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Gain An Edge: Creating A Well-Rounded Student

Ambitious plans at the University of the Bahamas will open many avenues to graduates . . .

While the wider academic world continues to debate the concept of “the well-rounded student,” at the University of The Bahamas (UB) the focus on keeping “the building of character” always on par with academic excellence means providing many avenues for students to grow beyond the excellence of their academic achievement.

At UB, the search is always on for new ways of engaging students.

UB President Dr Rodney D Smith has said the University must “respect the fact that our rapidly expanding technological age has produced generations of young people who are unable to imagine not having a computer in their pocket, a cell phone, immediate access to information on any topic, along with the means to communicate instantaneously with millions of people around the world”.

The mission of the University demands that whether through teaching, conducting research in the laboratory or in the field or through service within the community, academic excellence and excellence of character must always find equal footing at UB.

Traditionally, “well-rounded” referred to the interplay between such things as a student’s grades and test scores, challenging course load, extra-curricular activities which show passion and leadership and the winning of awards. In the UB context, however, the term “well-rounded” takes on both a broader and more local impact. In addition to such considerations as job placement services, internships and the suite of extracurricular activities, UB students are exposed to a wider palette of activities and initiatives.

For instance, consider the UB focus on internationalisation: it is seen as imperative that the University’s curriculum be internationalised as UB prepares graduates for competition on the world stage. With that in mind, all enrolled undergraduate students of the University will soon be required to complete a study abroad experience before the end of the junior year. Students will then complete their senior year at the University prior to graduating.

Another unique feature of the UB experience is the emphasis on Bahamian cultural studies. As the culture changes and develops, matures and morphs, UB will document these changes and encourage students to fully engage in Bahamian culture. As Dr Smith has said, academics will be integral in the explosion of appreciation for Bahamian culture. This is yet another avenue of expansion of the typical UB student experience.

One particularly exciting feature of the UB student experience is the opportunity to participate in the collaborations that come from such public-private partnerships as that which UB has entered with the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) for the creation of a unique technology innovation laboratory. Designed by UB architecture students, it will be housed within the Harry C Moore Library and Information Centre and will have the most up-to-date technology. Students will create new apps, design and implement new and improved social media and create new global companies.

The proposed $20 million UB Student Centre will likely be the hub of the extracurricular aspect of the well-rounded student experience. The new student centre will be designed in consultation with UB students and will house the student government, society and club offices, student newspaper, TV and radio production studios, student lounges and other meeting areas, a cinema, food courts and many other amenities specifically crafted for and by students.

Through collaborations between UB academic programming and the National Sports Authority, UB is effectively expanding the campus to include the Thomas A Robinson National Stadium, the Kendal G L Isaacs Gymnasium, the Betty Kelly-Kenning National Aquatic Centre and all the other athletic venues under the NSA’s authority including a nine-hole golf course and the Roscoe A L Davis Soccer Complex.

As our nation’s university continues to grow and progress to meet the academic needs of Bahamian students, the university will work to ensure that students have a diverse and well-rounded college experience.

• “Gain An Edge” is a weekly collaboration of the Lyford Cay Foundations, Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute and University of The Bahamas aimed at promoting a national dialogue on higher education. To share your thoughts, email gainanedge@tribunemedia.net.

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