Reading propels TROY to leading edge of education

Posted: Tuesday, 20 October 2009

TROY—Troy University may very well become the first university in the country to have each of its colleges conduct its very own reading initiative.

For the past three years, Troy University students have focused on a common reading initiative as the central part of its Quality Enhancement Plan. Students read a selected text, discuss it and classes in each discipline incorporate the text into the lessons.

As part of the University’s accreditation steps with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, each college will develop its own reading initiative beginning Fall 2010.

“The College Reading Initiative will greatly enhance the reading culture at the University. It will expand the Common Reading Initiative, which is based in the student’s first year of college, to reach students’ upper level years,” said First-year Studies Dean Eleanor Lee.

Already, the University is piloting to program through the College of Communication and Fine Arts, which is using Twyla Tharp’s “The Creative Habit: Learn and Use It for Life” as the text.

Tharp is an Emmy-winning choreographer from New York City whose work includes more than 130 dances created for her company and for others such as the Joffrey Ballet, The New York City Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, London’s Royal Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. She won a Tony Award for the Broadway musical “Movin’ Out.”

“As students or patrons of the arts, we all share the common bond of expression through the visual and performing arts,” said Dr. Maryjo Cochran, dean of the College of the Communications and Fine Arts. “Our mission this year through the COLRI initiative is to enhance our students understanding and appreciation of the arts through a year-long celebration of the creative process.”

The College is combining more than 50 fine and performing arts programs this year with the reading and discussions about the book and the arts programs. In addition, students have opportunities to meet the artists and ask questions about their creative processes.

Lee said the pilot program is already proving its worth.

“We see what a positive impact a college-wide reading initiative can have on the cultural and scholarly activities in that college,” she said. “What we want to see as a result of this intense focus on reading is a notable change in the learning environment as well as improvement in student learning outcomes.”

Dr. John Dew, associate vice chancellor for Institutional Research, Planning & Effectiveness who helps marshal the reading initiative, said the University’s other four colleges will be undergoing a text selection process in order to implement COLRI next fall.