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DePauw.year1 Gallery of Legacy Projects on Display

December 2, 2000

December 2, 2000, Greencastle, Ind. -Faculty, staff and students viewed the depauw.year1 gallery of legacy projects displayed by approximately 25 mentor groups on Dec. 1 in the Memorial Student Union Building, ballroom. The wide range of projects demonstrated the diversity and creativity of DePauw students.

While many universities have a first-year seminar program, DePauw's emphasis on liberal arts, the four pillars strategy, and the close involvement of upperclassmen and faculty with first year students make the experience unique.

Chris Niles, director of depauw.year1, describes the program as challenging, interdisciplinary, active, and personal. As a starting point for a liberal arts education, depauw.year1 helps students lay the foundation for a successful college career. The four pillars of the program are: (1) Intellectual Engagement (2) Positive Community (3) Diverse People and Ideas and (4) Goal Assessment. The legacy projects can be compared to time capsules and are representative in some way of the students' first semester at DePauw.

The process is integrative from the moment new students arrive on campus. Each first year seminar group has one or two upperclass student mentors who lead them through orientation activities. Students reported that they felt very comfortable on campus right away as a result of the groups. The mentors provided leadership during orientation activities, which were geared toward team building. After each event the groups reflected on the group dynamics that developed during the activity.

When classes started the same groups formed the first year seminars, and during the semester the mentors stayed with each group. The faculty members who taught each seminar also became the students' advisers. Faculty and students alike reported the this classroom contact made a difference in the advising process because a faculty member could advise the student from direct classroom experience rather than just an office conversation.

One of the student groups studied poetry in the first year seminar, “Where the Poet Lives.” This enthusiastic group even chose a name, Kharma Khameleon. “The group needed a name,” said first year student Tasha Jarosak. “We were all so different, so we came up with chameleon.” Students in the group achieved camaraderie almost from the start. They said that their mentors, Ben and Kathy, were “cheesy” because of the all the silly games they played, but the group soon got the point and bonded like sharp cheddar. Ryan Leitner added, “We even had a person in the group who named a crayon in the Crayola contest. We are all cool people!”

“It was everything I expected it to be,” said Kelly Luurtsema of her First Year Seminar and Honors Scholar work. Kelly was prepared even before she stepped on campus in the fall because she attended an overnight, talked to professors, and sat in on student panels. Kelly said of the Honor Scholars seminars, “It's not just a lot of extra work. You form friendships and meet people you wouldn't have known otherwise.”

Faculty member Sue Balter-Reitz taught a first year seminar entitled “Theories of Human Communication.” She stated that the students and faculty formed closer relationships as a result of their interaction in the classroom as well as during the advising process. As a result of orientation, the students entered the class with a real sense of social community. After a few sessions, a sense of academic community also took shape, and during the semester, the two communities converged. 

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