Augustana University has appointed English professor Darcie Rives-East as the new director of the First Year Seminar (FYS) program.
She will start in the fall replacing Stephen Minister, associate professor of philosophy, who has decided to step down from the position. Minister has been the program’s director for the past three academic years and has declined the request to stay on as director to focus on his own research.
Rives-East has been teaching at Augustana since 2007 and is now entering her 12th year as an associate professor in the English and Journalism Department as an American literature specialist. She has taught a variety of first-year courses, starting with courses she taught in grad school. She has continued teaching such courses during her tenure at Augustana.
“The English department, when FYS was being developed, was heavily involved,” said Rives-East.
As one of the creators and a current professor in the FYS program, Rives-East knows the ins-and-outs of the programs, allowing for its continued evolution and success.
“I certainly, along with my colleagues, want to make it the best we can,” Rives-East said.
As a tenured professor, Rives-East feels that she can speak up and defend the integrity of the program in a diplomatic fashion.
“I’ve been involved in the FYS stuff since 2013, that’s six years,” said Minister, “So that’s taken away time from me doing my research. So I just miss that and want to get back to that.”
Minister is in the midst of writing a new book concerning global ethics that has pushed to the backburner while serving as FYS director.
“I’m very proud of where the program is at,” Minister said. “I think we have a program that functions, is meeting its goals reasonably well. I think Darcie will be an excellent director. She’s brilliant, she’s well respected by the faculty, I think she’ll do a great job.”
Malia Lukomski, a junior media studies and theatre major, had Rives-East as her first FYS professor.
Lukomski said Rives-East tailored the theme of the course into good lessons about grammar while still managing to meet the individual needs of students.
“Darcie is definitely someone who thinks deeply about how FYS is and can affect students. She has a good understanding of what FYS can do and what its limitations are,” Lukomski said.
Rives-East said she wants to add more consistency to FYS courses, since some instructors may not feel as comfortable with the grammar and writing emphasis that FYS wields.
This meaning that not every student in the FYS program would experience an equal level of learning. She also hopes to strengthen the three main areas of FYS: critical ethical thinking, communication and writing, making them as robust as possible through writing contests as motivation and sorting through existing programs and only utilizing the most effective ones.
“FYS programs are everywhere. They are now seen as fundamental in preparing students for college. The research is there, these programs do benefit,” said Rives-East.
Rives-East will work alongside the FYS committee to continue to address and improve issues with Augustana’s FYS program.
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