The Binghamton University Task Force for Undergraduate Education for the Digital Generation will hold a student-only forum to learn what students want to be changed at BU, and discuss what can be done to make these changes.
The forum, to be held at 4 p.m. Monday in Glenn G. Bartle Library North room 1324C, follows two previous forums that occurred on Thursday and Friday of last week that garnered a response from faculty, students and staff.
Don Loewen, associate professor of Russian and chair of the Task Force, said that Monday’s forum is a way of reaching out to students to receive their input directly on matters of change at BU.
‘Students wonder, ‘do people want to hear from us?’ Loewen said. ‘I would respond with a resounding yes. We want as much feedback from students as possible. We want students to shape their undergraduate experience.’
The Task Force was called to order last semester by then-President Lois DeFleur to strengthen and improve undergraduate education at BU.
DeFleur’s goal was to create a representative task force that would look closely at the problems facing BU as an undergraduate institution and figure out ways to strengthen them to create a better institution for current and future students, Loewen said.
Since its founding, the Task Force has been closely studying the feelings of undergraduate students toward their school. Through surveys, comments and criticisms the Task Force has tried to learn what students are saying about BU. The Task Force also relies on the National Survey of Student Engagement, a survey taken by graduating seniors that allows them to reflect upon their undergraduate experience.
After all of the data collecting, the Task Force chose the most frequently mentioned issues and began formulating solutions to them. The ideas for 10 new programs were conceived by the Task Force, including programs to improve advising and mentoring, and acclimate new students. They are also working to improve global engagement, distance and online education, innovative instructional strategies, learning communities, faculty engagement and entrepreneurial education.
A campus-wide e-mail was sent to all BU students with the link to a survey that listed in-depth solutions and allowed students to rank them in order of preference. Monday’s forum is another opportunity for students to voice their opinions.
A Task Force is convened about every 10 years. In past incarnations, the Force implemented significant changes at BU such as the Scholars Program and the Discovery Program. But Heather Skolnick, a senior and an undergraduate student representative of the Task Force, claimed that previous task forces had goals too broad to make significant changes.
‘We have already condensed 14 ideas down to 10,’ said Skolnick referring to the Task Force’s 10 proposed programs. ‘With all the listening we’ve been doing, we’re really figuring out the issues that students feel are most important. By focusing on just the most important things, we can create really effective programs that will significantly change Binghamton.’
The Task Force plans to draft their ideas into documents that will be the basis of new programs at BU, but right now, the number and specifics of any new programs are not clear.