UVM to offer new first-year program

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Students study in the fireplace lounge at Living and Learning April 4. All first-year students may be required to live in programmed housing similar to L/L. RYAN THORNTON/The Vermont Cynic

[/media-credit] Students study in the fireplace lounge at Living and Learning April 4. All first-year students may be required to live in programmed housing similar to L/L. RYAN THORNTON/The Vermont Cynic

The first-year experience will soon include programmed housing, tutoring services and college transition courses.

Provost David Rosowsky announced in both a March 23 faculty email and a January memo sent to faculty that changes will be made in order “to create a positive, seamless academic and

co-curricular student experience” for first-years.

First, there will be a new Academic Success Center which will bring together the orientation program, a new first-year experience program, tutoring services and the new advising center.

The Academic Success Center will be led by Associate Director of Student Life and Orientation

Director Dani Comey and a new Provost’s Faculty Fellow for Advising and the First-Year Experience.

“This will be sort of an umbrella department for overseeing things like undergraduate orientation, the summer reading, convocation, welcome week and the new advising in the Davis Center,” said Annie Stevens, vice provost for student affairs.

There currently is no location for the Center, Stevens said.

Lastly will be the addition of a first-year course focusing on the transition from high school to college.

Further, administrators want to have all first-year students living in programmed or themed housing by 2018, Rosowsky said.

Programmed housing is when students live together and study an assigned theme outside of classes, according to UVM programmed housing’s website.

“We really want to mash together the curricular and co-curricular experience,” Rosowsky

said. “So much growth and discovery happens in the residential halls.”

Residential halls that are not already set up like Living/ Learning will have broader themes and will not require applications. They will incorporate peer mentoring and increased faculty engagement, according to the memo.

This change will expand programmed housing and not restrict upperclassmen from getting into residential programs, Rosowsky said.

Students appeared cautious about requiring first-year students to live in programmed housing.

“I don’t think it’s necessary,” said first-year Robert Rice, who lives in Sci-fi house. “I like L/L, but I’ve made just as many or more friends outside my program.”IMG_1872 copy

First-year Maria Kerchner, who lives in Harris Millis, said she likes her community.

“I think [themed housing] might lead to cliques, and if people don’t make friends with the people in their community, they might feel stuck,” Kerchner said.

Rosowsky and Stevens said the changes come as part of an effort to give first-years a stronger, seamless, enhanced experience as well as get them on the right track to graduate.

Rice was skeptical about the changes in general and the administration’s motivations.

“The administration tries too hard to get a certain image, like the whole ‘Public Ivy’ thing,” he said.