Monday, April 19, 2010
The Liberal Arts are alive and well
A message from President Head
Dear students, faculty and staff:
I attended the Higher Learning Commission’s Annual Conference in Chicago last week and the conversations were consistent in tone and content. There is turmoil in higher education today. Both within and outside the academy, there are debates taking place which have dramatic implications on the nature of education. The debates center on several topics and include the purpose of the college experience, assessment of outcomes, the concept of productivity being linked to federal and state funding, and the viability of the liberal arts.
Some of you likely read an article in a recent edition of Newsweek entitled The Death of Liberal Arts. A couple of our graduates made sure to send electronic copies to me along with questions regarding our future plans. The article suggests that students are particularly concerned in today’s economic environment with career potential. Anthony Carnevale, director of Georgetown University’s Center on Education states, "Students want something they can sell.” Furthermore, the article reported on a recently published study confirming that 78 of the 212 pure liberal arts colleges from 1990 no longer exist in that same form. Even the more financially secure institutions are increasing pre-professional offerings.
I enjoyed an undergraduate education at a small private college that was grounded in the liberal arts. Those having this experience recognize the outcomes of enabling critical and creative thinking, developing social responsibility and spurring a desire for life-long learning. Joseph Urgo, dean of the faculty at Hamilton College summarized in his article Concerning Value: A Small College Liberal Arts Education that "the value of a liberal arts education, like the value of life itself, cannot be monetized.” While I fully agree with him, Urgo’s statement will face resistance in today’s economic environment. I have found that one of the better approaches to arguing the value of a liberal arts education is to tackle the fallacy that employers are only looking for technical skills.
In 2009, Hart Research Associates completed a survey of over 300 employers. The research sought to identify the learning outcomes that employers wanted colleges to emphasize more. The total list included 15, with eight being mentioned by 70 percent or more of all employers surveyed. The top learning outcomes for emphasis, as reported in Raising the Bar – Employers’ Views on College Learning In the Wake of the Economic Downturn (January 2010) are:
- The ability to effectively communicate orally and in writing
- Critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills
- The ability to apply knowledge and skills to real-world settings through internships or other hands-on experiences
- The ability to analyze and solve complex problems
- The ability to connect choices and actions to ethical decisions
- Teamwork skills and the ability to collaborate with others in diverse group settings
- The ability to innovate and be creative
- Concepts and new developments in science and technology
I recently had a conversation with Rockford College graduate and Rockford Chief of Police Chet Epperson that confirmed the findings reported in the study above. Chief Epperson has a vision for the future development of his officers, which combines their traditional technical and tactical training with many of the skills outlined in the Hart Research Study. As Chief Epperson indicated, the officers use their tactical skills in only 3 percent of their work, while always being engaged in communication, negotiation, teamwork and creative thinking.
Rockford College will continue to have a mission of an education that is grounded in the liberal arts. Nevertheless, we must do a better job of translating the value of a liberal arts-based education to potential students and their families. The values are clear and our graduates have been positive contributors to our global society. In response to Mr. Carnevale, Rockford College students do have something to sell.
Have a great day!
Robert L. Head, Ph.D.
Forum on campus features foreign ambassadors
Ambassadors to the U.S. from Japan and Thailand joined U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo in a Forum on Global Economic Recovery sponsored by Rockford College this morning in the college’s Fisher Chapel. This isn’t the first time the college has hosted an ambassador. In 2007, we hosted an American ambassador, Chris Hill, who formerly headed up the U.S. delegation to the six-party talks on North Korea. Ambassador Hill is now U.S. Ambassador to Iraq.
Upcoming events in April
A quick glimpse of events at the college for the remainder of April
Now – April 25: Senior art students exhibit their work in the Art Department Senior Show in the college’s art gallery located in the Clark Arts Center. Call for gallery hours, 815-226-4100.
April 20: Kimberly Gray, a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Northwestern University, will present a talk entitled "The Modern American City: Can We Ever Make it Sustainable?” at 4 p.m. in Maddox Theatre. Free but ticket required. Call 815-226-4100.
April 23: Green Expo featuring products and services aimed at improving the environment. Free. Runs from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. in Regents Hall. The event, sponsored by the college’s Jane Addams Center for Civic Engagement (JACCE) and the campus Rotoract chapter, is an opportunity for local businesses and organizations to promote achievable ways to go green to the community.
April 22 – 25: "The Glorious Ones,” a musical based on the novel by Francine Prose performed in Cheek Theatre. Performances are Thursday – Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m. Cost is $10 general admission; $7 for students and seniors. For more information, call the Rockford College box office, phone 815-226-4100.
April 29: Da Chen, an award-winning author who grew up in poverty in China and whose family was persecuted during the Cultural Revolution, will speak at 7:30 p.m. in Maddox Theatre. His talk is entitled "From Suppression to Wall St. to Random House.” Free but ticket required. Call 815-226-4100.
April 29: John Bradley, the author of several books of poetry and the editor of numerous anthologies, will read his poetry in a free event at 6 p.m. in the Lion’s Den. Free.
Nursing students continue partnership with Barbour School kids
The partnership with the Nursing Department Child Health nursing students and Rockford’s Barbour School continues.
The most recent group taught first grade students about growth and development. Sarah Pyles and Drew Wills decided to teach by talking about this concept using growth of plants and trees. They wanted the students involved in the activity so they had them "act like a plant seed.” Students demonstrated how a newly-planted seed would look continuing through with a healthy plant and a sick plant. To further conceptualize the project, the students each planted seeds and the teachers placed them on window sills so that the students could watch growth.
A second group, composed of Melissa Perno, Rachel Piche and Lisa Voss had the same topic of growth, but chose to approach it from using models of food in which the students had to pick healthy food, dental health with demonstration of how cavities form, as well as growth in height. As an ending to this topic this group placed capsules in water which grew into sponges further demonstrating changes in growth.
Comments from the teachers continue to be positive such as this one: "Excellent job and very well-prepared. My students loved it!
Lori Erickson is March ‘Employee of the Month’
Congratulations to Lori Erickson, library circulation manager, who was recently named the Employee of the Month for March by the college’s CARE Committee. Says one colleague: "the library would be lost without her!” Well-done, Lori!
This is Money Smart Week!
Money Smart Week is a partnership between the Rockford community and the Chicago Federal Reserve to bring financial literacy to the Rockford area. During the week, numerous Rockford area organizations will work together to help educate consumers about money management, personal finance, along with programs on home ownership and foreclosure prevention. It will be an exciting week of events in our community. Rockford College will provide the location for three events listed below on April 20.
To see more about Money Smart Week and other programs visit www.moneysmartweek.org/illinois. Calendars are also available outside Human Resources.
Events at Rockford College - Tuesday, April 20
Noon – 12:45 p.m.
The Cost of Clutter
Don’t let clutter steal valuable time, money, and energy! Discover ways to conquer the chaos and create a system right for you that can assist you in meeting financial goals. This program is ideal for those looking to improve their budgeting skills and gain an edge in your personal financial management. Held in Burpee Center, Regents Hall
4 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.
Uncovering Employment Opportunities Right for You!
Interactive workshop providing solutions for the under-and unemployed. Discover realistic and timely resources you can put to work immediately. Great program for the first time job seeker or someone looking for a new opportunity. Held in Rockford College Burpee Center, Regents Hall
5 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.
But I Thought I Made More Than That...
This program will help you gain insight into what is being deducted from your check and why. Will help you develop a new tax strategy for 2010 and get the most out of your paycheck! Held in Rockford College Regents Hall.
Baking for a good cause
Psi Chi, the psychology student honor society, will host the inaugural Professor-Staff Bake-Off as a fundraiser. The event will take place April 28 from Noon to 2 p.m. on the patio outside the library. The group is seeking feedback from faculty and staff interested in participating by donating baked goods.
During the event, students, faculty and staff will be encouraged to sample the donated baked goods and vote for their favorite. Proceeds from the event will be used to fund student research-related activities such as travel to undergraduate psychology research conferences as well as costs associated with students presenting research at these conferences.
For those interested in participating, please let Psi Chi know by today by contacting Jenny Giger at email@example.com.
Education senior seminars slated
You are invited to attend any or all of the following education senior seminar presentations April 20 in Starr 130:
Topic: Does Merit Pay Improve Teacher Effectiveness?
Topic: Montessori Early Education: A Viable Alternative to Traditional Early Education?
Topic: Is Inclusion Beneficial for Students’ Academic Success?
Topic: Southeast Asian American Students: The Model Minority?
Topic: Can a Gifted Student’s Potential be Maximized in a General Education Classroom?
Be creative with this writing workshop
Do you write or read fiction or poetry? Would you like to participate in an online writing workshop? Rockford College's Creative Writing Workshop is open to Rockford College students, alumni, faculty and staff. To participate, create or log into a Google Groups account and go to http://groups.google.com/group/rccww. Even if you do not write, your comments and suggestions are welcome in the workshop. If you do write, do not think that your writing may not be "good enough." The function of a workshop is to improve the writing. Current students who join the Google Group will also be added to the club membership roster, and will be requested to participate in club events and activities. For more information about the workshop, please see the club profile at http://www.rockford.edu/?ClubCreativeWriting.
Sports Leadership is next Leadership Explosion topic
Are you interested in learning about the interconnection between sports and leadership? If you are, then you should attend this presentation by Cory Espensen and David Howell April 21 from 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. in the Faculty Dining Room, 2nd floor Burpee. Cookies and Mountain Dew will be provided. For additional information, contact Brandon Zierke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Out and about
Events of interest to the Rockford College community and their families.
April 19: "A Tribute to the Butler Family,” 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Ethnic Heritage Museum, 1129 S. Main St. Free, but donations welcome.
April 23: Benefit concert for the Children of Haiti, 7 p.m. in the Harlem High School Auditorium. Music by the One Drum Ensemble. For more, call 815-654-4509.