As the fall semester nears, Oglethorpe University’s distinctive Core program will have a new leadership structure with Dr. Judith Levy joining current director, Dr. Stephen Herschler Mattern, to serve as co-directors.
As Co-Director, Levy will work side-by-side with Mattern as a leader for the Core program, considering the needs of students, faculty, and staff to ensure the success of the program. She will work on staffing, strengthening learning outcomes and program assessment, and facilitating events, along with modernizing and diversifying the Core.
“Stephen and Judie will make a strong team,” said Dr. Kendra King Momon, interim provost. “The Core is integral to how we approach education at Oglethorpe, and it’s important that it have committed leadership. Stephen’s history at Oglethorpe and Judie’s fresh approaches are the perfect complement to ensure Core stays fresh and vital for our students.”
Levy has been a lecturer in the Core program for two years. She earned her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Emory University and has an M.A. in English and a certificate in teaching writing from California State University, Fullerton. While at Emory she served as the Interim Assistant Director to the Honor Council and worked on curriculum development, assessment and other initiatives with the Emory Writing Program and Writing Center.
“It’s energizing to have someone of Dr. Levy’s caliber serve as co-director,” Mattern said. “We work well together, and I look forward to continuing to grow and evolve the Core to better bridge the needs of Oglethorpe students and their potential.”
Mattern, professor of politics, has taught at Oglethorpe for 22 years and has served in a variety of administrative roles, including provost and director of the Honors Program. Levy has taught 100- and 300-level Core courses as well as First-Year Seminar. She has participated in Honor Council, served on the Core Oversight Committee and helped facilitate Core program assessment.
“Teaching Core across the 100 and 300 cohorts has grafted onto my insight how students learn skills and develop across years,” Levy said. “As a lecturer, I have learned that when instructors feel heard, supported, and have access to helpful resources, it enhances our teaching. Pairing my experience as a lecturer with former experience in service and administrative roles, I like to call myself an ‘academic liaison’ and a ‘wrangler of information.’ I plan to assess Core and see where we can give it a boost by analyzing data to show strengths and weaknesses, organizing and expediting processes, and clarifying communication to students, faculty, and staff along the way.”
The order of the 100, 200, and 300 level themes create an engaging learning experience, and because the Core engages students at every classification, they can have cross-discipline conversations about the texts. This year’s theme is “Crime and Punishment,” and the faculty are working to challenge students’ critical thinking skills by looking at contemporary issues through multiple lenses.
Levy and Mattern are looking to strengthen how the Core’s learning outcomes build from year-to-year and articulate the uniqueness and benefits of such an approach to current and potential students. They are also exploring ways to modernize and diversify the Core, from assignment types to texts to study.
“Core is the ultimate manifestation of OU’s investment to ‘make a life, make a living, and make a difference,'” Levy said. “The shared experience crafts a community at Oglethorpe, while the inquiry practiced in each course stimulates critical thinking to support positive and inclusive world-building.”