English faculty and authors Jay Ponteri and Natalie Serber and will give readings and talks at universities in Oregon, Washington and New Mexico this winter.
As 2012 ends, I want to share important news about progress we've made and challenges we've faced in the past year to continue to improve our academic offerings and make our university an even more robust place for student learning. I also want to offer a preview of some initiatives we've launching in 2013.
A positive visit by our accreditors
Representatives of the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, our accrediting body, spent more than two days with us this fall interviewing faculty,
staff and students and reviewing many aspects of our university operations. This visit
was a regularly scheduled part of the accreditation process, which all accredited
colleges and universities in the Northwest undergo. While we won't receive a formal
report on the visit until early next year, we're pleased to share that the accreditors
gave us a positive verbal review. Specifically, they commended us for improvements
in student services, course assessment and course evaluation, our continued culture
of community, and improvements in classroom safety and technology. They encouraged
us to continue improving our processes for launching new academic programs and setting
Learn more about Marylhurst accreditation
Fall enrollment update
Our accreditors also applauded us for addressing challenges we faced during the year when, like many other institutions across the country, our enrollment fell below projections. We worked quickly to create system efficiencies and manage expenses. Some of those efficiencies will cut down the number of cancelled classes and improve the tools students need to plan a path to degree completion. Helping students achieve their educational goals is our priority, because we know that earning a degree is a lifetime investment that will better prepare students for the future.
Course planning improvements
Our transition this year to an online catalog and quarterly course schedule allowed us to also create an online annual schedule, which will make it easier for students to plan future coursework. The 2012-13 annual schedule lists core courses that will be taught in all departments for the rest of this academic year. We'll update this annual schedule every spring to provide a better idea of the key classes that will be offered during the coming academic year. The annual schedule is part of our efforts to provide a clear pathway to a degree, especially for undergraduate students. In addition, we're working hard to offer the right number of courses, so that no classes are cancelled or have too few students in them.
Expanded programs with new offerings on the horizon
During 2012 we turned two degree concentrations into full degree programs: the MBA in Real Estate and the BA in Media & Film Studies. We also hired a wonderful new choral director, Justin Smith, who in just a few short months already has expanded opportunities for students, faculty, staff and community members to participate in and benefit from our music program. This winter term, we'll debut our new BA in English Literature & New Media, a primarily online degree program that provides a new take on literature and writing in the digital age. And next fall we will launch an MS in Food Systems & Society, an innovative graduate program for those who want to improve the health, equity and sustainability of our food systems. These expanded and new programs are examples of our ongoing efforts to address changing trends in higher education and better serve our diverse student population with the learning opportunities they are seeking.
Revamping the Liberal Arts Core
Over the last two years, we have been examining our undergraduate general education requirements, the Liberal Arts Core. We are revising requirements to make them easier to understand, to connect more clearly with what our peers are doing, and to ensure that students transferring credits from other institutions can do so easily. We also want to assess the quality of our requirements as a program, and create meaningful opportunities for students to reflect on their core and major requirements as a part of an ongoing lifelong learning process.
A special reminder to students: Our university has a career services team able to provide support in exploring new career options. And we encourage you to get involved in your Student Leadership Council, a representative group of students I rely on to provide students' points of view to me and other university administrators on a range of issues.
On behalf of all of us at Marylhurst, I wish you a wonderful holiday, a great start to winter term and a new year filled with many blessings.