My Freshman Year Book Club

My Freshman Year: What a Professor Learned by Becoming a Student

by Rebekah NathanMy Freshman Year book cover

Penguin Books, ISBN-10: 0143037471

When a cultural anthropologist enrolls in college as a new freshman, she experiences college life the way her students do, from orientation to living in the dorms, eating in the dining halls and beyond. The author shares her new perspectives in an eye-opening account that questions our assumptions and may challenge our views of ourselves, our students and our work.

Each month of the 2015–2016 academic year, a one-hour book club will meet to discuss a relevant chapter of My Freshman Year.  All Student Affairs personnel are invited. In addition, a select panel of SA members will be invited to share their thoughts on specific chapters.

Participants must acquire their own books. Prices on sites such as Amazon run from $1.68 used to $12.00 new; $10.75 for Kindle.

To participate, contact Mike Ruwe: ext. 2-4194 or


Date Location Chapter Panel
W, Sep 16, 1 p.m. DE Conference Room 1. Welcome to Any U Transition Programs, Campus Activities & Involvement Center
W, Oct 21, 1 p.m. TBD 2. Life in the Dorms

Housing & Residence Life;

Office of Student Leadership & Engagement
M, Nov 16, 10 a.m. TBD 3. Community and Divesity

Office of Diversity & Inclusion;

DOSA Diversity Committee;

Disability Resource Center
January TBD 4. As Others See Us

Counseling Center;

International Programs

February TBD 5. Academically Speaking

University Learning Center;

University Testing Services
March TBD 6. The Art of College Management

Office of the Dean of Students;

University College

April TBD 7. Lessons from My Year as a Freshman

Office of the Vice Chancellor;

DOSA Directors


2015–2016 Hawk Topics

Hawk Topics are one-hour discussions of issues of compelling interest to student-affairs professionals. Topics and schedule details will be announced soon. Discussions are open to all. students at amphitheater

Schedule — details to come

  • Nov 10
  • Feb 16
  • Apr 12

The PDC invites suggestions for future Hawk Topics and trainings. Send suggestions to Barbie Cowan at 910-962-2196 or by email.


Past Events

2014–2015 Hawk Topics

Managing Student Employment

Striking a productive balance between experiential learning (on-the-job training) and strong job performance can be a challenge, especially when serving an off-campus constituency. This discussion raised questions and explored best practices for hiring and training students while balancing expectations and ensuring the primacy of the educational experience. Our background reading was "How to Make Students' Campus Jobs More Meaningful" (Chronicle of Higher Education, 15 Sep. 2014).

Resistance to Organizational Change

Silos, office politics, market realities, unclear metrics or objectives can all conspire to make lasting organizational change difficult or impossible. This discussion explored obstacles to lasting institutional change and how to overcome them; what prevents some organizations from realizing the innovation, reformation of outmoded practices or adaptations that keep organizations relevant and vital.The article, "Why Creating Organizational Change Is So Hard" ( provided the basis for discussion.

2013–2014 Hawk Topics

WTF: Connecting with First-Year Students

Mike Ruwe (University Learning Center) led a discussion of the challenges and rewards of working with First-Year students such as the story of the first “UNI 101” class in the United States; ideas about motivating students; “Guyland,” sociologist Michael Kimmel’s approach to assisting male students; and other ideas that Mike gleaned from the recent National Resource Center’s First-Year Experience conference.

Student Affairs Case Law

Holly Taylor, formerly of the Office of the Dean of Students, addressed pertinent court cases from 2013 regarding freedom of expression, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fourth Amendment (search & seizure), Title IX, and other topics.

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