By Nancy Hensel, President, NAC&U
When I arrived at NAC&U I contacted the provosts regarding participation in a collaborative undergraduate research project on the cost of higher education. I was pleased that four campuses participated in the project. Nazareth College and Wagner College each had one student who took on the topic as a senior thesis. In a nursing research course at Evansville students developed a literature review of the topic. In Spring 2013, an interdisciplinary team of students at Widener University involved a political science class and a business class in studying higher education costs. Although NAC&U campuses routinely engage in undergraduate research in the sciences, my vision was to provide collaborative opportunities for research, especially in areas beyond the sciences. I believe that undergraduate research is a powerful and transformative experience for students. No matter the area of study, students gain so many skills that relate to our purposeful integration of liberal education and professional studies. Students working on research projects must learn to be persistent, deal with failure, analyze, make decisions, and work as a team. I also believe that students have the capacity to devise solutions to real-world problems if given the chance to investigate them with the support of faculty mentors. I appreciated the campuses and faculty who were involved in this pilot project and I hope that we can further develop collaborative research projects across multiple campuses. Below are reflections from professors and students at Widener University who participated in the project.