Blog posts tagged in Presidents Blog

Last week I introduced a study related to the growing number of students who choose to double major in college. I referred to these students as “overachievers.”  The study, “Double Majors: Influences, Identities and Impacts,“ authored by two sociologists at Vanderbilt University, classified them as either “deepeners” (double major in similar disciplines for a depth of study), “spanners,” or “Renaissance students” (double major in disparate disciplines for a breadth of study).

As I indicated last week, the study also poses and answers two important questions:

1)    Are these students over-extended?

2)    How should institutions better support these students?

For those who discourage students from double majoring, it is common for the concern to be over-extending, which will negatively impact performance. This study reaches a very different conclusion. This research indicates that students who double major “are classic ‘do more, do more’ students.”

These students are more involved in co-curricular activities than their single majoring counterparts; they more often assume leadership positions in clubs, organizations, SGA, athletic teams; are more involved in service programs and volunteerism; regularly attend outside activities like lectures, exhibits, discussion groups; and, are more likely to engage in research projects with faculty, independent study and research, and honors programs.

The concern raised by this study is that colleges and universities in general and faculty in particular do too little to encourage and support double majoring.  Since these students are often the best and the brightest, some faculty are parochial, preferring these students to remain within their discipline. The study found little evidence that advisors and faculty help these students to optimize their integrated learning and better connect the disciplines they choose to pursue.

My own belief is that we should encourage, not discourage, these interests. I applaud students who do their best to maximize their educational experience inside and outside of the classroom.  But I think it is important to do two things.

First, we need to help these students to better understand why they are choosing to double major.  If it is simply an attempt to build a transcript and a resume for future job viability, that would lead to a different choice than a genuine interest in learning and in liberal education.

Second, I think double majors need to have the opportunity to meet with an advisor who can help them to see the relationship between the various areas of study.  Understanding and appreciating the connection between art and science, history and math, science and philosophy require a depth of knowledge and an appreciation of learning that may not be readily present with undergraduate students.

So my advice regarding overachievers … teach them even more!

(As always, your comments and questions are welcome.)

Cacia King
These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

Hello everybody!

My name is Cacia (said K-sha) King. I am a sophomore music therapy major, and also an honors student here at AMC. I am a work-study student in the Admission department, and I am involved in several clubs.   I am writing this blog to answer questions and to talk about Anna Maria College.

But before we get started, I would like to give you a list (in no particular order) of my favorite things about AMC:

  1. I love being a music therapy major! In my opinion (although I am biased), it is the best major in the world! It is a perfect fit for me, and we have a great and immersive program here at AMC, and I love it!

  2. I love the honors program. Seriously though, if any current or prospective students are interested, go check it out! It is great to be in a class with other students who are like me, who all just love to learn about everything. It’s also great to have class with the honors program faculty. They are amazingly open and honest with us, which is great.

  3. I love the chicken fingers down in the HUB. Yes, that’s how much I love them. They’re really good. Gotta try ‘em.

  4. I love my relationship with my advisor and my professors. They are so supportive. I know that if I have an issue, I can confide in them and I know that they will help me conquer any problem I might have.

  5. I love being involved in my clubs. I am a member of music therapy club, drama club, and treasurer of chorus club. All of my clubs host great events and enrich my experience here at AMC

  6. I love Alice, the inter-library loan wizard in the library. I don’t think I could have done as well on my research papers without her. She is incredibly helpful (as is all the library staff), and would probably swim across the ocean to get the source you want. She’s great.

  7. I love all of the activities that the clubs and AMCAB put on. They are all great and there is always something to do, you just have to look (but not very hard).

  8. I love all of the supportive services we have on campus. It is really great to have the counseling center, career services, health services, the IT department, and the student success center on campus. I don’t know a single student who hasn’t used at least one. It is awesome to be able to have all of these services right on campus. It makes it easy to succeed when you’ve got all of these helpful people who want to help you right in your backyard.

  9. I love being a tour guide and working in Admissions. It seriously is the best job on campus.

  10. But most of all, I love the students and all of the people on campus. I’ve had so many heartwarming experiences that make me truly love my experience at AMC. I am just lucky to call many of these people my friends.

So there you have it. My favorite things. But don’t worry, I will be elaborating in future blog posts on several of these things because a few sentences don’t give them the justice they deserve.

And, that’s all folks!


Posted by on in The AMC Observer
AMC Observer -1Welcome to the Anna Maria Observer, a new blog created to give students the chance to communicate with each other and share observations and questions about campus life at AMC through photos, videos and informal discussions.

Since I will be moderating this forum, I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce myself. My name is Mauro DePasquale and I am currently in my last semester as a senior at Anna Maria College studying Art and Business and working toward an MBA. I recently graduated from a local community college where I earned an Associate’s Degree in Applied Arts.

I feel that my time here at Anna Maria exemplifies a successful educational experience. I began my career at AMC as a non-traditional transfer student with a strong desire to continue studying all things art. However, upon meeting my future advisor, Professor Alice Lambert, my interests expanded.

Professor Lambert recognized abilities and interests in me that I had yet to appreciate, and with her suggestion I began my current studies of Art and Business, placing much of my focus on business and marketing studies. Thanks to my advisor, my mind was opened to a whole other world of interests that I had yet to even know I had.

With less than three months left until I complete my undergrad degree, I have already learned the practical knowledge required to land a great job and I did just that. With the help of Career Services, I was recruited by the Anna Maria Marketing department to assist with website management and social media communication development.

This is an ideal job for me because it has been a goal of mine since I began college to work for one. College students represent the near future of our world, and among them I feel the most change and influence for the betterment of society can occur.

That brings me full circle to the goal of this blog to communicate, brainstorm and build on ideas with other students of Anna Maria, and to explore what it is that can make our college experience more engaging, more entertaining and ultimately more meaningful.

I hope that you will join me in these discussions and observations. I welcome guest posts, and open the comment section up to anyone interested in the conversation.

Please contact me with photos, videos, news, questions or other ideas that you think might be worth sharing with others. As the moderator, I will try to include materials that I think are a good fit for this forum.

See you around campus!

Posted by on in President's Blog

In his State of the Union Address, President Obama announced the release of the new College Scorecard. First proposed by the President over a year ago, the Scorecard is intended to provide prospective students and families with better information about affordability and value. The online Scorecard is also intended to provide easier access to information and to facilitate comparability.

The Scorecard provides information on five key areas related to affordability and value:
     1) Costs
     2) Graduation Rate
     3) Loan Default Rate
     4) Median Borrowing
     5) Employment

In this address, the President called on Congress to “change the Higher Education Act so that affordability and value are
included in determining which colleges receive certain types of federal aid.”  He went on to say that the White House’s new Scorecard would help students and families “compare schools based on simple criteria -- where you can get 
the most bang for your educational buck.”

This initiative is just one element in the President’s ambitious plan for his second term.  Just after his State of the Union Address, the President released what is described as a “blueprint” entitled “The President’s Plan for a Strong Middle Class and a Strong America.” This plan includes four (4) overarching goals, each with a number of initiatives. The document also includes a promise that accomplishing all of this will not “add a dime to the deficit.”  The goals and initiatives are:

     1) Making America a Magnet for Jobs
             -Bringing good manufacturing jobs back to America
             -Slashing reliance on foreign oil and increasing American energy security through clean energy
             -Rebuilding and upgrading our infrastructure so our businesses have the tools they need to compete
            - Rebuilding our housing sector to grow our economy and put more construction workers back on the job
            - Encouraging fair trade and leveling the playing field by opening new markets for American made products
             -Investing in the best ideas to lead the world in innovation

2) Equipping Americans with the Skills they Need
            -Providing high-quality preschool for every child
            -Building the skills that lead to high-quality, high-wage jobs
            -Holding colleges accountable for cost, value and quality
            -Fixing our broken immigration system so everyone plays by the same rules and we attract the best 
and brightest workers
            -Ensuring our veterans have the care, benefits, education, and job opportunities they have earned
3) Ensuring Hard Work Leads to a Decent Living
            -Rewarding hard work by raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour
            -Building new ladders of opportunity into the middle class
            -Securing equal pay for equal work
            -Making our homes and neighborhoods safer
4) Cutting the Deficit in a Balanced Way
            -Building on progress reducing the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion in a balanced way
-Reducing the deficit by $4 trillion as part of an overall plan for jobs and share growth and tax and 
entitlement reform

It is an ambitious plan, especially in light of the continued acrimony and lack of cooperation in Washington. And while I
applaud the President’s commitment to skills development, I think the Scorecard is both simplistic and flawed. It certainly
makes for good rhetoric and has some value. But it is lacking in a level of depth, detail and accuracy to really help
prospective students and their families make the right choice.

Next week I will tell you my rationale for this assessment.

(As always, your comments and questions are welcome.)

Posted by on in President's Blog

I intentionally focus my public comments (op-ed pieces, blogs, etc.) on issues related to higher education and Catholic higher education.  Often, I comment on social trends as they relate to higher education.

Like most college presidents, I have many other ideas and opinions.  But I am always careful to limit my statements to those about which I legitimately have some knowledge and professional expertise.

Last week at an event I attended, I was chastised for not publicly supporting the gun control issue.  The person who spoke to me was both uninformed and misguided.  In fact, college presidents across the country have been actively involved in lobbying for more gun control legislation.  And I am one of the presidents involved in this movement.

There have been two presidential initiatives to address concerns about gun control and gun safety.  One initiative was led by President Lee Pelton of Emerson College and began with a letter sent to President Obama in December, 2012 which I co-signed with 255 other college presidents:

 Dear Mr. President,

Following your eloquent remarks at the Newtown memorial service, I am writing on behalf of the many college and university presidents who have signed this letter in support of your plans to “use whatever power [your] office holds to engage [our] fellow citizens, from law enforcement, to mental health professionals, to parents and educators, in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this.”

We are writing to lend our individual assistance as well as that of our academic communities in supporting a long overdue national conversation about mass killings and gun violence.

We acknowledge, as you have, that these are complex issues that bring into play competing interests that will require us to balance the rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms with the concerns of those calling for more stringent restrictions on gun ownership.

Nevertheless, we ask that urgent attention be paid to developing measures that would have the effect of curtailing easy access to assault weapons, especially guns that can hold up to 100 rounds of ammunition without reloading and have no place in the hands of civilians.

After the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School where young children and adults were gunned down in a blink of an eye by rapid fire weapons of human destruction, we believe that it would be nearly impossible for anyone with heads that think and hearts that feel to conclude that the status quo is acceptable.

We also ask that serious and sustained consideration be given to a comprehensive assessment of mental health and other societal issues in the United States that might have contributed to the numerous mass killings that our nation has endured in recent years.

History requires that we not stand idly by.  We will be judged by our actions in the days and weeks ahead, by how we answered, as a nation and as individuals, the question “what will we do?”

Our nation looks to colleges and universities to solve its most pressing problems and these are issues on which we stand ready to provide a way forward.

We, therefore, pledge to do what we do best in our academic communities: engage thought leaders, faculty, students, staff, trustees and friends in meaningful debate and dialogue, which, in turn, might lead to positive action.

We write to you in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the nation’s most effective prophets and servers of the community, who said, “I believe that even amid today’s mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow.”

 The White House acknowledged receipt of the letter in late December.  Subsequently, these presidents established a website: The College Presidents’ Gun Violence Resource Center.  The Resource Center has four main features:

  • Permit signatories to post their campus events, news, and announcements about their efforts to lead discussions about gun violence.
  • Enable signatories to view all posted campus initiatives.
  • Provide links to speakers, gun violence research centers, news, and other information that will help signatories design, plan, and facilitate their campus activities.
  • Offer a forum where signatories will be able to communicate with one another in confidence on topics of interest to them.

 The second initiative also included a public statement in December co-endorsed by 350 of my colleagues:

 December 19, 2012 

On the same day our nation learned in horror that 20 first graders and six educators were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School, young people around the country were learning if they had been accepted to their favored colleges and universities.  For many years now, our nation’s leaders have engaged in fevered debates on higher education, yet lawmakers shy away from taking action on one issue that prevents thousands of young people from living lives of promise, let alone realizing their college dreams.  That issue is gun safety.

Among the world’s 23 wealthiest countries, 80% of all gun deaths occur in the United States and 87% of all children killed with guns are killed here.  In 2010, 2,694 young people were killed by gunfire. 1,773 were victims of homicide; 67 were elementary school-age children.  If those children and teens were alive today, they would fill 108 classrooms of 25 each.

We are college and university presidents.  We are parents.  We are Republicans, Democrats and Independents.  We urge both our President and Congress to take action on gun control now.  As a group, we do not oppose gun ownership.  But, in many of our states, legislation has been introduced or passed that would allow gun possession on college campuses.  We oppose such laws.  We fully understand that reasonable gun safety legislation will not prevent every future murder.  Identification and treatment of the mental health issues that lie beneath so many of the mass murders to which we increasingly bear witness must also be addressed.

As educators and parents, we come together to ask our elected representatives to act collectively on behalf of our children by enacting rational gun safety measures, including:

  • Ensuring the safety of our communities by opposing legislation allowing guns on our campuses and in our classrooms

  • Ending the gun show loophole, which allows for the purchase of guns from unlicensed sellers without a criminal background  check

  • Reinstating the ban on military-style semi-automatic assault weapons along with high-capacity ammunition magazines

  •  Requiring consumer safety standards for all guns, such as safety locks, access prevention laws, and regulations to identify,  prevent and correct manufacturing defects

The time has long since passed for silence and inaction on the issue of reasonable and rational gun safety legislation. We hereby request that our nation’s policy leaders take thoughtful and urgent action to ensure that current and future generations may live and learn in a country free from the threat of gun violence.

In January, the group involved with this initiative held an event in Washington, DC at the Capitol and a number of college presidents were joined by Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, as well as other national associations who share our views.

Next week, I will share why I joined these two initiatives.  My reasons have to do with both my views on gun control, as well as my views on the role and responsibility of college presidents in the public square.

(As always, your comments and questions are welcome.)