Jake B. Schrum, President, Southwestern University

Helping Students Succeed

By the time you receive this magazine, we will have completed construction of our new Wilhelmina Cullen Admission Center. In addition to being our first “green” building on campus, we hope this building will provide a good first impression about Southwestern to prospective students and their families.

However, it’s not enough to just recruit students. We need to make sure that their experience at Southwestern is a positive one—from the day they arrive on campus until the day they graduate. I’m pleased that we continue to develop programs designed to accomplish this.

This fall marked the 10th anniversary of our First-Year Seminar program at Southwestern. While certainly not unique among colleges, we have put our own mark on this program in which all incoming students participate. Where else can students learn the skills necessary to succeed in college by studying subjects as diverse as chocolate or surfing? This program has helped students form bonds with professors and other students that often last a lifetime—and in some cases, even influence their career paths.

Four years ago, we extended our First-Year Seminars beyond the walls of the classroom to form Living-Learning Communities, in which students live in the same suite with their First-Year Seminar classmates. Participation in Living-Learning Communities has grown each year they have been offered, and this fall we had 176 students from the first-year class participating in 13 Living-Learning Communities. Next year, we will expand the number of Living-Learning Communities to 15 to meet demand for them.

For the first time this fall, we offered our new transfer students the same experience our first-year students get in their First-Year Seminars. The new Advanced Entry Seminars also were offered in Living-Learning Communities to help transfer students quickly form bonds with each other. Initial response to this program—which is part of a larger initiative to recruit and retain transfer students—has been very positive.

This fall we also started a new program to help sophomores, who often fall through the cracks with all the attention given to first-year students and those closer to graduating. The Sophomore Spotlight program includes a combination of educational and social experiences designed to help improve retention of sophomores, and help them assess their strengths as they choose a major at Southwestern.

Two other initiatives we launched this fall are designed to make sure our students succeed academically. The Early Warning System program—which previously targeted only first-year students—has been expanded to target any students who demonstrate early signs of struggling with one or more courses before it is too late for them to make significant improvements.

I hope students and parents alike will appreciate these latest efforts to help our students succeed. As always, we welcome your feedback.

Jake B. Schrum ’68
President, Southwestern University