‘Hastings College 2.0’ reimagines the college experience

Every student has the opportunity to study abroad at no additional cost. Every student receives an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. Every student takes only two classes at a time. Every student has an entire engagement team that supports their transition to and success in college.

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Dr. Travis Feezell addresses the audience at the launch of Hastings College 2.0 on Friday, September 21.

“What we’re doing is not some sort of college student dream. It’s the new Hastings College—Hastings 2.0—which begins in fall 2019,” said Hastings College president Dr. Travis Feezell. “It’s the culmination of 18 months of effort where we as a campus reimagined the college experience and how students engage and learn. It’s about who we will become as a college in the 21st century.”

Feezell and campus leadership made the “Hastings College 2.0” announcement Friday, September 21, on campus. During the event, he said higher education needs to evolve, to examine the ways it fosters within students the skills they need to grow into developed and capable leaders. “This drove our thinking, challenged us as an institution and pushed us to ask a lot of ‘what ifs’,” he said. “The result are three initiatives that include travel, technology and a new calendar and curriculum.”

Academic Calendar and Curriculum

Dr. Barbara Sunderman, the College’s academic dean, said as part of the process, faculty on campus looked to reimagine the way they interact with students on a daily basis.

“We have a rich, deep history of faculty engaging positively with students, of mentoring them to grow and be their best,” she said. “We wanted to make that even more intentional.”

The result is a new schedule that divides a traditional 16-week semester into a single two-week block and two seven-week blocks. During the two-week block, students take a single course, and during a seven-week block, students take two courses.

“Students will meet with professors every day, and teachers and students will have more time to learn and grow together in more intensive ways,” Sunderman said. “One of the best components of this schedule is that professors will only teach one or two classes at a time, so they’ll work with fewer students at a time and be more available to students.”

Although students take fewer classes at a time, students will take the same number of classes over the course of a year—so a path to graduate in four years remains in place and, in some ways, becomes more clear.

“This change in the calendar and curriculum is not being done anywhere else in the country,” Feezell said. “It’s an exciting for campus.””

Study Abroad Experience

The new travel initiative allows every student the opportunity to study abroad or study away—at no additional cost. Students will travel for this program during one of the two-week blocks during their second year on campus.

“Studying abroad was transformational for me,” Feezell said. “It helped me become more curious about learning and ultimately changed my life’s path. Our alumni and students who have had that opportunity say the same thing. So as a campus, we asked, ‘What if we gave this opportunity to every student, and what if we did it at additional no cost?’”

In January, Feezell and two professors are taking 60 sophomores to Paris, France, as a pilot of the initiative. “We returned from a prep trip to Paris just a couple of weeks ago. We’re partnering with a school and faculty there to offer three courses and three different experiences for students,” he said. “It’s incredible, really, to think our entire sophomore class will study abroad for part of a semester in the next academic year.”

The College is able to make this happen thanks to the financial commitment of donors who support Hastings College and share this belief.

Mobile Technology Initiative

Through a partnership with Apple, Hastings College will provide every student on campus an Apple Pencil and iPad Pro, as well as a curated set of apps to support learning in and out of the classroom, starting in fall 2019.

“Students have grown up in a world filled with the internet and information at their fingertips, and in keeping with the digital era we will put a powerful tool in every student’s hand,” Feezell said.

Patty Kingsley, director of IT at Hastings College, said giving every student the same tools allows them to create and collaborate. It will also help drive down costs thanks to digital books, she said, and sets students up for success as they will leverage mobile learning and digital work in their careers ahead.

“We are including the pencil because research supports that writing down ideas and drawing supports active learning in ways that typing doesn’t,” she said. “Combined, it makes digital paper a reality and is a phenomenal experience.”

Kingsley said faculty have had iPad Pros and Apple Pencils since last spring and that Apple TVs have been installed in all classrooms in preparation for full roll-out in fall 2019.

Student Engagement Team

As previously announced, Hastings College this year has created a student engagement team, including a Dean of Student Engagement. The team helps students transition to and supports their success in college. Part of this effort includes the remodeling of the Daughtery Center, which will open during the spring semester and house the Gottsch Engagement Center.

“These initiatives are an exciting new way to think about education in the 21st century,” Feezell said. “By creating powerful student experiences, we’re allowing students to grow to their best and greatest self when they graduate from Hastings College. Welcome to Hastings 2.0.”

Hastings College is a private, four-year institution located in Hastings, Nebraska, that focuses on student academic and extracurricular achievement. Hastings College has been named among “Great Schools, Great Prices” by U.S. News & World Report and a “Best in the Midwest” by The Princeton Review. For more, go to hastings.edu.

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