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Career prep, technology featured at spring board meeting

May 23, 2013

Undergraduates’ future career success and technology in higher education took center stage at the spring meeting of the Lewis & Clark Board of Trustees. The May 17 meeting also witnessed updates on retention and entrepreneurship and the passing of the chair’s gavel from Jim Richardson to Mark Dorman.

At the Academic Affairs Committee meeting, CAS Dean of Students Anna Gonzalez briefed the trustees on structural changes in the Student Life division aimed at better preparing students for career success. In a presentation titled “Building a Culture of Career Engagement,” Gonzalez detailed changes including the separation of the two primary areas of engagement—careers and community service—now housed in the Center for Career and Community Engagement (3CE). Beginning June 1, career development will go forward in an enhanced fashion in a newly named Career Development Center under the direction of current 3CE Director Minda Heyman; community engagement will be part of a student leadership and service office reporting to Associate Dean Tricia Brand.

Through more active outreach to students beginning in their first year, the new career office will help students optimize their curricular and cocurricular experiences and learn how to best present them to prospective employers and graduate programs, Gonzalez explained. At the same time, the office will further develop networks of alumni mentors and employers interested in hiring Lewis & Clark students and alumni for internship and jobs.

With this new approach and more focused energy, Gonzalez says, “We will align our career services with the critical thinking and leadership skills our students are learning, and with the need for them to position themselves for the job market and graduate and professional schools.” The new structure was devised after a yearlong process that included an external review, a survey of students using 3CE, and recommendations from a career development committee.

In a plenary session presentation on technology in higher education, Chief Information Officer Adam Buchwald spoke about massive open online courses (MOOCs) and other new technologies for teaching and learning. 

MOOCs, Buchwald explained, are essentially a “wrapper” around a variety of digital-learning resources widely created and employed by Lewis & Clark and other colleges, such as video and digital information-sharing platforms. Debunking the idea that MOOCs will replace the kind of education offered by Lewis & Clark and other liberal arts colleges, Buchwald said, “We pride ourselves on rich face-to-face interactions—research, residential experiences, and international and experiential learning. None of those things translate to a MOOC.”

But that’s not to say that colleges like Lewis & Clark have no use for online lectures and the like, Buchwald said. Among other uses, students can consume these outside of class as part of their coursework and come ready to discuss and apply them in class. “It’s about freeing up time so you can devote class experience to discussing, applying, and creating new knowledge,” he said.

Buchwald’s presentation followed an inspirational speech by graduating senior Julia Huggins. While describing the rich educational experiences she had through College Outdoors and international study and research programs, as well as in classrooms and labs on campus, Huggins thanked the board for the scholarship support she has received during her four years at Lewis & Clark, including funds donated by trustees Kent Swanson and Stephanie Fowler.

Among other actions and reports, the board: 

  • Thanked outgoing chair Jim Richardson B.S. ’70, J.D. ’76 for his service and installed Mark Dorman B.S. ’83 as the new chair
  • Approved a resolution honoring trustee and past-chair Ron Ragen for his distinguished service on the board and approved his new status as life trustee
  • Discussed the success of undergraduate science education at Lewis & Clark and possibilities for fundraising for new science facilities
  • Heard an update on CAS retention efforts, including the decision to have students declare their majors as sophomores rather than juniors
  • Received an update on entrepreneurship, including the venture competition and the search for a managing director for the new entrepreneurship center
  • Approved for board membership Ruth Sigal of Princeton, N.J., whose daughter, Ilana Sigal, just graduated from the college
  • Attended the annual Philanthropy Leadership Dinner, held May 16 at the Fred and Suzanne Fields Ballroom at the Portland Art Museum

For more information:

Board of Trustees