Document Type

Reviews and Responses


In their forum on the First-Year Cornerstone course, April Chatham-Carpenter and Deedee Heistad (2015) explain their memories of developing the program and sketch a vision of what they hope they have achieved. Certainly, all involved have worked "toward the goal of helping first-year students succeed in college," and they should be commended for their dedication and efforts to bring together often disconnected parts of the university in the name of improving student learning, retention, and overall satisfaction. As an early member of the planning team who assisted bringing the proposal for Cornerstone to the Liberal Arts Core Committee in 2010 and as a participant in teaching Cornerstone during its initial pilot, I would affirm that the program has great potential and that there was a great deal of excellent work laying important theoretical and philosophical principles for the course's aims, purposes, and outcomes. However, as Chatham-Carpenter and Heistad demonstrate in their forum and in other statements, those basic and important principles are not always what appear to lead the way. To their credit, Chatham-Carpenter and Heistad certainly spent many hours and worked very hard to establish the program and grow it. Yet, their forum allows a more distanced observation of their work, one which suggests areas for improvement and further research-based consideration so that Cornerstone might not only boast of its collaborative excellence, but also boast of its excellence in teaching first-year students the value of communication, critical thinking, and civility as a necessary and connected domain of life in the 21st Century. Such a program has the potential to significantly strengthen teaching, learning, scholarship, and service across the entire campus.

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©2016 David M. Grant



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