Atty. Ferdinand S. Nicolas newly-installed President of Northwestern University

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Lawyer Ferdinand Nicolas, newly-installed president of Northwestern University, vowed to continue the legacy of the institution ’ s founders focusing on the good character of faculty members and their passion for excellence. “ It is the passion for instruction I really would like Northwestern to be known,” Nicolas said. In an interview with student editors, Nicolas, who took over the helm  of  the  presidency  last   June 20 vice Liza Nicolas whose three-year term has ended, said that effective learning comes from the character of the faculty members and their ability to connect with the  students. Nicolas said that character is important to inspire the students to achieve excellence adding that it would   be nice if        instructors take their job passionately to inspire the students to become the best that they can be. “I wanted to emphasize with the faculty members the reason for being here and the reason Northwestern University exists.  It is for the students. It is to help the students attain their dreams and goals, to give them the opportunities that a good education brings,” Nicolas added. He believes that faculty members could not bring out the best in the students if the former only rely on the content and knowledge that they are delivering to the students. And this comes from character and a connection with the students. He said that “no matter how beautiful your system is, if the people are not there to inspire, to be the implementers of change, it will not happen.” “It’s the people that will affect the change. And that only comes on an individual basis where people can actually inspire others to better standards,” he said. “We don’t have to make that connection every time, if we can connect  to  at  least  one  of  them or a couple of them or a group  of them each time that there’s a class, then we’ll be able to reach out to the students and really see that we are involved in their development. And that’s really more than accreditation or ISO certification,” Nicolas said. Nicolas said he will focus on the qualification development of the faculty members with good character as the main feature plus patience and passion to teach effectively. “It’s not just lectures and reading from the textbooks, and just spewing information. It sometimes has to force the students to hit their book, to go online, to get the knowledge they need,” he said. As one who’s taking an online course, the President would like to see the faculty members to also take online courses saying that the wealth of knowledge online is overwhelming. He suggested two websites: the edx.org hosted by Harvard and coursera.org which are both offered for free. “University education is about the ability to learn new things not only within the four walls of this institution but also on the outside world,” he said. To    further   pursue   his    objective to instill passion in teaching, Nicolas said he is pushing for the continuation of the mentorship program for faculty members. The program he said was earlier instituted by the then Center for English Studies that mainly focused on Communication and English instructors of the College of Arts and Sciences. He said he formed a committee to be headed by Mr. Felix Josue, an English Studies consultant, with some administrators to come up with a “step by step” process for the mentorship program which can be replicated in all the colleges. “Effective teaching is not just having facility in the English language, it is connecting to the students,” Nicolas said. Nicolas said one way to know if faculty members are connecting with students is the institution of online evaluation of instructors. With this system, the administration and the deans could get feed- backs from the students with focus on the comments rather than the numerical evaluation, he said. “Because if you feel strongly about something you would write about it and those are the most important,” he said.

News Article from The Review Issue: June - October 2014 Vol. 82 No. 1