campus encounters

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Archive for the tag “Environmental Sustainability”

University of Mary Washington

University of Mary Washington (visited 2/1/19)

UMW delivery bikes

Food Delivery Bikes!

This is the first campus I’ve seen where they will deliver food to students using bikes! (Maybe there are others out there; I’d love to know who they are, if so – and they should absolutely point that out on tours!)

I was last on UMW’s campus about 10 years ago with 34 students in tow. I could picture the main walkway – the “spine” – running through this long, skinny campus. On that trip, 3 former students met the group, took us to dinner, and showed us campus which was great for the students since they got didn’t get the “canned admission’s spiel.” However, I’m really glad I had this chance to come back, talk to a couple current students, remind myself about what was going on at the school, and see what had changed (and a lot tends to change on campuses in 10 years!).

UMW walkway 2

The main walkway through campus

This is a quintessentially pretty, traditional-looking campus full of brick buildings. I didn’t realize that it had functioned as a sister school to UVA (which didn’t accept females into undergraduate programs at the time); they went coed – and was fully independent of UVA – in 1972 and earned university status in 2004.

For a school this size (just under 4400 undergrads, making it the smallest public school in VA), they have some impressive choices for majors, and they seem to be thoughtful in their minors that allow students to build upon their interests and gain additional skills that will allow for better job procurement.

UMW collaboration lab

One of the many collaborative classroom workspaces

One of the students said that she was surprised by how much teachers want them to succeed. Classes are relatively small, and both students I spoke with raved about their First-Year Seminars. The FYS teacher is the advisor for the first 2 years; then they get an advisor in their major. The FYS is one of the Gen Ed requirements (which are fairly typical compared to other schools). All students must complete 2 “Speaking Intensive” (which I rarely see) and 4 “Writing Intensive” (more than many colleges) classes as well as an Experiential Learning experience. This can be done in a variety of ways such as internships or study abroad. One of the students said that his Experiential Learning psychology class (many majors offer classes that will fulfill the EL requirement) – Mentoring Students at Risk – class was the best one he had taken. This is offered during the summer; students were in the classroom for a week, then they spent a week working at a camp for children with incarcerated parents.

UMW dorm 2

Some of the dorms

Fredricksburg is a great college town. Although campus is just outside the city-center, things are accessible. Both DC and Richmond are an hour away, and students can hop on the Amtrak/VRE from the station located a 5-minute drive from campus. The students told me that some of their friends have done internships in those cities. They appreciate that there are so many additional social and academic opportunities because of the university’s location.

UMW Greek rockHowever, students aren’t running from campus, either; there’s plenty to do. One of the most popular student organizations is the Canine Companions for Independence club which allows students to raise and train service dogs. Students Helping Honduras (now a national organization that was co-founded by a UMW student) is another highly popular group. One of the students I spoke with, a sophomore, has already traveled to Honduras with the group to do work there.

UMW 1UMW has a 2-year residency requirement, but about 15% of first-year students commute from home (about 90% of students are from Virginia). One of the students told me that 68% of students stay in campus housing all 4 years. For those who choose to move off, there are several apartment complexes within walking distance. They’re redoing the entire dining hall, and there are a few other smaller food options on campus. “Food is a 7, maybe an 8. I’m not sure you can get to a 10 when you’re cooking for 5000 people.”

UMW bell towerUMW doesn’t recognize Greek Life although there are a couple unofficial chapters off campus as well as an on-campus community service organization that anyone can join. They have a trial every 10 years to hear student voices regarding whether they want to start officially recognizing Green organizations, and to date, they’ve never wanted to do so. The student telling me about this said that she appreciates that the college is responsive to students, cares about their opinions, and allows them input into decisions affecting campus life. Overall, she was very happy with her decision to come here and with UMW as a whole. “If anything, I would spend more money on internships and scholarships for study abroad, but it’s still pretty good the way it is.”

© 2019

Notre Dame University of Maryland

Notre Dame University of Maryland (visited 2/19/15)

Notre Dame swingND is a lovely, small campus in a residential neighborhood of northern Baltimore. It borders Loyola University; the two campuses share a library, and are the first universities in the country to do so. ND’s traditional undergraduate division, the Women’s College, is still single-sex, but the graduate and evening/weekend (“Adult Undergraduate”) programs accept men.

The admissions people are friendly, helpful, and will go WAY out of their way for visitors. I was highly impressed with their dedication and humor. My local rep is a recent alumnae of Notre Dame; she gave me a tour so I got perspectives from both sides of the desk.

Notre Dame main bldg

Main building

Chapel

Chapel

Started in 1895 by the Sisters of Notre Dame, nuns still live on the top floors of the main building. The Chapel, built just a year after the college was started, occupies the 2nd floor of the same building. Almost all the windows are still original; a couple panes have been replaced over the years, but they had the original designs that were copied. The paintings in the chapel were done by students and alumnae. Although it does not fit all 450 undergrads, it is a comfortable size and accommodates all students wishing to attend Mass (offered every day but never required). There are also several small prayer/reflection spaces (including a Muslim prayer space) in the dorms and other locations around campus. Students must take 1 upper-level religion class as part of their distribution requirements but there are a lot of options such as Christian Ethics or Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The Admissions Rep giving me the tour had taken this; she went to services at a Mosque and a Temple as part of the class.

Notre Dame movie window 2

Step Up stairs and window

Notre Dame auditoriumSeveral of the buildings (including the main building, an academic building, and the athletic complex) are connected which was especially nice on the very cold day that I visited campus! One of these buildings has the staircase and stained glass window made famous in the movie “Step Up” with Channing Tatum. They also used the auditorium (which got trashed in the movie). This auditorium is used for large group gatherings such as guest lecturers and Honors Convocation. At HC, the freshmen get the cap and gown that they’ll graduate in. “It’s a great bonding experience. We’re all in there pretty tightly and have to help each other get everything on and looking good.” After that, they sign the honors pledge and get more privileges. Before Convocation (held usually about the 2nd week of school), “there are certain things we can’t do like have guests in the dorm. I think it’s supposed to be so we focus on making friends and getting used to life on campus.” After they sign the pledge, they can have guests, have unproctored exams, etc. “That was a new experience for me. Professors would give out the exams and then tell us that they would be in their office if we needed them.” I asked her how seriously people took this. “Really seriously. I’ve never seen or heard of anyone cheating on test. There’s an Honor Council if anyone got reported, but I don’t know of anyone who even went to that.”

Notre Dame dorm

Dorm

The University pulls many students in from the surrounding area. 80% of the students come from Maryland, and only about 45% live on campus. Housing is good, comfortable, and attractive. Freshmen, Sophomores, and Juniors live in single-sex housing. Seniors can choose to live in single-sex housing or move to another dorm that also houses graduate students and is therefore co-ed. They have both a dining hall and Gator Alley, but neither is open late. Students can walk over to Loyola if they want a late-night option, but they will pay separately for that.

Notre Dame bird feeders

Bird feeders on campus

As a member of the Baltimore Consortium, students can register for classes at other institutions in the area including Goucher, Towson, Johns Hopkins, Loyola, MICA, Morgan State, and University of Baltimore. A free Circulator bus runs from Towson and Goucher (located north of Notre Dame) down to Penn Station (near MICA and UBalt). It’s easy to get around to other campuses. From Penn Station, students can also take a Baltimore bus to Inner Harbor and other locations around town, so even though they can have cars on campus, it’s not necessary.

Notre Dame dorm lounge

A dorm lounge

The student body is highly diverse. About half of the student body are women of color. They pull in students from about 15 other states and almost as many countries. They have an International Center which offers an 8-10 week intensive English Institute in the summers to students who need help with English before classes start. 

Nursing is highly regarded, as are the Radiological Sciences and the 4+3 Pharmacy programs. Students interested in Engineering complete a 3-2 program, earning an BA from Notre Dame and a BS from Johns Hopkins, University of Maryland, or Columbia University. Students can complete a 5-year BA/MA in Business/Management and Teaching/Education. Other notable majors include Marketing Communications, Behavioral Neuroscience, Criminology, and Environmental Sustainability.

(c) 2015

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