Freshmen drop pilot seminar

Enrollment for the Truman Symposium pilot test has dropped from 220 freshmen students to 130, a decrease of 41 percent.

In an effort to restructure the freshman experience, professors from across Truman State University’s campus came together and designed the Truman Symposium, a semester-long course that will replace Truman Days. This semester, the symposium is being tested with Ryle Hall freshmen and it will become a campus-wide requirement in fall 2019.

Since the start of the symposium trial in August, about 90 freshmen have dropped the course. Scott Alberts, chair of the Truman Symposium committee, said because this is a pilot test, it is not required for this year’s freshmen to complete it. However, this one-credit course will be a graduation requirement for freshman students starting fall 2019.

“The fact that half stayed, I’m pretty excited about that,” Alberts said. “In fact, we didn’t even ask them to enroll. Everybody from Ryle was put in a section, and then they show up the first day, and I sort of say, ‘Welcome, you don’t have to be here.’ Especially a lot of freshmen who are stressed out and they have other things going on and they think about dropping a class anyways, so this makes sense to be the [one].”

Alberts said the 130 students still enrolled in the symposium are taking the course as a bonus credit. The credit is earned by attending a weekly hour-long lecture and presentation series every Tuesday evening, followed by an hour-long discussion group led by Ryle student advisors, and by completing an online assignment. Students complete the online assignment by building a web page to promote increased digital fluency among Truman students.

Philosophy and religion professor Chad Mohler hosted the first session of the Truman Symposium in August. Mohler said he and four other professors came together to host a presentation on beauty as a way to showcase the idea of liberal arts through small lectures from a wide variety of departments.

Mohler said the presentation, while a great collective idea, turned out to be more ambitious than the five professors expected. He said the session lasted about 65 minutes, and because it consisted of five small lectures on diverse topics, it might have been too long for the designated time frame.

“This is a learning process for all of us,” Mohler said. “I think it is commendable that [Alberts] along with the other committee members, decided that it would be best to try out this trial, to experiment on different things, to see what works and what doesn’t.”

For more, pick up a copy of The Index on Thursday, Sept. 27.