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Dean's Corner

By Elizabeth H. Simmons, January 14, 2016


As we begin the New Year, I’d like to reflect on a new beginning we’ve been working on in Lyman Briggs for the past six years. "That’s a long time to work on a new beginning," you might say. Yes— but this one is so valuable that it is worth the investment of time.

About six years ago, the faculty and students of Lyman Briggs noticed that students who started with MTH 1825 or MTH 103 when they entered Briggs were less likely to obtain the full Briggs Experience. They were enrolled in fewer Briggs courses during the crucial freshman year and were not as likely to stay in Briggs all the way until graduation. Since these freshmen were just as interested in science and just as motivated to succeed as the other students—and since they formed one of the most diverse populations within the college—this wasn’t an acceptable situation.

So the community decided it was time to create a new beginning for these students, to bring them more deeply into the Briggs community, where they belong. A new freshman science course, LB155, Instilling Quantitative and Integrative Reasoning was launched; sections of MTH 1825 and MTH103 began being offered by Lyman Briggs math faculty here in Holmes Hall ... the INQUIRE program was born. Since then, pre-freshman summer bridge programs like ESSA and Dow STEM Scholars have been started to provide a running start, while new off-sequence offerings of LB171 and LB172 have been created to keep students on trajectory. Opportunities for scientific field trips, research engagement, learning assistantships, and cohort-building social events have been added along the way.

Drs. Urquhart, Cass, and Davis at the award ceremony. (Photo by Derrick Turner.)

Two years ago, the leaders of the INQUIRE program (Dr. Samantha Cass, Dr. Maxine Davis, and Dr. Gerald Urquhart) received a 2014 MSU Excellence in Diversity Award because their work "exemplified diversity and inclusion in extraordinary ways." This year, Dr. Cass is officially becoming the inaugural Director of the INQUIRE program and Dr. Davis is becoming the first Associate Director. Under their leadership, we expect that INQUIRE will continue to press for all of our students to have the full Briggs Experience.

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December 2015
October 2015
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