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Goal 1: Enhance Foundational Skills

Rationale:

  • A rapidly changing world needs flexible, critical thinkers who are collaborative problem solvers and communicate well.
  • Enhancing our focus on foundational skills (i.e., writing, speaking, and quantitative reasoning) and adding a new focus on digital modes of knowledge creation, information sharing, data analysis, and communication aligns our academic goals with external needs.

Possible Strategies:

  • Make Hamilton a leader at the intersection of technology and the liberal arts, by adding a new foundational skill focused on digital competency (e.g., digital literacy, digital modes of knowledge/artistic design, information sharing, data management, and digital communication); Ensure our students can use technology and information to find, evaluate, analyze, synthesize, create and communicate information, knowledge, and creative work.
  • Strengthen our current programs in writing, speaking and QSR to ensure our students are prepared in these fundamental areas.
  • Plan to infuse all these skills across the curriculum (e.g., expand or require first year courses that focus on these skills)
  • Require First-Year Courses that  include  work on foundational skills.
  • Offer an optional core curriculum for those who want it (e.g., what do we think a liberally educated scientist should look like?) as a guideline/advising tool.

Goal 2: Enhance Experiential Opportunities

Rationale:

  • Experiential learning complements classroom work and helps ensure that Hamilton students have the skills needed to succeed when they leave College Hill. Thoughtfully designed experiential programs will encourage and set expectations for lives of globally engaged citizenship.

Possible Strategies:

  • Enhance off-campus programs and opportunities:
    • Expand existing programs (NYC, DC, ADK, Paris, Madrid, Beijing). One suggestion was a long-term plan to create a New York City satellite campus focused on career-related experiences.
    • Create new off-campus programs such as a West coast (Silicon Valley?) study-away opportunity focused on computer science and technology
    • Expand domestic travel away options, perhaps at partner institutions.
  • Expand field experiences, research, internships, and community engagement opportunities.
    • Create a Center that pulls together academic and experience-based activities. Two suggestions have emerged:
      • “Center for Community Engagement / Experiential Learning.” Such a center would focus on social responsibility/civic engagement/community partnerships. This approach might include funding for curricular projects in the model of Levitt Center or Kirkland Endowment grants.
      • Create a “Center for Purposeful Work,” housed within the Career Center, fostering and promoting connections between academics, internships, and careers. (Bates has developed a model)
  • Encourage alumni to create internships or other kinds of experiential learning opportunities.
  • Permit students to earn a stated number of academic credits for experienced-based learning.
  • Provide opportunities for hands-on projects on/off campus (e.g., animal fostering, gardens, designing/constructing a green or sustainable building, woodwork).

Goal 3: Create a Healthier Community

Rationale:

  • Position Hamilton as a leader in developing the whole student. Our students operate in a high-achieving environment with many demands on time and energy. Integrating and strengthening counseling, health, and wellness activities on campus and relating them to academic life will help students manage stress and become more responsible and self-reliant individuals and community members. Students desire and benefit from close relationships with faculty and other adult mentors and research indicates such relationships are a key driver of student success.

Possible Strategies:

  • De-stress the academic experience:
    • Change calendar options to offer periods of instruction with a different pace such as:
      • Add a January Term, Maymester, and/or summer courses for academic credit to allow greater student curricular experimentation and create a less stressed academic term.
      • Unscheduled time period in weekly schedule to allow for different kinds of meetings and simply taking time off.
      • Random snow or sun days, one per semester.
      • Revisit fall calendar so we don’t start semester mid-August.
    • Consider relationship of grades to first-year students (e.g., make optional, have no grades first semester, etc.).
    • Expand/require First-Year courses.
  • Develop a broader and more holistic system of advising and mentorship that recognizes and supports both formal academic advising and the advising and mentoring that support our students in other areas. Suggested options:
    • A Center for Student Advising that would connect faculty advisor, career center life coach, counseling center advisor, and Dean of Students.
    • An advising office under DOS that unburdens the faculty from taking the lead on this responsibility, but still finds a way to involve them in meaningful ways.
    • Centralized writing support, tutors, learning disability support, ESOL, and advising under some form of advising office.
    • Faculty-advisor/mentor role in Orientation groups to foster on-going group support.
    • Create a Dean of Students for each of the four classes.
    • Create living/learning centers and/or residence halls with affiliated or resident faculty (e.g., REAL, LEAP, CO-OP)
    • Move to a case-management model for assisting students of concern
    • Consider becoming a JED campus
  • Provide opportunities for students to develop practical life skills, personal responsibility, independence, and problem solving.
    • Create more kinds of residential housing that make student responsibility an explicit aspect of the residence and learning experience. For instance:
      • Apartment-style residences (off meal plan)
      • College-owned off-campus housing for seniors
      • More co-op houses, or partial co-op houses
      • Living/learning communities
  • Create a “Center for Diversity / Cultural Studies,” bridging academic and co-curricular offerings (i.e., provide a much larger, more robust facility than DMC).
  • Create a “Pipeline Program” like U.S.C’s Neighborhood Academic Initiative, which involves partnering with nearby high schools and community colleges, to help prepare students for high-level college work. This might be similar to Utica College’s Young Scholars program or have a possible connection with ABC House.
  • Develop programs, academic and co-curricular, that teach/model listening and speaking thoughtfully and respectfully across differences.

Charge to the working groups:

  • Develop what the goal should accomplish, a rationale for it, and how we might assess our success in reaching it.
  • Develop several possible actions we could take to meet the goal that would be transformative/improve things significantly.
  • For each goal and action ask:
  • What does this mean for students?
  • What does this mean for faculty/staff?
  • What does it mean for alumni?
  • What does it mean for various groups/entities on campus whose work would be affected?
  • What does it mean for facilities?
  • What does it mean for budget?

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