In March of 2013, the BDIC Program was fortunate enough to send a cohort to Denver, CO to partake in the Fifth Annual Individualized Major Program National Conference hosted by Metropolitan State University-Denver. Director Michael Sugerman and Professor Susan Ware, along with five of the BDIC Peer Advisors, participated in the three-day event and represented BDIC in a conference filled with both well-established and newly founded programs from across the country.
On Thursday, Former Director Dan Gordon, now Associate Dean of the Commonwealth Honors College, started the conference as a co-presenter on the Founding of IMP Programs with Duke University’s Norman Keul. The afternoon continued with presentations by MSU Denver on Incubator Programs, East Carolina University’s newly established program, and round-table discussions on various topics including the administration of Individualized Programs and Career Planning for IMP graduates. The day concluded with a panel discussion of students in attendance from Drexel University, University of Connecticut, and UMass Amherst’s Peer Advisors Arielle Hansen and Guillaume Pagnier. This panel discussed their personal areas of interest, how research has played an integral role in their Concentrations, and where they hope to use their education either in graduate programs or in specific fields of interest.
The second day of the conference opened with a presentation on Peer Advising in Gateway Courses, presented by Peer Advisors Joseph Costello, Stephanie Ozahowski, and Emma Mulvaney. Their presentation covered a wide range of information, mainly focused on the role of the Peer Advisor in the Proposal Writing Course, but also touching on the Student Advisory Board, Information Sessions, Open Houses, the difference between Peer Advisors and Faculty Supervisors, and finally the other courses that BDIC offers to students. Immediately following their presentation was another UMass Amherst group comprised of Professor Susan Ware and Peer Advisor Guillaume Pagnier. Entitled “Lessons from a Two-Semester Gateway via Coursework”, their presentation evaluated the newly implemented introductory course for first year students interested in joining BDIC.
The IMP Conference was an eye-opening experience for all in attendance. The opportunity to foster connections between similar programs from across the country is always a rewarding experience, but most importantly it links information and resources to help these programs continue to thrive.