Philosophy department works closely with students, has high retention rates

Feb. 8, 2016

Rachel Librach
[email protected]

Relationships over numbers.

That’s what the philosophy department believes to be true when it comes to their student and faculty retention rates.

According to a Communique article published Jan. 21, the Department of Philosophy has one of the highest student retention rates at UCCS.

“We understand that living in Colorado, personal or environmental issues may come up and we have developed strategies to accommodate these students,” said Raphael Sassower, professor and chair of the philosophy department.

“The faculty is sensitive and able to draw on experiences from past years so we don’t lose students just because.”

Sassower said the department doesn’t look at retention rates as a number.

“We see (retention rates) as relationships with students, not a number. We build trust with our students and they confide in us to help solve their problems,” he said.

“Looking at whether or not the number of retention rates were high never occurred to us.”

Senior philosophy major and president of the Philosophy Club Chelsea Demanche said professors try to make the content they teach interesting and relevant.

“We are seeing philosophy playing larger roles in different disciplines like in law school and medical field,” she said. “Teachers stress that no matter what discipline you get into, philosophy will be part of it.”

“Professors talk about interesting subjects like cosmology, new technology and artificial intelligence,” she said.

Sassower believes the department has an individual focus.

“We have advising for every student and we have many opportunities for one-on-one work with professors. This really helps us monitor our progress and the progress of the students,” he said.

“We work on developing strong relationships that can carry students all through their academic endeavors.”

Sassower is the longest-tenured professor in the philosophy department, having taught for almost 30 years. Out of 12 faculty members, four others have been teaching for 25 years or more.

Sassower said this consistency in faculty allows the professors to figure out a system for their class that is efficient and can provide assistance to students living in Colorado Springs.

“Because we are a military community we have students who are deployed months before semester ends. Students know that we are there and we can help them the next semester,” said Sassower.

Some of the teachers that made the most impact on Demanche’s life were professors she took for several classes who supported her in determining her field of interest.

“I’m very close to several teachers,” she said. “(Dorothea Olkowski) helped me find the exact field I wanted to get into and helped me a lot with my writing, which used to be a horrible. I’ve had six or seven classes with her,” she said.