New FYS Director Takes the Helm
After Katie Warber stepped down as First Year Seminar (FYS) Coordinator before spring break, East Asian studies professor Jennifer Oldstone-Moore was quick to take her place.
Oldstone-Moore has been at Wittenberg for 18 years, teaching FYS classes and its priors a number of times over the years. She also helped to develop two of the Witt-Sem courses, which made it easy for her to step into the role of FYS Coordinator.
“I’ve done the past two years of FYS, so as a teacher and a mom, I’ve come to realize that FYS has a very important role in welcoming students to Wittenberg, and I was glad to take this on,” Oldstone-Moore said.
Oldstone-Moore also serves as a member of the vocation committee and has helped to develop vocation in the FYS class, another reason she is excited to take on this big responsibility.
“I want to have students rethinking vocation and call and what it is that we do that fills our deepest needs and serves the world,” Oldstone-Moore said. “I want to continue to infuse vocation into the course and call it FYS.”
As the fall semester is only months away, Oldstone-Moore shared preliminary plans as to how she is going to go about planning and organizing the course, as she will be presiding over 24 members of faculty and thereby hundreds of students.
“I have a little notebook and I jot down little things into it,” Oldstone-Moore said. “Colleagues have said things to me over the past two years, and I really want to make this a collaboration with colleagues.”
She also discussed plans to continue taking ideas from fellow faculty and to begin meeting with them over the spring and summer to bounce ideas off of one another. After the summer ends and classes begin, Oldstone-Moore plans to “grit my teeth and gracefully take the punches as they come along.”
She plans to use the same method for the FYS program as she has in building her own classes, to which she dubs the “trial and error process: the way in which you build classes.” This process takes roughly three semesters to figure out what things work and what things don’t in the form of activities, reading and more.
Oldstone-Moore found that a lot of students were interested in the international studies video shown to the class of 2020 earlier this year, so she plans to listen to what the students liked and continue to incorporate that into future semesters.
Although she doesn’t know how long she will preside as coordinator, as she knows plenty of other faculty who would love to give a stab at the program, she wants to “put my good ideas out there and see how they go.” In three years, she hopes to have parts that still need work, but a program that, “as a whole, will be more or less established.”
To take on her new role as FYS Coordinator, Oldstone-Moore will have to drop her beloved pilgrimage course, although she is hopeful that an adjunct will take over the course in the spring of 2018.
So far, the only hitch has been her husband. Oldstone-Moore said that her husband “didn’t really want to live with someone as tense as she would be” when taking over the program. However, fellow faculty and staff have been incredibly supportive and helpful, even if it was just through a simple conversation.
As Oldstone-Moore begins the process of taking over the program, she shared her thoughts on students that had already been through the program.
“I hope that as students reflect on their own FYS, they start to see the various benefits of FYS that weren’t as apparent when they were in the class,” Oldstone-Moore said. “Building relationships is important when learning the campus. What it is to be at Wittenberg, our mission, our ethos, why Wittenberg is different from other places. I encourage students to be excited about that.”