UNCG Campus Weekly

Campus Weekly is published each Wednesday when classes are in session. In the summer, it is published biweekly.

Commitment to Learning Communities

050411Headline_LearningCommHow many of our freshmen will be in learning communities on campus, by the middle of this decade?

The target is 100 percent.

A look at the UNCG Strategic Plan 2009-14 shows this goal: “3.3: Implement first-year learning communities for all first-time UNCG undergraduate students to encourage integration of learning across courses.”

Laura Pipe, UNCG’s new director of learning communities in Undergraduate Studies, says an objective is to have at least 50 percent of the freshman population in a learning community in Fall 2012. “We will need eight or nine new ones that year” to meet the goal, Pipe says.

In learning communities, there’s a high level of contact with faculty, and the students do some activities together, which stem from the classroom and the faculty. In living-learning communities, the students also live together in a residence hall. The Residential Colleges take that a step further, with faculty involved with them even more. At one RC, Ashby, a faculty member lives in the college.

As the UNCG/Glenwood Mixed-Use Village progresses, there will be faculty apartments allowing for a faculty-in-residence program. These programs have grown popular in recent years at other universities, such as UCLA and the University of Illinois at Chicago, according to Pipe.

Provost David H. Perrin says, “I am pleased that we have increased the size and scope of learning communities, particularly living-learning communities, so dramatically in just one year. Previously, UNCG boasted three residential colleges with a joint capacity for 215 freshmen. For fall 2011, we will will add spots in learning communities for an additional 430 students, allowing UNCG to provide these opportunities to nearly a quarter of all freshmen. Importantly, we have accomplished this with a relatively modest investment of resources.”

Perrin anticipates the effect LCs will have on learning measures. “Given the high probability that learning community involvements will support the academic mission through collaborative integration of courses, along with related academic connections through the co-curriculum, I expect that retention and graduation rates will improve significantly. Now that GA [General Administration] has changed the way it funds [UNC] System campuses, focusing for the first time on student performance indicators, UNCG literally cannot afford to fail to reach retention and graduation rates set for us.”

He added, “This strategic investment is as fiscally sound as it is academically beneficial.”

Currently, UNCG has three residential colleges (RCs), which are the most intensive form of learning community:

  • Warren Ashby
  • Grogan
  • Cornelia Strong

The latter, Cornelia Strong RC, has been non-curricular, though it will have one course in the fall that is a Directed Reading course led by Anne Barton, that RC’s director. The course is based on the Great Books concept similar to the first Residential College created in the 1920s by Alexander Meiklejohn at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

This fall, UNCG will have four new learning communities. All are living-learning communities (LLCs), aside from UNCG Teach.

  • Exploratory Studies: Pre-Health (living and taking classes with others interested in health and human services, in Ragsdale Residence Hall)
  • Sustainable Entrepreneurship (living and taking classes with others interested in building entrepreneurship knowledge and skills for business success, in Jefferson Suites)
  • Summer Launch (for students wanting a little introductory support, as they move in early for a successful head start. They will live and take classes together yearlong, as they reside in Grogan Residence Hall)
  • UNCG Teach (It takes the best of UNS 101 and links it to the classes’ content. This is non-residential, with students in housing throughout campus. It is for those interested in teaching and education.)

(See short clip of Pipe’s update on these four new learning communities.)

The LCs require students to become more active participants in the learning experience with the faculty member – essentially a continuous partnership, Pipe says. The benefits? “It’s higher GPAs,” she explains. “It gives us increased learning gains.”

Pipe, who grew up in Randleman before attending the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics – her first experience with essentially a living-learning community – speaks of her relationships with faculty members in each step of her education. They inspired her, and they showed interest in her abilities and ideas. Active engagement – and stronger relationships between classmates and particular faculty members – can make for greater success.

With UNCG’s push to raise its retention rates and see enhanced student success, those are good things.

In a recent interview, Chancellor Linda P. Brady said, “I’m convinced that the work that we’re doing around learning communities will have a dramatic impact on this university as early as next year.”

Dr. Steve Roberson, dean of Undergraduate Studies, cites the high retention rates at UNCG’s three residential colleges, as he explains how LLCs create the sense of small communities in a large university. “The retention rate is clearly enhanced and improved through this residential experience,” he says.

Teaching these classes do not require much additional work from faculty, Pipe says. But it does require collaboration and communication between faculty members.

“We need as many faculty on board as possible,” she says.

A two-day workshop for faculty and staff – Undergraduate Studies Institute – on May 9-10 will allow about a dozen or more faculty members to break into small teams to create models for future learning communities. “We’ll use that modeling to start recruiting faculty members” for the specific areas, she says. The learning communities will make for a mixture of disciplines and ways of thinking.

“Any faculty members who are interested, we’ll find a place for them,” Pipe says. Whether they are interested in the ground-floor planning in this workshop, helping to instruct a class, discussing their research during an LLC course, whatever, the level of involvement they are able to give is welcomed.

The new learning communities for 2011-12 will typically have 4-8 faculty members who are very involved, she notes.

Those wanting more information on the workshop or UNCG’s learning communities may contact Pipe at 6-8599 or LMPipe@uncg.edu.

See Dean Steve Roberson’s interview on the topic of learning communities and retention rates in the current issue of UNCG Magazine.

By Mike Harris
Photograph by Mark Wagoner


Thomas Haggai Will Speak at Commencement

050411Feature_CommencementThomas S. Haggai, business executive and motivational speaker, will give the address at spring commencement.

It begins at 10 a.m. Friday, May 6, in the Greensboro Coliseum. Approximately 2,600 students are expected to graduate.

Haggai, who will also receive an honorary degree at commencement, has been the chief executive officer and president of IGA, Inc. since 1986. He also serves as a director of Davids Limited, Australia, and has served as a director of Super Food Services, Inc. since 1971. He has been a lecturer, author and radio commentator since 1976.

In 1963, Haggai founded the THA (Thomas Haggai and Associates) Foundation with 250 national business and professional leaders. The Foundation awards college scholarships to non-traditional students returning to school to earn certification as elementary school teachers. The Foundation has awarded more than 800 scholarships amounting to more than $2 million. In 2001, he received the first Thomas S. Haggai Award established by IGA to honor individuals who exemplify character, leadership and community service.

THA has been providing annual scholarship support to UNCG’s School of Education since 2001, giving $60,000 annually since 2005. The Foundation has invested a total of $565,000 at UNCG to support older students studying to be elementary school teachers.

Zimuzor Ogochukwu will speak for the Class of 2011. Ogochukwu will visit Asia as a Luce Scholar after graduation.

Faculty Marshal and mace bearer is Dr. Daniel Winkler. Chief Student Marshal is Katie Skawski.

Tassel Turner is Michael Tuso.

Mary Katsikas, who majored in chemistry at Woman’s College and who has worked in the chemistry department since then, will represent the Class of 1961 as alumni bell ringer. Sabrina Epps will ring the bell for the Class of 2011.

Full details can be found at the Commencement Central web site, http://www.uncg.edu/reg/CommencementCentral.html

Live streaming will be available at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/may-graduation.

By Michelle Hines
Photograph by Chris English

Shooting for the Moon

050411Feature_MoonRockOne unforgettable day in 1970, Debra Sea’s dad, a NASA science demonstrator, brought home a moon rock. The sense of wonder she felt as a 10-year-old remains with her today.

“It’s always been a source of inspiration,” says Sea, an MFA film student at UNCG. “I believe anything is possible, and I tie that belief back to my experience when I was 10.”

Sea wanted more children to have the same opportunity. The story of how she made that happen is told in her 12-minute thesis film, “Moon Rock,” created with support from one of only three 2011 Carole Fielding Student Grants awarded by the University Film & Video Association. Michael Frierson, associate professor of media studies, advised her throughout the project.

“Moon Rock” and three more thesis films by MFA students will be shown at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 5, at the Weatherspoon Art Museum. A reception will start at 6 p.m.; a Q&A session with the filmmakers will follow the screening.

Assisted by first-year MFA student Adrienne Ostberg, Sea traveled to Hampton, Va., to borrow a moon rock from NASA; transported it to Minnesota; and brought her dad out of retirement to show the rock to schoolchildren.

NASA doesn’t lend its moon rocks lightly. Sea, who has a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in geology, spent six months persuading the agency to lend her one of the priceless stones. Enclosed in a Lucite pyramid, the 115-gram rock has its own carrying case. A small brass plate on the case reads, “IF FOUND, RETURN TO – NASA, JOHNSON SPACE CENTER, HOUSTON, TEXAS 77058.”

There are rules for transporting and handling a moon rock. It must be kept in sight or in a safe. It can’t be kept in a motel room overnight. (This caused Sea and Ostberg to spend a night in an airport when their flight was cancelled.) Don’t touch the Lucite without gloves, because the oil from skin can damage and cloud the Lucite. The responsibility made sleep difficult for Sea and Ostberg.

“We took great care to follow the strict NASA rules because we really felt that we were safeguarding a treasure of the American people,” Sea says. “It was an honor and a privilege to show this moon rock to the kids.”

The rock was shown to three classes of fifth-graders, 75 students, at Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary in the northern Minnesota town of Wadena (pop. 3,952). Sea’s brother David teaches fifth grade at the school.

“I was concerned that the fifth graders might be cynical – but they were extremely engaged,” Sea says. “I hope that they will continue to be inspired by the magic and wonder of science and will remember the day a moon rock came to their classroom.”

One of Sea’s earlier works, the experimental film “balance,” was a finalist for a Student Academy Award in the alternative category last year.

By Dan Nonte
Visual: A family photo, from 1970.

Focusing UNCG’s Communications

The university’s Integrated Marketing and Strategic Communication Initiative will yield the launch of an online portal this fall. [Read more…]

See the Stars at Three College Observatory

What is better than a spring night, with a sky full of stars? [Read more…]

Put on Your Rally Caps for Baseball

050411NewsAndNotes_BaseballThe baseball team was picked to finish no higher than ninth in the conference. [Read more…]

New Name: Lynne Agee Court

050411NewsAndNotes_AgeeUNCG will name the court at Fleming Gymnasium in honor of long-time women’s basketball coach Lynne Agee, Director of Athletics Kim Record has announced. [Read more…]

New Food Policy Think Tank

Two faculty members are pioneering a fresh idea among universities. This fall, they will launch a year-long Food Policy Think Tank for students. [Read more…]

Campus People: May 4, 2011

011310CampusPeopleGraphicFeatured this week: Gerald Holmes – Garth Heutel [Read more…]

Notes: May 4, 2011

NotesIconHave you ever wanted to try commuting by bike? Here are some resources to help you. On Thursday May 12, a brown bag lunch to talk with regular bike commuters, in EUC’s Dogwood Room, noon to 1 p.m. On Wednesday May 18, get help pumping up the tires and getting your bike ready to ride, at Oakland Parking deck noon to 2 p.m. On Friday, May 20, it’s “Bike to Work with a Bike Buddy” (a seasoned commuter who will ride with you). Contact Mary Crowe (mlcrowe@uncg.edu ) or Suzanne Williams (suz@uncg.edu) for more information

Have books you no longer need or want? Consider donating them. Your books can fill the empty library shelves of schools in Northern Uganda. The UNCG chapter of Golden Key International is hosting a book drive through ‘Better World Books’ to support the non-profit organization ‘Invisible Children.’ The organization ‘Better World Books’ supports book drives and collects used books/textbooks (from the past 10 years) through a network of more than 1,800 college campuses. Today, they have donated more than 3.3 million books to literacy partners all around the world. Collection boxes are all around campus: EUC near Starbucks, the Atrium, Curry Building, HHP Building and McIver Building. The book drive lasts until Friday, May 6.

Scholars at Risk Since joining the Scholars at Risk network, UNCG has welcomed two visiting faculty members who faced oppression overseas, to teach here. On the occasion of the network’s 10th anniversary, the network’s main web page highlights UNCG’s commitment to the network, with information about the two faculty members – as well as Provost Perrin’s view on why the network is very important. The full story is here.

Staying informed If you are you going to be away for any stretches of time this summer, there are convenient ways to help stay informed during the days you are away. Use the Campus Weekly RSS feeds – feeding the “reader” of your choice the instant new Campus Weekly stories are posted. The UNCG Twitter feeds, such as the university’s main one, provide university information as well. The university’s main Facebook page, where a recent post showed a few pictures from the charity Operation Smile’s “Dancing with the Carolina Stars” fundraising event, where Chancellor Brady did the fox trot to help the great cause. On the Facebook page, see lots of other UNCG schools, departments and groups who have “liked” the page. Consider “liking” some of their pages too.

UNCG’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter, the Epsilon chapter, inducted 41 new members on April 12. Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest and most widely known of collegiate honorary societies. In 2006, the national society named Epsilon chapter the nation’s most outstanding chapter at a public university. Epsilon chapter was formed during the Woman’s College era in 1934 as a branch of the UNC-Chapel Hill chapter and became an independent chapter in 1956. UNCG is one of only seven institutions in North Carolina to have a chapter. More information about the inductees is here.

CW summer schedule This issue marks the last weekly one of the semester. In the summer months, Campus Weekly will publish online every other week: May 18, June 1, June 15, June 29, July 13, July 27, Aug 10. With the Aug. 10 issue, CW will return to weekly publication.

See/Hear: May 4, 2011

UNCG is making a very strong commitment to learning communities.

This fall, UNCG will have four new ones. All are living-learning communities (LLCs), aside from UNCG Teach.

  • Exploratory Studies: Pre-Health (living and taking classes with others interested in health and human services, in Ragsdale Residence Hall)
  • Sustainable Entrepreneurship (living and taking classes with others interested in building entrepreneurship knowledge and skills for business success, in Jefferson Suites)
  • Summer Launch (for students wanting a little introductory support, as they move in early for a successful head start. They will live and take classes together yearlong, as they reside in Grogan Residence Hall)
  • UNCG Teach (It takes the best of UNS 101 and links it to the classes’ content. This is non-residential, with students in housing throughout campus. It is for those interested in teaching and education.)

In this short video, Director of Learning Communities Laura Pipe talks about these four – and why many students and faculty are attracted to learning communities.

Announcements: May 4, 2011

“Service-Learning 101 – How to Incorporate Service-Learning into Your Curriculum”

This faculty development workshop will be May 19-20, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., in Willow Room, EUC.

Objectives for this workshop include:

  • Orientation to academic service-learning
  • Assistance in developing and integrating service-learning component into curriculum
  • Introduction to the OLSL Service-Learning Partner Database
  • Overview of how to develop and manage partnerships
  • Tools for fostering deep and effective reflection through writing and discussion
  • Strategies for evaluating and assessing service-learning
  • Review of the official SVL designation process
  • Facilitating service for students with disabilities
  • Approaches to help students learn from diversity in the community and classroom
  • Van tour to 3 community partner sites

Interested faculty members should register by Friday, May 6, with Selena Hilemon, assistant director for Service-Learning, at sjhilemon@uncg.edu.

Looking ahead: May 4-15, 2011

Films, by MFA students (including “Moon Rock,” featured in this issue)
Thurday, May 5, 6 p.m., Weatherspoon Auditorium

Spring Commencement
Friday, May 6, 10 a.m., Greensboro Coliseum.

Art tour, Noon @ the ‘Spoon
Tuesday, May 10, noon, Weatherspoon

Staff Senate Meeting
Thursday, May 12, 10 a.m., Virginia Dare Room, Alumni House

Baseball vs. The Citadel
Friday, May 13, 6 p.m.

Baseball vs. The Citadel (with tour, pre-game dedication of Katie’s Korner)
Saturday, May 14, 1 p.m.

Baseball vs. The Citadel
Sunday, May 15, 1 p.m.

more at calendar.uncg.edu