Great faculty, great results for our students

Great faculty, great results for our students

Great faculty, great results for our students
Dr. Jacque Carter

By Dr. Jacque Carter

Remember, if you will, what it’s like to learn.

Isn’t it something?

To make connections. To find doors unlocked and new worlds to explore. To be so fervently curious, excited and—most importantly—engaged in now, next and forever.

Learning put Doane University on the map in the first place and it is learning—so basic but so infinite—that we pride ourselves on still because of nationally recognized faculty at arm’s length and on a first-name basis with students in our classrooms.

ClassroomTo this day I still recall my own undergraduate experience when a special art history professor took extra time to open my eyes to the exquisite beauty of Flemish paintings.  And then there was a special biology professor whose Carl Sagan-like enthusiasm for fishes and the sea inspired my lifelong career as a marine biologist. These faculty members not only taught me—they believed in me—and that made all the difference! 

My experience is not isolated, nor is it unique. The facts in a recent Gallup-Purdue Index Report show just how important it is to choose a school where students can have a close connection with professors.

The study, titled “Life in College Matters for Life After College,” reveals what we’ve known all along—if faculty bond with students and vice versa, it pays dividends time and time again (even later in life) for those learners.

Take this excerpt from Gallup’s write-up on the report:

"...the study found that support and experiences in college had more of a relationship to long-term outcomes for these college graduates. For example, if graduates recalled having a professor who cared about them as a person, made them excited about learning, and encouraged them to pursue their dreams, their odds of being engaged at work more than doubled, as did their odds of thriving in all aspects of their well-being. And if graduates had an internship or job in college where they were able to apply what they were learning in the classroom, were actively involved in extracurricular activities and organizations, and worked on projects that took a semester or more to complete, their odds of being engaged at work doubled as well."

Why mess with those odds?

A Doane education prepares students to be active participants and leaders—not passive followers.

This is why “lifelong learning” is not a catch phrase at Doane. Here, our liberal arts and sciences education benefits students by virtue of personal engagement; it challenges young minds to never stop learning and grow, grow and then grow some more.

We don’t just place awesome professors in front of students. We put them in classrooms where students and professors can engage directly, as opposed to the alternative—crowded lecture halls—which creates an unnecessary divide between instructor and student that distances learning.

You should experience learning, and that doesn’t mean restricting you to lonely nights tucked in the corner of the library nose deep in books (Sure, there will be a few of those days!). At Doane, students experience learning through active engagement with faculty who not only care but push you to new heights. We build time into our curriculum to allow for internships and study abroad, which enrich the lessons you learn from our faculty on this beautiful, 140-year-old campus.

And our School of Arts and Sciences in Crete is specifically for residential undergraduates, so our faculty is here—first and foremost—to advise and teach. That means students are always the priority.

Our graduates certainly leave with that feeling. Results of an outside survey of our young alumni (graduating classes 2002-12) show that Doane empowered them with a life rooted in intellectual inquiry and growth. Seven out of eight responded positively about their undergraduate experience. Specifically, 89 percent of the alumni responded “very positive” or “positive” to being “very prepared for interpersonal or family life as a result of (the) Doane experience.” Another 89 percent were “very positive” or “positive” about how “Doane contributed a great deal” in developing them to be “working as a member of a team”—which is the definition of being engaged as a professional.

And while the liberal arts and sciences education gives our students a broad base of knowledge, Doane is very good at steering students to their desired career field. In the same survey, 70 percent of responders said their first career-oriented jobs after graduation were directly related to their undergraduate concentrations.

This is why building relationships with and learning from great faculty is so transformative.

I could tell you how much it means to Doane to have scientists like Dr. Andrea Holmes teaching and working with undergraduates on National Science Foundation-funded research in our campus labs.

I could talk at length about how Dr. Marilyn Johnson-Farr, our Dwight E. Porter Professor of Education, impacts students’ lives and produces some of the best teachers in the state of Nebraska.

I could explain why Associate Professor of Practice in Journalism David Swartzlander, the former president of the College Media Association, is so instrumental in guiding our student journalists through experiential learning through travel, like his guided trips to the presidential inaugurations in Washington D.C. every four years.

Or you could see this all for yourself.

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