With the death
of Orville Strohl in February Southwestern College lost one of its great
treasures. Southwestern will never have a truer friend or more ardent
champion than Orville. We will all miss him a lot.
At the memorial
service to honor Orville his friends, former college presidents Bruce
Blake and Carl Martin, and Southwestern alumni all spoke of his energy
and vision. In remarks at the service professor of biology Charles Hunter
spoke of a particularly good example of the continuing impact of Orville's
leadership on Southwestern College. Last year the college received a
sizable gift of farm property from the estate of Floyd and Edna V. Moore.
The college's Board of Trustees designated a significant portion of
that property, which is just north of Winfield, for use by the college
as a biology field station. The property provides great opportunities
for field work on prairie ecology by students and faculty.
asked for and finalized plans for that gift over 30 years ago. As Charlie
noted, Orville planted seeds decades ago that are still bearing fruit
All of us who
love Southwestern need to think big and dream big about what the college
can be and about how we can help it grow and prosper. Orville's example
can inspire us all.
The results of the National Survey of Student Engagement
(NSSE) summarized on the following page are something special for Southwestern
College. That is because education at Southwestern is something special.
The NSSE is based on the thoroughly researched "Seven
Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education." Those principles
include (1) encouraging contact between students and faculty, (2) cooperation
among students, (3) active learning techniques, (4) prompt feedback
to students, (5) adequate time on task, (6) high expectations, and (7)
respect for diverse talents and ways of learning.
We placed the Seven Principles at the center of academic
life several years ago. Mature faculty employ them and new faculty are
expected to absorb them. Some principles represent methods that great
Southwestern professors have always employed. Now, as an institution,
we are ALL trying to be faithful to them.
The key is "engagement." Decades ago, we thought that
good teaching revolved around clever lecturing, taking notes, and regurgitating
facts on exams. We now know that students learn best when they work
together, engage in hands-on activities, get quick feedback, and stretch
to meet the expectations of faculty they know personally. The NSSE results
show that we are doing all of that particularly well in the freshman
year. Next year, having 100% of our students equipped with laptops will
make even more effective implementation of the Seven Principles possible.
Good things are happening at Southwestern College. Now
we have valid evidence to prove that.
David Nichols '60
Dean of Faculty