Executive Summary

 

Preparing Good Men and Great Leaders for a Culturally Diverse World

Summer, 2006

As part of Hampden-Sydney College's reaffirmation of accreditation review, the College has submitted to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) designed to improve the College's academic program.  Following a detailed review of the College's mission and educational objectives, and bearing in mind the strict criteria mandated by SACS for a QEP, the College developed a plan entitled Preparing Good Men and Great Leaders for a Culturally Diverse World.  As its title suggests, this plan builds upon the College's historical success in educating its graduates for leadership by enhancing its students' intercultural competence-that is, their understanding of the changing world, their appreciation of differences among diverse peoples, and their skills in communicating and interacting with people very different from themselves.

The College's Quality Enhancement Plan has two major goals, each supported by several specific objectives.  Upon completion of the QEP the College anticipates that its students will 

  1. have developed their understanding and knowledge of the range of social, economic, religious, and political factors that contribute to the creation of the different perspectives on life that may be held by individuals whose backgrounds are different from their own, and
  1. have developed their ability to listen well and communicate effectively in speech and in writing, and interact in productive ways, with individuals whose backgrounds are different from their own in both formal and informal settings.

The QEP addresses these goals in a multifaceted manner.  Broadly stated, the plan establishes venues through which students can increase their opportunities for contact with people different from themselves.  It addresses key problems such as the fact that many students do not take advantage of programs already offered on campus that would enhance their understanding of other cultures, and the fact that students too often do not see why such interactions are important in the 21st-century world.  The plan also deals with issues such as integrating proposed programs into a community where some members may be uncomfortable with cultural differences and may have come to the College seeking a homogeneous environment.  This plan defines both intercultural competence and cultural diversity in broad terms and recognizes that even within the dominant culture of the College, there is already much diversity.  In short, it aims to enhance students' knowledge and understanding of people whose backgrounds are different from their own, and works to develop their ability to communicate and to interact productively with people different from themselves so that graduates of Hampden-Sydney will leave the College well prepared for citizenship and leadership in the modern world.

Developed using information gleaned from an extensive examination of literature and research that addressed the broad topics of academic diversity, cultural competence, and preparation for citizenship in a culturally diverse world, the specific plan formulated by the College comprises four fundamental initiatives:

 I.              Residential Foreign Language Houses and an International House

During the first year of the QEP, the College will create one residential foreign language (Spanish) house on campus.  In the second year, two additional houses (likely Spanish and French) will be created, contingent upon student demand.  The College also will establish an on-campus International House for housing a portion of its international students. 

 II.           Amity Scholars

Each year the College will bring Amity Scholars to campus through the Amity Institute Intern program:  one Amity Scholar in the first year of implementation of the QEP, and two each year thereafter.  (Amity Scholars are international volunteer teaching assistants who visit the United States to assist in language programs and to share their cultural heritage.)  At least one Amity Scholar should come from a Spanish-speaking country and would be expected to live in the appropriate language-theme house or in one of the residence hall apartments.

 III.         Scholars-, Writers-, and Artists-in-Residence

Each year the College will bring to campus a distinguished scholar, writer, or artist who will live on campus for part or all of one semester.  These scholars-in-residence will vary both professionally and culturally so that students have the opportunity to interact with individuals with a wide variety of perspectives who are working in a wide variety of academic areas.  Individuals with diverse cultural backgrounds and/or countries of origins will be invited.

 IV.        Budgets for Student-Sponsored Academic and Cultural Enhancement Projects

The College will establish funds that students can use to plan and carry out on-campus programs that relate to the theme of "the culturally diverse world."

Major administrative oversight of the Quality Enhancement Plan and responsibility for assessing its success will fall under the purview of the College's chief academic officer, the Provost and Dean of the Faculty, because the QEP is primarily educational in nature.  However, certain areas of the QEP (e.g., establishment of foreign language houses and an International House) overlap with the Dean of Students' responsibilities, so these two administrators necessarily will work together to bring the plan to fruition.