Goal One: academic program
Enrich our outstanding academic program to help a new generation of students develop the qualities of mind, spirit and body necessary for lives of service and leadership in our changing world. All students will engage in independent, but guided, research as part of a culminating senior capstone experience.
Building on Augustana's tradition of student-faculty collaborative research, Senior Inquiry continues to thrive at the heart of the college's academic program and strategic plan. In June, a group of faculty returned to Greater Expectations, a retreat sponsored by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, to report on Augustana's Senior Inquiry capstone experience-18 months after a first group of faculty met at the same semi-annual retreat to begin defining the parameters of the program. That first group had called for a broadly defined senior research or creative capstone experience that asked students to engage deeply in reflection: on their project, its impact on their education, and its potential for action within a community or society. At this point, more than 80 percent of Augustana students are enrolled in majors that include Senior Inquiry. By the end of the 2008-09 academic year, we anticipate that percentage will rise to 90 percent.
Senior Inquiry transforms the senior year for so many of our students. One model is the research of Tiffany Chezum '08, an Anderson Scholar in art history whose work was funded through the Paul A. Anderson Chair in the Arts at Augustana. Her project exemplifies the interdisciplinary and experiential nature of the capstone, as well as its demonstration of benefit to a community.
Tiffany wanted to do research that would blend her study of classics, French and art history. Her advisor, art historian Dr. Catherine Goebel, Paul A. Anderson Chair in the Arts, suggested a project that she and Greg Vogele, superintendent of Rock Island's historic Chippiannock Cemetery, had earlier discussed as a priority for the cemetery. Mr. Vogele wanted someone to shed light on the history behind the beautiful bronze Cable Monument (ca. 1891), so the community could know the story of one of the cemetery's most striking markers. Tiffany worked with Professor Goebel, using her fluent French and her earlier Art Nouveau historical research, to interpret information on the artist, the Belgian sculptor Paul de Vigne. Not only did she find and document the story behind the lovely statue of a grieving woman who has watched over three generations of the Cable family-she also found the intersection of all her scholarly passions. In fall of 2008 Tiffany's project helped gain her enrollment in the master's program in classics and art history at Queen's University in Ontario, Canada.
Most Senior Inquiry projects may be described in part as high-impact, hands-on learning experiences that enrich students' work in their majors and strengthen their foundation in the liberal arts. As we move closer to our goal of ensuring that such experiences become the standard for all Augustana students, we have begun to lay the groundwork for Augie Choice.
Unique to Augustana, Augie Choice supports each student-in either the junior or senior year-with up to $2,000 toward a learning experience they identify for its value to their education and future goals. Examples of such experiences could include international study, summer internships, professional conferences, service learning and special research projects, the latter possibly tied to Senior Inquiry. To direct and help implement Augie Choice we have hired Becca Poock, whose office is within the Center for Vocational Reflection in its new home in Emmy Carlsson Evald Hall. W. Kent Barnds, vice president for communication and enrollment, and Bob Haak, director of the Center for Vocational Reflection, have been instrumental in helping to define and develop the innovative program. Augie Choice will be fully in place by fall of 2010, when our current first-year class reaches junior status.
As Augie Choice bolsters our investment in meaningful experiential opportunities, we hope to see an increase in the number of students taking advantage of international study-another important aspect of this first goal of our strategic plan. In 2007, 29.3 percent of the student body studied abroad, and we expect that will rise in the years ahead. The college's newest international opportunity is the 2008-09 winter term in Vietnam, developed by Dr. Kim Tunnicliff in the Office of International Programs together with the director of the Vietnam term, Dr. Ann Ericson of business administration, as well as the other faculty members forming its inaugural team, Dr. David Crowe of the English department and Dr. Mariano Magalhães of the political science department.
Both Senior Inquiry and Augie Choice rely on faculty serving as advisors, mentors and scholar-collaborators. To ensure this is possible, we have steadily increased the number of full-time tenure-track faculty by more than 20 percent between 2004 and 2007. And under the leadership of Dr. Jeff Abernathy, Augustana's vice president and dean of the college, several new programs have been initiated to better equip faculty for their roles both within and outside the classroom.
Augustana began the 2008-09 academic year with a student-faculty ratio of 11-1, and the percentage of classes with fewer than 20 students is 53 percent. The middle section of this annual report, beginning on page 13, contains charts and graphs showing statistical growth and changes at Augustana College over recent years.