Plan will connect new students

Next fall, freshmen will be together 24 hours a day.

A new plan for freshman seminar courses will give some freshmen the option not only to attend class together, but also to live and socialize together in learning communities.

This past summer, the UC-101 Governing Committee, formed by Provost Barbara Burch with the intention of implementing changes in the class, developed five sub-committees to deal with freshman seminar.

Enrollment manager instructor Nathan Phelps is chair of the Learning Communities Committee.

Burch explained that the learning communities are being developed through a partnership between enrollment management, student affairs, UC-101 and Housing and Residence Life.

Phelps said administrators believe the new learning communities could boost freshman retention at Western.

“The goal is to retain students successfully,” Burch said.

Phelps said the learning communities will link classes together. He said there will be a common body of students that will take classes together.

In addition to this, Phelps said his committee is working to have faculty members coordinate their curriculum so the classes freshmen take will be connected.

But the learning communities will not end with classes – they will extend to dorm life.

Bates-Runner Hall will be the first dorm to participate in the learning communities next fall.

Burch said the dorm will accommodate 140 freshmen for the new program. But, she said, two groups will be excluded from the communities: the honors program students and those who may need developmental courses.

Burch said the learning communities will be for students taking typical first-year classes.

Phelps said having students live together in Bates will allow faculty to come to the dorm and use the teaching tools that are available.

The learning communities will not be limited to freshmen living in dorms.

Phelps said the communities will be available to freshmen living off-campus, and in the future, may be available for upper-level classes.

“I think this is just the tip of the iceberg,” Burch said.