LAS program to shake things up

by Amy Zoss

The Liberal Arts Seminar classes next fall will get a little more help because of a change in the program that will add another seminar assistant to every class.

LAS classes, required for all freshmen students, are limited to 18 students in order to help create a small-group atmosphere. But “it’s hard to take 18 people under your wing – who has wings that big?” said Sal Meyers, new director of LAS and associate professor of psychology.

Meyers spent her sabbatical preparing to take over as LAS director.

According to Meyers, next year’s LAS classes will now have two seminar assistants instead of one. “Nine students are easier to keep track of on campus,” said Meyers. By reducing the number of students each assistant is responsible for, the assistants can form closer relationships.

Assistants have always been present for fall orientation, and the LAS encouraged students to attend things the freshmen students knew were required but “didn’t necessarily see value in,” said Meyers.

The seminar assistants will now take a one-credit class during the second half of the spring 2003 semester to help them plan fall orientation, a move to make them a more integral part of this event and learn how to teach studying in groups.

“The best way to learn is to talk about information with others,” said Meyers. “Quiz each other, seek out ways of applying what you’ve read to your lives, or to the kinds of examples you might see on a test.”

Next September, each seminar assistant will have a weekly meeting with their first year students to work on group study skills. The hope is that most of the LAS students will continue to meet and study together, said Meyers, but they want students to be able to set up and run study groups outside of the LAS Program.

Meyers also plans to make more options available to the faculty for how they go about meeting program goals. According to Meyers, there has always been flexibility in how the faculty works to meet program goals, but she wasn’t sure the entire faculty felt that way.

The increased flexibility will allow professors to meet goals in a way that is “consistent with their philosophy of teaching as well as the course content.” said Meyers.

Currently there are six goals to meet in the seminar. The goals are not changing entirely, however they are still in draft form and might change because “we’re not going to include goals that we don’t have everybody supporting and believing in,” said Meyers.

Loosely, the six goals include:

* Academic support – making sure the student has good study skills.

* Library resources – using the library effectively.

* Counseling and career services – making post-graduation plans.

* Conversations about community – participating in a service project and learning about the value of community involvement.

*Conversations about the liberal arts -understanding the value of a liberal arts education.

* Connecting with the Simpson Community – getting involved with the Simpson campus, getting to know the faculty and fellow students.

Every year, 20 classes are designated as LAS classes. Maria DiPalma, chair of the department of music and professor of music, has been involved with the LAS program since its inception. She said the LAS program has always been about a few fundamental things, including the camaraderie students develop in the classes and the connection they make with their potential future advisors.

Freshman Brett Heltne took his LAS class with Tobias Winright, assistant professor of religion. He said that he has formed close friendships with several of the students from his LAS class.

“I thought it was a good class to take to help you get used to the school,” said Heltne.


The completed application is due by 4:30 p.m., Friday, Jan. 31, 2003 in the Student Development Office.

Sign up for an interview when you turn in your application

Interviews the week of Feb. 3 – 7

Selection of Seminar Assistants will be announced on Feb. 18, 2003. All applicants will receive notice by mail at that time.

uApplication available from in

pdf format. The application is also available in Student Development

Office. (Check box for seminar assistant doubles as application for

Summer Orientation leader)

uApplication contains questions about wor experience and previous

faculty contacts.

uAlso applicants must answer 3 essay questions (on the application).

Contact Sal Meyers, Director of the First Year Program (x1743, [email protected]