From: Dr. Brian Doore
To: The Unity College Community
This June, I embarked on a new phase of my career in accepting the position of Chief Student Success Officer at Unity College. Over the past three months, I have had the pleasure of working with an amazing team of Unity people including Dylan Dillaway, Kate Coseo, Aimee Phillipi, Erika Latty, Beth Tilton, Bobbi Thomas, Pam McRae, Jennifer Cartier, Rachel Kahn, Ray Phinney, and Josh Kercsmar on the First Two Years (F2Y) Phase I Task Force. Together, we have worked intensively to move the First Two Years project forward in substantial and tangible ways. During these 12 weeks, we have had weekly project team meetings, dozens of check-ins, and two major workday events with over 50 faculty and staff participating. During these events, our colleagues engaged in the heavy lifting of reviewing learning outcomes, considering instructional models, and designing exploratory testbed expeditionary learning experiences. I am pleased to say we have collaboratively designed a number of key elements of the F2Y project moving forward.
As you have seen in the weekly F2Y updates shared with all employees, the Phase I task force has suggested a structure, delivery model, and calendar for the F2Y project. I will be working to bring these preliminary recommendations through the formal review process over the coming months. These were not easy discussions, but they provide us with a roadmap to launching the project fully in the Fall of 2020. Specifically, the group has concluded that a 10-week term combined with an expeditionary learning approach will allow for a broad range of possible expeditionary learning environments that can be taught using one of several perspectives (we call them lenses). Our group will unpack this model and these lenses for all employees in the upcoming Professional Development day, and we will lead several extended professional development sessions for faculty the following day.
As a new person, I’ve also enjoyed the chance to review the work done previously on the F2Y project. My predecessor, Dr. Sarah Cunningham, led many aspects of the design for our current work plan. While the decision to recommend expeditionary learning as the model for F2Y was determined this summer, the genesis (and credit) of that model must go to Sarah and those she organized in an earlier working Ad Hoc committee comprised of a representative group of faculty and staff. That group’s work, in concert with the feedback and input gathered through events like last year’s professional development, Unity Works, Faculty Meeting, CAPC, and weekly F2Y updates resulted in dozens of individual data points and the inclusion of multiple perspectives in the framing documents Sarah and her team developed. One of her final actions was to present this framework to the staff and faculty in May 2018. In that presentation, she emphasized the importance of developing F2Y within the context of a changing higher education marketplace. As you will see in the coming weeks and months, the vision that the Phase I task force has created is both bold and ambitious. It charts a course for an immersive, integrated, and challenging course of study that looks unlike anything else in higher education. As the charge for the Phase I task force nears its completion in September, I will be organizing a new group of individuals to begin the second phase of work surrounding financial aid related issues. Simultaneously, CAO Latty will assemble faculty and staff representing a range of constituencies to address curricular and co-curricular design related issues. In addition we are currently redesigning the F2Y website to include a comprehensive repository of all project-related materials (coming October 1, 2018!)
As I continue to lead and facilitate the F2Y initiative, it is my hope to continue the spirit of communication and collaboration I have found in this project historically. Coming from a large state school, I find the level of candor and cooperation among my Unity Colleagues to be refreshing and constructive. I offer my great thanks to members of the Phase I team for educating me about the vision for F2Y. I have gained an initial understanding of the work and of the promise this project offers to the students of Unity College and as a model of what is possible in higher education if we work together for the common good.