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New online classroom scheduling system coming this fall

The Penn State Office of the University Registrar is set to implement the first phase of a new automated classroom scheduling system this fall. CollegeNET Series25 is comprised of three systems (Schedule25, 25Live, X25) that will integrate with the current Facility Information System to improve classroom and event scheduling, space management, and facilities planning across the University. The Schedule25 system is designed to optimize the use of classroom space by evaluating the capacity, location, and features of classrooms to determine the best room matches for each class.

Schedule25 will roll out in September as part of the phased implementation of LionPATH, the University's new student information system. At that time, departments will receive training and begin scheduling their Fall 2016 courses within LionPATH, which integrates with the Schedule25 optimizing tool to schedule classrooms. Specialty rooms, such as laboratories, will be scheduled manually in LionPATH first, before the automated optimizer begins scheduling general all-purpose classroom space. The implementation of 25Live, the complementary one-time event scheduling system, will follow at a later date. With Series25, the Registrar's Office will be able to track which classrooms are free at any given time. This will make it possible to quickly move a class to another suitable room in the event of an emergency, such as a burst water pipe. In addition, the X25 system offers the University many new analytical tools not available in ISIS, the current student information system. These tools will provide both valuable data on how classroom facilities are used and key insights into how to optimize classroom scheduling and space management.

Record number of students participate in 2015 Undergraduate Exhibition

On April 8, more than 300 students from across the University presented their research at the annual Undergraduate Exhibition, held in the HUB-Robeson Center. A Performing Arts Showcase featuring students from the School of Music was held the evening before. "The Exhibition gives students important experience in communicating their work," said Beth Crowe, Assistant Vice President and Assistant Dean for Undergraudate Education. "The event also is very much a celebration of the research and creative accomplishments of Penn State undergraduate students and we are proud to recognize their contributions in this way."

Cash prizes were presented to the top entries in the fields of arts and humanities, engineering, health and life sciences, physical sciences, social and behavioral sciences, as well as a course-based project category. The Gerard A. Hauser Prize, given to the poster judged best overall, was presented to Adison Godfrey, a senior majoring in English, for her project, Benjamin Franklin and the Culture of Friendship, which showed the importance of bonds and how they worked to enrich men's careers and elevate their class standing during the eighteenth century.

For the second year, students were invited to submit ROARs (Recording of Academic Research), 2-3 minute videos communicating the main message of their research. Rhea Sullivan, a first-year student in the Eberly College of Science, won the top prize for her ROAR, which creatively presented her work using C elegans to study geonomic deletions that contribute to autism. See Rhea's ROAR on The Research Opportunities for Undergraduates website.

Civic and Community Engagement Intercollege Minor continues to grow

Since its inception in 2004, the Civic and Community Engagement Intercollege Minor (CIVCM) at Penn State has encouraged and systematized student participation in public service and problem-based fieldwork and research. Under the direction of Ted Alter, Professor of Agricultural, Environmental, and Regional Economics, and Glenn Sterner, Ph.D. candidate in Rural Sociology, CIVCM at Penn State has grown and is now offered at 10 campus locations, with plans to expand to others over the coming year.

For the first time, graduating seniors exhibited their capstone experiences at a poster symposium that was held on April 30 in the HUB-Robeson Center. The event showcased the important engaged scholarship that CIVCM students undertake during their undergraduate experience. Deepanshu Chaudhari, John Miller, and Ryan Smith, three students who traveled from the Schulykill campus, presented their project in which they helped monitor and track the technological needs of a K-12 school system more efficiently.

This fall, Penn State Abington will host a gathering of CIVCM faculty from across Penn State, along with community partners, to develop scholarly outputs and discuss ways to involve others interested in engaged scholarship at Penn State. This faculty effort, led by Gary Calore, Coordinator of Intercollegiate and Interdisciplinary Programs and Associate Professor of Philosophy at Penn State Abington, is a superb example of the commitment CIVCM faculty have to advancing engaged scholarship.

Schreyer Institute hosts fourth annual Course Design Academy

Each year in March, Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence consultants Crystal Ramsay and Kathy Jackson invite Penn State faculty to apply to participate in a free, week-long institute focused on course design. Selected participants spend a week at the Schreyer Institute as part of a faculty community, working with Kathy and Crystal, to apply principles of learning to their own course design or redesign. By the end of the week, participants have created a coherent and well-aligned (i.e., clearly connected objectives, learning activities, assessment) course syllabus and a course design document for ongoing planning. Participants make such considerable progress that much of their summertime course planning work gets done in that one week at the CDA! This spring, 13 faculty participated.

A hallmark of the CDA, besides its focus on learning principles and evidence-based teaching strategies, is a diverse community of Academy participants. Since May of 2012, the CDA has included faculty from Penn State Abington, Altoona, Behrend, Berks, Brandywine, Fayette, Hazleton, Lehigh Valley, New Kensington, University Park, and Worthington Scranton. Disciplinary diversity is evident as well. Our 40 previous participants have represented Arts and Architecture, Business, Earth and Mineral Sciences, Education, Engineering, Health and Human Development, IST, the Law School, Nursing, and Science.

Previous participants continue to do exciting teaching-focused work and to be recognized for their commitment to teaching and learning. In July, Sarah Ades, Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, (UP, 2012 CDA) will be part of a Penn State delegation from the Eberly College of Science going to China to present a three-day teaching workshop to faculty at Fudan University. Dr. Ades will be working with Fudan faculty on student-centered teaching approaches, active learning, formative assessment, and recognizing the expert-novice gap and how to navigate it. Several other faculty participants have been the recipients of teaching awards, including the George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Alumni/Student Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Undergraduate Education fast facts: New Student Orientation

This summer, 7,400 students and 11,000 parents and family members will attend one of 38 two-day New Student Orientation sessions at University Park for an introduction to life at Penn State on campus, in the classroom, and in the State College community.