Written by | Dakota Kessler |
With Amarillo College undergoing budget cuts in all areas in recent months, the future of the Common Reader program was in doubt. According to college officials, the Common Reader, which began in fall 2008, cost $20,000, and that amount was cut from the budget of Student Affairs, which oversaw the program. At the AC faculty assembly Jan. 29, Dr. Deborah Vess, vice president of academic affairs, announced that the Common Reader will continue under the guidance of her office. Robert Austin,vice president of student affairs said, “The Common Reader is a shared experience for all students, and lots of time and effort have been put into it. This is the first time it’s been threatened to end.”
Since its beginning, the program has provided free books to incoming students, with faculty encouraged to use the books in their courses if they wish. The books generally have been fiction or nonfiction works that provide inspiration.
The books’ authors visit Amarillo and speak to the campus and community. The 2015-16 Common Reader is Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys, a novel about a girl and her family who are uprooted during World War II and sent to Soviet work camps. Courtney Milleson, an assistant professor in the advising department and the Common Reader coordinator, said changes will come to the Common Reader such as tying it to the Presidential Scholars program. She said she and Vess hope to enhance the program and possibly have forums and student activities to get participants engaged in the book. Milleson said faculty members can include the book into their curriculum, with students possibly having to buy their books if professors insert the book into class time. If students were to buy the book, four out of four students polled said they would rather have a paper copy then an ebook or audio version.
Through this school year, Common Reader books have been handed out to incoming freshmen at Badger Bootcamp in the fall, and those left over have been given to other students upon request.
The Common Reader will continue to be a program at, just with a few changes and minor adjustments to accommodate the budget.