As you probably know, we are in the midst of a number of profound changes to our calendar and curriculum. While invigorating and exciting, these changes bring substantial challenges. And so I want to take a moment to congratulate our faculty and staff for embracing this important work. They know as well as anyone that change—and the inevitable risks that come with it—can result in outstanding new opportunities for teaching and learning.
It was risky to alter the way we’ve done things for years by shifting from terms to semesters. To transform our general education program from top to bottom. To rethink every major and minor on campus.
But without risk, progress is impossible. That’s why developing a culture of risktaking is a key tenet of our strategic plan. I’m confident that cultivating a creative, entrepreneurial culture will reap extraordinary benefits for our students and the future of the College—especially as we recruit in an increasingly competitive environment.
In this issue, you’ll find the stories of several faculty who teach by example the importance of risk-taking. They’ve all broken from traditional curricula to challenge their students to grow in new and important ways. These stories represent a mix of our most accomplished senior faculty (and Ruge Fellows) as well as junior faculty who realize they have found a place where their new ideas are welcomed and valued.
And North Central is the kind of place where students can take risks, too, crossing disciplines and pursuing their passions with the encouragement of faculty and staff.
That’s what North Central is all about, so you’ll continue to hear about this kind of work in the future. For example, our introductory biology class has been radically redesigned to give potential biology majors an early and meaningful experience of what it means to think and act like a scientist. Instead of centering on a textbook, the course will consist of hands-on research on the West Nile Virus, and the students’ findings will be shared with public health officials in Naperville and DuPage County.
This represents the very best kind of community engaged learning—one of the key goals of our transition to semesters and a thoughtful new curriculum.
North Central College is an exciting place to be, now more than ever. I invite you to join us on campus soon!
Troy D. Hammond, Ph.D. President Professor of Physics