Freshman Interest Group classes not just for freshmen

By Monica Hill, staff writer

With the spring semester around the corner, it is time for students to start fi­nalizing their class schedules. Students can add some relaxation and fun to their spring schedules by enrolling in a Fresh­man Interest Group (FIG) class.

FIG classes are taught by Newman faculty and staff that want to share their interests, passions and hobbies with students. Freshmen get first priority in enrolling for these classes. After the end of the freshman enrollment period, any­one can enroll in a FIG class.

There are nine FIG classes being of­fered in the spring of 2013. They are Creative Writing Club with Dennis Bishop, Coffee Anyone? with Dr. Joshua Papsdorf, Knitting Together with Sr. Barbara Borders, Origami/Zhe Zhi with Dr. Susan Crane, Heritage Cooking with Rosemary Niedens, Exploring a Career in Law with Dr. Larry Heck, Sports and Fitness with Coach Bill Bledsoe, Cards with the Sisters with Sr. JoAnn Mark, and Exploring Classical Music with Sym­phony Performances with Dr. Charles Merrifield.

Niedens, vice president of academic affairs, said in the past, freshmen had expressed frustration about a lack of support in their second semester. In re­sponse to these concerns, Newman be­gan offering FIG classes four years ago.

The classes were designed to help freshmen stay connected with each oth­er and with the faculty.

“They’re just fun, low-demand and low-stress classes,” Niedens said.

In addition to being low-stress, all basic materials for the classes are pro­vided by the university.

Papsdorf said teaching the “Coffee Anyone?” FIG may have personal ben­efits for himself.

“I have a serious coffee problem,” Papsdorf said. “I might as well put all the time and money I’ve sunk into it to good use.”

Papsdorf’s class visits coffeehouses around town and explores the grinding, brewing and tasting of coffee as well as the ethics of fair trade and the science of caffeine.

“It’s nice to have an opportunity to talk about interesting subjects with stu­dents without the constraints of a typi­cal course,” Papsdorf said. “Apart from getting Newman-subsidized coffee, it’s always nice to see how the students build rapport and connections by the end of the semester.”

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