The New York Times Readership program at Troy University has officially ended with the wrap-up of the Quality Enhancement Plan.
According to Hal Fulmer, associate provost and dean of first year studies, the Quality Enhancement Plan was a requirement for accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
SACS required a QEP plan carried out for at least five full years. Troy extended its program into the sixth year, which was fall 2014.
Troy University’s QEP program focused on generating a culture of engaged reading and included the Common Reading Initiative, the College Readers Initiative and the New York Times Readership Program, among other things.
“When that wrapped up as a QEP, we institutionally looked at putting our resources into other needs and that included the money that we had been able to put into the New York Times,” Fulmer said. “While the students didn’t pick it up with a cost, it didn’t come without a cost.”
“We enjoyed just a tremendous partnership with The Times,” he said. “I thought it worked extremely well, and they were very supportive of what we were doing. In a perfect world we would just keep on doing that, but it’s not a perfect world. So we will move on and put those resources into other programs.”
According to Fulmer, the availability of The New York Times was a privilege for students and the university community because, alongside the Dothan Eagle and the Tropolitan, students, faculty and staff got the opportunity to look at three different newspapers in a week for no cost.
“That’s a real luxury these days because a lot of newspapers are moving entirely out of print, into digital,” he said.
The New York Times was used in several different classes, and it was also used to conduct the Times Talk programs on Wednesdays. The Times Talk program is now being converted into the Talk of Troy program run by the office of service learning and civic engagement.
“This is how we can take the resources we have and continue to do things like that we did before,” Fulmer said. “I think that kind of current event discussion is very valuable on this campus.”
While the QEP has officially concluded, many of its elements will continue, according to Fulmer.
“It’s moving into a different kind of look,” Fulmer said. “For example, we will, in all likelihood, continue to have a common reader that new students would read together like we have had the last several years.”
However, Fulmer said that whether or not the common reading will be continued in Troy 1101 orientation classes is being debated. He said that it was in the orientation class as a way to “assess what our students were doing.”
Fulmer also added that the college readers will probably become the responsibility of the deans of each of the colleges.
While one QEP ends, another QEP will begin again in a few years. In 2018, Troy will be required to submit a 10-year assessment report to SACS, and that will also have to include the next QEP proposal.
“We don’t know what that one would be yet,” Fulmer said. “It won’t be on reading because we’ve done that. We’ll do something else.”
Fulmer views the past six years of the QEP as successful. Based on the report that he submitted to SACS, Fulmer said that the data showed Troy had actively encouraged its students to read and had seen active student involvement in those initiatives.
He said that Troy will continue to remind its students and affiliates that reading matters and being an engaged reader is even more essential.
“We want people to be disciplined and thoughtful and be willing to read and talk about the ideas,” he said. “That’s what this QEP has meant.”