Winter 2009 Stories
New Student Options
By Sarah Morris
Allen Olson is a man with a plan.
The relatively new dean of Evening and Weekend Studies is helping to broaden student options through a greater emphasis in the curriculum on part-time interdisciplinary programs.
“Students will have more choices by taking an 8- or 12-credit program and balancing it with a 2- or 4-credit course during the same quarter,” Olson says.
New or expanded curricular options include team-taught programs by daytime and Evening and Weekend studies faculty, and encouraging daytime faculty to offer more part-time programs of less than 16 credits.
“My goal is for students to be able to take four-credit courses, such as foreign language sequences, along with more part-time programs offered during the day,” explains Olson, who began his tenure as dean in summer 2007.
Such changes to class offerings are not new, but reflect the reality of many students. “Plenty of students already go back and forth between evening/weekend and daytime classes,” Olson says. “More opportunities for faculty from those two areas to teach together create more options for students.”
Students in part-time programs, whether offered during the day or evening/weekend, gain the opportunity to work collaboratively with a wide range of their peers. “The inter-generational blend of students is a hallmark of Evening and Weekend Studies,” Olson says. “That diversity is one of the areas that faculty who teach evenings and weekends talk about all the time as being a really good element in the classroom.”
Olson has a background in science and science education and has taught in Evening and Weekend Studies programs since 2003. “I was intrigued with Evergreen because of the flexibility in teaching and learning,” says Olson, who earned a master of science in mechanical engineering from the University of Washington and his bachelor of arts in physics from the University of Chicago. He taught physics at Edmonds Community College, developed a science education grant at the University of Washington, and taught physics and general science at Cedarcrest High School in Duvall. He was attracted to Evergreen’s interdisciplinary style because it allows him to use and build on his skills and experience.
Sarah Morris is a senior with a focus in political science and photography. She aspires to be a photojournalist.