Newman Studies Program change provides more flexibility for students

Apr 02, 2015

The Newman University faculty approved a change to the Newman Studies Program (NSP) March 27, 2015 that will allow students to take capstone courses once they have achieved sophomore status.

The program culminates in four capstone courses, commonly called core courses or NSP courses. Currently, to take a capstone course a student must have either junior or senior status and have completed all of the skills level courses. Students taking capstone courses must still have completed the skills level courses. This change is anticipated to help students graduate on time by allowing them to take capstone courses earlier in their academic careers.

“The change will help students plan their schedules to take Newman Studies capstone courses at more convenient times during their academic careers. It says to our students that we acknowledge the difficulty that they were having with scheduling and want to make it easier for them,”  said Newman Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael Austin, Ph.D.

Newman Professor of Ancient History and NSP Committee member Cheryl Golden, Ph.D. said Newman students asked faculty a year ago to look into scheduling concerns.

“The faculty took up the question at various levels: Divisions, NSP Committee and at Academic Assembly,” Golden said. “After much debate and deliberation, faculty responded with the decision that students who had successfully completed the skills component of the curriculum [writing, math, communication, IT] could begin the core level of the NSP as early as their sophomore year.

“We realize that our students progress through their course of study at NU at different paces,” Golden added. “Core courses may now be taken over the course of three years rather than just the final two years of a typical four-year degree plan. Transfer students should also see more flexibility in scheduling as the university explores innovative ways to deliver these courses in partnership with junior colleges in the region.”

The latest change allowing for more scheduling flexibility is the second update to the program since the start of the 2014-15 term. Last fall semester, faculty also approved a change to the NSP that would allow each major to embed one major specific course to count as one of the NSP capstone courses.

“These changes were in response to feedback received the previous year from concerned students as well as discussions that took place during Academic Assembly (faculty) meetings over the fall 2014 semester,” said Newman Dean of the College of Undergraduate Studies David Shubert, Ph.D.

NSP was created to help Newman students better develop the skills that employers say are their greatest need. The American Council on Education points to a study by Hart Research Associates that says employers overwhelmingly agree that postsecondary graduates’ ability to “demonstrate capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than their undergraduate major. Employers strongly endorse the combination of broad learning and a specialized field, and they believe all students need a foundation in the liberal arts and sciences.”

“The Newman Studies Program helps students acquire the skills they will need to be successful, not just in their first job, but throughout their lives,” Austin said. “It focuses on learning how to synthesize information and think critically about important issues, which are the very skills that employers are telling us they need the most.”