“Parents, rest assured.”
Words of certainty from James Larriviere, PhD, Chair of the Division of Business at Spring Hill College.
At Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, faculty provide more than lessons, academic advising and coaching for their students. They truly know their students by name – a rarity at large colleges and universities but a given at Spring Hill.
With a student to faculty ratio of 14 to 1 and an average class size of 17, faculty know all their students by name, a rarity at large colleges and universities.
According to Dr. James Larriviere, small class sizes – the student to faculty ratio is 14 to 1 and an average class size is 17 – mean holistic, personalized education. This can be a comfort to mom and dad, he said.
“Parents, rest assured your student here at Spring Hill College will get great instruction in the classroom,” he said. Not only that, professors help students navigate the waters of college while emphasizing the liberal arts and service to their community, Larriviere said.
When parents come here, they want to know what their child's going get, said Dr. Kathy Sheppard, Chair of the Dvision of Nursing at Spring Hill College. They’re asking, “What are you going to do to really prepare my 18-year-old in the next four years?”
What the student gets is faculty that will be able to get to know them, and vice versa, Sheppard said. Students have their professors’ phone numbers and call them when they have issues, and not just about academic issues. “Sometimes the students are homesick and just want someone to talk to,” she said.
This unique focus on students is part of “cura personalis,” or care for the whole person, a Jesuit tradition at Spring Hill since its founding in 1830.
“When we teach our students, we model how to care for the whole person as we strive to meet their needs spiritually, mentally, psychologically and physically,” Sheppard said. Part of this holistic care is the emphasis on helping others.
Students on The Hill have conducted blood drives, worked with the homeless, led food drives and participated in runs for breast cancer, Sheppard said.
“Every experience that a student has becomes part of their learning,” she said. “They then take the learning of being compassionate to others in the healthcare environment.”
Nursing students at Spring Hill start clinical training in a laboratory with mannequins and simulators. They learn about specializations – community, psychiatric, pediatric and obstetrical nursing. In addition, surgical courses teach students to respond to mild chronic conditions, acute illnesses, and life-saving critical care.
Faculty are available to answer questions about appropriate medication and dosing, symptoms of illnesses, or other clinical concerns, Sheppard said.
“We encourage our students to not stop in their educational endeavors,” she said. Spring Hill College will soon offer program that earns registered nurses a bachelor of science degree, and a revised master of science in nursing program along three specialty tracks.
Students considering careers in business work closely with Larriviere as a faculty advisor to identify what major they’d like to pursue, based on their interests and passions. “A smaller institution like SHC allows us to work very closely with our students to mentor and guide them through the four years on the Hill,” he said.
Larriviere works with upperclass-level students to determine how to stand out when their resumes hit the human resource department’s desk. “The discussion typically goes toward internships and experiential learning opportunities.” These programs are more important than ever to business education, he said.
With the combination of in-depth instruction in smaller classes, faculty advisors who get to know their students, and an abundance of service projects, Larriviere believes years spent at Spring Hill College give his students an edge.
“After 20 years on the Hill, I can tell you the SHC graduate is ready to make a difference,” he said.
“I love seeing students work from freshman to senior, and seeing the changes that they make, and particularly the smiles on the parents' faces at graduation when they see that evolution of their student.”