September 27, 2000

More Seminars Could Move to North Campus

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With conference rooms currently being built as part of the new dormitories on North Campus, some future freshman could skip the early-morning hike to writing seminars on central campus, allowing them to attend the classes closer to home.

Since the early 1980’s, almost all incoming freshman have been required to enroll in or provide prior credit for two semesters of writing seminars as part of the John S. Knight Writing Program.

These classes help new Cornellians improve their prose with “clarity, coherence, intellectual force and stylistic control,” according to the program literature.

Since the original announcement of the North Campus Residential Initiative in Oct. 1997, University officials have been considering ways to integrate the seminars into the living/learning environment envisioned for North Campus.

Katy Gottschalk, the Walter C. Teagle Director of Freshman Writing Seminars, said that while there are currently only one or two seminars available on North in the Robert Purcell Community Center (RPCC), plans are underway to hold more writing seminar classes closer to where freshman live.

Since more than 170 seminars are offered each semester, however, the bulk of the classes will probably remain on central campus.

“We anticipate that students attending early morning and evening seminars will most benefit form the new north campus location,” Gottschalk said.

Gottschalk noted that some workshops would also expand into the new residence halls.

“It’s tough,” Jason Porter ’04 said about getting from his North Campus dorm to his 8:40 a.m. writing seminar on central campus. “It’s definitely a test of my will. If there were classes on north, I wouldn’t have to run through the cold to make it.”

Kate Blosveren ’04 cited evening writing seminars on central campus as another problem many first year students may encounter.

“After coming home and having dinner, it’s hard to go back out to central campus,” she said.

Gottschalk said the idea of moving academics closer to home could expand beyond the writing seminars. “Faculty interaction with first-year students is growing through a number of new program initiatives on North Campus — not just through expanding freshman writing seminar opportunities,” she sad.

When President Hunter R. Rawlings III introduced the North Campus initiative, he hinted at the possibility of academic programs on North: “I am committed to preserving … the freedom of choice that has been and continues to be important to students at Cornell, while also moving decisively to provide a unifying education experience.”

According to Gottschalk, examples of heightened faculty-freshman involvement “may include sections, study groups and other informal interaction.”

Archived article by Katherine Davis