First-Year Seminar director resigns

By Campus Editor

First-Year Seminar, the college’s required introductory course for freshman students, will see several changes during the upcoming academic year as its leadership and direction shift.

Douglas Reichert Powell, the director of FYS, announced his immediate resignation from the position at the department’s Aug. 13 faculty forum.

Michael Lawrence, a FYS lecturer and former assistant director of FYS, has been named the acting director. Lisa DiFranza will fill Lawrence’s now vacant position.

Reichert Powell, who assumed the position in July 2013, said he is stepping down because of conflicts with faculty in the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He said budget decisions were made without his input, which left him out of other decisions that greatly affected the way policies would be implemented into the program.

“There were some late-breaking developments in the budget picture that I felt were handled in a way that really undermined my authority as director to where I couldn’t continue,” Reichert Powell said. “As for who was actually making these decisions, it’s not entirely clear to me, which is part of the reason why I was upset.”

Despite stepping down as director, Reichert Powell is still teaching an honors section of FYS this semester and said he wants to maintain a positive working relationship with the department.

“I have tremendous confidence in Michael Lawrence and Lisa DiFranza,” Reichert Powell said. “These are really experienced First-Year Seminar instructors who are also great people.”

Lawrence said his plans for FYS include continuing conversations about reorganizing the department with Stan Wearden, the senior vice president & provost. Although the upcoming changes have yet to be fully determined, he said there will be new visual and physical texts that approximately one-third of the sections will be implementing this semester, including a short film titled “Noah.” 

“Our plans have to do with continuing the conversation with the college community as a whole about where we’re taking the First-Year Seminar moving forward,” Lawrence said. “We’re going into it with a real adventurous spirit of extending the conversation about what works, what connects with students and what helps us achieve the goals of the class.” 

Wearden outlined the new direction he wanted FYS to pursue at the forum. He said he wants department chairs to select the best faculty from their departments to teach the course and to encourage instructors to bring their unique expertise to their classes in an effort to diversify the sections.

“[FYS is] not sufficiently integrated into what we do across the curriculum in each of the departments,” Wearden said at the forum. “There will be change [and] I really hope that it’s radical change.”