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College Meeting, August 2013: Gary Kesler, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

Report on Incoming Freshman Class

We have 231 total new first-year students. We had 1774 applications and made 597 offers, which means we have a 39 percent yield. Our new students had an average high school GPA of 3.67.

Our new student body includes 6 percent international students, 24 percent from out of state, and 70 percent from the Commonwealth. Countries represented include China (4), Ecuador (1), Korea (1), Kuwait (2), Saudi Arabia (1), El Salvador (1), Thailand (1).  We have a total of 16 states represented: California (6), Connecticut (5), District of Columbia (1), Florida (1), Georgia (1), Illinois (2), Maryland (4), Massachusetts (5), Michigan (1), New Jersey (15), New York (11), Ohio (1), Pennsylvania (161), Texas (2), Utah (1), Virginia (3), unknown (11).

Our new entering class is 69 percent female and 31 percent male (159 females and 72 males). Approximately 17 percent are from under-represented minorities.

Our Change of Major/Change of Assignment numbers remain strong at 72 for fall 2013.

Recruitment and Yield Enhancement

We have had a lot of effort from units this past year to increase yield—thank you! In addition, other efforts include:

Provost Awards (25 total accepted these scholarships, including 16 from out of state, 4 from under-represented minorities)

Our college’s summer camps (School of Visual Arts, Architecture/Landscape Architecture, and the Honors Music Institute) continue to introduce prospects to Penn State and our programs.

 We are participating in SNAAP (Strategic National Arts Alliance Project Survey) to help us more effectively “tell the story” of the value of degrees in design and the arts.

Integrative Arts Transition

The B.A. program in Integrative Arts has successfully transitioned into the college office for Undergraduate Studies under the leadership of Dr. Janet Hartranft, program coordinator. The mission of the program continues to honor the intent of the major as originally conceived. In the past year, promotional materials have been revised, including a complete How to Apply to the Integrative Arts Program guide and a newsletter that includes highlights of student achievements, which is distributed each semester to all majors. In addition, a plan to assess student learning in the program was submitted to the campus assessment office, which suggests the creation of a required capstone course; review of that plan and any potential revisions to the curriculum will be discussed this coming year with all faculty that contribute to the program, including those at the Penn State Abington and Altoona campuses.

Student Activities

In the past year, our diverse array of student activities included:

  • Exhibitions (Borland Gallery, Old Main, Golumbic applicants in March)
  • SEED (Students for Environmentally Enlightened Design) library project that involved designing and building a shipping container for donated books to be sent to a refugee camp in Africa
  • Landscape Architecture study abroad/service learning program in Tanzania
  • Graphic Design students establishing a website for the sale of posters to raise money for the Red Cross of Oklahoma to benefit those affected by the tornado that ripped through Moore, OK
  • Presentation of Bernstein’s MASS as part of college’s 50th anniversary celebration
  • Sophomore voice major Lisa Rogali appears as a choir member and featured soprano soloist (selected from 500 auditionees) in Eric Whitacre's current virtual choir project, Virtual Choir 4: Fly to Paradise.

What this all adds up to is that it’s a lot fun promoting the programs in this college.  Although student numbers in the arts have been trending downward, we enjoy promoting to prospects and their parents what you and your students are doing.  So, if you keep up the good work, we’ll continue to collaborate with units and do all we can from the college office to bring students into your classrooms and studios.

On the Horizon

Assessment plans from college units will be returned with feedback this fall.  We will need to revise and submit updates in May 2014.  All of our units should expect to have considerable work to do here.

There is a task force looking at general education requirements and the way we talk to students about making the most out of what amounts to a considerable number of credits required for bachelor’s degrees at Penn State.  There may be some adjustment to categories and/or credit requirements, but there may also be more emphasis on developing “themes,” or clusters of courses that cut across different categories of general education that advance learning in a particular area of focus.