SMU strives to make education worth the cost
Published: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Updated: Sunday, February 24, 2013 20:02
SMU professors and others from around the nation gathered at the Higher Ed Symposium Friday to discuss ways to improve the higher education system both at SMU and nationwide.
Professors stressed the importance to uphold certain values and find new innovative ways to engage students.
“We need to be able to justify such a high price tag for an institution,” Michael McLendon, associate dean and SMU professor, said.
One of the areas McLendon emphasized as a good starting point was his own area. He urged SMU professors to do much more advocating of the values we have at this school to make a difference.
Dr. Marc Christensen, dean and department chair of the Lyle School of Engineering, also brought up the important issue of technology and how that can better a students education when used correctly.
The key however, is this technology must not be used in a way that disrupts the students learning, according to Christensen.
“The technology must be like a waiter or waitress at a fine restaurant: the water glass gets refilled and the plates get cleared, all without disrupting the engaging conversation,” Christensen said.
“If the technology facilitates the engagement and does not distract from it then it can be a useful part of the learning process.”
The other key issue that came to the forefront was more of a disturbing trend.
In the last portion of the symposium, Assistant Provost for Strategic Initiatives and Director of Student Retention Anthony Tillman shared some disturbing trends about diversity and urged teachers to take more of a leadership role in correcting this.
Tillman recounted several anecdotes about students coming up to him with stories about how they were not treated in the same regard as the other students.
“They reported that they have received disparaging comments from professors,” Tillman said.
“They have not been acknowledged for raising their hand or if they provide a good answer they are not acknowledged as much.”
The effect, according to Tillman, is that it has a diminishing impact on their performance and might cause them to become isolated.
Tillman also shared his views on the difference in opinion between the minorities and other students at SMU.
He admitted, for some SMU students, this school is not the high point of their career, but for minorities they see SMU “as a Harvard.”