SMU received full reaffirmation of its accreditation at the annual meeting of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Dec. 5, 2011, in Orlando. Provost Paul Ludden made the announcement to faculty and staff members in an e-mail message dated Dec. 9:
This past Monday at the Annual SACS Meeting in Orlando, SMU received full reaffirmation of its accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools SACS. Many of you were involved, either directly or indirectly, in developing the materials for that review process, and I thank you for your effort as well as your continued support of SMU.
A list of those who served on the SACS Steering Committee and those who served on the Committee to develop SMU’s Quality Enhancement Program (QEP), “Unbridled Learning: Engaged Learning Beyond the Classroom” is attached. When you see these individuals, please congratulate them and thank them for their efforts.
Best wishes for a wonderful Holiday Season.
SMU is answering students’ calls for learning opportunities outside the classroom with a new program that will provide both structure and funding for their endeavors.
The University’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) – “Unbridled Learning: Engaged Learning Beyond the Classroom” – will allow all SMU undergraduate students to participate in at least one extensive experiential learning activity prior to graduation, according to the plan released by SMU’s QEP Committee. It also meets requirements for the University’s upcoming reaccreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
The program will allow undergraduates to “build on their formal classroom education through participation in structured experiential learning beyond the classroom, which will help them to develop a significant and sophisticated understanding of the ways in which the context of the world community intersects with disciplinary knowledge,” according to the QEP Committee’s executive summary.
The committee’s discussions have centered on experiential learning since its formation in summer 2009, says chair Maggie Dunham, professor of computer science and engineering in the Lyle School of Engineering.
“The QEP part of our reaccreditation process is pretty much wide open for schools to determine. The committee’s main job was to come up with an implementation plan,” Dunham says. “Experiential learning is the area where we think students will gain the most from their University experience. They value this kind of activity and have told us as much.”
Indeed, a survey of SMU students conducted by the Temerlin Advertising Institute, led by Professor Brice Campbell, in Meadows School of the Arts found that more than 80 percent of them “find that it is important to experience life outside the classroom.”
The QEP will provide opportunities – and University support, including funding – for undergraduate students to choose an out-of-classroom experiential learning activity in the community focus area of their choice:
QEP experiences will also have specific requirements that may not be satisfied by existing SMU experiential learning activities, according to the committee. A key feature is that each student will be in charge of identifying, defining, completing and reporting on his or her work.
All experiences will be approved by an advisory committee and overseen by SMU faculty with other qualified internal and external mentors. A QEP experience can be undertaken anywhere, but must include extensive involvement with a learning community.
All QEP participants will be required to write a reflective article about their experiences, to be published in a new SMU online journal. In addition, new Undergraduate Engaged Learning Conferences will be held annually to showcase student QEP experiences.
The committee found that many SMU students already pursue experiential activities beyond the classroom, but many more are confused about how to go about doing it, Dunham says. The recommendations for the QEP grant program and other support mechanisms should address that problem, she adds.
SMU institutional support for the QEP will include:
- Monetary support
- A new position for a Director of Engaged Learning
- A new Director of Undergraduate Research
The oversight infrastructure will include the Engaged Learning Advisory Committee, as well as community partners and mentors, and a new website to keep track of experiential learning opportunities for students.
In addition, QEP projects will build on and augment important elements of the new University Curriculum (UC), to be offered beginning in 2012. The program will allow students to pursue the community and global requirements of the UC in more depth.
Finally, the QEP will increase faculty awareness of the importance of and participation in undergraduate experiential learning outside the classroom.
“It’s important that these experiences become part of our University culture,” Dunham says. “Our plan will help facilitate that.”
SMU Provost Paul Ludden opened the 2011 Spring Faculty Meeting by presenting awards to four outstanding faculty members.
Assistant Professor of Art History Amy Buono and Assistant Professor of Sociology Sheri Kunovich received 2009-10 Golden Mustang Faculty Awards. The Golden Mustang honors junior faculty members who sustain high achievement as both teachers and scholars.
The 2009-10 President’s Associates Outstanding Faculty Awards were presented to Associate Professor of Philosophy Robert Howell and Associate Professor of Art History Pamela Patton. The awards honor tenured faculty who have sustained high achievement as both teachers and scholars in their professions.
Ludden announced SMU’s latest Carnegie Foundation research classification and unveiled the University’s new Quality Enhancement Plan at the Jan. 19 meeting. He also provided updates on the 10-year accreditation review by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), next year’s budget standings and a proposed new structure for undergraduate admissions.
Read more under the link below.
Randall Griffin, professor of art history in Meadows School of the Arts, was honored as the 2009-10 United Methodist Church University Scholar/Teacher of the Year at SMU’s Fall 2010 General Faculty Meeting Aug. 25.
President R. Gerald Turner updated the faculty on endowment issues, the incoming class, and other issues surrounding campus life.
Fred Olness, professor of physics in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, has taken on the challenges of leading SMU’s Faculty Senate during a year when a General Education Curriculum update, SACS reaccreditation and capital campaign have placed faculty issues front and center.
The 2009-10 Faculty Senate president talked with SMU Forum about shining a spotlight on faculty excellence, keeping exceptional students fully engaged, and what the entire University can learn about itself during the reaccreditation process. Read more under the link.