EIU’s Jones: General education key to well-rounded students
Ever since childhood, EIU faculty member Richard Jones knew he would teach; and at 9:15 a.m. Friday, he will strive to inspire incoming students at Lantz Arena in a keynote address as the 2016 faculty laureate.
The associate professor of communication studies believes that general education courses prepare students for their college experience as well as facilitating career paths. Honored as faculty laureate by EIU’s Council on Academic Affairs, Jones will officially represent the institution as its spokesperson for liberal arts or general education.
“In addition to advising these incoming students, I want my talk to be both inspiring and motivational,” Jones said. “I’ll try to address information that I wish someone would have told me as a first-generation college student. I want to talk about self-confidence and the ability to persevere in the face of difficulty.”
Jones instructs students in communications studies and serves as a course director, overseeing numerous class sections of required freshman-level courses. He noted that many individuals dislike public speaking and “want to get it over with.”
“It is a lot of work at the beginning, but as the students get to know each other, begin realizing they are all in the same boat and begin working as a team, it becomes more like conversation than performance,” Jones said. “And, at the end of the course, they all tend to have more confidence.”
Jones underscored the value of speaking skills, especially in light of typical comments questioning the apparent lack of connection to actually finding work. Students need to learn that knowing how to talk to people is a vital component of any job, he said; critical thinking prepares them to be citizens in possession of awareness.
It “provides a foundation onto which other general education courses can build,” he said.