Presidential Task Force on the Senior Year Experience

As an institution and a community we are committed to continuous improvement – setting high standards for ourselves, achieving them, and then raising the bar for ourselves again. Complacency is not one of our core values. Thus, although the College is already distinguished for its powerful educational outcomes (demonstrated by the impressive accomplishments of our graduates), Muhlenberg should think boldly and intentionally about our students’ senior year experience. Can we provide our seniors with more effective opportunities for integration of the intellectual skills they have mastered so that they may leave campus with a more nuanced appreciation of their liberal arts education? Can we furnish more deliberately thoughtful opportunities for reflection so that they graduate with a deeper perspective on their own development, their strengths and weaknesses, and their potential for lifelong education? Can we offer more creatively designed opportunities to prepare them for the transition from the so-called Muhlenberg “bubble” to a rich, full, and independent adulthood?

The first of these questions is primarily curricular and can most properly be addressed by our faculty, working through its existing committee structure. This is an opportune moment for such deliberations, as the Academic Policy Committee (APC) has already begun a full scale review of Muhlenberg’s curriculum.

Our investigation of the other two issues – reflection and transition – are also of deep interest to the faculty. However, they require a wider range of perspectives. To that end I have convened a task force on the Senior Year Experience (SYE) comprised of faculty, students, staff, alumni, and parents. This group will assess existing institutional data, develop additional data if necessary, consult broadly within our community, think creatively, and offer specific proposals for my consideration.

It will be important for members of the Muhlenberg community to keep abreast of these deliberations and to have regular opportunities to weigh in with observations and advice. This website is intended to facilitate such communication.

I hope all members of our community will share their thoughts, experiences, and suggestions during the coming year as we work together to make Muhlenberg’s senior year an even more powerful and positive culmination to an extraordinary four years of undergraduate education.

Ideas, observations, and/or reflections on Muhlenberg’s senior year experience may be sent directly to the Provost Majorie Hass chair of the Reflections Subcommittee, to Dean of Students Karen Green chair of the Transition Subcommittee, to Professor Ted Conner chair of the Academic Policy Committee, or to me.

Randy Helm
November, 2006