Extra University faculty bulk up freshmen seminars

As freshmen learn to relate to their roommates, University officials hope the new students will build relationships with another group of people: their professors.
To do so, the University is expanding last year’s freshman seminar program, which was designed to promote faculty-staff communication early in an undergraduate’s career. Over the next two years, 30 new faculty members will be hired to help facilitate the seminar program.
“It gives the students an opportunity to work closely with a professor in an area that has intense interest to them,” said Robert Bruininks, University executive vice president and provost.
The program is already on the road to success, he said, as the number of students enrolled grew 250 percent in the last year. This fall, 1,500 student are participating in the seminars, compared with 454 last year.
Part of the reason for the increase is a hike in the number of seminars offered. Last year 70 seminars were available; this year 100 are available. University officials hope to increase that number until all 5,000 freshmen have slots in the seminars.
Bruininks said the University’s goal with the freshman seminars is to improve students’ academic experiences and offer them more faculty attention earlier in their University tenures.
“The hope is to help students hone their academic skills early in their careers here at the University,” Bruininks said.
He said the seminars will also focus on improving the students’ communication skills.
Erin Ghere covers the University faculty and welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3217.