Perspectives of faculty on the development of the Minerva program

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The Minerva Program bloomed from the dissatisfaction of students, administration and faculty in the late 1990s. Union was looking for a solution to solve social dissatisfaction among students, because only 25 percent were happy with the social life at Union. Administration also wanted to address the problem of “Greek dominance given by prospective students as a reason they did not choose to come to Union,” according to Suzie Benack, Faculty Associate for the Minerva Program.

The Minerva Program’s key areas of success include, “Academic and cultural life continuing outside the classroom, creating diversity in campus life and blurring the lines between faculty and students,” stated Tom McEvoy, Director of Minerva Programs. The concept of the Minerva Council was that everyone, including faculty, would be on equal footing to address issues such as, “lack of intellectual life outside the classroom, gender equality and the dominance of Greek life in the social life of the campus,” stated Benack.

Upon reflecting about the program, McEvoy stated, “Change is hard anywhere, but I think change at Union, which is steeped in its own patterns of life outside the classroom, even more so.”

Benack commented, “Union attracts a more diverse, interesting student body than it did 10 years ago and Admissions statistics indicate that the Minervas play an important role in attracting students to Union. The Minerva Program has shown great results since being developed. After the Minerva program arrived, the Minerva Program attracted more students with higher GPAs.”

The program also received positive reception from women and students of color. Another study showed that students with higher GPAs had a more positive attitude toward the Minerva Program.

At this landmark in the Minerva Program, “10 years in the life of a college as old as Union, with the traditions it carries, is a very short time. There is much more to be done, but it is hard to imagine the college without the Minerva Program,” stated McEvoy.

However, even with these incredible leaps in a time as short as 10 years, there are still many goals that the faculty want to continue to develop and integrate into campus. They include alternate weekend programming, house bonding and a hangout space for students and faculty.

 

1 COMMENT

  1. The Minerva system does a very good job in recruiting people to come here. However, after they attend, they quickly realize that it was not all that it was cracked up to be. I believed it, and when my friend who went here told me what it really was and not to trust the school, I didn’t believe him. Mainly because of how much the school pushed it. Looking back, boy was I stupid.
    Also, some issues with the Minerva’s may come from the fact that the school pushes it so much. It really isn’t that bad of a program, but expectations are so much higher when you hear tour guides, interviewers, speakers, etc. talking about how great it is non-stop while you’re here.
    I recently hosted an overnight, and as soon as I introduced myself, the father of the prospective student ask my flat-out, “The Minerva thing is bullshit isn’t it.” I played dumb at first, asking why he might think that and while saying a few good things about it. He said “they bring it up and talk about it way too much . . . so I just figured it might be overrated. That was when I started to back track and be honest, saying that it is a good thing, but not nearly what they are hearing.
    The reason I wanted to bring this up is not to advocate for the Minerva system’s removal, because it is a great thing, but to tone down how much we push it and play it up. It is not fair to students who come here solely for that reason (other than academics), just to be disappointed in their decision. To put it into perspective, it is the equivalent of recruiting someone for a sport by promising the world of them, telling them they’d be a 4-year starting, and then having them sit the bench when they get here. I know that has been an issue, taken up with the athletic director even, so why has it not been addressed in the academic setting as well?

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