Monday, May 13, 2013

[473] MTSU EXL Scholars program gets top regional award

Editorial contact: Carol Swayze, 615-898-5542 or

MURFREESBORO — The Experiential Learning Scholars program at Middle Tennessee State University was honored recently with a top award for higher education credit programs.

MTSU received the Outstanding Credit Program Award from the Association for Continuing Higher Education South “in recognition of the excellent nature and results” of the Experiential Learning (EXL) Scholars program.

MTSU launched the program in spring 2006 as a pilot project in conjunction with a university-wide improvement plan. EXL courses are intended to provide students with opportunities for hands-on experience in their fields of study, valuable networking with professionals, and an opportunity to explore career paths through real-world activities.

The EXL Scholars program formalizes and organizes several existing experiential learning activities into a comprehensive program of study.

“We are fortunate to have such an exceptional team of faculty, staff and community partners who are providing a top quality educational experience for our students,” said EXL Director Carol Swayze, who accepted the award April 22 at a luncheon in SanDestin, Fla. “This honor is truly a reflection on the quality of work performed by the founding committee and speaks to the dedication of MTSU to student success.”

Dr. Jill Austin, a professor of management and marketing, chaired the committee that launched EXL and served as program director for five years.

“I am very pleased to learn that the EXL Program is being recognized outside of the university for its contribution to student learning,” Austin said. “The program was developed by many faculty, staff, students, and community members in hopes that students will be more engaged in the learning process and will have an enriched learning experience at MTSU.

“This award is an indicator that EXL is making an impact beyond our campus and community.”

MTSU had 54 EXL faculty members at end of the program’s first year, and participation has grown considerably since. In 2012-13, the EXL program includes 27 departments, 191 faculty members, 470 course sections and 7,263 students participating.

To date, almost 30,500 students have taken EXL courses and almost 1,100 students have completed all requirements to graduate with the distinction of EXL Scholar.

“This award is a direct result of the leadership of Dr. Jill Austin and the EXL QEP Committee made up of MTSU administrators and faculty and the current direction of Carol Swayze,” said Dr. Dianna Rust, associate dean of University College. “The Experiential Learning Scholars program outcomes have been significant in student contribution to the community in terms of service, internships, and practicums as well as in student satisfaction and learning outcomes.”

The EXL Scholar Designation is awarded only to students who have completed a minimum of 16 credit hours of EXL coursework and other service-learning requirements. Students who complete the requirements are awarded EXL Scholar cords and are recognized at commencement. The EXL Scholar notation also appears on the students’ transcripts.

“The program continues to grow each semester as more students discover the value of experiential learning and the EXL Scholar designation,” Swayze said.

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About MTSU

Founded in 1911 as one of three state normal schools for teacher training, MTSU is now the oldest and largest public university in Middle Tennessee. With an enrollment of more than 25,000 students, MTSU is the largest undergraduate university in Tennessee.

MTSU remains committed to providing individualized service in an exciting and nurturing atmosphere where student success is the top priority. With a wide variety of nationally recognized academic degree programs at the baccalaureate, master's and doctoral levels, MTSU takes pride in educating the best and the brightest students from Tennessee and around the world.


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