BY SARAH HOLLOWAY – STAFF WRITER
Once every ten years, institutions belonging to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools must undergo a process of reaccreditation to affirm that they are qualified to grant degrees to graduating students. This includes a thorough examination of professors, their effectiveness in the classroom, and ensuring that they hold degrees in the areas that they are teaching. In addition, the process includes an assessment of the college’s implementation of its mission statement to validate that students are getting what they paid for out of their enrollment.
This month, Centre completed its reaccreditation and passed all 116 standards.
Part of the reaccreditation process is to implement a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) in which the college must present several new projects that will expand the school’s mission to prepare students for lives of learning, leadership, and service. Centre students are still enjoying the results of the last QEP that took place on campus: the study abroad program that is now number one in the nation was once just the vision of a handful of faculty and students.
Senior and physics major John Coogan was a part of a subcommittee of students with a wide variety of majors and minors who contributed to the formulation of this term’s plan.
“We started by working backwards,” Coogan said. “We thought ‘What do we want to see happen on this campus? What can we improve?’ and then tried to find a way to make it happen.”
For this round of QEP, the college focused on increasing creativity in the classroom, on campus, and over the summer. Students can look forward to the six initiatives that came out of months of extensive planning: the Creative Thinking Immersion Program (C-TIP), the Creative Centre Pedagogy Workshop, the Faculty Fellow, the Learn, Inquire, and Network at Centre (L.I.N.C), Creative Campus, and the Creative Commons Series.
C-TIP is a program offered over the summer that allows students to research a problem or issue that interests them and utilize the wisdom of their peers, professors, and experts in the field as well as other resources to challenge their ability to think critically and creatively.
“It’s a very unique opportunity for undergraduates to be able to do research of their choosing,” Chief Planning Officer and Special Assistant to the President for Institutional Research and Special Events Patrick Noltemeyer said. “While we don’t expect staggering participation in the first few years, we are hopeful that this project will grow to be part of the Centre experience that everyone does at least once, as our study abroad program is now.”
The Creative Centre Pedagogy Workshop initiative provides the opportunity for faculty and staff to come together and explore how the courses offered at Centre could be reimagined to include more creative thinking. This initiative will take place biennially in order to keep the classroom up to date on the best creative thinking methods researched by experts in the field.
Another initiative geared towards professors is the creation of the “faculty fellow” position. This project is designed to give a faculty member the opportunity to conduct research in their field and facilitate campus discussion by holding workshops, hosting guests, and engaging in creative thinking about their subject. This research will culminate in publications to be circulated throughout the region and nation, and will also add to the body of knowledge based on creative thinking for Centre College and all of academia.
L.I.N.C. is an initiative that deliberately connects two topically linked courses but addresses them from the perspective of different disciplines. Students will participate in integrative activities with two different professors, which will facilitate learning and enrichment for both students and faculty. The courses will be scheduled in such a way that allows for flexibility of guest speakers and course-related activities.
The Creative Campus initiative gives students an opportunity to help shape their campus to reflect the uniqueness of the college and leave a tangible representation of the creative thinking that takes place here. Through a competitive design process, students will submit ideas for small spaces to be built around campus to encourage reflection and inspiration. While the primary focus is the design process itself, the result will be enhancement of creative environments on campus.
Finally, the Creative Commons Series seeks to increase the familiarity of thinking creatively of the faculty and staff wand helping them and implement that style of learning in the classroom. Forums will be held for all members of the campus community to expand their understanding of creative thinking and how it plays a role at Centre.
Students are encouraged to participate in the initiatives that interest them in order to help determine their effectiveness and subsequently establish them as part of Centre culture. Not only does the current student body have more opportunities for learning and enrichment open to them, but they also get to help make Centre history and shape the future of the College.