I am guessing that a typical student at my small college studies with a quarter of the members of the faculty but sees little of the other three quarters. Could we commit ourselves to an effort to create opportunities and incentives that would make it easier for students to meet a larger fraction of the faculty during their four years with us? It is probably not possible to assure that every student becomes acquainted with every professor, but that is a goal that some students might achieve on a campus as small as ours. It is a goal to which many students might aspire if encouraged.
We might, for example, invite our colleagues to sponsor open houses in their departments or to announce that visitors are welcome in the department’s classes on one afternoon per week or month. Two professors who are teaching different courses in the same term might choose to each visit the other’s class. The visitor could participate in discussion, present a lesson, or help evaluate students’ presentations. Let students see as many professors “in action” (even for just one hour) as possible.
This program could help students discover interests that they did not know they have. It will make them more fully aware of the resources that the college has made available to them. Departments might choose to use this program to recruit students. Students might use the kinds of opportunities that I am proposing to “test drive” professors. They could see what excites a professor, what special experiences a professor has to share, and how a professor engages with students. The proposed activities require little commitment and entail little risk.
We will want to look for ways to reward members of the faculty for creating additional opportunities and to credit students who take advantage of those opportunities.