K Week: Common Reading Experience

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 21, 2012) — For the fourth year in a row as part of K Week, incoming freshmen to the University of Kentucky will be participating in the university's Common Reading Experience, a summer reading program coordinated by New Student and Parent Programs of the Student Affairs and other campus partners.

UK's Common Reading Experience aims to accomplish many things with first-year college students. The program hopes to connect new students through a common analysis of a book, as well as engage them with the entire UK community and prepare them for the rigors of collegiate academics.

Each year a new book is chosen by a selection committee made up of six faculty members selected from a broad variety of disciplines, six students and six staff members. This year Benjamin C. Withers, art history professor in the College of Fine Arts and director of the Honors Program at UK, co-chaired the selection committee along with Associate Dean of Students Becky Jordan.

When choosing a book for each year's Common Reading Experience, the selection committee looks for the readability of the book and its potential to engage students, its literary quality, relevance to most first-year students, richness of content and themes, cost, length and even the likelihood that students will have already read the book in high school.

For the 2012-13 academic year, the committee selected “The Unforgiving Minute” by Craig Mullaney. The book tells of Mullaney's experiences as a West Point cadet, a Rhodes Scholar, an Army Ranger and eventually a platoon leader upon his deployment to Afghanistan.

"From his journey, students will gain a better understanding about life as a soldier, draw comparisons between their college experience and Mullaney’s at West Point, learn about his interactions with different cultures, and consider their own opinions about the issues raised throughout the book," Lauren Goodpaster, director of New Student and Parent Programs, said. "The committee also admired Mullaney’s focus on lifelong learning, reading and education abroad.

"This is a timely selection given the upcoming presidential election, the constantly developing dynamics of foreign policy and the growing number of UK students who are military veterans," she said

All incoming first-year students received a free copy of the book during their summer advising conferences and were expected to read the book before K Week began on Aug. 17. While reading over the summer, students were expected to complete a QLC assignment, sharing one meaningful quote, one life lesson and one character from the book they can relate to.

Once on campus, students were broken into small-groups to discuss the book with fellow incoming students and one older UK student who will lead the group. New students will bring their QLC assignments with them to share with the group and enhance discussion.

But the Common Reading Experience doesn't end after the first week of school; instead, it lasts all semester. New students enrolled in UK 101, UK's academic orientation course, will be assigned a paper or project regarding the book to complete for the class.

On Tuesday, Oct. 2, Mullaney, the author, will visit UK for a special lecture and discussion of the book. The event, slated at 7 p.m. in the Concert Hall of the Singletary Center for the Arts, is free and requires no prior notice for attendance.

A programming advisory board works each year to create and execute curricular and co-curricular events related to the Common Reading Experience. This fall, the Student Activities Board, UK Perishing Rifles Cadets, the Rasdall Gallery, ROTC and even the UK football program will all be hosting events with relation to the academic, political, military and patriotic themes of the novel.

More potential events are in the works, and those wishing to remain engaged with the summer reading throughout the fall semester are encouraged to check the Campus Calendar on UKNow website for updates or changes in scheduling.

·       ROTC students are available to speak about their own experiences individually or on a panel to classes, organizations residence halls, etc.

·       UK 101- the Common Reading Experience is part of the required curriculum.

·       Sept 10 - Rock the Vote, sponsored by the Student Activities Board

·       Sept. 11- Memorial Vigil, sponsored by UK Pershing Rifles Cadets

·       Sept. 12 - Luke Haines Exhibit: “The American Context” in the Rasdall Gallery, sponsored by the Student Activities Board

·       Sept. 15 - UK Football Military Appreciation Game

·       Sept. 22 - WUKY/ROTC Mud Run, benefiting WUKY and ROTC

·       Oct. 2 - Author Visit, sponsored by New Student and Parent Programs

·       Nov. 9 - UK Veterans Day Remembrance

Coordinated by the Office of New Student and Parent Programs in the Division of Student Affairs, K Week is UK’s fall welcome week for freshmen and transfer students. For more information about K Week, visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/KWeekatUK, follow K Week on Twitter at twitter.com/K_Week and check out the YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/KWeekatUK. The full K Week schedule is available at http://www.uky.edu/StudentAffairs/KWeek/pdf/KWSchedule.pdf