Amelia Carpenter

The Western Program plans for approximately 50 to 80 first-year students to live in Peabody Hall next year as part of the new Living Learning Community, “Activism and Engaged Learning.”

The new Western Program will be unveiled to prospective first-years and sophomores in fall 2010, according to the program’s Interim Director Mary Jean Corbett.

Corbett said a group of 11 faculty members, selected by Corbett this fall, will work during the spring to create a curriculum for the new program.

“What we have so far is essentially a Web site, which is better than nothing,” Corbett said. “We have not had enough time to design a curriculum. That takes a while.”

According to Corbett, faculty will begin working on the program’s curriculum in January, after they are released from their respective responsibilities and departments.

Corbett said approximately 50 to 80 first-years are expected to live in the program’s new Living Learning Community (LLC), “Activism and Engaged Learning,” in Peabody Hall.

Corbett said there will also available space for selected sophomores, who will pioneer a set of courses called “courses in common.”

The program planned on debuting in fall 2009, but Corbett said a delay in university approval set the project back a year.

According to Corbett, the program’s faculty members have been chosen from the College of Arts and Science; the School of Education, Health and Society; and the School of Fine Arts.

All of their biographies and pictures, Corbett said, can now be found on the Western Program’s Web site.

Junior Ali Tanker, a student currently in the Western Program said she is excited for the new program to start.

“Change isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” Tanker said. “I’m excited for the new process to come in. I only wish we could interact with (the new prospective Western students).”

Senior Karen Gotter also said she feels comfortable graduating from the program with the promise of a new, improved Western Program.

“I’m really pleased with what the faculty are doing,” Gotter said. “It’s about engaged learning, which will include internships and volunteer experiences, so it will be more outside the classroom work.”

Corbett said the old program will graduate 25 students in 2009, and its final class will spend the 2009-10 academic year finishing senior projects.

Corbett said she has a positive outlook for the new additions and improvements to the new Western Program.

“What I would like to see is that students in this program have flexibility and more freedom to think outside the box,” Corbett said. “(Students will be able) to design their own program and name their own program that fits their interests, their professional fields, and what they want to do with their lives as opposed to entering some pre-existing category.”

As for the transitional year, Corbett said she is glad for the extra cushion it will give to the program.

“We want to vet it, we want to test drive it in certain ways, (such as receiving) former students’ opinions,” Corbett said. “We need to actually vet it with a fair amount of people.”

Genevieve O’Malley Knight, Western Program associate, also said she is eager for the new program to begin.

“(We’ve been) meeting for what we’re going to be doing for the curriculum and there’s a lot of eagerness to make something interesting in many ways for the student, the university, the individual faculty members and something really student-centered and supportive,” O’Malley Knight said.

The Web site for the new Western Program is