New course introduces students to UMSL

Chancellor Tom George

UMSL Chancellor Tom George welcomes students to University Studies, a new course designed to introduce them to the university. At far left is Ron Yasbin, dean of the College of Arts in Sciences, where the new course is being taught.

A new course in the College of Arts and Sciences had University of Missouri–St. Louis Chancellor Tom George waxing nostalgic on Friday.

“I wish I would have had a course like this one back in 1963,” George told about 130 students.

The course George referred to was University Studies 1003, a new, one-credit-hour course being required this fall for incoming students in the College of Arts and Sciences. It is a basic introduction to the university that covers the university’s history, organization, culture, resources, research programs and accomplishments.

“The first part of the course is devoted to giving students the knowledge and tools needed to get the most out of their UMSL experience by exploring MyGateway, MyView, DARS, and learning about student organizations, services and resources,” said Peter Acsay, associate teaching professor of history. MyGateway and MyView are portals on the university’s Web site, and DARS is the Degree Audit Reporting System that allows students to check their academic progress.

In the second and third parts of the course, students choose two different modules corresponding to academic departments in the College of Arts and Sciences, Acsay said. The course counts toward the 120 credit hours needed for graduation and is graded on a pass/fail basis.

Acsay, who chaired the committee that designed the course, is coordinating the course with the help of 25 faculty members and numerous teaching assistants. He said this level of faculty involvement is what differentiates this course from others around the nation.

“This course is along the lines of, but different and unique from those other courses,” Acsay said. “The difference is this course is being taught by regular faculty.”

Acsay said courses similar to University Studies began at Ivy League schools on the East Coast and are usually taught by teaching and graduate assistants.

Also addressing the students was Ron Yasbin, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

“This is an experiment,” Yasbin told the students. “We are looking to help you succeed and get feedback from you.”

One of the teaching assistants on hand said the course was a welcome addition.

“It’s about retention,” said Adnan Smajic, a junior psychology major from Bosnia. “Sometimes new students get the feeling they don’t belong, don’t always connect to the campus. That’s what this course is for. It’s a great course.”


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