last 18 months, the Dean’s office and faculty members have collaborated on
forming an Academic Plan for the college. Dr. Randall Krieg, Vice President for
Academic Affairs, and Dr. Jonathan Malmude, President of the Faculty Senate,
who together led the effort to formulate the plan, agreed to answer some questions
about the Academic Plan.
Why is an
Academic Plan important?
Plan is important because the face of higher education is changing so rapidly
that many small colleges and even some large ones are facing significant
challenges. The Academic Plan is a way for an institution to continuously
improve itself, hold itself accountable and keep abreast of change in the
current higher education environment.
feature of the Academic Plan would you consider most essential to Saint
Joseph’s continuing development of its learning culture?
essential feature of the Academic Plan is its readiness to implement innovative
learning programs that combine humanities and professional content. Students
need and want forms of learning that prepare them for life and careers. As part
of that, they also need to improve their ability to think, communicate, and
solve interdisciplinary and many-sided problems. They also wish to understand
the ethical and social significance of future professional and personal decisions.
Not only that; their parents and the community expect our students to be
prepared in this way.
innovative programs are part of our Academic Plan?
learning features hold a prominent place in our Academic Plan, including:
service learning, community involvement, on-campus learning communities,
internships, student involvement with faculty scholarship, hybrid courses
(which include classroom and online features), self-designed majors, study
abroad, a first-year experience program for incoming students, and integrated
majors (which coordinate major programs to provide students with career
plan require more work from faculty and staff?
is not possible without more effort. Higher education and the job market are
evolving so fast, and the college needs to be quite adaptive. However, the more
we work at improving ourselves, the easier it will become. We must maintain
depth and flexibility in our educational offerings to best serve our students.
Will the curriculum
of the four-year college change?
currently assessing our core curriculum in order to ensure it aligns with
student needs. Among other things, we are considering more integrated majors
and more extensive first-year programming for incoming students. Moreover, our
Mercy Center, with its focus on social justice and service, enlivens and
enlightens our curriculum by adding faith-based and communitarian features.
Likewise, our campus farm can enhance curriculum in areas of sustainability and
How does the
online program fit into the Academic Plan?
programs have become more and more integrated with on-campus education. As a
result of implementing the plan, all of the program directors in the online
division have now been included in our Faculty Senate governance. This adds to
the synergy between the two modalities of education that we offer,
classroom-based and online. As time goes by, the blend of on-campus and online
learning will continue to increase. Also, we will see a larger graduate program
emerging at the college.
we want to encourage students to learn from what lies beyond the classroom and
online, by drawing from such elements as specialists, institutes, workplaces
and discussions out in the community. This also includes more student
involvement in the work and professional interests of their professors.
What is the
role of technology in the plan?
Plan calls for developing e-portfolios to retain significant samples of the
actual content of student learning, as well as what the faculty teach. Clearly,
technology will play an increasing role in allowing our educational process to
be both targeted and comprehensive.
With all the
planned changes, will some things stay the same?
Humanistic, liberal arts education will remain
essential because it teaches values: how to proceed ethically and in line with
social needs and responsibilities. The Mercy tradition of social reform and
access to basic human needs can only be sustained if three streams of learning
continue to coalesce. These are learning about Mercy values; gaining
professional skills and knowledge; and mastering humanistic learning, which
supports critical thinking and the integration of knowledge.