Is the magic number 21? At our university, small classes and a personalized approach change lives.
What makes for great learning outcomes in higher education? Better teaching? Newer technology? For Adelphi, it is often something more quantifiable—small classrooms. Adelphi’s average class is just 21 students, with far fewer in graduate classes. One of our M.B.A. students from Nigeria, Chukwuma Ochu, put this advantage most succinctly: “In a small class, I am heard.”

Being heard is an important part of high-impact learning—just listening in a lecture hall is a very different experience. A recent study, the College Educational Quality project,* researched t wo selective, midsize research institutions, one public, the other private. Researchers concluded that classes with discussions and in-class activities, with 25 students or fewer, were associated with significantly more academic rigor and teaching quality.   

I am struck by the growing size of lecture halls in many universities today; a class of 250 students is not at all unusual for introductory 100-level courses. I have heard numbers as high as 700 students—held, by necessity, in that university's performing arts center. And, even more remarkable, some larger universities are beginning to require that all their introductory-level courses be taken as online options only.

The debate rages on about the effectiveness of the large lecture hall. To some students, hearing a brilliant lecturer creates a great learning experience. But for our students in the arts, our research-driven students, our first-generation students—from top performers to those who need extra support to stay ahead—Adelphi chooses a different path. Our students walk into classes where everyone, including the professor, is likely to know their name.

That means our Performing Arts Center is a place where you can catch the 20th-anniversary production of Rent, written by Adelphi Class of ’81 alum Jonathan Larson, or see a performance by the Taylor 2 Dance Company, but you won’t hear a Biology 101 lecture. And that’s fine with us.
Christine M. Riordan, Ph.D.

*Teachers College, Columbia University
An Adelphi student finds one-to-one interaction and guidance, both on the field and in the classroom, transformative
School of Social Work ranks sixth in the nation
Last month, USA Today College published “The top 10 U.S. colleges for a major in social work.” Adelphi ranked sixth in the nation out of 513 accredited Bachelor in Social Work programs, an exceptional ranking for a school roughly one-tenth the size of most of the other top nine. This list was based on student outcomes and ability to find a job. Dean Andrew Safyer, Ph.D., attributes this in part to small class size, allowing his students to “develop empathy and the necessary people skills to be successful in this field.”
Whether he’s teaching Math Methods for Physicists to a class of 13, or Jackson Electrodynamics to just three, our class sizes allow Department of Physics Assistant Professor Matt Wright, Ph.D., to ensure that every voice is heard. This level of personal interaction is having a multiplier effect. Not only are Dr. Wright’s former students excelling, but women scholars and students from underserved communities are increasingly realizing there is a place for them in STEM. Because of the successes born in our small classrooms, we are seeing more female students pursuing the 15-plus math and science degrees Adelphi offers.
Our Levermore Global Scholars program is a multidimensional education experience that trains 21st-century leaders. Levermore students, usually a group numbering 20-plus students, learn in real-world environments, complete world-class internships and participate in United Nations-sponsored peace initiatives. Adelphi has been a U.N.-accredited nongovernmental organization (NGO) since 2003. This relationship allows students to participate in invitation-only U.N. NGO briefings. Along with studying abroad, attending foreign cultural events, and participating in Academic Conference Calls with the Council on Foreign Relations, Levermore Global Scholars learn to make their mark in the world. 
The next time you attend a Broadway show, don’t be surprised if you see a cast member who got their training at Adelphi. While arts programs are on the decline at some institutions, we’ve never been more dedicated to training musicians, dancers, actors and writers. Our commitment to small classes, where artists learn by interacting one-on-one with instructors, is increasingly paying off for our students—including on Broadway stages. We are so excited for Kenneth Michael Murray ’15. He landed his first Broadway show, appearing in Cirque du Soleil’s Paramour.
In Adelphi’s Spanish for Health Care Professionals class, Sara Aponte-Olivieri, Ph.D., adjunct assistant professor, is filling a unique need: helping English-speaking nurses and others in the healthcare field to communicate with their many Spanish-speaking patients. Teaching in a smaller classroom allows her to push conversational skills and help her students, usually fatigued after a full day’s work in a hospital setting, to stay engaged and involved. “I admire these students so much,” says Dr. Aponte-Olivieri. “They are there because they want to speak to their patients and, in this class setting, I can help them do that.”
In Adelphi’s Honors College, students supplement their majors with a heavy emphasis on reading and writing through a rigorous study of the arts, music and history, in unique small settings that foster conversation and ideas—and that’s just the way they like it. Adelphi is one of only a few colleges in the nation that offer dedicated faculty and a special location to bring small groups of high-achieving students into their own mini-university setting. This home away from home gives honors students music practice rooms, computer labs and study lounges, open 24 hours a day. Seminar tables, instead of desks, foster big thinking.
Individual help, and individual attention, are often what help at-risk students stay the course and achieve their highest potential. Adelphi’s General Studies Learning Community professors believe small classes with intensive interaction are crucial to helping those who might otherwise fail to succeed. Careful adaption of curriculum, along with personalized attention from dedicated faculty, have created remarkable turnaround stories. April Yaffe, a General Studies Learning Community graduate, explains. “My first year, when I was given an assignment, I’d think, ‘I can’t do this,’” she said. “Now I know I can do whatever I am presented with.”
Athletics Update
The Panthers wrapped up the 2016–2017 campaign on a high note—not only on the fields of play, but in the classroom
Adelphi University Athletics had the highest percentage of its student-athletes honored on the Northeast-10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll with 79 percent of athletes earning the mark, a number up four percent from the fall semester. In addition, 12 of the 22 recognized NE10 teams took home Team Academic Excellence Awards, posting the highest GPA for their respective sports among all teams in the conference. This number is up six from last season, with repeats in softball, field hockey, women’s soccer and women’s lacrosse.
Alumni Who Make a Difference
Forbes placed alumnus Patrick Adams ’83, M.B.A. ’86, head of consumer marketing at PayPal, North America, on its list of the Top 50 Most Influential CMOs in the World. He met his future wife, Pamela Moore, M.B.A. ’86, at Adelphi and they now have four children. In Adams’ words, “AU was the beginning of many important life events for us.” I congratulate him on this global recognition and thank him for honoring our Robert B. Willumstad School of Business with his success.
Momentum ’17 Tour News
My nationwide Adelphi University Momentum tour, “Stories of Lives Changed: Hear Ours, Share Yours,” begins in Sag Harbor, New York, on Thursday, August 10, featuring live music by our own Honors College singer/songwriter Dori-Jo Gutierrez. We'll be posting my future Momentum events here.

Names Youll Be Hearing
Adelphi welcomes  Brady Crook as our new Vice President for University Advancement and  Jodie Sperico as Executive Director of Alumni Relations. Read how I believe these two new Panthers will help us fulfill our strategic goals—and bring a strong new future for Adelphi.