Daily Archives: February 28, 2009
A new crop of students are vying for political office this week, with the most surprising element being the candidates’ youth.
Candidates presented themselves to Senate Feb. 23, and the Senate approved all to run for office.
The candidates for president are juniors Ashlee Carter, Duncan Reid and T. Craig Sinclair. The vice-presidential candidates are freshmen Sean Boedeker and Dylan “Race” Packer, sophomore Geoff Porter and junior Chris Norman.
Compared with last year, when every candidate was in the junior class, it is unexpected to see so many underclassmen running for vice-president this year.
The voting procedures have also changed. Instead of voting at designated polling booths outside Withnell Commons or Walker Hall, voting will be conducted online this year, as a result of the combined efforts of the ASLC Cabinet and Chief Technology Officer Irv Wiswall. In place of the booths there will be tables with information regarding the candidates and their stances on the issues.
Though the system has yet to be tested, Cabinet members are optimistic about the change.
The primary debates will be held March 2, with the time and location to be announced. Students will then receive a e-mail link to a Web site March 3 where they can cast their primary votes.
The general debates will take place March 9, also TBA, and the general elections will follow March 10, when students will receive a similar link in their email inboxes redirecting them to the final voting site.
Major: Environmental policy
Hometown: Lake Oswego, Ore.
Clubs/Activities: Greenfield founder and president, ASLC senator , campus improvement committee chair, student representative on the Advisory Committee on Environment and Sustainability, Resident Adviser, Alternative Spring Break participant, upward bound tutor, independent Study of environmental leadership
Goals for next year: Increase communication between students and faculty, staff and the higher administration on campus to effectively address student concerns, integrate the Linfield community more effectively with the McMinnville community, inspire Linfield students to participate in the global community
Major: Business with a management concentration
Hometown: Connell, Wash.
Clubs/Activities: ASLC Club Director, Activities Council, Club Charter Committee chair, Snowboard/Ski Club president and founder, Community Service Volunteer Coordinator, Phi Sigma Sigma committee head and judicial board representative, Republican Club leader, IM captain
Goals for next year: Campus involvement, better communication lines, be approachable, follow through with plans, helpful for all students, welcome others’ views, team commitment, campus and Greek life issues
T. Craig Sinclair
Major: Political science
Hometown: Redmond, Wash.
Clubs/Activities: One of a hundred on Barack Obama’s national “College Steering Committee,” Founder and president of a winning sports club, club presidents, vice president of SPURS, ASLC Senator, Senate President Pro-tempore, Linfield Activities Council
Goals for next year: Fresh ideas for the ASLC, such as Linfield “Town Hall” meetings and adding a Lecture Chair to LAB to bring more lecturers to campus; improve teacher retention and make Linfield a place professors want to teach; make Linfield more environmentally friendly by exploring the possibility of getting solar panels and bring mixed recycling into all receptacles
Hometown: Vancouver, Wash.
Clubs/Activities: ASLC senator, football player, track and field athlete, Kappa Sigma Fraternity member
Goals for next year: Create an open forum and strong connection with students, address food service and meal plan issues, maintain strong connection with Greek Life and boost Wildcat spirit.
Dylan “Race” Packer
Hometown: Watsonville, Calif.
Clubs/Activities: Class vice president sophomore year, president junior year, head prefect and junior prefect senior year, JV Soccer team captain (all during high school)
Goals for next year: (unable to obtain)
Major: Political science
Hometown: Renton, Wash.
Clubs/Activities: ASLC senator
Goals for next year: Will come to students to find out what changes they want to see, will make change and new legislation an active and regular occurrence.
Major: Political science
Hometown: Bellevue, Wash.
Clubs/Activities: ASLC Senator, Committee Chair for the Senate Standing Rules and Bylaws Committee, January Term Residence Adviser, Kappa Sigma Fraternity member, Student representative to the student and faculty Curriculum Committee, Pi Sigma Alpha: National Political Honor Society member, Pi Gamma Mu: National Social Science Honor Society member, S.P.U.R.S. Service Honor Society member, Dean’s List
Goals for next year: Accountability and effectiveness in senate, clarifying parking rules and regulations, following through with the visiting hours and overnight guest policy changes, moving campus toward being environmentally sustainable, maintaining a positive image of the Greek community.
With most students receiving their first graded work of the semester around this time, student and professor expectations are key topics in the classroom.
The process of grading can be difficult on both professor and student, and is an important subject across the country right now concerning professors’ requirements and students’
“Times are changing in how students are taught in their secondary education,” sophomore Lacey Dean said. “It is difficult for them to follow along in courses if their professors don’t teach the same way they are used to.”
Teachers generally reward student effort with As in high school classes, but A-worthy work in the classroom may translate to C work at Linfield. If a student only finishes requirements listed on the syllabus, he or she is only accomplishing the bare minimum. Some professors believe this does not deserve an A.
“Passing a class in college used to be getting a C,” Dean said. “But students don’t really have that mentality anymore. We are very much socialized to recognize As and Bs as acceptable grades.”
Changing that mentality is important as professors tend to differ in how they grade students. Some prefer straight grading, where percentages are clearly defined as to what is an A, B, C and so forth. However, curve grading gives the top percentage of the class As, the next tier Bs, and so on. The top percentage, however, may only be earning an 85 percent, but that still constitutes top marks in that particular course.
Victoria McGillin, vice president of academic affairs and dean of faculty, said grading is all about communication between instructor and student. Professors should make the point to clarify what his or her expectations are in the syllabus and students should make sure to communicate any discrepancies, McGillin said.
“In high school, students tend to be rewarded for
effort,” McGillin said. “But knowledge and skills have to be demonstrated, no matter how hard you work.”
She used the example of a nursing student who may put forth a great deal of effort, but never truly masters the art of his or her work. That nursing student would not be successful working in a hospital, even though he or she made a valid attempt.
For the past 10 years, a phenomenon in the teaching field has been the practice of setting rubrics, similar to curve grading. The problem with it is it leaves out the possibility to fairly adjust grading when a student goes beyond what is required. It is also difficult to list all expectations a syllabus because it leaves out the unexpected.
“We can devise some sort of framework that gives the appearance of objectivity,” Tom Love, department chair and professor of sociology and anthropology, said. “But in fact it hides some of the evaluative nature of
Love said one of the advantages of teaching at a small school is the ability to get to know your students and understand how they work. It is then easier to open the lines of communication.
“Each student is unique and can’t be compared,” Love said. “Right up front both student and professor should be clear about standards and expectations.”
Love and McGillin both stressed the importance of approaching faculty members when grading problems arise, as it could very likely be a misunderstanding or miscommunication. If the professor of the specific course is unable to fix the problem, the department chair would become involved and McGillin would then intervene.
Dean, a sociology major, understands how problems may arise when students accomplish everything on the syllabus and want an A, even though they only did what was considered typical work.
“If you want to do average work, you get a C,” she said. “If you want to do a little more you get a B. If you want to be extraordinary, then you can get the A.”
Marking a time of transition for the Linfield music ensembles, the absence of a full-time choir director has left Masterworks Chorale disbanded. For students with music scholarships, this has meant a re-evaluation of their participation in the music department.
The chorale, an ensemble that met once weekly and was composed of both Linfield students and McMinnville community members, provided a place for participants to sing at a level that was less advanced than the Linfield Concert Choir.
The group was discontinued not only for reasons of budget and enrollment, but because of the effect had by the departure of former director Larry Marsh, Faun Tiedge, professor of music and department chair, said.
“It was truly Dr. Marsh’s chorale,” she said. “Many community members left with him.”
Marsh retired in 2008 after 27 years of service.
Unfortunately, this decision has had an additional effect on music students, as the chorale had been an alternative for those on scholarship to fulfill their requirements if the college’s other three large ensembles—Concert Choir, Concert Band and the Linfield Chamber Orchestra—suited neither their interests nor their schedules.
Junior Melissa Davaz was one of the students affected. While her musical interests are primarily vocal, her spring-semester schedule only allowed involvement in the Concert Band.
Picking up a clarinet for the first time since high school, Davaz is also learning to play percussion. The feat, which she said is a challenge with her packed schedule, is not one she planned for.
Davaz said she learned of the ensemble’s discontinuance just three weeks before the start of the term. Although the department informed students of their alternatives, she said she felt the details of these other options were overly vague considering what is asked of the members of any ensemble.
“You have to commit a lot of hours,” she said. “With the change we [as student members] have had to jump through some hoops, but
because we love music, we’re willing to put up with these [problems].”
From the standpoint of a faculty member, Tiedge said she believes the standards surrounding music scholarships had become lax in recent years in an effort to build up the choir’s enrollment number. This, she said, is what has led to some confusion on the part of chorale members.
“In the past, students have been spoiled with flexibility,” she said.
Because the reputation that precedes the Linfield Concert Choir, Tiedge said she expects students to make rehearsal time a priority in order to maintain its high standing among its peers.
As for Masterworks Chorale, Tiedge said she is optimistic for the chorale’s
return to Linfield curriculum in the future. She said the ensemble’s character will be re-evaluated based on the goals of the new full-time choir director, once he or she is hired.
“The choir will gain renewed energy with this break,” she said.
Currently, the department is conducting an open search for a new director.
In the meantime, Anna Song, adjunct director of choir activities, has taken on the position part-time and is directing a new section of the Concert Choir that Tiedge said she hopes will provide an acceptable alternative to the discontinued ensemble.
This new section will allow students to gain experience singing in a smaller group and give them a chance to work with an accompanist, Tiedge said.
She also said the department has made an effort to maintain the level of community interaction Masterworks Chorale achieved by providing a practice space for the newly formed “Vintage Voices,” an adult jazz choir directed by Dana Libonati, director of the Linfield Jazz Choir.
Both students and staff said they realized the importance of this outreach.
Davaz said she thought this link to community members was one of the things she enjoyed most about Masterworks Chorale, also said these members are who she first thought when she heard that the ensemble had been disbanded.
As the music department makes its transition to new faculty members, Tiedge said much effort will be placed into continuing to provide students with ample opportunity to participate in a high level of music education.
“We have to have the quality meet the commitment,” she said.
Linfield President Thomas Hellie said he received confirmation of the college’s re-accreditation in January.
“It was good news, and we were pleased that this all worked out,” Hellie said. “[Accreditation] is really important for the college because you simply can’t function if you don’t have [it].”
Dean of Enrollment Services Dan Preston, who was co-chair on the Accreditation Steering Committee, said. Linfield is assured to have its accreditation confirmed. He said for an institution not to be accredited translates into its downfall, and it means not having its peers consider the education provided to be worthy of a postsecondary degree.
An evaluation committee qualified by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities assessed Linfield’s self-study last fall. Committees worked between meetings drafting reports, collecting information and writing new policies. A lot of effort went into creating the self-study Preston said.
“If you really want to get a full picture of where the college is right now, you would look at the self-study,” Hellie said.
The college will present the commission with updates on the institution’s improvements Hellie said.
“That is standard procedure,” Hellie said. “In this day and age you never really stop trying to measure your progress and report on it.”
The commission made a number of observations about the college, Hellie said, including the strong sense of community, the commitment of faculty and staff to helping students and the curriculum at Linfield.
“[The Commission] said it was an outstanding curriculum, and they talked about how well taken care of our buildings and grounds are,” Hellie said.
Re-accreditation approval did not surprise him, but Preston said he was relieved. He said not being accredited or even being put on probation has ripple effects.
“Even schools that have accreditation but are put on probation immediately lose the public’s trust, interest in the college drops, enrollment stops and giving slows down,” he said. “So to not be [re-accredited] probably would have meant very dire circumstances.”
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In these tough economic times, colleges across the nation are experiencing the effects, but Linfield, when compared with others, is staying financially stable.
As a result of the recession, the college’s endowment decreased by 24 percent, but Glenn Ford, vice president of business and finance, said Linfield has faired better than comparable institutions. He said across the country similar schools have suffered, on average a 26 percent loss in their endowments.
The funds come from friends and alumni of Linfield and totaled $54
million as of December 2008.
In a recession, Ford said it is beneficial for Linfield to have a smaller endowment because the college relies less on these funds to satisfy operating costs, unlike with sister institutions.
Ford said the college has maintained its endowment because of a savvy investment committee and a quality long-term asset allocation strategy. He said the committee continuously strives to keep a diverse portfolio by investing in both domestic and international entities.
Ford said the budget committee recently approved the college’s budget for the 09-10 academic year, which included a 5.9 percent increase in tuition. This increase is on par to the amount tuition increases every year. The January Term fee will also increase 6.25 percent.
To allow for greater financial need in the coming school year, the budget hearing committee increased the school’s financial aid budget by 7.4 percent.
“This is the year the crisis has really hit,” Dan Preston, dean of enrollment, said.
Preston said enrollment between semesters has remained consistent, but that most private colleges are anxious to know where their numbers are projected to be this fall.
“Students are flocking to low budget colleges,” he said of students starting college this year. “During recessions, when jobs get tight, more and more people go back for training.”
Preston said the college expects returning students to apply for more financial aid as loss of income and unemployment leave less money available for college. The Office of Financial Aid will help students with increased financial need on a case-by-case basis, he said.
Students will see a welcomed cost cut in the disintegration of the $50 January Term holding fee. Ford said this is a result of recommendations by Associated Students of Linfield College President Chris Schuldt, who carried student opinion to the ears of the Trustees.
“It shows that students really can make a difference,” Ford said. “[Schuldt] represented the student body very well.”
Ford said it is difficult to predict at what point the economy will improve, but Preston said the new stimulus package will provide some assistance to low-income students and changes in tax credits that may also aid students.