I was delighted to do a good chunk of today's miles along the lovely Chester Valley Trail before heading towards Lancaster Ave--putting me officially on Philadelphia's Main Line. I first arrived at Cabrini University and met with Life and Physical Sciences chair Dr. Anne Coleman and chemical safety and hygiene officer Cynthia McGauley. Though the two full time chemists were not on campus, I hope to run into them at the National Meeting (likely at one of the many chemical education talks?). Dr. Coleman described steps taken in the science department (including chemistry) to better support students who arrive with a weaker science/math background; it sounds like the faculty are eager to increase both participation and performance in chemistry. Chemistry majors are required to engage in an experiential learning semester and defend a thesis in their senior year.
I walked across the street (ok, I cut across a wooded area...) to Eastern University, but was sad to discover no faculty were available. I know from experience that many faculty enjoy the last few days of August before the return of students (and strange people claiming to have run from Washington?). I was more successful at Villanova University, where I spoke with Prof. Robert Giuliano. Our conversation touched on many topics, from the University's community service-focused students to continuing to evaluate what types of teaching and learning resources are most effective. Prof. Giuliano is co-author of an organic chemistry textbook, so it was most interesting to hear his perspective on the many tools available to students. I appreciated his 'one size does not fit all' approach to resource sharing!
A friend asked when I had last been at Bryn Mawr College, and I admit that I have not been back as often as I would like! I did remember the way to the Park Science Building where I ran into Prof. William Malachowski. I learned how the chemistry faculty have made some curriculum changes over the past decade. The department is offering new courses and adjusting major requirements (chemistry at Bryn Mawr, like at many schools, has a high number of required courses that in theory limit the ability of a student to double major, travel abroad, etc). Indeed, one aspect I always appreciated as a student at Bryn Mawr was how the faculty were always evaluating their courses and teaching and trying to determine if they could make improvements. Bryn Mawr also has a strong post baccalaureate premedical program (I assisted in teaching the general chemistry class after graduating and found the postbacs to be terrific students); it sounds as if that program continues to grow, presenting interesting challenges and opportunities.
I hope to have some company on my final leg into Philadelphia tomorrow--fingers crossed that the predicted storms don't cause too much of a delay. I look forward to stopping by Haverford and St. Joseph's, and of course I'm excited for that first glimpse of the city skyline!