tying into the theme but should be held). Faculty involvement is central to the success of the theme and the Theme Committee will be restructured to include faculty leaders for all major lectures, the director of the Center for Academic Excellence, as well as staff, student and community members. The Committee’s work will be expanded to include major responsibility for planning theme implementation throughout the year. The Committee needs a new mission, objectives, tasks and broader membership.
The task force recommends continuing the citizenship theme for at least another year. This will foster the conversations on general education. We further recommend that citizenship needs to be viewed broadly as, “from family, to neighborhood, to community, to the world.”
The first new approach to the academic theme should begin in Fall 2007 with the change in student orientation from summer to immediately prior to the fall semester. It will be coordinated with a reading program for all new students, which will be expanded to include upperclassmen (and graduate students where appropriate) as well so that dialogue on the reading may occur across all student groups.
Theme Days and Events
Early in the fall semester and late in the spring semester, theme days should be held. These days will serve as a focused beginning (a “kick-off”) and ending (a closing) to the academic year. An evening and following all day venue appear to be the best way to schedule these theme days. A major lecture/event will be held on the opening evening and the following mid-day. Numerous other activities will occur throughout this day as well so that faculty, students and staff will be afforded many different approaches to discussing the theme question.
In addition to theme day activities, there will be multiple conversations, opportunities to engage in significant dialogue and discussion on issues related to the theme throughout the entire academic year. The campus will be alive with events, and integration of these co-curricular events into course syllabi and included as course requirements with expectations of participation should be fostered to the fullest extent possible. The inherent benefit to all on campus will be explicated and all students and faculty will be strongly encouraged to participate in the programs that are provided.
Suggested Questions for Theme Consideration
Who am I? Who are we?
How do we define sustainability?
What does it mean to be human?
What defines a liberal arts education?
What does it mean to be a citizen (American/global)? Do we have a civic responsibility?
What does it mean to be an educated person?
How do we discover truth?
What does it mean to be thoughtful?
Can there be peace? What is peace?
How can I (each individual) make a difference?
What (is) about privacy in the 21st century?
University Theme Committee
|Purpose:||The primary purpose of the University Theme Committee is to provide leadership and direction for the selection of the university theme and the implementation of theme programs and activities throughout each academic year.|
Task Force Committee Members