Lecture series focus on freshmen, required for Signature Courses

AddThis

Dr. Lori Holleran Steiker, Associate Professor for the School of Social Work, discusses her research at the University Lecture Series in the Bass Concert Hall Monday evening. The University Lecture Series brings in faculty members to speak about research and relevant issues to first-year students.

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

Although events that unite the freshman class are rare other than back-to-school events and Saturday night football games, the School of Undergraduate Studies hosted the first in a two-part lecture series aimed at sparking a shared dialogue among new students Monday.

Monday night’s lecture, “Research that Changes the World,” focused on introducing freshmen to the wide variety of research opportunities available on campus. The event featured Lori Holleran Steiker, associate professor of social work; Zachary Elkins, associate professor of government; and Juan Dominguez, assistant professor of psychology. Paul Woodruff, philosophy and classics professor and the School of Undergraduate Studies’ first dean, served as moderator. Woodruff stepped down from his post as dean in August to return to the classroom.

Woodruff said the event was planned with assistance from the Senate of College Councils and was the result of the same discussions that spurred the creation of Signature Courses, introductory courses that all freshmen are required to take.

“The alumni had suggested that we have the same course for all freshmen and we talked about that quite a lot, and realized we couldn’t do it,” Woodruff said. “But most of the signature-course students will either attend one of these events or listen to them online.”

Between six and seven thousand students are expected to listen to the lectures in one of their available formats, Woodruff said. For the majority of students in signature classes, attending at least one of the lectures is mandatory.

Many students said they appreciated the chance to get introduced to UT’s research programs.

“I really know nothing about research, which I know is a huge deal at UT,” said Taylor Chapman, a public relations senior who transferred to UT as a sophomore. “I honestly probably wouldn’t have come to the lecture on my own, but I’m glad I’m here.”

For some students, the program addressed a specific interest.

“I’m really interested in undergraduate research,” undeclared pre-pharmacy freshman Amy Le said. “I’d been planning to contact a professor in the pharmacy school, and after tonight, I actually know how.”

Others got a general sense of research opportunities, even if their specific fields were not addressed. Business freshman Sela Flowers said she wished the program had featured representatives from each college.

“I would have been interested to know what business research opportunities are available,” Flowers said. “But I still got something out of tonight, because now I know the research opportunities are out there.”

The second part of the University Lecture Series, “Election 2012: History, Rhetoric, Politics,” will be held from 7-8 p.m. Tuesday night in Bass Concert Hall. The lecture is open and free to anyone.

Printed on Tuesday, September 18, 2012 as: Freshman lecture series inspires