Eckerd College is currently seeking applicants for the Assistant Intercollegiate Coach position. This is a full-time position. The Assistant Sailing Coach is responsible for assisting the Head Sailing Coach with all facets of the Sailing Program. This includes on the water coaching, facilitating practice/training, providing sailing instruction, boat/fleet maintenance and promoting the varsity sailing program. For more information and to apply, see our job ad HERE
On a sunny lush plot of land on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Eckerd College might seem like the perfect spot for an easy college career, four years marked by sun, surf and sand. But if you’re looking for a vacation, you should enroll elsewhere.
In its short fifty-plus-year life, Eckerd has established itself as a little college that could – a place where a B student in high school could develop his potential as a thinker, problem solver, dreamer, and adventurer under the guidance of a faculty and staff as caring and creative as any in the country. Eckerd puts a premium on mentorship, so much so that faculty cannot get tenure without an obvious commitment to mentoring students. At the vast majority of American universities, tenure review committees care about research first; teaching comes in a distant second. But at Eckerd, the commitment to student growth is so significant, faculty invest not just in students’ academic learning but also in the development of them as whole people. The value of this kind of investment cannot be understated. It is life-changing.
Students call the professors who are academic advisers “mentors,” and everyone has stories about mentors and professors going beyond the call of duty to help a student. “My freshman year, I e-mailed a professor at ten p.m. because I had procrastinated, and I realized the night before my paper was due that I needed some help. He called me five minutes later,” a senior from Nashville says. A senior from Orlando told of her sudden medical leave because of heart problems sophomore year. “I had just chosen my mentor for my major, and she didn’t know me well, but she went to all of my professors and had everyone sign my withdrawal card. She handled all of the college-related stuff so I could focus on getting better.” Thanks to her mentor’s support, this young woman graduated on time.
Beyond their affection for students, faculty share an obvious fondness for one another, which is good news for students. The more collaborative the faculty, the more innovative they’re likely to be when dreaming up cross-curricular learning opportunities, and the more able they are to serve students. “My colleagues are fantastic,” says David Hastings, who teaches marine science and chemistry. Adds Dr. Kelly Debure, professor of computer science, “There’s something remarkable about Eckerd, about the level of collaboration among professors and students. I would not want to teach anywhere else.”
Perhaps because of its youth, Eckerd hums with a spirit of innovation. It was a pioneer of the 4-1-4 calendar (four classes in the fall, one during a January term, and four in the spring), now used by many colleges. Its 1,800 students have considerable power and responsibility for campus life. “We get to decide almost everything on campus, at least the things related to how we live together,” says a junior from Portland, Oregon. “We self-govern in a lot of ways, so we don’t have administrators stomping around enforcing a bunch of rules we hate. It’s really great to be trusted like that.” (A simple example: students staff the Pet Council, which oversees policies in the college’s popular pet-friendly dorms.)
And in a flurry of brilliance, Eckerd long ago dreamed up Autumn Term for freshmen. Three weeks before their upper-class peers come back, freshmen arrive on campus and take a one-course introduction to college-level thinking. A student’s Autumn Term professor becomes her first mentor and her professor in the Western Heritage in a Global Context course, a yearlong course that requires students to consider how human beings have known and expressed truth. The class reads a range of Western and non-Western works (from Homer to Dave Eggers’s What Is the What, about the lost boys of Sudan, for example) to fuel their learning.
The bookend to Western Heritage is the capstone Quest for Meaning, required in the fall of senior year. Through a combination of readings, lectures from various faculty, self-reflective writing, and a forty-hour community-service project, each students thinks about his purpose in life and his responsibilities to himself and his community. Second-semester seniors and alumni talk eagerly about the course’s seminal project: an essay and presentation called “This I Believe,” in which students have to write and then present their own beliefs in the context of the books and essays they’ve read in class. “It rocks you,” says a senior from Atlanta. “Nobody until that point in my life had asked me to write down precisely what I believe and why. Do you know how hard that is? I hated it, and then I loved it.”
A string of other innovations shows off the college’s student-centered culture: Professors’ offices open onto sidewalks, encouraging students to pop in to chat about academic work or life outside of class. The Freshman Research Associate Program funds about twenty first-year students who want to collaborate with professors on their research. And as students make their way through their college careers, each builds a co-curricular transcript that notes leadership, volunteer work, sports activities, and involvement in clubs. The transcript can supplement applications to grad school, fellowships, and employment to give a broader description of the student.
And then there’s the Academy of Senior Professionals at Eckerd College (ASPEC), which gives depth and nuance to this community of young scholars. ASPEC is a group of distinguished retirees with its own intellectual life, rife with forums, speakers, and events. But members of the group also contribute to college classes by participating in lectures and discussions. For students pursuing jobs or internships, ASPEC members conduct mock interviews, review resumes, and put students in touch with former colleagues. One student calls them “surrogate grandparents,” Another says, “I totally owe my internship to a woman from ASPEC who’s been mentoring me.”
Outside the classroom, Eckerd does just as fine a job focusing on the whole person. The most obvious example is the college’s emphasis on studying abroad. As many as 60 percent of students leave the country for a term or more. The 4-1-4 calendar allows students who have particularly tight schedules – like those on the premed track or double majoring – to leave for the month long Winter Term. Others, who have looser schedules, tend to go abroad several times. “It’s just part of what you do here,” says a junior who spent a semester in China and a January term in Eastern Europe. “Everybody’s talking about it, and your mentors are asking, ‘Where are you going? What’s interesting to you?’ When you come back [to campus], you just feel so much stronger and interesting – and you’re more interested in other people’s experiences too.”
While they’re on campus, students benefit from Eckerd’s impressive Waterfront Program, a blend of educational recreational activities that help Eckerd embrace its beachy locale. The Activities Center is well stocked with wakeboards, water skis, canoes, kayaks, fishing equipment, and a fleet of boats – everything a young adult needs to burn off some stress in the Florida sun. There are twice-daily water-ski and wakeboarding trips – eat your heart out, Syracuse – free to students. The college has a national sailboat team open to any student, and a Coast Guard–affiliated search-and-rescue team.