With almost 1,900 students enrolled this fall in MT Engage courses, the university’s latest Quality Enhancement Plan, or QEP, is off to a strong start, officials said.
Members of campus community gathered inside the Student Union Ballroom recently to celebrate the successful launch of MT Engage, an academic improvement initiative that will impact curriculum across campus for at least the next five years.
“I’m working with a group of folks who are committed to thinking about learning and instruction so that we can really address the goals that we have at this university, not only the goals that we have for our Quality Enhancement Plan,” Dr. Mary Hoffschwelle, a professor of history and faculty fellow director of MT Engage, told the crowd gathered inside the SUB Ballroom Oct. 25.
With a motto of “engage academically, learn exponentially, showcase yourself,” MT Engage encourages students to not only think in a more integrative way about their academics but to reflect on their experiences inside and outside of the classroom from the time they set foot on campus. The mission is to create opportunities for students “to become physically and psychologically involved in productive learning activities.”
A key aspect of MT Engage is an ePortfolio created by students throughout their academic careers. These electronic documents could be critical for students in marketing themselves as they prepare to pursue a career or graduate degree.
MT Engage was developed following a series of town hall meetings last fall and spring to get faculty and staff input on the MT Engage concept, which was developed by a committee and subcommittees representing a cross-section of faculty, staff and students.
Hoffschwelle gave special thanks to the MT Engage leadership team of Dr. Dianna Rust, QEP Committee chair; Dr. Michelle Boyer-Pennington, psychology professor and chair of the Student-Learning Outcome and Assessment Subcommittee; Lara Daniel, accounting professor and chair of the Action Steps Subcommittee; and Jason Vance, information literacy librarian in Walker Library and chair of the Research Subcommittee.
“I want to celebrate how faculty, students and event community members came together to really think about what we could do to make student learning at MTSU even stronger and their student experience even stronger,” Rust said. “It was my pleasure to work with each of you, because everyone came with the attitude of ‘let’s make an impact.’ … It’s been the most exciting experience that I’ve been blessed to have.”
MTSU students were also involved in the QEP’s development, with several serving on committees. Upper level advertising classes last fall and spring developed marketing and advertising materials for the initiative, which is being branded with a student-created logo.
The QEP is a requirement by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, or SACSCOC, the regional accreditation body for higher education institutions in the South.
While acknowledging that developing a QEP was an accreditation requirement, Interim Provost Mark Byrnes praised the QEP group for developing a program that “is both meaningful and significant to our students. I’m really quite excited about it. … It has all sorts of academic and frankly professional benefits to our students.”
A SACSCOC review committee visited campus in late March for a campus assessment of MT Engage, which was developed through an inclusive, comprehensive approach that included input from faculty, administration and staff, as well as students, alumni and community members.
MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee echoed Byrnes’ praise, noting that the review committee didn’t have any recommended corrections or changes regarding MTSU’s proposal, which SACSCOC has asked be highlighted at its upcoming national meeting, he said.
“I’m pleased to be here to say two very simple words — thank you,” he told the crowd. “This particular project fits perfectly with the number one strategic goal of our university, the Quest of Student Success (campuswide initiative to improve student retention and graduation).”
Rust presented Faye Johnson, assistant to the provost for special initiatives, with a special gift for her unique insights and guidance, noting that Johnson has help guide the university through three SACS and two QEPs during her almost five decades of service to MTSU.
Reflecting on the 2 ½ years of planning needed to develop MT Engage, Johnson said, “The beautiful part of this … the energy that came together to make this project possible is really rather extraordinary.”
In addition to Hoffschwelle, other MT Engage staff include:
Lexy Denton, who is assistant director of MT Engage with responsibilities for MT Engage experiences initiatives, student outreach and recognitions, and marketing and communications for the program. Denton was involved in the development of the MT Engage program as assistant to Rust and is an MTSU alumna.
Reach her at Alexis.Denton@mtsu.edu or 615-904-8281. Her office is in Walker Library Room 236.
Scott McDaniel, professor of University Studies, who serves as the faculty fellow coordinator of Assessment for MT Engage, MTSU’s Quality Enhancement Plan.
Shakeya Fielder is the secretary for MT Engage and responsible for office management. She previously worked at Health Connect America and Tuskegee University. Reach her at Shakeya.Fielder@mtsu.edu or 615-898-2761. Her office is in Walker Library Room 216.