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Dean's Report - Spring 2015

Dear Friends,

“Hectic” is the best word to describe the last weeks of the academic year. Academic programs and student groups have awards ceremonies and receptions, while students prepare term papers and get ready for final exams Our seniors and their families celebrate graduation as the enter life as an FSU alumnus.

The time of relative quiet after graduation is a time of reflection for my office. It is a time for us to review some of our programs and chart their future course. Some, like our Social Science Scholars program, which will select its fifth cohort next year, are mature programs that need to stay on their path of success. Our new social entrepreneurship program, on the other hand, went from zero to sixty in its first year. This year saw more success than I could have hoped for, but we need to take some time this summer to evaluate our early success and chart a future course.

These programs and others like them are components of the college’s Get More Than a Degree initiative. Students need to know that just taking classes may get you a degree, but it will not prepare you for life. Getting more than a degree means being involved in student groups, being engaged in research projects, having internships and international experiences, and participating in the intellectual, social, and political life of the campus.

In this context it is worth noting a recent book by Kevin Carey, The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere. Carey predicts that most institutions of higher learning will cease to exist as students are able to “get educated” by taking free online courses. This focus on courses is a narrow perspective of what the college experience should be. Research shows that most people who start such courses do not complete them, suggesting that young people now and in the future will be well served by attending universities in person.

Our College of Social Sciences and Public Policy’s Get More Than a Degree initiative is at the core of what makes traditional higher education superior. In Donald Heller’s review of Carey’s book, he observed, “A bachelor’s degree is more than a collection of individual courses; college—when done right—satisfies other development objectives as well, including extracurricular learning, developing interpersonal communication skills (both on line and face to face), and instilling a sense of an individual’s roles in a democratic society.” (The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 20, 2015 p 64.)

Florida State University, like our college, every day demonstrates the truth that massive free on-line courses can never compete with the educational experience we offer our students. In Social Sciences and Public Policy we are committed to continually expanding educational opportunities beyond the classroom.

At the end of this academic year, as with every year, students from the college were recognized university-wide for their outstanding research, service to the campus and community, entrepreneurship, leadership, and much more. This shows how vital our Get More Than a Degree initiative is. We’re not just turning out graduates who have passed a series of courses; we’re producing people who, thanks to a range of experiences and opportunities, are ready to build successful careers taking on the challenges of our ever-changing world.

Wishing you a pleasant summer!
David W. Rasmussen, Dean