New College to offer collaborative summer school program

eearl@bradenton.comMarch 24, 2013 

SARASOTA -- In one of his first innovative moves, New College of Florida's new president is opening the state liberal arts honors college this summer to every in-state college student coming home to the area or sticking around for classes.

Donal O'Shea, who took the helm at New College in February, wants to do something to make the school on the county line accessible to everyone by opening the campus to students at every state school, from State College of Florida to Florida State University, as well as to students at area schools such as the Ringling College of Art and Design and Eckerd College.

O'Shea told the Herald last week that New College is starting the program in June.

It would be beneficial for students from out of the area because they can return to Bradenton over the summer without forfeiting the opportunity to earn credits," O'Shea said.

The pilot program will be open for class registration April 15.

The New College summer

program is unique in that it will draw on its regular full-time faculty rather than temporary adjunct professors. Six classes, including General Chemistry I, Introduction to American Government, Introduction to Psychology and Classical Mythology -- have been confirmed. Other courses include 3D Modeling, 3D Printing and Electronic Music in Code, a class that teaches how to use open-source programming language to make music.

More classes may be announced soon. Provost Stephen Miles has given faculty until April 1 to choose courses that they will offer and is still receiving class proposals.

O'Shea hopes the pilot program will allow other students to see the benefits the liberal arts college has to offer. It is also a first step in practicing classroom collaboration between New College and other campuses across Florida.

The summer courses will be for university students only, not dual enrollment students or incoming freshmen. Adult learners in the community are also invited to register.

O'Shea said he hopes this is just a first step toward unity among the area's college campuses. He has planned a retreat in June with college presidents Carol Probstfeld of SCF and Ringling's Larry Thompson, as well as University of South Florida's Regional Chancellor Arthur Guilford, to discuss sharing resources and mixing attendance to offer a wider variety of educational opportunities to students in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

"There are great education institutions within three miles of our campus," O'Shea said. "We have different missions; we don't compete. But we also don't collaborate."

Before coming to New College, O'Shea, a Harvard graduate, was the dean of faculty and vice president of academic affairs of Mount Holyoke, a women's private liberal arts college in Massachusetts. He is also a mathematician and headed sponsored research and chaired the mathematics department.

Differences in grading scales and scheduling could pose potential hurdles for future collaboration, but O'Shea says New College is willing to work to get around that.

In the summer school pilot, New College students will receive their normal grade evaluations and either an unsatisfactory or a satisfactory, which is how their system works.

In order to properly earn credit, other students from outside of New College will receive a letter grade.

O'Shea said that as of this month, they have not done any market research and, so far, the program is simply a pilot.

The success of these summer courses is contingent on student registry. O'Shea said they will not continue to offer the summer program if the community does not respond.

Depending on the class, courses will be four to six weeks long.

Registration will open April 15, and the tuition costs aren't finalized. New College is still to announce the exact date the summer program will begin.

Erica Earl, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081.

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