campus encounters

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Archive for the tag “Historic Preservation”

Roger Williams University

Roger Williams University (visited 5/1/19)

RWU 2This was the only school (out of 10 on the RI Counselor tour) to have us eat in the dining hall. The food was good and the dining hall was easy to navigate with plenty of space, even with lots of students there.

RWU skyline

One of the peninsula bridges as seen from campus

This is an interesting school. The main campus sits on a peninsula, so there are some beautiful views as we walked around. Downtown Bristol is about a mile away from campus; there’s a bus stop at the school’s main entrance, and the college provides 10 free passes to encourage students to use it. Their downtown campus mostly houses the graduate programs, keeping the main campus centered on undergrads, helping them become versatile and ready for the job market or grad school. They offer a range of programs that work together, and they’re actively creating programs that allow students to add to their skill set and provide employers with obvious skills.

RWU Marine SciThey’ve created majors and minors that make them stand out from other universities such as Aquaculture and Aquarium Science, applied or computational math, Historic Preservation, Security Assurance Studies, eBusiness (minor), digital forensics (minor), construction management, and Professional and Public Writing.

RWU 5

One of the newest buildings on campus

There are plenty of experiential learning opportunities, and RWU encourages students to pursue them, including having an annual $75,000 fund to send students to conferences. They want students to figure out unscripted problems. “That’s what life is about. Dealing with those outside the gates is some of the best experience there is.” Over 650 students will have a semester-long experience solving real-life problems, “and it’s building every year. It’s great to have that on a resume … but it also creates great citizens.” Their Community Partnership Center creates opportunities such as organizing a Women in STEM conference for elementary schools. “This is impactful because I could put things I learned into ways the kids could learn and get excited about,” said one student.

RWU int design 3

Some of the architecture lab spaces

More than 95% of students graduate with at least a minor in addition to the major. “It’s almost limitless in terms of what they can overlap. Because of the sequence in Engineering and the studio hours in Architecture, those might be outliers to that, but they can still do it.” They recommend that students interested in one of those major declare it if they want to graduate on time (and during the admission process, they’re looking to see that the students have taken at least Pre-Calc). It’s much harder to transfer in later. With other majors, students can declare in sophomore year without worrying about finishing on time. Architecture offers a 4+2 accelerated MArch program (in addition to a major and a minor in Arch), and these students can study abroad in Barcelona or Florence.

RWU 8

The engineering building on the left with the new construction for more engineering space on the right.

Engineering is the fastest growing major, and the school is taking quick strides to get all those classes on campus. There’s a great deal of building happening which should be happening in the next year or so. Students major in Engineering, receiving a strong liberal arts base and then specializing in one of four options: computer, mechanical, civil, or electrical. Students who are not majoring in engineering can choose to minor in engineering with a focus in environmental, robotics, biomechanics, or structural engineering.

RWU statue

The Roger Williams statue.

The university has incorporated some interdisciplinary work into their Core, including a senior-level capstone; there’s also a class on Williams and his ideals. “The Core is supposed to be more philosophical and reflective but it doesn’t really happen,” said the tour guide. He went on to say that he learned what it should’ve been afterwards – “but the theory definitely wasn’t what happened in reality. I’d like them to tweak this so people have to think outside the box more.”

RWU flowers“We don’t have to adhere to specific metrics during the admission process. A holistic review is the reality. If students are likely to be successful, we say yes,” said one of the admissions reps. RWU has gone test-optional without putting students at any disadvantage; students are fully admissible to any major and can qualify for scholarships. They also recognize that retention is as much a product of affordability as about student involvement. They currently have an 82% freshman-sophomore retention rate and have instituted a scholarship for enrolled students: they earn an extra $1000 for each year they’re on Dean’s List. They have a strong academic program to engage students with learning; “learning isn’t always innate,” said one of the reps. They offer tutoring programs, and they teach professors how to engage students in active learning. Professors give out cell numbers and often come in on Saturdays to reteach or practice with students.

RWU dorms

The view of one dorm building from the porch of another. 

Almost all freshmen and about ¾ of all undergraduates live on campus. Sophomores can live in Baypoint across the bridge where there is a dining hall and a fitness center. Freshmen are not allowed to have cars on campus. One of the students said that the LGBTQ community is strong, and people are highly accepting of students identifying in this group. There’s an LLC option on campus for students wanting to live in this (in addition to several other LLC options). “Racial diversity needs some help, though. Same with general geographic diversity,” said a student.

RWU 7Our tour guide seemed fairly shocked that RWU had a reputation as being a party school. “There was a football team for awhile, but that was shut down,” she said. “People here are pretty bright. That’s not to say that there’s no social life, because there is. Long weekends can be kind of dead, but regular weekends are active.” There are Honor Societies but no traditional Greek life. Campus is safe and students will walk around at all hours with many buildings open 24/7. “The Blue lights haven’t been activated other than for testing,” said one of the reps.

© 2019

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

Salem College

Salem College (visited 3/17/17)

Salem main buildings

Some of the main buildings from the historic park (people in costumes were doing school programs). The Moravian church is in the distance.

Salem is impressive and seems to have its act together. This historical women’s college sits in the middle of historic Salem (complete with people in period-costumes giving tours), minutes from downtown Winston-Salem. The Welcome Center is in the original building built in the 1700s by the Moravian Sisters who walked down here from Bethlehem, PA. Although founded on Moravian traditions, they’re no longer affiliated but hold onto some traditions. There’s a large Moravian Church adjacent to campus; they hold a candlelight Christmas service every year followed by a traditional chicken pie dinner for all students who want to attend.

Salem transwomen banner“The diversity here surprised me,” said the rep, herself a recent graduate of Salem. “It’s not the stereotypical southern school.” She says that it’s “heavily liberal” and estimates that about 70% would self-identify as Democrats. About half the students come from NC with the highest numbers of out-of-state students coming from Texas (accounting for much of their Latina population), then MD, VA, and SC. They have clubs for all faiths and ethnicities.

Salem historic park

The Center for Inclusiveness and Diversity sits on the far end of the park.

Their Center for Inclusiveness and Diversity sits physically in the middle of campus “because why not put it front and center? We want it to be important.” They hold Round Tables and Open Mics on Wednesdays, discussing everything from politics to current events to ethnic relations. “It’s all about education and discussion,” said the tour guide. “They even did one on hair once.” It’s a safe space, and sometimes faculty aren’t allowed to attend so students can openly discuss issues. Other times, faculty will lead the round tables.

Salem walkway“A lot of women don’t want to come to a women’s college because they don’t want the drama. Of course, you eliminate the men which often cause the drama.” This isn’t to say that they’re living in a bubble. They’re in a city with other universities around (UNC School of the Arts is a little over a mile away, and Wake Forest and Winston-Salem State are also in town; add High Point and all the Greensboro schools, and there are huge numbers of college students within 45 minutes). “The drama here is about people coming from different backgrounds. People learn from each other. They grow because of it.” The rep told a story about initially having problems with a woman on her hall until she realized the behavior was from upbringing and just not knowing anything else; the two of them ended up talking and learning from each other and were in each other’s weddings.

Salem porch

The back porch of the main building backing onto one of many courtyards

The fact that Salem is so centrally located among other colleges means expanded opportunities. Students get free tickets to Wake Forest and some Winston-Salem State games and are free to join their Color Guards among other things. Almost 1/3 of Wake’s Color Guard comes from Salem, including their Drum Major for the past 3 years.

Salem dorm 1

One of the dorms on campus

All students live on campus unless they commute from home or there are extenuating circumstances (medical issues, etc). There are some off-campus suites within walking distance that are college-owned. These are within easy walking distance (5-7 minutes according to the tour guide), but all students can have cars. Parking costs $60 a year and is relatively easy to find. They can also use bikes that they check out at the student center. Dorms have open visitation policies: in the freshmen dorms, males can visit 24 hours on weekends (until midnight during the week) with all-week 24-hour visitation in upperclass dorms.

Salem 1Food rates a 7 on a 1-10 scale. The main dining hall is the traditional all-you-can-eat, but there’s also the Café where students can get sandwiches and other grab-an-go items. They get 4 meal exchanges per week that they can use at the café, no more than 1 per day. On Tuesdays and Fridays, the school brings Chic-fil-a sandwiches to the Café. “It starts at 11:30 and goes until they run out.”

Salem fountainDowntown is a 7-10 minute walk from campus giving students access to the Innovation Quarter, film festivals, all the businesses and stores. They do lots of internships in town including working in the Wake hospitals or labs. There’s also a ton going on on campus (including movies in the theater, often with popcorn. “Students bring blankets and pillows. It’s great!” said the tour guide. “If you’re bored here, it’s because you aren’t leaving your room.”

Salem art bldg

The arts building with greenhouse windows to let light into the studios.

A favorite tradition is Fall Fest which serves as a type of homecoming (there’s obviously no football). The students get the Wednesday after Labor Day off (they don’t get that Monday off), and they hold a day-long competition between classes including skits, singing competitions, and more. The Freshman get their Big Sisters on that day.

Classes are actively discussion or hand-on based with classes topping out in the 20s. The January Term classes tend to be more experiential; these were the tour guide’s favorites. One of them focused on prep for law school and careers in the field; they shadowed people, had deans from law schools talk to them, went to court houses, etc. The tour guide’s largest class was 23 in an intro class and 7 in a seminar. The Honor Code allows them to self-schedule exams during the week-long exam periods.

Sciences are strong with the usual majors offered (bio, chem, biochem, and envi sci). Chairs in labs are built for a female body, taking into account the bigger hip ratio and shape of the back. The environmental, eco-friendly movement is strong around campus. For example, the confetti at graduation is all biodegradable, and students are given reusable coffee mugs when they arrive so they don’t throw coffee cups in the trash.

Salem art gallery

One of many gallery spaces in the art building

Arts are a big deal at Salem. The have a huge fine arts building; the bottom floor has greenhouse windows for light. The building is full of display spaces. Students can major in Art, Studio Art, Art Management, Design, and Art History with minors/certificates/concentrations in Historic Preservation, Interior Design, Architectural Studies, and Visual Literature.

Salem May Dell

The May Dell Amphitheater

May Dell Amphitheater is a central point on campus. Orientation and graduation are both held there (among other events in good weather). At orientation, this is where they sign the honor code. A couple years ago, they started a new tradition where students “get their daisies,” the signature flower of the school. “It’s a cool ceremony; I’m sad they started right after my year!” said the tour guide, a junior. “Students walk up, a little like graduation, and are handed a daisy by the president. The idea is that we get a daisy now and the diploma later. We come full circle at May Dell.”

© 2017

 

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