Dr. Jeffrey Coker has been selected as the Dean of Undergraduate Studies and will begin his tenure here in June 2011. Dr. Coker currently serves as Assistant Provost for General Education and University Assessment at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.
As Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. Coker will be responsible for overseeing the undergraduate experience for UNF students. Some components of this include the first-year experience, academic advising for lower-level and major-undecided students, academic support for undergraduates, specific aspects of the undergraduate curriculum, and retention and transition programs. Dr. Coker will also be a tenured faculty member in the Department of History.
Beginning in summer 2011, the Office of Academic Roadmaps and the Academic Center for Excellence will join the Undergraduate Studies office as units reporting to the Dean of Undergraduate Studies.
The Office of Academic Roadmaps, directed by Rachel Broderick, provides term-by-term sample schedules for undergraduate academic programs to guide students in the selection of courses for each term in order to facilitate student progress towards graduation.
The Academic Center for Excellence, under the direction of Karen Reedy, provides accurate academic advising, high-quality interdisciplinary tutoring, and innovative undergraduate academic support through mentoring programs, intervention strategies, and skill-building workshops.
The Office of Undergraduate Studies received 52 applications requesting a total of just under $700,000 for creative and worthy projects proposed for the sixth round of the TLO program. Overall 29 undergraduate applications and 7 graduate applications were funded. These projects included funding for a sign language interpretation studies in Austria and Slovenia, scientific research on shark ecology, muscle atrophy, and oil spill impacts on tropical coral reefs, service learning in Guatemala and many other exciting projects!
To read more about the funded undergraduate projects, visit http://www.unf.edu/tlo/awards/Round_6.aspx]. To view a list of the graduate award recipients and projects, please visit the Graduate School website at http://www.unf.edu/graduateschool/ .
Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team and One Woman’s Quest to Make a Difference by Warren St. John has been selected as the common book for the 4th annual UNF Reads! program. Outcasts United is the story of a soccer team made up of refugee boys who are coached by a remarkable woman in a small southern town. They are faced with numerous challenges but together they learn what is possible when values and teamwork are put into play.
The themes in Outcast United address UNF goals of creating a culture of community-based transformational learning, and can be applied to learning across varied disciplines and colleges. Some programs being planned for the 2011-2012 program include a food drive soccer tournament, visits from author Warren St. John and soccer coach Luma Mufleh, a UNF community refugee panel discussion, and an essay contest.
Incoming freshman students will be required to purchase the book, and discounted copies will be available at all summer orientation programs through the UNF Bookstore. For more information about the UNF Reads! program, please visit www.unf.edu/ugstudies.
Students interested in graduate school or international travel after graduation can look to the Scholars Program for assistance in applying for financial support for these endeavors. The Scholars Program, formerly known as Undergraduate Academic Enrichment Program (UAEP), provides support to students interested in applying for high-profile scholarships and fellowships. These esteemed scholarships do not typically cover student costs for undergraduates, but are primarily geared toward supporting students in graduate or post-baccalaureate study.
The requirements and types of opportunities for each of the scholarships vary. Some of the scholarships for which the Scholars Program provides student assistance include:
Dr. Leslie Kaplan, Scholarship Coordinator in the Honors and Scholars Program, assists students through mentoring, advising, coaching and editing scholarship applications. According to Dr. Kaplan, students who are interested in applying for one of these prestigious scholarships should begin preparing in their freshman year.
“For many of the scholarships you need to be able to demonstrate a record of service or leadership. Ambitious students should begin thinking in their freshman year of where they want to be by the time they graduate. It’s never too early to start,” she said.
An important aspect of all of these awards is the need for letters of recommendation from faculty members; therefore, students should get to know their professors beginning in their freshman year. Inquiring about a faculty member’s research and communicating with faculty members using a professional demeanor can help develop a faculty-student relationship that will lead to a strong letter of recommendation. Additionally, if a faculty member has a high-achieving student, he or she can encourage that student to contact Dr. Kaplan about these scholarship opportunities.
To apply for any of these high profile scholarships, students must be nominated by UNF. Dr. Kaplan is the official University designee to make such nominations, so it is important that students who are interested in these scholarship opportunities meet with her. Many of these scholarships have fall application deadlines, so it is important that interested student meet with Dr. Kaplan no later than the spring semester prior to the deadline in order to make the application as strong as possible.
While most of the scholarships are for graduate or post-baccalaureate study, there are a few opportunities for current undergraduate students. The US-UK Fulbright Commission’s UK Summer Institutes provides freshmen and sophomore students the opportunity to experience an exciting academic program at a highly regarded UK University, explore the culture, heritage and history of the UK and develop their academic ability by improving presentation, research and communication skills. Applications for the UK Summer Institutes are due April, 15, 2011. Applications for this program can be accessed http://www.fulbright.co.uk/fulbright-awards/for-us-citizens/summer-institutes.
For more information about the scholarship and fellowship opportunities supported by the UNF Scholars Program, please visit http://www.unf.edu/honors-scholars/scholars/Homepage.aspx.
Students, faculty and staff now have more opportunities to discuss nationally-significant issues on the UNF campus. The Talk of the Times discussion series, initiated by the American Democracy Project in Fall 2010 as a monthly civil discourse program in UNF residence halls, has expanded to a biweekly, campus-wide format for the Spring semester.
The series schedule for the Spring semester includes nighttime discussions in the Osprey Fountains residence hall at 6:30 p.m. (Jan. 12, Feb. 9, Mar. 9 and Apr. 13), and the new addition of daytime discussions in the Student Union at 12:30 p.m. (Jan. 27, Feb. 24 and Mar. 24). The sessions cover a variety of topics, ranging from marijuana legalization to healthcare impacts on the national economy, immigration policy, and several others.
A relevant, topical article from the New York Times serves as the discussion catalyst for each Talk of the Times. Faculty or staff members from varied academic and professional disciplines bring perspectives to the topic discussed in the article, and students share their own thoughts and perspectives in a unique fusion of open dialogue and critical thinking among campus constituencies.
In additional to building rapport between students and faculty, the Talk of the Times program seeks to increase student local and national awareness of current events and help students appreciate the value of different perspectives and evidence when looking at a single issue.
Three Talk of the Times discussions remain for the spring semester:
Healthcare and the National Economy
The New York Times article selected for each topic is posted on the ADP website a week in advance of the related discussion. The American Democracy Project steering committee plans to continue the program in the fall of 2011 with more provocative and relevant topics. For more information about this or other initiatives of the ADP, please visit www.unf.edu/adp.
In Summer 2010 the UNF Opera Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. Krzysztof Biernacki, travelled to the Czech Republic and performed complete operas at the historic Mozart Estates Theater in Prague and the City Opera Theater in Teplice. The repertoire of performances included “Magic Flute” by W.A. Mozart and “La Boheme” by Giacomo Puccini co-produced with University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada under the auspices of European Music Academy and accompanied by North Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. The program involved study and performance of two complete operas in established European theatres with professional orchestra, as well as voice master-classes, German language coaching, and additional open-air orchestra concerts of famous arias and operatic excerpts.
One of the goals of this TLO was to give students the experience of performing Mozart’s opera in an authentic Mozart theater. It increased the students’ understanding of historical significance, performance practice, requirements for sound projection, technical needs pertaining to the architectural aesthetic of the historical opera house, as well as business practice of the established European opera theaters. Designed as a 4 week long summer opera program, this TLO also offered UNF students the opportunity to gain European experience by performing complete operatic works in a professional operatic environment under the instruction of international faculty.
Freshman tenor Shaun Adams said, “This summer I had a life changing experience. I was fortunate enough to find myself in the beautiful Czech Republic, performing Mozart's The Magic Flute. My favorite moment of the trip took place in the concert hall where we rehearsed. Stepping into the resonant space, with orchestra members standing by to make some real music– with me, that's just brilliant. It was a feeling of professionalism in artistry.”
The American Southwest was the setting for a July 2010 Transformational Learning Opportunity that immersed students in a natural environment where they could learn about sustainable design practices. Led by civil engineering professor Dr. Chris Brown, 10 UNF students set out on a 3-week summer trip to Arizona, during which they visited a variety of engineering project sites and interacted with experts from the Bureau of Reclamation, Department of Energy, and the City of Flagstaff.
This TLO incorporated intensive active learning exercises at some of the project sites. Students had the opportunity to engage in field mapping, geological assessment, and stream flow measurement. They also participated in service learning with the Walnut Canyon National Monument by working along-side researchers from the Museum of Northern Arizona to conduct archeological/environmental mapping of ancient Anasazi Indian ruins. The experience was enhanced by visits to three National Parks in the region, including Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest.
At the end of the trip students presented ideas on how they would incorporate sustainable design practices into one of the facilities that was visited. As a result of this course students were able to gain, among other things, tangible field assessment skills and an understanding of the impact of engineering solutions in a global and social context
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