A Diverse and Stimulating Undergraduate Academic Environment: Future Directions and Challenges

Through the Office of Undergraduate Research, the Office of Service Learning and the University Honors Program, among others, we will continue to emphasize, refine and expand enrichment activities that complement students’ academic experience.

For instance, we must strengthen the classroom experience through an increased emphasis on writing and oral communication, particularly writing in the disciplines, and new introductory science courses that stimulate higher-order thinking skills through problem- and team-based learning. Meanwhile, we hope to strengthen the out-of-classroom experience by involving students in the development of a recreational services facility plan aimed at improving recreational space and activities on the Newark campus. Several new and engaging programs, including “Alternative Spring Break” options, are under development.

To meet our diversity goals, we will need a concerted effort to attract and retain more African-American and Latino students, while also increasing the proportion of Asian-American and international students. To meet our campus climate goals, we must promote a culture that values the integration of academic initiatives with student life activities; advocate for the assessment and enhancement of current programs and services; and support best practices that bolster student engagement and retention.

Improving undergraduate advisement will help ensure that students are exploring new curricular experiences that promote lifelong learning, encourage civic engagement and prepare them for a challenging job market. We must also assess whether our current general-education requirements meet our objectives. For example, building a more diverse student body is one objective. But ensuring that all students understand the importance of diversity is an even greater one.