Superior Edge Closer to Implementation


With a pilot program set to begin and a budget and staffing plan recently approved for the next fiscal year, Northern’s Superior Edge initiative is two steps closer to full implementation.


Students interested in applying for the pilot – comprised of 100 participants and scheduled to run from February through April – should apply online by Wednesday, Jan. 25. Rachel Harris (Student Activities and Leadership Programs, pictured) will coordinate the test phase and meet regularly with participants to gain feedback on program strengths and suggested areas for improvement.


“This is such a groundbreaking initiative,” Harris said. "We hope faculty and staff encourage students to register for the pilot or register for the program when it’s up and running at full throttle in the fall. We plan to promote it heavily at summer orientation and expect thousands to participate when it’s fully implemented.”


An annual budget of $200,000 has been approved for the program, effective July 1, 2006. Program staff will initially consist of a Superior Edge coordinator and a clerical employee. “Eventually, we would like to add a civic engagement coordinator," said Dave Bonsall (Student Activities and Leadership Programs), Harris’ colleague and fellow Superior Edge task force member. “That person would be responsible for expanding the volunteer center and assisting the faculty with academic service learning projects, which will play an important role in the program.” 


The goals of the value-added Superior Edge initiative are that students will grow as competent, ethical and effective leaders; become engaged, involved citizens; develop a world view so they better understand and appreciate diversity; and develop the ability to relate theory to practice.

Students may complete requirements for one or more of the following “edges” that correspond with the desired outcomes: leadership, citizenship, diversity, and real-world applications. Each would entail about 100 hours of related activities or experience on top of specific educational requirements unique to the respective area. Each edge would also require students to compile an e-portfolio record and write a reflective paper.

Initial plans are that participants would receive a certificate, be honored at an annual reception and recognized on their transcripts for each edge certification. Completing all four areas would enable students to achieve the Superior Edge. In addition to the benefits above, they might also be nominated for scholarships/fellowships for national student engagement graduate programs, be eligible to compete for one of three annual Superior Edge awards, be listed in the commencement program and receive a special cord to wear at graduation.


“Many schools have leadership programs or recognize volunteer efforts or this or that, but they tend to be selective and limit participation to a certain number of students,” Harris added. “The uniqueness of the Superior Edge is that it will be open to anyone.


“It is also extremely flexible. Students who are already heavily involved will be able to package that so they have an advantage when applying for grad school or that first job. Students involved at a lesser degree may have an incentive to do a little more. And students not doing much of anything outside of class might decide to change that. It’s up to the students how much they’re willing or able to invest in the program, and they can finish at their own pace.”


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Updated: January 18, 2006

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