Engineering junior Michelle Ho is the recently-elected Chair of the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education. The DP sat down with her to discuss her role in SCUE and her goals for the next year.
Daily Pennsylvanian: Can you talk about the newly-announced project OPenned?
Michelle Ho: This is a project that’s actually really close to my heart. I started working on it my sophomore year. The idea behind it is to really create a source for all things that are Penn. As Scott Dzialo [former SCUE chair] said, there are so many events that go on around campus that students just can’t attend because they’re busy. This isn’t to say that they don’t want to attend them, so we’re trying to videotape these and put as many as we can online. And really we want to group them with other videos on the same topic.
MH: Right, curating. We’re putting them next to videos that could be related to them, so that students can get a feel for the university as a whole.
DP: What are some other major initiatives this year?
MH: The past few years, we’ve worked with the admissions office to release our Roadmap to Penn. Every freshman gets one in their admission packet, and it’s really the first time we as SCUE get to represent ourselves.
Right now, we’re working on a Roadmap to Research. It’s sort of the same idea as the Roadmap to Penn, just to let students know about how they can get involved with research here.
DP: What was your background before becoming chair?
MH: In high school, I wasn’t really involved in any sort of educational policy, but as a freshman, I was really intrigued by the sorts of projects that SCUE did. A lot of the things we do are really big thinking and forward thinking … for example, Fall Break and NSO are all things that SCUE was involved in. Since I’ve been at SCUE, I’ve been member-at-large, treasurer and project head for OPenned.
DP: Can you describe the powers and responsibilities of the SCUE chair?
MH: So the SCUE chair we really refer to as “the face of SCUE,” and I’m responsible for meeting with administrators and updating them on our projects and how we can implement them. We do have a Steering committee, so I work really closely with them.
DP: Is undergraduate research a big part of SCUE’s program?
MH: Yeah, it’s something that’s close to a lot of members personally, and something we like to work on.
DP: The Provost has been talking about reaccreditation as a chance to audit Penn’s education. How big of a role does SCUE have in this?
MH: Yeah, that’s definitely what it is, a chance to audit undergraduate education. Penn probably won’t lose its accreditation, so it’s a chance for reflection. SCUE’s role is that we hold half the seats on the student commission for reaccreditation.
DP: What are the long term goals for this year?
MH: Well, we’re gearing up to write our White Paper [a comprehensive study of undergraduate education] for 2015. We do it every five years, but I’m unfortunately in the one class that never sees the release of a White Paper, but we’ll still be a big part of it.
DP: What have previous bodies decided to focus on in their White Papers ?
MH: The White Paper touches on pretty much everything in education. Last time, we really focused on online education.
DP: At the end of your term, January 2014, what do you want be able to say you did?
MH: I hope that by the end of my term, I can really say that I helped shape the experience of undergraduate education for students at Penn. I really want to make it something they can look back on happily.