This Week's Message
The final few weeks of the academic year are often spent -- when we get a spare moment --looking back. On committees we review the year's work to assess what we've accomplished. In our departments, we reflect on our students' achievements to confer awards. And in our classes, we scrawl barely legible notes on our syllabi describing what worked and, often, what didn't (or maybe I am just speaking for me). At the end of the academic year, we're almost always tired, and a bit cranky, and looking back is about as much as we can manage to do.
But of course, even at the end of the academic year -- a time for ceremony and closure and reflection if ever there was one -- we're never only looking back. As much as we may be eager to close the (grade)book on our spring classes, that is always in part because we're already thinking ahead, to what new readings we might choose or what assignment we might redesign for next year. Many of us, despite our outwardly cynical demeanors, are really incurable optimists: we're continually looking for new opportunities to teach and learn differently, and to engage our students more deeply in the subjects we're passionate about.
And so at the end of the year, I want us to look forward for a minute: to August 20-23, when we'll be greeting our new class of first year students at Augustana. Fall Connection will be these new students' first real experience of college life, and it will be our best chance to welcome them into our academic community. There are two key opportunities for faculty to be a part of Fall Connection, and I'd like you to consider lending a hand in these efforts.
First, consider participating in Community Connection on Saturday, August 22. On Saturday morning, we'll be asking our first-year students to step outside the "Augie bubble" and engage in service projects and activities that take them (and us) off campus and out into the Quad Cities. These activities will range from environmental clean-up with River Action to a build with Habitat for Humanity. For more information about Community Connection, and to join this effort as either a leader or participant, contact Becca Poock in the Center for Vocational Reflection.
Second, consider leading a small group of students in a discussion about our Augie Reads book for 2009-10, also on August 22. Augie Reads is a great opportunity for the Augustana College community to come together to explore a common text and the issues it raises, beginning with Fall Connection and continuing into LSFY 101 classes this fall. This year's book is Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father. To volunteer to lead first year students in a discussion group during Fall Connection, contact me (MargaretFarrar@augustana.edu). (Regardless of whether or not you volunteer to lead a discussion group, you'll be provided with a free copy of Obama's book during Week 10 or finals week.)
Finally, I wanted to use this space to thank everyone who's helped me transition into my new job. I am so grateful: both to those of you who've taken the time to teach me something, and to those who've given me the gift of your patience as I learn. (I would name names here, but the list would be far too long, for both categories.) I've benefitted from your help and your good humor over the past few months, and I hope that I'll be able to repay your generosity with hard work in the service of the College in the years ahead.
Academic Affairs Office