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.”