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First-Year Experience Honored by UT Athletics

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UT Austin’s Athletic Department will feature this school’s First-Year Experience (FYE) Office at the halftime of a February 9 Texas Men’s Basketball game as part of the Athletics Academic Accolades program. The First-Year Experience Office, which oversees the Signature Courses, First-year Interest Groups, and the University Lecture Series, creates communities and ensures students’ success during their first year at UT. The Academic Accolades program aims to highlight colleges and schools at UT Austin, paying tribute to the programs and individuals across campus who make it part of their daily mission to educate young people.

Interim Dean Larry Abraham praised the First-Year Experience Office as representative of how the School of Undergraduate Studies has helped to change the undergraduate experience for every student. “Many of the individuals who will be honored oversee the Signature Course program, which is a hallmark of how UT has transformed the undergraduate curriculum,” he said. Members of the Signature Course Advisory Committee will also be honored. Committee members include Dr. Lori Holleran Steiker (chair), Dr. Robert Crosnoe, Dr. Patrick Davis, Dr. Lorenzo Candelaria, Michael Sweet (staff member), Michael Morton (student), and Patty Micks (staff).

The FIG program will also be recognized. FIGs serve 3,000 to 3,500 incoming first year students each year, providing small learning communities that enhance academic success for new students.

FYE Senior Program Coordinator Patty Micks praised her team, complimenting the group on their collective innovation, creativity, and hard work. “Their passion and dedication to the field of higher education and student success shows in all that they do,” she commented.

Academic Accolades

Past honorees include Dr. Rick Cherwitz, founder of the Intellectual Entrepreneurship Consortium program; Dr. John Ivy, a longtime kinesiology and health education professor in the College of Education; the Continuing and Innovative Education (CIE) program was recognized at its centennial; and Dr. Larry Speck from the School of Architecture was honored for his commitment to educating young people every day.

The First-Year Experience Program

First-Year Experience equips each new student at UT Austin with academic and leadership skills through the Signature Courses, First-Year Interest Groups (FIGs), and the University Lecture Series. Together, programs in the First-Year Experience office provide a strong start for all UT students. The First-Year Experience programs often serve as models for other FYE programs across the country.

Signature Courses

All first-year students enroll in Signature Courses, rigorous interdisciplinary classes taught by distinguished faculty. These classes connect students to the university’s academic community and help students learn to think at a college level. The newly established Signature Course Advisory Committee, comprised of key faculty, staff, and students, oversees these courses.

First-year Interest Groups

FIGs bring together small learning communities of new Longhorns with similar interests. Students take classes together and support each other academically as they transition from high school to college. FIGs enhance academic success for an ever-growing number of students as they begin their time on the 40 Acres.

University Lecture Series

Presented each fall, the Lecture Series invites renowned faculty from many disciplines to engage students in conversations about current world issues.