President Updates Campus On First Year Experience
February 7, 2005
Dear Campus Community,
We would like to bring you up to date on progress that has been made in planning for the First Year Experience program, which will be provided to all entering first year students in the 2005-2006 academic year. The FYE committee, which includes representatives primarily from academic affairs and student services, has been diligently working to develop concrete ways of implementing the structure recommended by FYE committees that conceptualized the program during the past two years. The pilot FYE program which is currently being offered to honors students is doing well and providing additional information which will be used to expand the FYE program to the entire first year class.
The FYE program encompasses all aspects of a first year students admission to and matriculation at WIU. Prospective students will learn about the FYE program at welcome sessions, and will begin to encounter FYE experiences in their 1 and ½ day summer orientation. The initial First Year Experience activity will take place on Sunday afternoon, August 21st when students move to campus. Throughout their first year, students will take two FYE designated courses and will experience FYE living and learning communities within their residence halls.
FYE courses for both Fall 2005 and Spring 2006 are currently being identified by college deans, department chairs, and the faculty who will be teaching them. Class sizes will be small (22-25 range) so that students will be able to develop close ties with the faculty member, peer mentor, and their fellow classmates. Each class will have a peer mentor, who will be an upper division student selected by the faculty member, who will work with both the faculty and students in the class. First year students will be required to attend several co-curricular activities (including public lectures, plays, films, musical performances and/or activities, and community-based learning projects), and faculty and peer mentors will assist students in integrating those experiences into the classroom learning. Students will receive heightened exposure to the university theme and the American Democracy project, and will have opportunities to improve their writing skills and library research techniques.
FYE residence hall living and learning communities will offer first year students the opportunity to develop close relationships with their peers, as well as to develop and/or improve skills and knowledge needed for living in a university environment. Students will meet regularly for dialogue with each other and to participate in activities aimed at helping them make a smooth transition to college life. In addition to a Resident Assistant, each residence hall will have academic resource counselors to provide additional resources for first year students. Programming will include topics such as time management and study skills; physical, emotional, mental and social health; alcohol and drug awareness, financial management, leadership opportunities, and test anxiety and preparation. First year students will be encouraged to participate in campus organizations and community service.
FYE courses and living and learning communities will be integrated through their common focus on the university theme, through offering academic services within the residence hall setting, and through a common recognition that learning occurs in residence hall living, in student activities outside of class, and within academic coursework. The FYE program is comprised of both academic affairs and student services components, and many individuals from both areas are working together to provide a unified experience for all first year students.
The FYE committee will continue to refine implementation strategies throughout the spring semester, and will provide updates to various constituencies as plans are made. Throughout this planning stage and during the full implementation of the program, if you have any questions you may contact Dr. Judith Dallinger, Assistant Provost for Undergraduate Studies.
Alvin Goldfarb, President
W. Garry Johnson, Vice President for Student Affairs
Joseph Rallo, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs