Dr. Skleder weighs in on changing Dean’s List requirement

Many full-time Wilkes University students feel that they ought to be recognized for their academic achievements every semester. Students work to not only to pass their classes, but also to get the best grades possible. At the end of each semester, students receive validation for their hard work by finding their name on the Dean’s List.

The Wilkes University’s Dean’s List has two requirements. The first requirement is to be a full-time student, which means that the student has to carry at least 12 credits during the semester. The second requirement is a 3.4 grade point average. These requirements have not been changed for a quite some time.

The Dean’s List for the previous fall semester features a long list of students who were honored for their academics. Our neighboring school, King’s College, has a 3.5 grade-point average requirement and their list from last semester has significantly less students than ours. Marywood University and the University of Scranton have a 3.5 requirement as well, while Misericordia University has a requirement of 3.55.

“I am finishing up my third year at Wilkes, and the Dean’s List requirements were in place before I started here. The academic standards of the University are the province of the faculty. At some point this decision was made by the faculty,” said Senior Vice President and Provost Dr. Anne Skleder.

Skleder recognizes that the decision is not completely hers, but she is interested in the topic. Policies at Wilkes are always open for discussion, yet Dr. Skleder had no prior discussion with any faculty or students about the topic before the interview.

“I will always support looking into any of our policies and procedures, and in this case it is policy. For me to personally weigh in, I would like to see the rationale and data behind it first. Also, these policies vary from institution to institution. I have been with many different institutions, and it is always up to the faculty of the institution to make that decision. However, I would be happy to be engaged in a discussion about it,” said Skleder.

Students should be aware of the requirements of Wilkes so they can aim for the academic achievement of making the Dean’s List. Like Skleder said, this policy can be changed at any point in time by the faculty, but Dr. Skleder does not have a keen interest in changing this long-standing policy.

“I do not feel strongly about changing the requirement because I have not looked into the research nor have I had any discussion on the topic. I would welcome the dialogue,” said Skleder.

If the requirements were changed to a higher grade point average, returning students may notice the difference, but new students will not be affected. There are only a few students who would even be aware of the requirements before they start their college career. There are plenty of more important factors.

“I do not think that students choose an institution because of the Dean’s List requirements. I personally didn’t know the requirements for my school before I attended college, and I do not think it is an important factor. Our students are focused on the quality of the programs, the credentials of the faculty, the opportunities for co-curriculum, the location, support they get from coaches, advisors and etc. These are the factors that influence students to make a decision,” said Dr. Skleder.

Regardless if Wilkes will raise their requirement from 3.4 to 3.5 or even 4.0, Wilkes needs to keep its Dean’s List.

“I think it is important that we have a Dean’s List. I think it is important to recognize excellence. This is an institution, as you may have heard from Dr. Leahy, of excellence and we have spent a lot of time talking and working on that. So, I think to the extent that it helps students strive for excellence, it is a good thing. It can be motivating and rewarding for some students, but it may also not be that important for some students,” said Skleder.

On top of the Dean’s List is the Latin Honor Society. There are ten different societies to choose from, and they correspond with the various majors available at Wilkes.

“Our Latin Honor System at graduation is something that students can also strive for, which goes beyond our Dean’s List requirements. It is certainly a distinction that some students strive for, and it is a very good tradition,” Skleder said.

Some people look at grades and grade point averages as superficial. In some cases, students with great grades can lack the skills needed in the work force, and vice versa. It all comes down to what is intrinsically valuable to a student.

“The most important reasons for striving for excellence should be internal. Achieving more than you thought you could achieve and achieving for your own satisfaction. I think our faculty would hope that is the major reason, and I hope it is the major reason all students strive for excellence, rather than external rewards,” Skleder said.

“There are significant other ways to distinguish themselves beyond these grade related distinctions. These include excellent internships, publishing with faculty as we just saw last week at the Research and Scholarship Symposium, getting co-ops, being leaders on sports teams, clubs and organizations, and being mentors to each other. I think that all of these opportunities are great for students who want to show an employer that they are well-rounded. Employers are looking for students who do well and get good grades certainly, but they are also looking for students who excelled in other kinds of areas like leadership, and et cetera. Medical and law schools may look at grades more than other programs, but most programs recognize that a varied experience is what matters, which is what occurs in and outside the classroom.

There is the chance in the future that this policy could change, along with many other policies. Students like Senior Nikki Zula would be concerned if the requirement was increased.

“It would definitely matter for the students of Wilkes University. If it were increased to 3.5, I would feel pressured to get better grades. We should be proud of grades like 3.5, but if students need to strive for 4.0s then students may become stressed to make the Dean’s List,” said Zula.