Good Saturday morning,
Below are a few articles on Sweet Briar, STEM, Liberal Arts, and more, as well as reminders for events.
The Sweet Briar Swim Team is currently in South Florida and alumnae will host two dinners for them. Watch for photos in the next edition.
SWEET BRIAR NEWS
Ethics Alarm Award awarded to Sweet Briar
Explore engineering is taking applications
Mary Baldwin enrollment down slightly
Winter events round up – American Shakespeare Center at the Academy, the return of Ellington and more
Winless season doesn’t bring down Sweet Briar field hockey squad
Sweet Briar made the in and our list
Alumna Dorothy Yates ’42 dies
A future initiative of the Alumnae Alliance is to create a Lifelong Learning Program on campus and across our regions. This has already proven successful with the Atlanta Club’s Living Room Learning Series. The co-chairs of AA’s spoke called “The Network” are in search of alumna (and SBC friends) to assist in researching lifelong learning programs to develop a program unique to Sweet Briar. If you would like to volunteer sign up signup on the attached form.
Holla, Holla and Thanks!
Katie Schellhammer and Sarah Clement
(Co-Chairs of The Network of the Alumnae Alliance)
Open eyes require open ears
Humanities should be valued more
2016 The year of Liberal Arts Colleges – Six Predictions for 2016
The 3 things I say about Ed Tech in 2016
STEM news roundup – Looking for a 3-D printer for your classroom? Apply here:
More depressing news for women in STEM
Why STEM’s Future rests in the hand of 12 year old girls
Changing mindset of STEM
Girl Scouts Expands Presence At 2016 International Consumer Electronics Show To Help Girls Imagine A Future In STEM
Lawrence Arts Center expands STEM learning
NO GIRL LEFT BEHIND: GIRL SCOUTS EXPAND PRESENCE AT CES
MIT partners with Johnson & Johnson to promote women’s STEM education
STEM Wars: Can the Force Awaken Change for More Women in Science?
STEM lover’s new YouTube channel is music to our ears
Gwen’s Girls introduces the world of STEM to at-risk teens
FOR WOMEN AND MINORITIES, THERE’S NEVER BEEN A BETTER TIME TO BE A “TECHIE”
New Year, New Focus: STEM Alumnae From Women’s Colleges
University trying to attract more women to technology fields
Girls get ready to ROCK with STEM program
African American Women Make Up Only 2% Of America’s Doctors
Grace Autosport builds on IndyCar’s STEM values
FORD, GIRLS WHO CODE TEAM UP TO CLOSE STEM GENDER GAP
Women Who Advanced Science and Changed History: An Interview with Rachel Swaby – See more at: http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/161435#sthash.ecbz4oS3.dpuf
Mark Zuckerberg’s Advice to Women: Don’t Date a Nerd—Be a Nerd
Alabama scientist, one of nation’s few black female physicists, breaks ground in cancer research
ALUMNAE IN THE NEWS
Congratulations to Brooke Linville
Alumna -led start up partners with Intel
UB makes the national top 10 list for success in recruiting foreign students
MSUM visits China, South Korea in hopes of attracting more international students
College mail and why it fails
Colleges widen nets during tough times
Student services key to campus recruitment
Chart of the Day – Universities are pretty liberal places
Free College Proposals Costs for Students
Internship grants give students experience with added perk: A paycheck
University of Missouri agriculture group goes all-female
International Students, Support Structures and the Equity Question
or calling (626) 840-6011
Articles Contributed by Members of the Sweet Briar Community
By Prof. Claudia Chang
Elevator Pitch for a Women’s College: Revamp Curriculum, Attract Students
By Lawrence Biemiller JANUARY 06, 2016
Dustin Chambers for The Chronicle
When asked why a student should choose Agnes Scott College, Elizabeth Kiss, its president, used to wax long about the value of the liberal arts, the college’s great faculty members, its beautiful campus, and so on. Now she simply says that it’s a college for women who aim to become leaders in a world of global problems.
Agnes Scott College is making a big bet on its future as a liberal-arts institution for women.
It’s a wager that trustees have backed with a $20-million investment from the $260-million endowment, and that faculty members have enthusiastically supported by refocusing the curriculum. And this past August it brought the 127-year-old college its largest first-year class ever, raising total enrollment to 915 students.
Administrators say it’s too early to be sure the bet will pay off, but there’s no hiding how happy everyone is with the initial results.
The elevator pitch is this: Agnes Scott has refocused its liberal-arts curriculum to emphasize leadership and global awareness, two concepts that an in-depth market survey showed had far more appeal among high-school women than any others the college could come up with. And every first-year student will travel as part of a spring-semester course, with most going overseas.
At the same time, the college is adopting digital portfolios in which students will record their work, and is also overhauling its advising system so that each student will have a four-person advising board, including a career adviser who may be a successful alumna. Those changes appeal to parents as well as applicants. And the college has given the athletics director new responsibilities as “dean of fun,” with a budget for enlivening the campus with occasional bands, food trucks, and more.
An elevator pitch was exactly what Agnes Scott needed, says its president, Elizabeth Kiss (her last name is pronounced like “quiche”).
Before last year, if a high-school student asked why she should consider Agnes Scott, which is named for the mother of a 19th-century benefactor, Ms. Kiss would give a long answer about the value of the liberal arts, the college’s great faculty members, its beautiful Collegiate Gothic buildings, and so forth. But the only really distinctive element was one many high-school students consider a drawback — Agnes Scott is a women’s college. Now Ms. Kiss can say instead that it’s a college for women who aim to become leaders in a world where problems and solutions are increasingly global.
The Need for a Plan
The transformation plan, called Summit, took shape slowly. Like many small liberal-arts institutions, Agnes Scott College has known for a while that it needs to grow. Enrollment, just under 500 two decades ago, leveled out at about 900 a few years back, and nothing the college tried pushed it higher. Meanwhile, a strategic plan developed to keep the college viable financially set 1,100 as an enrollment target for 2020 — and 1,200 for 2025.
“When I first got here, 15 years ago, we were pretty flush,” says Elizabeth Hackett, an associate professor of women’s studies and philosophy. More recently, she says, “people started to get really concerned about financial stability. I really worried that there wasn’t a plan.”
‘We said, OK, fall of 2015 is when we start. The ability to catch students’ attention has an expire date.’
The recession that began in 2008 drove those worries home. During the downturn the college offered early-retirement packages that 24 faculty and staff members accepted; it laid off 16 others. It also started holding regular convocations to discuss finances, says John P. Hegman, vice president for business and finance. “We became very transparent. The faculty and staff started owning the need for change.”
So did the Board of Trustees. “The board has felt for some time that Agnes Scott needed to find something unique, a program that could distinguish us,” says Elizabeth Jones, a 1973 alumna who is a lawyer and a board member. “We’ve tried different marketing approaches, but none really took. We heard that these are tough times for liberal-arts colleges, and unless you come up with something unique, you’re not likely to survive.”
“We started talking about what’s going to be the big idea?” says the board chair, Clyde C. Tuggle, senior vice president and chief of public affairs at the Coca-Cola Company. He organized a retreat for trustees and faculty members that many here recall as a turning point in relations between the board and the faculty. Ms. Hackett says the retreat “started to give the faculty some trust that these aren’t people who just parachute in.”
Ms. Kiss returned to an idea that had been proposed a few years earlier — creating a Center for Women’s Global Leadership. She also hired a consulting firm, the Art & Science Group, which recommended that Agnes Scott test the global-leadership idea against other possibilities. So faculty members came up with a total of eight concepts.
“There was a lot of brainstorming — what idea that is true to who we are could we go big with?” says Ms. Hackett. Among the possibilities were making Agnes Scott a college centered on social justice and turning the college into an institution for self-reflection.
Admitting men, however, was never on the table.
Art & Science commissioned a survey that reached 675 students in the college’s inquiry pool and 323 students who had been admitted, and the consultants presented the results at a faculty meeting in November 2013. Of the big ideas, only leadership and global awareness were hits with the high-school women.
Afterward, Ms. Kiss challenged the faculty and staff to move fast. “We said, OK, fall of 2015 is when we start,” the president recalls. “The ability to catch students’ attention has an expire date.”
5 Skills for Leaders
What followed was a frenzy of debating, planning, and testing that involved most faculty members and many members of the staff. Some professors worried that they’d have to teach corporate-style leadership, but what the faculty settled on instead were five skills essential for leaders — teamwork, critical thinking, writing, public speaking, and digital literacy.
“A lot of things we teach in a liberal-arts education are leadership skills — we’ve just never thought about them that way,” Ms. Hackett says.
Dustin Chambers for The Chronicle
Students in a mathematics class at Agnes Scott College deliver their final project, which focused on voting schemes in a fictional country with four ethnic groups.
Academics in some disciplines had trouble imagining what role their courses could play. “A lot of people have questions about how math fits in,” says Rachel L. Bayless, an assistant professor of mathematics.
For one of her own courses, she created a fictional country with four ethnic groups and asked teams of students to write a constitution that distributed votes fairly while safeguarding the interests of all four groups — a challenge during which they learn “complicated and advanced mathematics.”
The curricular changes have been widespread. Every student takes a leadership and a global-awareness course in her first year, and travels somewhere with her class during the spring semester. She also decides whether to emphasize leadership or global awareness at the same time that she completes a traditional major (or more than one).
Meanwhile, faculty members are rethinking how they teach existing courses so that students will come away having learned the traditional content but also having practiced working in teams, speaking in public, and the like.
So far, results are promising. A survey of the current freshman class found that two-thirds rated Summit as either important or very important to their choosing Agnes Scott. Yield increased: The admissions office overshot its 240-student goal and ended up with 272 — even though attracting students to a women’s college usually means “working twice as hard for a quarter of the results,” according to Laura Martin-Fedich, vice president for enrollment.
Even so, Mr. Hegman won’t reveal the college’s current discount rate — that’s the average share of tuition covered by institutional aid, and it’s an important component of an institution’s viability. (Moody’s Investors Service estimated it at 61 percent in an unflattering 2013 report.) But Mr. Hegman will say that the way to get that rate down “is by getting demand for the college up.” Then “you’re in a better negotiating stance with students.”
Meanwhile, Ms. Kiss is looking ahead. “Very soon,” she says, “we will have to start thinking about Summit 2.0.”
Lawrence Biemiller writes about a variety of usual and unusual higher-education topics. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Deirdre Conley
TED talk Social Media Can Start a Revolution, Winning it More Difficult…
Today, a single email can launch a worldwide movement. But as sociologist Zeynep Tufekci suggests, even though online activism is easy to grow, it often doesn’t last. Why? She compares modern movements — Gezi, Ukraine, Hong Kong — to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and uncovers a surprising benefit of organizing protest movements the way it happened before Twitter.