On Campus: Campus News

New Initiatives Seek to Ease Access for Transfer Students

Southwestern officials hope several new initiatives will encourage more community college students to transfer to Southwestern to further their education.

This spring, Southwestern signed an agreement with the Austin Community College District that will make it easier for honors students from ACC to transfer to the University. The agreement clearly spells out which ACC courses will be accepted by Southwestern if students want to transfer to the University.

“This will help students at ACC know which courses to take if they are interested in continuing their education at Southwestern,” says Ron Swain, chair of the task force that worked out the agreement with ACC.

Under the terms of the agreement, any student enrolled in ACC’s Honors Program who has completed 24 hours of coursework and has a 3.4 cumulative GPA will be automatically granted admission to Southwestern. There currently are more than 1,200 students in ACC’s Honors Program who would be eligible to take advantage of the agreement.

This is the first “articulation agreement” that Southwestern University has signed with a community college. University officials hope to pursue similar agreements with other community colleges in the near future.

Southwestern also plans to use an $85,000 gift from Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corporation to help market the University to community college students. The money will be used to print new recruitment materials targeted to transfer students, and to organize special visitation days for transfer students and community college administrators who work with transfer students.

In addition, Southwestern will use some of the money to create a new academic course designed specifically for transfer students. The course will help acclimate transfer students to the academic demands of a liberal arts college.

Southwestern officials say they have several reasons for pursuing these various initiatives to attract community college students. One is to help increase the diversity of Southwestern’s student body, which is one of the goals of the Strategic Plan for 2010.

“Over the years, we have found that the quality of students who transfer to Southwestern is amazing and diverse, in both their life and educational experiences,” says Christine Kettle Bowman ’93, associate director of admission, who works with transfer students. “Transfer students, especially those from community colleges, have embraced the liberal arts and become active members within the Southwestern community and made the education a richer experience for everyone.”

Southwestern Partners with College Forward to Help Low-Income High School Students Prepare For College

Southwestern University has partnered with an Austin-based organization called College Forward to help low-income students prepare for college.

College Forward provides free college preparatory services to motivated, economically disadvantaged students. Services it provides include preparation for college entrance exams, assistance with college applications, assistance securing financial aid, and support once students get to college.

Southwestern will help College Forward recruit college students who can work with the organization as AmeriCorps volunteers. The University also will host local events for the organization such as its “College 101” class for parents and practice sessions for students who need to take college entrance exams.

College Forward has been serving students in the Hays Consolidated Independent School District south of Austin since 2003. The partnership with Southwestern will enable it to serve students at Georgetown High School. The organization also hopes to establish a partnership with Stony Point High School in Round Rock.

In anticipation of the partnership with Southwestern, College Forward began working with 21 juniors from Georgetown High School in January. To participate in the program, students must be in the top 60 percent of their class, be the first in their family to earn a bachelor’s degree, or be eligible for subsidized school lunches.

“We have a population of students who have the potential to go to college but no one in their family has experience doing this or knows where to begin,” says Alan Oakes, an at-risk coordinator at GHS who initiated the high school’s partnership with College Forward. “We take students with aptitude and fill in the gaps.”

Oakes said response to the program has been excellent. “The students appreciate the support and parents are ecstatic to have this service available here,” he says.

Oakes and Lisa Fielder, executive director of College Forward, say they expect the number of Georgetown High School students participating in the program to increase to 50 in the fall. This will require at least five mentors from Southwestern.

“Exposure to students from Southwestern will give our students a glimpse into what the life of the mind can be like,” Fielder says. “It is great to be affiliated with a school that will value the intellect of our students and will nurture that intellect.”

Southwestern’s partnership with College Forward will complement its existing Upward Bound program, which also helps prepare prospective first-generation college students.

For more information on College Forward, visit www.collegeforward.org.

Former Secretary of State Gives 2007 Shilling Lecture

James Baker III, the former secretary of state who most recently served as co-chair of the Iraq Study Group, presented the 2007 Shilling Lecture in April. In his lecture, titled “The Case for Pragmatic Idealism,” Baker warned that the United States must be careful to avoid what he called “strategic overextension.”

“While the United States may be the most powerful country in the history of the world, it is not omnipotent,” he said.

He said his approach to foreign policy, which he called “pragmatic idealism,” appreciates the complexity of the real world. He offered American policymakers 10 “maxims” for confronting global challenges in the coming years. Among these: Be prepared to act unilaterally if the situation requires it; Value the importance of allies; Use all means at our disposal (including non-military ones); Recognize that sometimes the United States will have to deal with authoritarian regimes; Be prepared to talk with our enemies; Be prepared to change course if necessary; and, finally, Remember that domestic political support is vital to foreign policy.

Alumna Delivers 2007 Commencement Address

Gwen Griffin Sherman ’80, who serves as director of finance and administration for the Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, returned to campus in May to give the 2007 commencement address.

In her speech, titled “The Power of One,” Sherman told graduates how she had learned through her work with the Gates Foundation that individuals can truly make a difference in the world.

As an example of this, she cited Dr. Paul Farmer, whose work is chronicled in the national bestseller Mountains Beyond Mountains. Farmer grew up in Alabama, one of six children to a family of very modest means. While in college at Duke, he became interested in the issues of migrant labor camps not far from the university. His work with the camp residents eventually kindled a lifetime quest to serve the people of Haiti, who are among the poorest in the world. After graduating from Harvard Medical School, Farmer established a medical facility in Haiti called Zanmi Lasante, which is Creole for “Partners in Health.”

A few years ago, Bill and Melinda Gates visited Dr. Farmer’s facility and were so impressed by his work that they asked him to come to Seattle to teach others about his approaches that were revolutionizing global health care, particularly in the area of multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis. Sherman had the chance to hear him speak to staff members of the Gates Foundation, and said his story “helps us see that it is possible to make progress against even very big problems in the areas of life where you feel called to serve.”

She told graduates that there are countless ways to serve, whether it be as educators, public servants, business leaders, artists, social service caregivers or scientists.

Three hundred sixteen May and August graduates received degrees at the ceremony.

To read the full text of Sherman’s address, go to http://www.southwestern.edu/alumni/2007_SU_Commencement_Address_Sherman.pdf

Southwestern Magazine Recognized

Southwestern received seven awards this spring from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), including an award for Southwestern magazine. Southwestern received Grand Gold Awards for Homecoming 2006 and the online “Affordability Estimator,” which gives prospective students and their parents an estimate of what it will cost them to attend the University.