The College of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, or CFWS, recently held a Town Hall hosted by the Student Government Association, or SGA, the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Scott Enebak and Dean Janaki Alavalapati. Director of Student Services Jodie Kenney and Academic Advisor Michelle Cole were also present.
Current SGA president James Treadwell led the meeting and introduced secretary Erin Olive, senator Nico Martinez, and incoming president Payton Brewer.
“The Town Hall serves as a platform where students within our college can ensure their voices are heard and represented by our deans in order to promote a more diverse and inclusive learning environment,” said Treadwell.
Senator Martinez proposed two initiatives: the establishment of a Tiger Transit stop at the college and the placing of food trucks close to the building. Students showed much interest in the latter, and Enebak suggested collaboration with groups near CFWS, such as students at the College of Nursing, the Harrison School of Pharmacy and the Department of Poultry Science in the College of Agriculture.
“Connecting with student groups that are also affected by the lack of food options will help show Campus Dining that action should be taken for all these advocates and not just the College of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences alone,” said Enebak.
At the Town Hall held in the past fall semester, it had been suggested that the addition of power strips in the main lecture hall would be a useful tool for keeping a laptop charge during class. This meeting, Enebak announced that he is working with Michelle Straw and Auburn’s Facilities Management to have them installed soon.
To kick off the meeting Dean Alavalapati announced that the university has designated Forestry and Wildlife Sciences as a college.
“This designation is an important milestone in recognition of the school’s continued growth and pursuit of excellence and was made possible after five years of progress to show the prestige of faculty, staff and student work,” said Alavalapati.
The main topics discussed at the Town Hall were anticipated changes from the new designation, class scheduling and curriculum and career development resources.
Students asked what changes they could expect to see with the new distinction as a college.
“Considering immediate benefits, the designation as ‘College’ shows a strong institution, clearly defined as its own entity within the university. Funding from the state and university for research and other programs may increase with this recognition,” said Alavalapati.
Alavalapati also said if the size and excellence of the college continues to increase, it is expected that the student body and faculty will grow as well, and there is potential to departmentalize within the college. In three to four years, students may see an increase in student body size and the development of departments within the college.
“Even though we may not experience immediate changes during our time here as students and future alumni, we should be proud of the positive impacts of this development within our newly recognized college,” said Treadwell.
Students mentioned class scheduling concerns, saying that classes only offered in the spring or fall have led to students being required to remain in school for another semester or year, potentially delaying their graduation and shifting their career plans. There is also a desire for an increased variety of restricted management electives, of which three are required from each student for graduation from CFWS.
Class curriculum can be intense, especially with courses that have minimal tests and grading opportunities where one test grade can diminish the effort of many other assignments. Students suggested that professors could introduce more grades such as through quizzes to help better exhibit student performance.
“Administrators cannot directly dictate how classes are taught, but we can present these student concerns and offer alternative methods,” said Dean Alavalapati.
He also explained that the Advisory Board does have access to syllabus percentages, so there is awareness of class success.
Career development resources were also discussed, including the issue of the career fair being held during class hours. Students also spoke on the desire for an increased variety of companies that regularly take part in the career fair. Many of these employers are primarily forestry related and are not able to fully represent the range of student majors or available careers.
Students asked about a dedicated staff member for career resources and the dean will be looking into the development of such a role. Enebak pointed to the college’s current career resource liaison, Jennifer Crowder.
Crowder, a representative from the University Career Center, is available for drop-in visits to help students with resume building and career resources on Mondays from 2:00-3:30 pm in the student lounge.
Other issues discussed include checking the Auburn University Facilities website for construction updates that impact parking in the gravel lot next to the Old Rotation, alternative organization of CFWS email announcements, and the desire for a bike maintenance pole near the building.
(Written by Avanelle Elmore)