"For every student who walks in my office, I'm thinking about helping them in some way or another."
Professor of mathematics
Students stopping by the dean's office are often only looking for a signature to change majors or withdraw from a course. Little do they know, Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences Lynn Breyfogle has other ideas about those quick visits.
"For every student who walks in my office, I'm thinking about helping them in some way or another," Breyfogle says. Whether she provides academic advice or a connection to new resources, Breyfogle wants to make sure everybody at Bucknell has every opportunity to succeed.
"I'm hoping to reach out especially to those students who are in typically underrepresented groups," she says. "I hope to be a support and an advocate for students of color as well as students from often marginalized groups, low socioeconomic status students and students who are first generation, who often do not have the knowledge of how a university works."
For instance, selecting classes can be overwhelming for new college students. In 2013, Breyfogle and her colleagues introduced the Summer Academic Counselor (SAC) program to connect with new students before they arrive on campus. Faculty members contacted every new student in the College of Arts and Sciences to talk about majors, course scheduling and other questions. When possible, professors conducted the calls by video chat to make the connection that much more personal. Breyfogle hopes the calls will help students not only settle registration questions early, but also assuage any uneasiness they have about going to college.
Once students arrive on campus, social connections with peers are at least as critical as connections with the faculty. To help students meet others who share their academic interests, Breyfogle is working to bolster the prominence of two existing programs.
Each first year class at Bucknell has about 100 Dean's Scholars, selected based on their academic records in high school. Breyfogle plans to host events, such as a reception for the scholars during orientation, to help them meet upper classmen and faculty as soon as they get to campus.
Another distinguished group on campus is Alpha Lambda Delta, the national first-year honor society. The organization already recognizes the academic accomplishments of its members; Breyfogle is working with the chapter to develop its potential as a social outlet for members and a resource for other students.
As Breyfogle has directed her career from high school mathematics teacher to the head of Bucknell's math teacher education program to the dean's office, she has maintained one focus. "I'm still helping students," she says. "That hasn't changed."
Posted September 26, 2013