Jan. 21-27, 2000
Digital scholarship gets boost from Mellon Foundation grant
Training online
From the desk of... Penny Rue

In Memoriam

American-style consumerism spreading, Werhane says
Time magazine photo exhibit captures memorable moments of U.S. presidents
James Baker to speak at forum on American presidency
Virginia competing to create regional center
Teaching proposals due Feb. 1
Take our advice... Beat the winter blahs
Hot Links - Arts & Sciences web site
U.Va. police enlist watchful employees to thwart crime
Notable - awards and achievements of faculty and staff
Student drama group updates "Lysistrata"
Mentoring conference to be held Jan. 28 at Monticello High School

Penny RueStudents, faculty have much to gain from service learning

From the desk of...
Penny Rue, Dean of Students

In his book, The Reflective Practitioner, Donald Schon invites us to engage in the process of reflection-in-action, to find ways to make sense of complexity as we do our jobs, bridging the theory-practice dichotomy. For the past five months I have been busy both learning and doing the role of Dean of Students, and at times it has felt exactly like a roller coaster ride with precious little reflection time available. Now the holidays have provided both needed thinking time and many opportunities to answer the question "So, how do you like U.Va.?"

The short answer is, "I love it." I knew it was a special place before I came here, but its magic feels even more powerful now that I am a member. The sense of ownership and belonging that many students feel towards U.Va. contributes to a spirit of community that eludes most universities today. If it is to be effective, the University's community of trust requires a commitment on the part of each student, not just the natural joiners. Student self-governance is sometimes cumbersome and always open to criticism from those who stand on the sidelines and think they could do it better, but it is a powerful tradition that has given U.Va. much of its rich character.

While honoring the self-governance tradition, it can be made even more powerful through a stronger partnership among students and faculty. Self-governance is a way of organizing ourselves that says much about what we value, but it is also intended to be a learning experience. And while it is sometimes said that experience is the best teacher, it is a crude one even at its finest. Faculty have much to offer students in mining their out-of-class experiences for deeper learning. Reflection is again the key. Providing space and time for conversations about perplexing issues, helping students make connections between dilemmas they encounter and the world of ideas, helping students frame problems as opportunities -- these are valuable roles that faculty can play across a host of student involvements.

One of the most potent partnerships in enhancing the educational power of students' experiences is service learning. Service learning links community service and academic study so that each strengthens the other. Through service learning, students make connections between the challenges and social problems encountered in service work and the theories and perspectives learned in the classroom. U.Va., with its strong tradition of student community service, is ripe for innovations in service learning.

It is important to recognize that not every student feels a part of this rich tradition. Hidden barriers to full participation are hard to perceive, yet we must search for them and eliminate them. The continued vitality of this special community requires that every student feel essential to the enterprise. As Dean of Students, I can set no more important goal for myself.


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