Virginia Union To Begin Its Next Long-Term Quality Enrichment Plan
By Madyson Fitzgerald
Virginia Union University will implement its new Quality Enrichment Plan (QEP) this fall, raising awareness on mindfulness, a critical skill becoming more and more relevant on college campuses across the nation.
The goal of the QEP, a familiar tool at VUU, is to initiate growth at institutions of higher learning by focusing on one particular element that can be expanded upon. Virginia Union is a member of The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC), where it draws its definition of the QEP. The SACSCOC Handbook for Institutions Seeking Reaffirmation describes the QEP as a “carefully designed course of action that addresses a well-defined and focused topic or issue related to enhancing student learning and/or the environment supporting student learning and accomplishing the missions of the institution.”
In this way, the Quality Enrichment Plan, used on numerous college campuses, specifies an area of focus where there could be more improvement, and directs all of its attention to this particular issue. For instance, VUU’s 2010-2015 Plan, named Writing Across the Curriculum: Write Here, Write Now, described new initiatives to perfect the writing craft of every student on campus. Their methods of improvement including developing an online tutoring program for the Writing Center and requiring students to keep a writing portfolio. VUU even published their own Grammar Handbook and Workbook that students kept up with throughout the year.
By implementing these intense methods of training, students at Virginia Union became comfortable with writing college-level papers, including tips on resume building and effective communication.
Currently, the University is developing its new QEP to be implemented in the years 2020 to 2025, officially named Tomorrow Starts Today. According to the school, the tentative main topic for the QEP “will strengthen their [the students] ability to reflect critically by learning how to examine and evaluate their preferences and goals as they explore their academic major and plan a career.”
This overarching topic will lead to three learning outcomes that the University has also outlined. First, the plan will lead students to, “demonstrate increased ability to critically evaluate their preferences and goals as they select their major and plan their career.” Second, the University hopes that students will, “develop skills in 1) critical self-reflection and 2) critical self-regulation.” Lastly, “Students will learn the skill and practice of metacognition (mindfulness).”
These three points capitalize on self-reflection and the use of metacognition, a common theme among the QEPs of other schools. Mindfulness is the latest trend that is not only relieving stress, but making life more positive.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, one of the leading experts on mindfulness research, describes the practice as “the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.”
“It often results in apprehending the constantly changing nature of sensations,” Kabat-Zinn told The Guardian,” even highly unpleasant ones, and thus their impermanence.” Mindfulness is the radical new movement in which individuals learn to stay in the present by mindful practices, like meditation and breathing exercises. People who practice mindfulness also begin to look at the world through a more positive light, giving small things a sort of “kind attention.”
Mindfulness carries lots of health benefits, especially for busy individuals who tend to rush from one responsibility to the next. In addition to reducing stress, practicing mindfulness has been proven to enhance the body’s immune system, decrease depressive symptoms, improve patience, improve eating behaviors and attitudes, help students with their academic performance and so much more. College students would benefit greatly from the effects of mindfulness, and the concept is beginning to take campuses by storm.
Numerous studies reveal that college students benefit greatly from the effects of mindfulness, and that it’s never too early to start practicing. In a 2016 study, researchers found the first sign of evidence that mindfulness meditation training is associated with reducing the risk of certain inflammatory diseases. Additionally, a study in Psychological Science found that students who practiced mindfulness on a regular basis had improved short-term memory. Every day, more research illustrates the fascinating results of mindful meditation.
Virginia Union’s Tomorrow Starts Today QEP is scheduled for reviewing and approval during the spring semester of 2020. After being approved, the initiative will take place during the upcoming fall semester. By focusing on the present, students at VUU will soon be learning how to live in the now while preparing for their vast tomorrows.