Hopefully, you will notice two things about this issue of Denison Magazine.
First, it has a whole new look. The old design was launched in 2005. At that time, the idea was to create a publication that could stand on its own as a magazine. Today, the goal of this redesign is to celebrate Denison, its people, and programs. This shift was driven by fantastic feedback, for which I am very grateful, from Denisonians near and far. The new Denison Magazine is a work in progress that will unfold across the next few issues, and I hope you will be in touch to tell us how we are doing. What do you like? What might you change? What do you want to hear more about?
Second, this issue celebrates undergraduate research. Last fall, our faculty were recognized by the Council on Undergraduate Research for excellence. We were one of three colleges across the country that was recognized for the work we are doing. I am proud that we encourage and support undergraduate research for the following reasons:
It speaks volumes about the talents and commitment of our faculty to our students. Denison has always had, and continues to have, a faculty that is world class and incredibly engaged with and supportive of our students. Undergraduate research requires a lot from our faculty. Faculty devote tremendous amounts of time and energy to undergraduate research and sometimes change their own research agendas to engage in research students can do with them.
It also speaks volumes about the talents and passions of our students. Our students are smart, hard-working, curious, grateful, insightful, and engaged. As you read the profiles in this issue, you will be proud of this generation of Denisonians. I feel honored to work with them. They are carrying on a long tradition of Denison attracting and educating outstanding students with lots of interests and talents.
The liberal arts are about teaching students how to think, not what to think. Denison does this remarkably well. Our students are learning how to create knowledge and formulate ideas. They are learning to take apart big issues and explore those issues through scholarship. They are learning how new knowledge challenges and builds on understandings that came before.
Denison is steeped in high-impact educational practices. Over the last decade, a lot of work has been done at the national level to identify educational practices that lead to transformative learning. We are using a lot of these practices at Denison. Undergraduate research is one example.
Mentorship matters, and we do it often and well. Denison is defined by relationships. One place this really matters is with mentorship. Undergraduate research is a good example of how mentorship infuses our academic program. It comes with time spent in offices or labs, or traveling to a research site with a faculty member.
We are doing a lot of work to connect the liberal arts with career exploration. We are not making the mistake of many colleges by moving away from the liberal arts to embrace narrow preprofessional training. Rather, we are doubling down and embracing the incredible power of the liberal arts to help students become the architects of their own lives. Students doing undergraduate research are getting into medical school and Ph.D. programs. They also are using their research skills and experiences to get great jobs in everything from marketing to education to public health.
This is a college that is on the move. I would encourage people to go back and read the last issue of this magazine. (You can find it at denisonmagazine.com.) Undergraduate research is another example of the exciting work going on across the campus.
The profiles in this issue celebrate the people of Denison and how they come together to engage in one of the highest-impact practices we have in education. It is something we do well, and it is preparing our students to do well in their careers and beyond. It should fill you with Denison Pride.