This Saturday, Kenyon faculty members represented the College at the 101st annual meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), a national organization dedicated to the promotion and betterment of liberal arts education. The meeting, which was held in conjunction with that of the American Conference of Academic Deans, was an opportunity for colleges throughout the nation to share ideas and collaborate toward the betterment of education as a whole.
Two members of Kenyon’s faculty attended: Clara Román-Odio, professor of Spanish, presented her community-centered project Latinos in Rural America, while Senior Advisor for Community Relations Jan Thomas discussed Kenyon’s faculty mentorship program.
The conference featured dozens of panels and presentations covering a wide variety of subjects, such as the importance of global discussion on a college campus; promoting economic equity in education; and the VALUE rubric, a set of standards designed to help professors grade more fairly and consistently.
“One of the things that’s really helpful about this conference and about their publications is that you learn about best practices,” Thomas said.
“They will showcase what schools are doing in various areas, in inclusive excellence and other kinds of things.”
Inclusive excellence is the idea that all students should feel welcome on campus and have an equal opportunity to succeed, a mode of thinking AAC&U has championed in its conferences and publications.
An idea present throughout the conference was that of “high-impact practices”: teaching methods that go beyond book learning and rote memorization and stay with a student long after they leave the classroom. According to Thomas, Kenyon already practices a variety of high-impact methods, including student-faculty collaboration efforts, internships aided by the Career Development Office, and the Kenyon Summer Science program.
“Initially the goal is [for the practices to have a] high impact on their learning, but the thing that makes that really impactful is the way that you take what you learn in that experience and pay it forward,” Thomas said.
“How do you take that learning and weave it into the Kenyon narrative that you leave here with?”