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.