Merriam-Webster: Salutary [săl′yə-tĕr′ē].
Promoting or intended to promote an improvement or beneficial effect.
Salutary neglect was a term used in the 17th and 18th centuries by the British to refer to their policies of ignoring strict enforcement of parliamentary laws that were created to exert control over the American colonies. The end of salutary neglect was a major impetus for the American Revolutionary War.
In higher education, the first-year student experience was historically characterized as one of salutary or benign neglect—the programming received by incoming students was thought to be helpful, but not much effort went into coordinating the overall experience or assessing its effectiveness. Salutary neglect of the first-year experience is no longer practiced at many colleges, serving to instigate an American student success revolution; however, one characterized more by cooperation than conflict. The roots of this revolution can be traced back to the 1970s, a time period of unrest and protest on college campuses around the country. At the University of South Carolina, President Thomas Jones sought to counter the divisions created by this turmoil through the creation of a new course designed to bond students to the institution and transform undergraduate teaching. A more intentional approach to the first-year college experience grew out of this vision, and today the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition continues to operate at the University of South Carolina.
A tremendous amount of work has gone into creating a more intentional first-year experience at UK, and the success of this effort speaks for itself. We are on track to report record retention and graduation rates this year. Complacency, however, does not align with UK’s aspirational student success goals. There is more work to be done. The Student and Academic Life Division will be launching an effort to re-examine and further improve the first-year experience at UK. This work will incorporate the outstanding efforts that are already taking place in this area, while working to better coordinate them across campus. It is important to recognize that the first-year experience involves everyone at UK—anyone who interacts with first-year students, in any way, plays a role in their success. Thus, we will work to include faculty, staff and students from across campus in this endeavor. If you would like to be a part of this campuswide effort, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and please feel free to offer suggestions, resources and comments.
One of the most gratifying experiences for a faculty or staff member occurs when we are reminded that we made a difference in a student’s life. This sense of gratification is most tangible when a student reconnects after many years—to thank you for a class you taught, the mentorship you provided, or the kindness you showed. Sometimes your influence can profoundly change the course of a student’s life.
John Thomas Scopes was a student at UK during the 1920’s, providing him firsthand exposure to the efforts at UK (led by Professors William Funkhouser, Arthur Miller and Glanville Terrell, as well as President McVey) to preserve the right to teach evolution discussed in my last brief (link to last brief). Following graduation, while Scopes was working as a substitute teacher in Tennessee, he volunteered to be prosecuted under an anti-evolution law that was established there, leading to the eponymous “Scopes Monkey Trial.” In “Defending Darwin,” current UK Biology Professor James J. Krupa cites a stirring homage to Professor Funkhouser taken from Scope’s memoir:
Teachers rather than subject matter also rekindled my interest in science. I saw Dr. Funkhouser … was a man without airs, who could have passed for a grocer or some other businessman, but he taught zoology so flawlessly that there was no need to cram for the final examination; at the end of the term there was a thorough, fundamental grasp of the subject in bold relief in the student’s mind, where Funkhouser had left it.
The Funkhouser Building is situated across from McVey Hall and houses UK’s Undergraduate Admission, Registrar, Financial Aid and Student Billing Offices.
Earlier this month the Trump Administration announced it will rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows those who entered the United States as minors to receive deferred action from deportation, along with eligibility to work. Congress was asked to develop a legislative solution before DACA is set to expire in six months. Please read President Capilouto’s message reaffirming The University of Kentucky’s commitment to and continued solidarity with our “DACA students” and their families during this time of uncertainty. In addition, the Dean of Students Office has created a central repository of resources available to those who might be impacted by these events.
If you know of any UK students whose lives have been significantly impacted by the multitude of hurricanes this year, please make them aware of the Emergency Assistance and Relief Fund that has been established to assist students facing financial emergencies. Please direct these students to the MoneyCATS team.
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Associate Provost for Student & Academic Life