Ave Maria University is introducing a newly developed Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), “Sophomore Success: Preparing Leaders for the Third Millennium.” The Sophomore Success QEP forms an integral part of the University’s reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
The new sophomore-experience program focuses on the growth and formation of students during their sophomore year at college. The so-called “sophomore slump” is a well-documented phenomenon. During orientation, freshmen are equipped with the materials to begin their journey through college. Juniors and seniors are thinking hard about the future, focusing on excelling in their field of study, gaining experience and developing a strong resume. Sophomores have moved beyond the uncertainties of their first year in college, but they have yet to reach the goal-driven intensity of their junior and senior years. Sophomores sometimes find themselves, so to speak, in limbo.
The Sophomore Success plan is designed to help sophomores turn this “limbo” into a year of personal growth and flourishing. Sophomores at Ave Maria University will confidently commit themselves to their education and begin to transition from students to professionals and leaders in a wide range of fields.
The goals of the program are twofold: (i) enhanced student integration with the liberal arts tradition, and (ii) proactive career development facilitated by growth in self-knowledge. Each of these goals can be broken down into two concrete outcomes.
First, students will understand and be able to articulate the nature and value of a liberal arts education within the Catholic intellectual tradition. How can a student be expected to commit to his or her studies without understanding the reasoning behind and the value of a liberal arts education? The Sophomore Success program proposes to help students embrace the value of their education, beginning with a specially devised sophomore orientation and followed by additional readings and discussions in Nature and Person (PHIL 205). With guidance from their professors, students will come to know the benefits of a liberal arts education within the Catholic intellectual tradition.
Second, sophomores will work on building oral skills, mastering the tools necessary for clear and effective communication. A study of great American political speeches will be integrated into the required sophomore year American Civilization course (POLT 203), culminating in a presentation that demonstrates a grasp of the conceptual and rhetorical elements of oral communication. Students completing their sophomore year at Ave Maria will be better prepared to articulate the understanding they’ve gained of and through their liberal arts education. Armed with the tools for effective communication, they will be ready to inspire others and be leaders in the 21st century.
A third outcome is that students will spend time identifying their talents and strengths. During sophomore orientation, students will become acquainted with the process of identifying their strengths and weaknesses through the Clifton StrengthsFinder questionnaire. Faculty members will be trained to mentor sophomores in light of the questionnaire, guiding students as they make choices about their course of study and future career. Dr. Keith Houde, Associate Professor of Psychology and Chair of the QEP Development Committee, said: “The Ave Maria University Quality Enhancement Plan reflects our ongoing commitment to improve the learning of our students.” Increased self-knowledge is a concrete way in which students at Ave Maria will be able to maximize the gains of their education.
The third outcome leads directly into the fourth and final outcome: Students will evaluate their goals, both academic and career-related, in light of their talents and strengths. Building on the knowledge gained in the discussions of the nature and benefits of a liberal arts education, the study of great speeches, the completion of the StrengthsFinder questionnaire, and in the meetings and discussions with faculty mentors, sophomores will begin looking towards the future. Working with Ave Maria’s Career Services, each sophomore will start to build a strong resume that reflects his or her unique strengths and moves the student forward on the path after college. As John Henry Newman writes, “[When] the Church founds a University, she is not cherishing talent, genius, or knowledge, for their own sake, but for the sake of her children, with a view to their spiritual welfare and their religious influence and usefulness, with the object of training them to fill their respective posts in life better, and of making them more intelligent, capable, active members of society” (Newman, Idea of a University, p. xxxix).
The goal of the Sophomore Success program, and ultimately, of a university education, is to form individuals ready to enter the world as responsible citizens and confident leaders. “Although it is focused on sophomores,” Houde remarked, “it is expected that the gains acquired during the sophomore year will be carried into the junior and senior years and beyond. We hope that the love of learning, eloquence in speaking, knowledge of self, and career preparation acquired here will translate into lives well-lived in the service of others.”
Ave Maria University sophomore and music major, Mary Joy Silmaro, is one of three finalists in the Rodgers North American Classical Organ Competition. Ms. Silmaro was selected by an international jury of high-profile performers: Dr. Frederick Swann, Dr. Christoph Bull, and Mr. Felix Hell. In May, Mary Joy will travel to Phoenix to compete for the grand prize.
About the Rodgers North American Classical Organ Competition
The Rodgers Instruments Corporation is pleased to announce that the Rodgers North American Classical Organ Competition has been revamped and will have a new focus on young performers in 2015.
When the competition began in 2011, it was open to organists up to the age of 35. Now, with the spectacular performances that the judges have seen from younger musicians during the past several years, it will become an event exclusively for 14-to-22-year-olds.
Equally exciting is the change to a new venue for the competition. Finalists will perform in the Music Theater of the stunning Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona. MIM is dedicated to offering a shared experience of the history of musical instruments throughout the world to visitors who tour its 200,000 square feet of exhibit space displaying instruments from 200 countries and regions.
Rodgers also announced the first place award in the competition will be named in honor of Frederick Swann. “Mr. Swann stands as an incredible example of lifelong dedication to excellence in artistry as well as organist education through his work with the AGO,” said Rodgers President Duane Kuhn. “It’s appropriate to recognize his vision and leadership by presenting the highest award in this competition in his honor.”
Cash awards for competition winners are $3,000 for first place, $2,000 for second and $1,500 for third. Winners of past competitions have gone on to appear as recitalists playing for audiences around the country.
About Mary Joy Silmaro
Mary Joy Silmaro is a Sophomore at Ave Maria University where she studies organ under Dr. Brice Gerlach. Mary Joy began her music training at age 5 with piano lessons from her homeschooling mother. She embarked on formal piano studies at age 7, violin at age 8, and voice at age 9. After her family moved to Newark, CA, she transitioned to studying organ and Gregorian chant with Sam Dorlaque, music director at St. Edward Catholic Church in Newark, CA. Mary Joy worked as organist and cantor in several churches in her teens, and currently serves at part-time organist at the Oratory in the town of Ave Maria, Florida.
Ave Maria University’s Political Economy and Government Program welcomes Professor Jenik Radon to campus for a lecture on February 27th at 5 p.m. in the Henkels Academic Building lecture hall. Professor Radon, Adjunct Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, is founder and director of the Eesti and Eurasian Public Service Fellowship, which has provided students from Columbia, Stanford and other institutions with the opportunity to intern in emerging nations. Radon participated in the constitutional peace process in Nepal and served as the drafter of the interim peace constitution. He has lectured in almost 40 nations.
We hope to see you on February 27!
Fr. Daniel Gallagher, a priest of the Diocese of Gaylord in Michigan, will hold a lecture on campus on Wednesday, February 18 at 5 pm. The lecture “Latin and the Work of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State,” will be held in the Henkels Academic Building Lecture Hall.
Fr. Daniel Gallagher holds degrees from the University of Michigan (B.S. and M.A.), the Catholic University of America (M.A. in Philosophy), and the Pontifical Gregorian University (S.T.L.). From 1995 to 2000, he studied Latin under the instruction of Fr. Reginald Foster, O.C.D., whom he succeeded in the Office of Latin Letters at the Vatican Secretariat of State in 2009. Prior to this current assignment, he served as Assistant Professor of Latin and Philosophy at Sacred Heart Major Seminary. While working as a papal Latinist, Fr. Gallagher is also pursuing a doctorate in
￼philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University with a dissertation entitled The Justification of the Axiom Unreceived Act is Unlimited in Thomistic Metaphysics.