September is a time to look forward: to a new academic year, with a record first-year class, the upcoming inauguration, new colleagues, and creative plans. But with each bend in the road there is always reason to glance back at the trails that we have travelled, all the more this month as we mark the tenth anniversary of 9/11. I've included a few reflections here after a visit last weekend to Ground Zero.
There's also a look back at Carol Herrick's annual Registrar's Report for 2010-2011. As always, that report offers some intriguing—and even surprising—data about the academic program. I've provided some snapshots of key facts, and even a bonus question, just for fun.
Many blessings as we undertake another year of work and ministry together.
ABSENCE: A REFLECTION
From Harlem and Morningside Heights, Line 2 of the New York Subway runs under Central Park and Broadway, veering east as it nears Park Place and Ground Zero. For nearly half an hour I kept rereading the ads on both sides of our subway car. One string of placards urged passengers to "Get on the Road to a Bright Future," courtesy of New York's community colleges. . . . Across the aisle, however, the signs were still searching for the silent victims of the past. "Lived There? Worked There? You Deserve Care." Each cardboard placard had a story and a medical checklist—one man's tale of depression, one woman's battle with asthma, another's claim of insomnia and nightmares. A decade after 9/11, health officials were still worried about the lungs—and the R.E.M.—of the survivors.
NEW FACULTY MEMBER: JESSICA MODAFF, DEPARTMENT OF MUSIC
A member of the part-time faculty at Gordon since 2008, Jessica Modaff has now moved into a one-year, full-time role as an instructor in the Department of Music. Jessica completed her undergraduate work at Wheaton College (IL) before earning a Master of Music degree from Boston University. A pianist, she has held accompanist and coach positions for a number of choirs and individual musicians throughout the metro Boston and Chicago areas, performing at Boston's Symphony Hall, New York's Avery Fischer Hall, as well as in England, France, Russia, Slovenia, and Austria.
BRUCE WEBB, PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS, TO RETIRE
Since joining the faculty at Gordon College in 1977, Bruce Webb has taught in the Economics and Business Department, and for the last decade he has led the renewal of the Core curriculum. Facing some health challenges, Bruce has decided to retire at the end of the semester, so let me take a moment at the start of his final term to commend him for his distinguished work over a career that has clearly shown his love for Gordon and the liberal arts. I am pleased that he continues to give leadership this semester to some of the endeavors that he cares so deeply about, including The Great Conversation course. This year he will also work with some economics colleagues on a major study of morality and the free market, supported by a significant grant from the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. Of course, we have reserved a day (November 18) when we can toast (and roast) him . . . at the usual time and place.
DANIELE BERTHOUD TO RETIRE FROM AIX-EN-PROVENCE PROGRAM
For over twenty years Daniele Berthoud has been the one and only director of Gordon's study abroad program in Aix-en-Provence in southern France. She has just announced her decision to retire at the end of this academic year. Designed primarily for French majors, the program allows students to live with host families and to take courses at the Institut d'études de francais pour étudiants étrangers, which is associated with the Université Paul Cézanne. Daniele and her husband Pierre, a retired Old Testament professor at John Calvin Seminary, sent two of their four children to Gordon. As John Skillen observes, "For all of Daniele's strict conscientiousness in performing her duties—her critical French eye and high standards for behavior—the unfailing twinkle in her eye betrays her wry good humor and winsome good will. She leaves a program respected in Aix, and primed for an expanded place in Gordon's set of IN programs."
SHARON KETCHAM ELECTED TO BOARD OF THE ASSOCIATION OF YOUTH MINISTRY EDUCATORS
Congratulations to assistant professor of Christian ministries Sharon Ketcham, who was recently elected to serve a four-year term on the board of the Association of Youth Ministry Educators. She was also elected to chair the organization for the 2012-2013 year. James K. Hampton, professor of youth ministry at Asbury Theological Seminary and current chair of the association, offered the following praise for Sharon: "She brings to the position skills that are vital to successfully lead our organization: extended leadership in youth ministry, recognized scholarship in our discipline, the ability to help reach consensus, proven skill in coordinating large events, and a keen theological mind."
PROVOST'S FORUM: "THE LONG TOUR: THE SPIRITUAL JOURNEY OF GORDON STUDENTS"
At the beginning of August, staff members from several co-curricular departments on campus gathered for the third edition of the Provost’s Forum. The forums seek to communicate current, often surprising data and trends about selected topics in higher education.
Using a Tour de France theme, the most recent forum focused on spiritual formation in higher education and, more specifically, at Gordon. Data and discussion covered four primary topics: the current religious and spiritual landscape of "Millennials," the challenges and obstacles to spiritual growth, perceptions and reality about religious and spiritual decline, and ways to support students in their growth.
To download the presentation and see how you fare on the quiz questions, click here.
FINAL PROVOST'S FILM SERIES: GLIMPSES
After twelve years and over 100 films from 30 nations, this will be the final semester of the Provost’s Film Series. The series will soon become “The Faculty Film Series,” and will be overseen by Rini Cobbey and Toddy Burton, as well as a team of faculty members. The kickoff for the new series will be in December.
For this final semester, we will be featuring three nights of “glimpses,” as faculty members share some of their favorite cinematic scenes and discuss why these scenes challenge and inspire them. And then, in November, I will offer one last event, as I will share my own glimpses of 25 of my favorite moments from the series. Plan to join us for some conversation about the films that have inspired, amused, provoked and moved us.
First set of glimpses: September 29, Barrington Center for the Arts, 7:00 P.M. Scenes chosen by Ian DeWeese-Boyd, Moises Park, Bruce Herman, Greg Carmer, and Nate Baxter.
Second set of glimpses: October 20, Barrington Center for the Arts, 7:00 P.M. Scenes chosen by Tanja Butler, Rini Cobbey, Daniel Johnson, and Emmanuelle Vanborre.
Bryan Auday (right), professor of psychology, has been elected to serve as the chair of the Faculty Senate. Mathematics professor Dick Stout will serve as the vice chair. Ted Hildebrandt, professor of biblical studies, has been chosen to chair the Faculty Welfare Committee, with Andrew Logemann as the vice chair.
THE REGISTRAR'S REPORT:
BY THE NUMBERS
As part of the annual Academic Report, Carol Herrick (right) prepares the Registrar's Report, with plenty of data about the academic programs at the College. You can catch a glimpse of the 2010-2011 academic year by following the numbers from 2,017 to 1 throughout the rest of this Provost's Report. Just to add a little intrigue, let me give you one mystery set of numbers: 30, or 4.6%. The first two persons who let Jerry Logan know what those numbers stand for win the prizes.
Many thanks to Carol for another year compiling all of this complex data into a compact report.
NUMBER OF STUDENTS AT GORDON IN 2010-2011
A surprise? When speaking of enrollment, we are so accustomed to focusing on our fall undergraduate headcount that we can lose sight of all the students enrolled at Gordon, including those studying in overseas programs or enrolled in graduate classes. If you add up the students who took at least one course for credit from Gordon last year, our total headcount surpasses 2,000.
78.6% of our undergraduate students are Caucasian, a slight decrease from four years ago. The largest non-Caucasian increases were among international students (+21 students), African Americans (+11), and Hispanics (+8).
STUDENT CREDIT HOURS TAUGHT BY TED HILDEBRANDT
Once again, Ted tops the list of credit hours taught, followed by departmental colleagues Dave Mathewson (862), Marv Wilson (780), and Elaine Phillips (736). Outside of Biblical Studies, the biggest student credit-hour loads were carried by Rini Cobbey (731), Kent Seibert (695), and Graeme Bird (667).
NUMBER OF CLASSES THAT CAN BE SCHEDULED IN GORDON CLASSROOMS
With 11 class hours in a week and 35 available classrooms, we can schedule 770 classes in a year. The industry standard for use of the classrooms is 70%, which allows some flexibility for special speakers, events, etc. Gordon's usage last year was 71-72%. Of course, this doesn't count all of the smaller classes that meet in offices or at Dunkin' Donuts.
NUMBER OF UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS PURSUING AT LEAST TWO MAJORS
That’s roughly one in every four students in the undergraduate program. Seven students were actually triple majors.
NUMBER OF STUDENTS WHO ATTENDED GORDON'S GLOBAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS
This includes those who attended our semester-long programs such as Boston, Orvieto, Aix-en-Provence (right), and Romania, as well as the summer international seminars. An additional 68 students attended programs sponsored by other institutions or the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.
NUMBER OF UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS FROM WEST OF THE MISSISSIPPI
By comparison, 492 were from Massachusetts, 415 from the other five New England states, and 68 from the southeastern states. 61 were international students, the largest number (26) with Korean citizenship, although many of the Koreans were raised in other countries due to their parents’ business or missionary work.
NUMBER OF PSYCHOLOGY MAJORS
For the second consecutive year, Psychology was our largest major, keeping its lead over English (138), Business Administration (128), Communication Arts (120), Biology (95) , History (87), Social Work (86), Art (85), and Biblical Studies (72). The fastest growing major? Linguistics, which grew by about 40% from 17 to 28 students. Art, Christian Ministries, and Philosophy were other brisk climbers.
FULL-TIME EQUIVALENT FACULTY
Or, as we commonly call it, FTE. To determine this figure, we divide the credit hours taught by part-time faculty by 24, which is the standard full-time faculty member’s teaching load. Then we add that total (26.6) to the number of full-time faculty (98). This data shows that 21.3% of our undergraduate courses are taught by part-time faculty, and last year we issued contracts to 100 part-time faculty members. This percentage was slightly lower than four years ago, when 23.4% of our courses were taught by 103 part-timers.
So what does that make our student/faculty ratio? Actually, there are so many ways to determine the ratio, and schools are notorious for citing different data to accent different themes. So let me offer two lenses. First, there is the “instructional ratio,” which does not distinguish between full-time and part-time faculty, but merely compares total students to our FTE. Our instructional ratio last year was 11.7 to 1, about the same as four years ago (11.9 to 1). A second approach is called the “mentoring ratio,” which divides total students by the full-time faculty members. This ratio is often used to keep colleges from striving to achieve low ratios by relying extensively on part-time faculty. Our mentoring ratio last year was 16.4 to 1, nearly identical to four years ago (16.3 to 1).
SIX-YEAR GRADUATION RATE
This percentage represents the number of undergraduate students who start college at Gordon and then graduate from Gordon in six years or less. The six-year rate is the standard yardstick in higher education for measuring persistence to graduation. After a big jump in the 1990s, our rate has remained fairly steady in recent years. Our rate is higher among women (73.2%) than men (68.6%) and higher among international students (88.9%), African-Americans (80%), Hispanics (80%) and athletes (80%) than among the general student population.
On a related note, we saw a decline in suspensions. 41 students were suspended or dismissed last year, compared to 62 the previous year and 56 four years ago. The percentage of students graduating with honors has risen slightly to 37.3%, up from 36.2% four years ago.
30, OR 4.6%
QUIZ: NAME THE CATEGORY
We have two left-over parking places and two extra Pulitzer Prizes from the Faculty Workshop to give away, so we can offer prizes to the first two persons to identify correctly the category for 30, or 4.6%. Call or email Jerry Logan with your answer.
Clues: The Examined Life, David Goss, The Scientific Enterprise, Roger Green.
AVERAGE UNDERGRADUATE GRADE AWARDED BY GORDON FACULTY
National averages for liberal arts colleges still tend to range in the B+ category (3.25-3.4), and we remain below that, though we have seen a steady rise over four years ago when our average was 3.11. Our rate is higher among part-time faculty (3.25) than among full-time faculty (3.13). Interestingly, the average grade for Core classes (3.17) is virtually identical with the institutional average. Toughest divisions: Natural Sciences (2.99) and Humanities (3.09).
NUMBER OF PIKE MAJORS WHO GRADUATED LAST MAY
Alison Bitzer has the distinction of being the only Pike graduate from last year, completing a degree in international development. Rob Ainslie completed the only Pike minor, focusing on community development. Overall, students enrolled in the Pike program have fallen from 19 four years ago to 10 last year. On the other hand, the number of “deciding” (or “undecided”) majors has fallen from 96 three years ago to 35 last year. All this hints that students are choosing traditional majors and choosing earlier.
The Pike Honors program has been a longstanding tradition of individualized majors, named in honor of distinguished Gordon alum and linguist Kenneth L. Pike (1912-2000) (photo on right).