This is one entry of the "Ten People to Watch" list in July's Towerview.
As an undergraduate at Duke, there are a wide variety of academic, extracurricular and social opportunities available. Students can head to a foreign country to help an NGO through DukeEngage or get involved in a dorm house council or study abroad. As dean and vice provost for undergraduate education, Steve Nowicki—in some way or another—affects all of these opportunities.
“I’m more or less in charge of anything that touches on the lives of undergraduates,” said Nowicki. “My office is the connector that lies above all of the units.”
Many of the offices around campus report directly to him. At other times, he stays at what he likes to call “30,000 feet” and receives general overviews of offices and organizations. Despite his important role as a member of the administration, Nowicki is still one of the most accessible faculty members at Duke.
“I teach freshman courses these days,” said Nowicki, a popular biology professor among undergraduates. “I wouldn’t want to give it up because I think it is really important for administrators to really stay in touch with what this place is all about.”
This attitude has led him to create other opportunities for freshmen to interact with him. During the Fall, he holds open office hours at the Marketplace on East Campus once a week.
In an effort to improve the freshman undergraduate experience, Nowicki is shifting his focus next year to improve Duke's advising system. By recognizing and addressing the faults of the oft-criticized system, Nowicki said he hopes to better tailor the system to suit freshmen and the rest of the undergraduate population.
“As the Duke curriculum and co-curricular opportunities just create a richer education environment, we realize that we have to up the game in helping students get advising out of that,” Nowicki said.
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