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New seminar center affirms University’s commitment to QU series
“QU 101 is not going away. Those rumors that started out last year were just sheer wish fulfillment on the part of people. They are not going away. They are an integral part of the University curriculum. Get used to it.”
Such is the message that QU 101 Seminar Coordinator Timothy Dansdill expressed about rumors of the QU seminar series being taken out of the curriculum.
Dansdill, along with QU 201 Seminar Coordinator Raymond Foery, QU 301 Seminar Coordinator Ewa Callahan, and Director of the QU Seminars Jill Shahverdian have been meeting every week this semester in the new QU Seminar Center, discussing their plans and reviewing successful and unsuccessful methods and techniques.
“We needed an actual center to show the University itself and the world that we believe the seminars are at the core of a university education here, so it needs a center,” Dansdill said.
The center is located in the former help desk location between the Learning Center and the new administrative offices for the Learning Center in Tator Hall.
“If we have a center, then that’s the beginning of establishing a larger community about community,” Dansdill said.
The center contains a small conference room and two tables in the front, while the back is comprised of makeshift offices used as a place for part-time faculty to conduct meetings with students.
“It’s a nice location, centrally located,” Shahverdian said. “Tours are going to walk by it. It’s a location where students and faculty can come by and ask questions and have meetings. We didn’t really have that ability before.”
The seminars are taught by 50 percent part-time faculty, 25 percent full-time faculty, and 25 percent administrators.
“Getting the information visible and having the presence of the center is very beneficial,” Callahan said.
The QU seminar series was piloted in 2005 and became a permanent part of the required curriculum in 2006.
Junior Theresa Wagner is an occupational therapy major and does not see the value of the QU seminars.
“It’s a waste of time, which is therefore a waste of my money,” Wagner said. “Most QU teachers assign work as if they are the only class you have. I could be doing better things with my time; it just doesn’t pertain to my life.”
Other students find the class beneficial.
“I think it’s a good class to get you to realize why you’re in college, and the value of college,” freshman Laura Valin said. “From putting something into a community you can get more out of it than you would expect.”
“The complaint that the course is about nothing is founded on a lack of humility, a lack of open-mindedness, and just plain ignorance and foolishness of youth,” Dansdill said.
Shahverdian, Dansdill, and Callahan confirmed that the seminars were never going to be removed from university curriculum, and the rumors were all hearsay.
“If you look at the mission statement of the University, which was recently revised, there’s mention of QU seminars,” Shahverdian said. “There’s renewed emphasis from President Lahey, Academic Affairs – there’s actually a renewed commitment to having the seminars.”
The University’s mission statement in the 2010-2011 Student Handbook now affirms that the seminars are an integral part of Quinnipiac’s diverse liberal arts education, which “further prepares undergraduates to understand their roles and responsibilities as members of the Quinnipiac community, as well as the larger national and global communities.”
Shahverdian stresses that the QU seminar series is unique from other seminars because other schools simply have an introductory freshman seminar that is not unlike a college orientation class.
“It’s a unique part of what QU does for general education,” Shahverdian said. “Anywhere you go, students are going to have these general education courses, but QU seminars are unique because they have this common reading and you can build on them from one seminar to the next.”
QU seminars are an academic introduction, according to Shahverdian, and she said students will look back on the program positively.
“By the time they’ve graduated and look back and have jobs, they are going to have this experience that’s very unique, and it’s going to really help them in careers,” she said.
The question on every students’ mind remains: What are the seminars really about?
“The course is not about nothing; it’s about some of the most important questions that persist in what it means to be a human being,” Dansdill said.
The grand opening of the QU Seminar Center is anticipated for the first week in October, where refreshments will be provided and students and faculty are invited to stop by to see the space and what resources are available.
There will also be a link on MyQ which will include any information one might want to find out about the seminars, including registration, the course choices for 201 or 301, information about studying abroad for 301 and who to contact, and any other questions that students have.
“One of the important things to understand is that the education of a person is not limited to a narrow area of expertise; it’s a development of the whole person,” Callahan said. “There are things which cannot be taught within the major.”
Photo credit: Charlotte Greene