This article was published by Technician on Tuesday, February 1, 2011.
By Joshua Chappell, Senior Staff Writer
Twice a semester for over two years, College of Humanities and Social Sciences Dean Jeffery Braden has been sitting down with students for a brown-bag lunch.
On Tuesday, Braden hosted another one of these lunches for students in his college, allowing them to directly share their thoughts, concerns, issues and ideas with him. Braden created the program in fall 2008 when he became interim dean of the college.
“This event is important because I get direct contact with and feedback from the students,” Braden said.
About half of the students selected for the event were chosen from various leadership positions around campus and the remaining half were selected at random, according to Braden.
According to Braden, this event encompasses one of his core values as an administrator: the importance of interacting with students.
“It’s essential that administrators, faculty, and staff have regular contact with students,” Braden said. “On a daily basis, sometimes I’ll have meetings with individual students or groups, other times I’ll only see students passing by in the hall. However, there’s never a day I don’t see students.”
Another inspiration for the program is the opportunity to learn from the students.
“I’ve learned that students appreciate the educational experience they get in [CHASS],” Braden said. “They love the passion of our faculty for their subject, and feel the humanities and social sciences offer much-needed dimensions to N.C. State’s campus.”
Braden said that he has also learned about some specific problems that students have observed on campus, such as issues with academic advising.
“I’ve learned that we need to improve the quality of advising across the university,” Braden said. “We offer good advising for most majors, but aren’t especially good at helping people with requirements, majors, or minors in other degrees.”
Students also benefit from the program, Braden said.
“When students get good information, they have a much deeper appreciation of the challenges and difficulties we’ve been facing over the past few years,” he said.
For Braden, the lunch also provides a great way for him to become better acquainted with the University.
“My contact with students reminds me how lucky I am to work at a university,” Braden said. “I feel truly blessed to be able to teach, do research, and introduce the best and brightest young minds to the humanities and social sciences.”
Jonathan Sanyer, a junior in creative writing, met Braden at another student-interaction event – pumpkin-carving – and was excited about using the lunch to help unite the University community.
“It’s a great one-one-one experience as well as bringing together students of varying majors within the college to talk with a man who has obvious leadership qualities,” Sanyer said.
Sanyer said that the lunch just adds to the plethora of events that CHASS hosts.
“CHASS events have been very open to the college, goal-oriented, and just plain fun,” Sanyer said. “I think for the dean to take the initiative to positively impact the lives of select students every so often will have a trickle effect not only in CHASS but in the whole University community.”
For students like Jessica Deahl, senior in public and interpersonal communications, the event was an opportunity for her to discuss the budget crisis facing the University community.
“It is crucial that students know what to expect in the coming years regarding their academic career,” Deahl said. “Since I am a senior and my college career is coming to an end, I hope to participate in an informal chat about my experience at N.C. State.”
After the lunch, Deahl said that Braden had some interesting comments regarding the budget crisis.
“[Braden] assured me that no undergraduate programs would be cut,” Deahl said. “He pointed out that budget cuts would result in fewer courses offered with less seats.”
Overall, Clifton Deal, a freshman in psychology, said he was satisfied with the lunch.
“It was informative and every question asked was answered truthfully,” Deal said. “If the chance came back up, I would really consider taking advantage of it again.”
Braden also mentioned the importance of humanities and social sciences in students’ lives.
“It’s important for students all across the university to understand how the social sciences extend and improve lives, and how the humanities give life meaning and purpose,” Braden said.