Queens FYI Program Honored

TIAA-CREF, the premier educational retirement system, recently announced its 1996 Hesburgh Award and four Certificates of Excellence for outstanding faculty development programs. The Award, which honors Notre Dame's former president, Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, went to Syracuse University for its transformation to a student-centered research university.

Queens College garnered a Certificate of Excellence for its Freshman Year Initiative (FYI), a program now in its fourth year that was designed to increase the freshman retention rate. Other Certificate winners were Columbia College, the University of Michigan and the Virginia Community College System.

Designed to nurture a community of learning, FYI is organized around a three-course block of 40 students, four or five faculty members, and several upper-class teaching assistants. Enrollment is currently about 400 freshmen in nine blocks ranging over 15 disciplines, but plans are to enlarge and adapt the program to serve all of the College's 1,700 entering freshmen next fall.

The 40 full- and part-time faculty now associated with FYI meet regularly to exchange course materials, chart student progress, and design new freshman courses. Experimenting with new pedagogies and technologies, these scholars sit in on each otherUs courses and work together on projects. Several have even taken roles alongside freshmen in FYI theatrical productions.

"These students are so familiar with each other that they participate in class as a class and not as a conglomeration of 40 individuals," says Queens Professor of Music Edward Smaldone. "Their responsiveness has driven a path through my curriculum." And, he adds, "We are all learning more." For more information, contact FYI's Director, Prof. Judith Summerfield, at Queens.