By Lauren Horsch, Elizabeth Robinson
Experiential learning: learn by doing
In November 2010, a motion appeared on Faculty Senate’s agenda to create an experiential learning course requirement in the Drake curriculum.
“Experiential learning in a nutshell allows students to have some sort of internship or significant experience in their field of interest or study,” said Ben Cooper, head of academic affairs in conjunction with Student Senate. “It encourages students to get hands-on experience related to their major.”
While most students at Drake graduate with at least one internship under their belts, this addition would make it official.
There was an initial concern brought on by the faculty for this motion, Cooper said. When the motion did arrive on the table in November, it was originally voted down because of miscommunications between committees on Faculty Senate. The voting process was very close with a 9-10 margin.
“There is no reason not to pass it,” Cooper said. “There is a lot of reward for minimal risk.”
Student Senate voted unanimously on April 14 to support the initiative. The logistics are still being hashed out on how experiential learning will count for credit hours.
“It is somewhat unclear what it will look like,” Cooper said. He believes that the passing of experiential learning would be a “win” for Drake.
January term: swap your schedule
J-Term has been a topic of conversation in various university committees for three years and it moved to the forefront of the discussion this year. Between Faculty and Student Senates, there were little more than rumors floating around about whether the term would pass and be implemented on Drake’s campus.
Cooper said he believes J-Term will not only be beneficial for the students, but also for Drake as a whole.
“This is going to be a great recruiting tool,” Cooper said. He thinks it will be a great choice for students to have.
The motion gained more attention over the duration of the semester, and it had been debated and tabled by Faculty Senate since January 2011. On Feb. 10, Student Senate voted unanimously to support any initiatives revolving around J-Term.
“They (faculty senate) were grateful that we voted on it and happy that we did,” Cooper said.
After that, a town hall-esque meeting was set up between the Faculty and Student Senates to hear and answer questions about the J-Term. The meeting was open to all students, faculty and Des Moines community members.
The next step for Faculty Senate during its April meeting was to have administration determine a plan for how to implement a J-Term.
On April 20 Faculty Senate passed the J-Term motion with a 13-7 vote.
“It looks promising,” Cooper said.
Find focus: academic concentrations
Beginning next fall, Drake will add to its curriculum by offering new academic concentrations for students, including leadership and global and comparative public health.
Associate Provost Art Sanders said that with changes in the world today, offering these two concentrations would be beneficial for students. Both are interdisciplinary, meaning they can tie in several different courses.
“The study of leadership and engaging students in both studies and actions that allow them to be effective leaders now and in the future is becoming more and more important,” Sanders said.
Referring to the global and comparative public health concentration, he said, “Public health is a growing field and this concentration will draw on the strengths of the university such as pharmacy, BCMB and policy analysis.”
Faculty and staff members interested in furthering education in these concentration areas primarily initiated their creation. Planning has been in the works for nearly three years for the leadership focus, said education professor Tom Westbrook. Specific leadership courses had to be approved through Drake’s University Curriculum Committee, and the Center for Global Citizenship provided help with planning the health concentration.
“What this is really all about is helping people grow, become so much more aware of their strengths, develop their strengths and use them,” Westbrook said.
Those behind the concentrations anticipate their success and the benefits to students in the future. The biggest challenge now is publicizing the new concentrations and encouraging students to sign up for them.
“Hopefully they will be engaging, challenging and exciting fields of study for students and will leave students better prepared for life after Drake,” Sanders said. “I think these two concentrations will have pretty long life cycles.”
Sunny forecast: new blueSky email
Zimbra is out, and blueSky is in — for Drake email accounts at least. Ann Kovalchick, the chief information officer at Drake has been working on changing the email system at Drake since fall 2010.
There have been three stages so far, Kovalchick said: choosing the email client, which is Microsoft’s Live@edu, implementing the move in January 2011. The migration of mailboxes began March.
Kovalchick said there would be certain changes in the email clients that students will notice.
“Your log-in username will change,” she said. “Your email address will remain the same, when you log in, you will be asked to enter your Drake ID@drake.edu rather than email ID@drake.edu.”
She added that this would not affect how students’ email addresses look to those receiving emails from them. Other changes students will notice are an increased storage size and the ability to send larger files.
Kovalchick said that there were several reasons why a switch was necessary. One was that Zimbra wasn’t suited for Drake’s needs.
“The present system, Zimbra, is not well-suited for our campus environment because of the broad range of user needs,” she said. “To gain the most advantage out of Zimbra, we would have had to require that everyone use the web interface and the web interface does not have the full set of functions needed.”
Everyone with a Drake email address will need to change his or her password before the switch happens. Currently, the change is scheduled for May 21.
“This is a one-time only special password change request and is necessary to ensure that each mailbox that is migrated to blueSky has a correctly synced password,” Kovalchick said.