|Photo by Bob Rashid
|President John E. Burris
The theme of Beloit College's new comprehensive campaign is "Classic. Daring. Life-Changing." and academic rigor is the essential thread that knits these qualities together into a coherent experience for Beloit students. We begin this weaving right from the start—an early start.
From the time the First-Year Initiatives (FYI) class begins on their first Sunday morning on campus, new students are expected to participate orally, write a great deal, and conduct independent research. We want our students to know that they will have a superb four-year experience at Beloit and that the quality of that experience will depend upon hard work: their own as well as that of the faculty. Faculty expectations are high, and our students rise to those expectations.
We can and must challenge our students in the classroom because Beloit is recruiting students already accustomed to meeting academic challenges at high levels. Their average SAT score is 1,250, and more than 40 percent have graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class. To such students, anything less than consistent academic rigor would disappoint.
Beloit College faculty members have been unrelenting in their commitment to maintaining academic excellence. As we prepare for the North Central Association's re-accreditation visit, we have undertaken a rigorous review of the curriculum and an assessment of the links among course offerings, pedagogy, and student learning. We are adding five new faculty positions over the next three years, and we continue to bring to campus visiting lecturers who challenge students to think— sometimes to change their thinking; always to explore new ideas—whether about international relations, mathematical theory, or Native American art.
Alumni often comment to me on the life-changing quality of their experience at Beloit, and they wonder what it is like for students today. As evidenced by our continued presence in Loren Pope's thought-provoking book, Colleges That Change Lives, Beloit remains committed to the classic best of a liberal arts education—requirements for all students in the natural sciences, humanities, and the social sciences; faculty mentorship that is both nurturing and demanding; and high expectations for independent thought, clarity and grace of expression, and ethical commitment to the common good.
Our commitment to what is tried-and-true about Beloit, of course, does not mean that we have grown complacent about our future. In the same way that you have succeeded in your personal and professional lives through continuous re-examination of goals and resources, so must the College.
For example, our recently appointed Strategic Planning Committee, co-chaired by Associate Professor of Political Science Ann Davies and Chair of the Board of Trustees Jim Sanger, has taken as its mission the creation of an academic master plan for the College. It will build on existing strengths in areas such as international education and anthropology, invigorate mission-central areas such as interdisciplinary problem-solving, position Beloit as a significant center for scientific inquiry and literacy in the liberal arts tradition, and enhance the national profile of the College. Yet the essential fabric of Beloit will remain as it has for more than 150 years: We are a small liberal arts college dedicated to an exceptional education for extraordinary students—men and women possessed of the knowledge, skills, and practiced capacity for hard work that has always characterized graduates of Beloit College.
President John E. Burris