Archive for August, 2007

Stephens College officially began the new school year with their annual opening convocation. More than 500 students attended the ceremony, as well as alumni and faculty and staff members, to honor the college’s 174th anniversary. This year, about 285 new students are attending Stephens and total enrollment is at more than 1,000 students, a 15 percent increase from last year.

Rebecca Shaw, a Stephens College alumna and the current vice president of Spaeth Communications in Dallas, was the keynote speaker for the convocation. Shaw graduated from Stephens in 1972 with a business degree and has since become an award-winning writer and a public relations and communications executive. In her speech, Shaw explained how Stephens has influenced her life since she graduated. “Stephens gave me leadership opportunities that I didn’t know I could have,” she said. “Stephens forever shaped my character and values.”

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An investigation of the April 16th shootings at Virgina Tech found that better communication between various members of the university’s community might have helped Seung Hui Cho get the mental health care he needed.

The report by the investigative panel found that some campus officials believed federal and state laws regarding the release of private health records prevented them from sharing information about Cho. However, the report notes, the law allows discussion of student health information in “potentially dangerous” situations.

Missouri’s mental health law also includes this exception to the privacy of health care records. Also, since MU receives funds under an applicable program from the U.S. Department of Education, it falls under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), stating that a student who is over 18 must give written permission to the school for it to release any educational records. However, the school has the ability to override this rule in the case “of health and safety emergencies.”

A state task force recently released its recommendations to improve safety on Missouri’s college campuses. The task force, comprised of school administrators, law enforcment officers, first-responders and security experts, recommended campuses offer full-time access to on-campus, licensed mental health services to all students, faculty and staff.

MU Police Chief Jack Watring said the university’s current emergency plan addresses 90 percent of the recommendations released Tuesday by the state’s Campus Security Task Force.

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Hazing Hotline

According to a press release posted on the Inside Indiana Business website 21 international fraternities and sororities have collaborated in efforts to create ‘the Greek Anti-Hazing Hotline.’ Members of any fraternity or sorority are encouraged to call the hotline if they have experienced hazing or suspect that hazing is occurring. The office of Manley Burke, a law firm in Cincinnati that publishes a law journal concerning the legal issues that surround Greek organizations, manages the hotline. Callers are allowed to remain anonymous and Manley Burke will forward all messages to the proper “fraternal organization” and the authorities when required by individual state law.

Sixteen of the 21 international fraternities and sororities involved in the hotline’s creation have chapters on the MU campus. Earlier this month the Columbia Missourian reported that after being reprimanded for hazing in 2004 MU’s chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon has eliminated pledging all together in efforts to stop hazing.

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“What Will You Invent?”

The Reynolds Journalism Institute and Adobe Systems are inviting MU students to participate in an interdisciplinary contest. The competition will require students, in groups of 2-4, to utilize Adobe’s AIR platform, and create a desktop application that aims to improve community news organizations.

Sites such as buzzword.com, the first web based word processor, which allows users a greater deal of interactivity, were created using AIR.

A faculty panel will choose three finalist groups, who will then be given $5,000 to develop their product. Final presentations will take place on February 1, 2008 with the first place team awarded $10,000. The final three applets will remain the property of the Reynolds Journalism Institute.

“We’re trying to re-establish strong connections between citizens and professional journalists. One of the ways is through the use of the latest technologies,” said Mike McKean, an MU Convergence Journalism faculty member.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that journalism schools, such as the Northwestern University’s Medill School, have been attempting to change their approach in order to appeal to a greater variety of people.

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A novel idea

There’s been some handwringing in journalism — and journalism education — circles about the changes taking place at the Medill School at Northwestern, specifically the disappearing line between reporting and writing skills and marketing. But it seems the journalism class at Naples High School in Florida is well out in front of the curve.

Honors journalism students are not only getting graded on how they write, but half their grade is determined based on how many ads they sell for the yearbook…. The syllabus says $600 will get you an A, $500 will get you a B, $400 gets a C, $300 gets a D and less than $300 worth of ads sold will earn a student an F on the assignment.

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MU’s first-day enrollment of first-time African-American students was 331, the second highest number in more than a decade. Ann Korschgen, vice provost for enrollment management, said that although the 2006 enrollment was slightly higher, at 355, both last year and this year taken together represent “significant” numbers. This year’s official number will be available in mid-September; Korschgen said it probably won’t differ much from the opening-day count that was released Aug. 20.

In addition to MU’s commitment to diversifying the campus, Korschgen credits diversity recruiting efforts, including an admissions representative who targets under-represented groups, and hosting visits specifically for educators and students in St. Louis and Kansas City schools.

Scholarships are also important, Korschgen said, but MU offered the same scholarships to minority groups in the late 1990s, when minority enrollment was declining, as during this decade, when numbers have been increasing. MU introduced the scholarships in 1994, and that year, 334 African-American students enrolled in college for the first time. That number declined steadily until spiking again in 2002, when the university began its outreach programs to St. Louis, and has risen ever since.

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