First Year Seminar Oversight Committee

Annual Report, 2007-2008


The First Year Seminar (FYS) Oversight Committee was established as a Standing Committee of the Faculty in April 2007. It had evolved from the FYS Subcommittee of the Task Force charged with the implementation of the new curriculum and calendar. The subcommittee had been a larger body, and when the Oversight Committee was established, care was taken by the Nominating Committee to ensure continuity between the two bodies. Since its inception as a standing committee, the FYS Oversight Committee has met sixteen (16) times ( as of 04/22/08) and will meet three or four more times during the 2007-08 academic year.

In 2007-08, the committee took action on the following matters:

1. The planning and execution of two four-day workshops in Summer 2007 for faculty members who were scheduled to teach FYW (Writing) Seminars in 2008-09 and/or 2009-10. The first Workshop ran from 25-28 June 2007, and the second ran from 27-30 August 2007 and together they provided instruction and support for twenty-seven (27) faculty members.

2. From its first meeting in September 2007 through the present, the Committee has devoted a good deal of time to the inspection of course proposals. Courses approved by the Committee were sent for action to other relevant committees, including Curriculum Committee and the Academic Policies Committee and from these to the Faculty. One hundred and fifteen (115) proposals have so far been approved by the faculty. Fifty-four (54) of these are FYS proposals, and the remaining sixty-one (61) are FYW proposals. At the time of this report, three proposals remain to be acted on.

3. Continuing work begun under the FYS Subcommittee, the Oversight Committee worked with members of Furman’s SACS Committee to establish procedures for trialing and assessment of the FYS Program. Three sections of GER courses (in Sociology, Biology, and Political Science respectively) were designated as “trial” sections for FYW seminars, with enrollments adjusted accordingly. Several sections of English 11 were used to test the assessment instrument. It is expected that assessment tools will be refined in the first years of the program.

4. The Committee considered budgetary issues -- in particular, how most effectively to make funds available to individual faculty members for the planning and support of the their seminars. At the time of this report, an open-ended invitation has been made to FYS and FYW faculty to apply for funding, and a few applications have already come in. On the basis of its experience with these applications, the Committee will if necessary refine the procedures for application in the following years.

5. The Committee consulted with Associate Dean and Registrar Brad Barron concerning the scheduling of the FYS and FYW seminars for 2008-09 and discussed with him the procedures for registration.

6. The Committee made plans for a number of additional support opportunities for FYS and FYW faculty members. These include another four-day Workshop in July 2008, six help-sessions to focus on grading, feedback, and assignment construction in late April and early May 2008, and a social event for prospective FYS/FYW faculty in early April 2008.

7. The Committee acted on two requests for special enrollment in particular seminars tied to other university programs. It will consider entertaining such requests pending the development of a policy, if that should seem necessary.

Several matters remain to be addressed in the 2007-08 year. These include Handbook selection, grading, the likely adjustments necessary for at-risk students, and integration of faculty evaluation in seminars with procedures of department evaluation.

On behalf of the Committee, the Chair would like to thank the following people and groups: Provost Tom Kazee and his staff for advice relating to budgeting; Brad Barron for keeping us informed about scheduling issues; Kevin Treu for being available with advice and help relating to the course proposal process; the Curriculum Committee (Shirley Ritter, Chair) and Academic Policies Committee (Ken Abernethy, Chair) for their patience and understanding; Bill Berg, Ken Abernethy, and Scott Henderson for their work on assessment-related issues.

The Chair thanks the Committee for its hard work and good spirit this year. The Committee’s members are Diane Boyd (CTEL), Stanley Crowe (English, Chair), Dixon Dabbs (student), Mary Fairbairn (Library), Cynthia King (Communication Studies), Suresh Muthukrishnan (Earth and Environmental Sciences), David Redburn (Sociology), and Carolyn Watson (Art).

Respectfully submitted,

Stanley J. H. Crowe, Chair

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