Faculty summit explores student engagement


Among the speakers at the Faculty Summit on Student Engagement were, from the left, Tim Francisco, associate professor of Journalism; Christine Kotapish of the Trumbull County Action Program; Jeanine Mincher, assistant professor of Human Ecology; Joy Polkabla-Byers, director of Campus Recreation and Student Programming; and Jacob Stanley of Housing and Residence Life.

Not too long ago, education was a passive process – teacher in front of the class lecturing, students in their seats taking notes.

“Today, it’s all much more active,” said Betty Jo Licata, dean of the YSU Williamson College of Business Administration. “There’s a lot of give and take.”

That “give and take” – commonly known in higher ed as “engagement” – was the topic of a faculty summit earlier this month in Kilcawley Center that explored new and innovative ways in which faculty are engaging students to improve teaching, research and service on campus.

Engagement between faculty/staff and students and the university and community are key elements in both the YSU 2020 Strategic Plan and the Academic Strategic Plan.

At the summit, moderated by Licata, panels consisting of faculty and staff members talked about their experiences and successes in engaging students in ways that better connect them and the university to the world and better prepare them for life after school.

Jeanine Mincher, assistant professor of Human Ecology, said the dietetics program offers an array of internship opportunities for students to work with a variety of community organizations. “We try to work with organizations to not only help them achieve their goals but also to help us achieve our goals in terms of providing real world experiences for our students,” she said.

Joy Polkabla-Byers, director of Campus Recreation and Student Programming, talked about the Emerging Leaders Program in which students complete a series of workshops and community service projects to help develop leadership skills. Students earn a leadership certificate. “Employers want to see applicants with this kind of training,” she said.

And Tim Francisco, associate professor of Journalism, talked about the NewsOutlet, a program founded in 2009 in which YSU student interns report on stories that are published in The Vindicator and other area news media. Interns, through writing stories about the lives and challenges of people in the region, are tightly engaged with the community, he said.

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