PLCPA: Our Story
The Programs in Language, Culture and Professional Advancement (PLCPA) began in 2006, dedicated from the very beginning to the needs of FDU’s international students. As of Spring 2020, the PLCPA has served and supported over 4,300 students from all over the world on their journeys to professional success.
- In December 2005, Programs in Language, Culture, and Professional Advancement (PLCPA) was established by Dr. John Snyder, the Dean of University College, as part of a wider writing initiative in Fairleigh Dickinson University. This new unit replaced the English Language Institute (ELI) that used to be under the Peter Sammartino School of Education, and the PLCPA office continued to operate out of an office space on the 3rd floor of Bancroft Hall (the home of the Peter Sammartino School of Education). The newly created unit began to report to the University College Dean’s Office. Preliminary work for English for Professional Success courses was done, and was prepared to be launched the next academic year. Dalila Suhonjic was appointed as the first Director of PLCPA.
- In July 2006, after serving as interim Director for four months prior, Dr. Mutiara Mohamad became the Director of PLCPA for the inaugural English for Specific Purposes courses known as English for Professional Success (EPS). EPS courses were a departure from the more traditional English as a Second Language courses that were offered prior to Fall 2006.
- In August 2006, the first set of EPS courses were required of all undergraduate students, and recommended to University College graduate students. All undergraduate and graduate students took the EPS courses in the same sections and all the courses were assigned developmental credits:
- EPS 1101 & EPS 1111: EPS—Business and Hotel and Restaurant Management
- EPS 1102 & EPS 1112: EPS—Engineering and Computer Science
- EPS 1103 & EPS 1113: EPS—Nursing, Allied Health, Natural Sciences, and Psychology
- EPS 1104 & EPS 1114: EPS—Criminal Justice, Pre-Law, History, and Political Science
- EPS 1105 & EPS 1115: EPS—Still Exploring, Communication, Education, and Art
There were 55 students in the inaugural courses offered in Fall 2006 and 30 students in Spring 2007. In these two semesters academic and tutoring support were recommended but only a small group of students attended the sessions.
- In Spring 2007, Dr. Mohamad helped establish the Vancouver EPS courses. The credit hours for the undergraduate EPS course now carries institutional credits.
- In Fall 2007 and Spring 2008, enrollment went up to 170 and 132 respectively. In Fall 2007 all graduate international students in University College were required to take the EPS course upon placement into the course. New graduate course codes were retroactively created. In addition, students who scored 9 or below out of 18 points were required to complete 15 hours of academic and tutoring support outside of class.
- In Spring 2008, all graduate International students in the Silberman College of Business were required to take the EPS course upon placement into the course. Also, all EPS students were required to complete 15, 10, or 5 hours of academic support outside of class based on their placement test score. The following departments formed the initial academic support group for the EPS students: The Metro Writing Studio (MWS), Center for Academic Student Services (CASS), and Programs in Language, Culture, and Professional Advancement (PLCPA). Although the PLCPA homepage was established in Fall 2007, in Fall 2008 (i.e. during the pre-facebook era), a photo gallery was created of past and present EPS students. In Fall 2008, the EPS: Global Exchange New York City as a Classroom course was proposed, and it is open to both domestic and international students.
- In Fall 2008 the EPS course was offered for the first time at the Florham campus. The Career Development Center and the Weiner Library (Metropolitan Campus Library) came on board to the academic support group for EPS students. PLCPA participated in International Education week for the first time by hosting a table. In Fall 2008 and Spring 2009, 225 and 109 students enrolled respectively.
- In Spring 2009, with an increase in enrollment, all undergraduate and graduate students were taught in separate sections.
- In Fall 2009, the Student Counseling and Psychological Services (S-CAPS) joined the team of departments providing support to International students. In Fall 2009, PLCPA and the Metro Writing Studio began to share a dedicated server where academic support and tutoring minutes are recorded.
- In Spring 2010, PLCPA conducted 3 inter-rater reliability and 1 intra-rater reliability exercises with the current EPS instructors. Dr. Mohamad published a chapter entitled “Analysing webpages of corporations: An exercise in identifying the mechanics of branding and organizational memory” in an anthology, Exploring corpus-based research in English Language Teaching. Spain: Universitat Jaume. The article describes a method that could be used to analyze websites in English language classrooms like the EPS course. Dr. Mohamad also co-authored an article with Dr. Janet Boyd, Director of the Metro Writing Studio, entitled “Realizing distributed gains: How collaboration with support services transformed a Basic Writing Program for International students” in the Journal of Basic Writing, 29(1), 78-79. The article describes the evolution of support service collaboration of the PLCPA program with the Metro Writing Studio and other departments.
- In Fall 2010, the inaugural class of EPS 1201: New York City as a Classroom ran as an end of semester intensive course. In Fall 2010, PLCPA adopted its slogan “Make your mark on the world.”
- In Winter 2011, Dr. Mohamad co-authored with Dr. Boyd an article entitled “Differentiating maximum values in writing centers” in Academic Exchange, 15(4), 8-12.
- In Spring 2011, PLCPA participated for the first time in Stress-Less week and Earth Day celebrations by hosting a table.
- In Fall 2011, the Florham Campus Library and the Academic Support Center joined the team of departments to provide support to international students. In Fall 2011, all graduate international students in Petrocelli College were required to take the EPS course upon placement into the course. As a result, on both the New Jersey campuses, the EPS courses are now taken by all international students who are placed into the course. To reflect the emerging shift in student majors, the graduate course codes were changed to:
- EPS 5107 & EPS 5117: EPS Occupational Purposes—Business and the Social Sciences/EPS Academic Purposes—Business and the Social Sciences.
- EPS 5108 & EPS 5118: EPS Occupational Purposes—Science and Technology/EPS Academic Purposes—Science and Technology. In addition, the EPS course code for regular undergraduate courses changed to:
- EPS 1109 & EPS 1119: English for Professional Purposes/English for Academic Purposes.
- In Spring 2012, the Office of Global Learning joined the team of departments to provide support to international students. At the staff retreat in Wroxton, Dr. Mohamad presented on the topic, “Sustainable assessment in the EPS unit.”
- In Fall 2012, the undergraduate courses meet for a total of 3 hours (to follow the Vancouver schedule), and are entitled English for Occupational Purposes/English for Academic Purposes. EPS students are now required to fulfill 15% of their total support (15, 10, or 5 hours, so 2.25/1.5/0.75 hours respectively) in the form of one-on-one tutoring at the Metro Writing Studio, Center for Academic Student Services (Metropolitan Campus), and the Academic Support Center (Florham Campus).
- In Spring 2013, following the Vancouver model, PLCPA started the Pre-University program (PUP) with a special cohort of TVTC students. The EPS PUP course codes are as EPS 0099 and EPS 0199, and are entitled Academic Writing Skills and Workshop in Academic Communications Skills, respectively. There were 9 students enrolled in the PUP class in its inaugural semester.
- In Fall 2013, the EPS course code for graduate courses changed to EPS 5109 and EPS 5119, and are entitled English for Occupational Purposes and English for Academic Purposes, respectively. The course code reflects an alignment with the undergraduate offerings. In Fall 2013, PLCPA published its first marketing brochure.
- In Spring 2014 and Fall 2014, PLCPA collaborated with the Office of Global Learning in their American Language and Culture Program offering multiple EPS courses to special cohorts of Brazilian Scientific Mobility Program (BSMP) students. PLCPA revised its slogan to: “Make your positive mark on the world.” “Positive” was added for emphasis.
- In Summer 2014, the PLCPA moved to a new office space in the former History/Political Science House in time to welcome a big enrollment hike in Fall 2014.
- In Fall 2014 and Spring 2015, EPS student enrollment was and is the biggest since its inception, more than doubling between Fall 2013 to Fall 2014 (from 170 individual registrants in all EPS classes to 479 individual registrants in all EPS classes). The PLCPA hosted its first selfie of International landmarks activity in conjunction with International Education week.
- In Spring 2015, PLCPA started offering “Minutes Marathons” to better manage both the need for Academic Support Minutes/Hours for the large population of students. Minutes Marathons are a day where students could attend multiple Academic Support Workshops in one sitting. The academic support requirements were adjusted to 12, 8, or 4 total hours, and 25% of these hours must be completed as one-on-one tutoring (i.e. 3/2/1 hours respectively). Dr Mohamad collaborated with Dr. Bryan Meadows (School of Education and Faculty for Freshmen) and co-presented on “Serving our International Students.” Dr. Mohamad also participated in a panel discussion with several faculty moderated by Dr. Kayathi Joshi (School of Education) entitled, “So you are finally in the United States! Now what? Suggested dos and don’ts.”
- In Fall 2015, EPS students wrote Requests for Proposal of celebrating the PLCPA’s 10th Anniversary as their final project. In Fall 2015, in a poll conducted of PLCPA faculty and staff, the PLCPA finds that its members speak over 12 different foreign languages. Dr. Mohamad’s co-authored article with Dr. Boyd on “Differentiating maximum values in writing centers” was anthologized in Sound Introduction Vol. 4, Writing Center Theory and Practice.
- In Spring 2016, Dr. Mohamad presented at the CIES 2016 conference entitled “Supporting International students in and out of the classroom: The case of Fairleigh Dickinson University.” EPS final group paper topics include “Needs assessment of a local community” and “Assessment of International student visibility.” The PLCPA was highlighted by the Middle States Evaluation team report in its assessment of Institutional effectiveness as an example of one of the departments that is “fully engaged in the process, presenting both quantitative data and actions taken.”
- In Fall 2016, the PLCPA participated for the first time in the Student Organization / Campus Information Fair. The PLCPA promoted its EPS 1201 / EPS 5201 Course: “Global Exchange: New York City as a Classroom” with a selfie New York taxi cab and flyers for the course. In Fall 2016, PLCPA celebrated its 10th Anniversary and among the highlights it acknowledged its partner departments and long term EPS instructors: Andrea Alexander—21 semesters; Janice Bihler—18 semesters; Zhanna Buzharsky—22 semesters; Diana Cvitan—13 semesters; Helen Kuttner—15 semesters; and Kyoko Waseda-Hida–17 semesters. By the end of the Fall Semester PLCPA has taught 4117 students.
- In Spring 2017, due to its popular demand, the EPS New York City as a Classroom was offered in two intensive sections; one in the middle and another at the end of the semester. In Spring 2017, EPS students completed final projects to spread awareness of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
- In Spring 2017, the Pre-Masters’ Program (PMP) was proposed. The Pre-Masters’ Program is open to international students.
- In Fall 2017, the Pre-Master’s Program (PMP) was created to be run in the Fall 2018 semester.
- In Spring 2018, two new EPS courses, EPS 5209, “Advanced English for Occupational Purposes, and EPS 5219, “Advanced English for Academic Purposes,” were created to be run in the Fall 2018 semester.
- In Spring 2018, the PLCPA also established its new Pre-Masters’ Program (PMP), a pathway program for bachelor’s degree international students seeking their master’s degree at FDU.
- In Fall 2018, the PLCPA welcomed its first PMP student.
- In Fall 2018, EPS 5209 ran its first inaugural course.
- In Fall 2018, the PLCPA participated for the second time in the Student Organization / Campus Information Fair. The PLCPA promoted its EPS 1201 / EPS 5201 Course: “Global Exchange: New York City as a Classroom” with a selfie New York taxi cab, candy pizzas, and flyers for the course.
- In Fall 2018, the PLCPA participated in FDU’s International Education Week as committee members and volunteers. The PLCPA hosted an “Interactive World Map,” and a table on “Herbs and Spices from Around the World.” During International Education Week, the PLCPA also sponsored its annual “Global Selfie Scavenger Hunt” for students to take selfies with campus artifacts, places, and people. For the first year, the “Global Selfie Scavenger Hunt” was offered, with instructions, for students on the Florham and Wroxton campuses.
- In Spring 2019, EPS 5209 successfully ran two sections of graduating students.
- In Spring 2019, PLCPA hosted a table at two Stress-Less day events, where PLCPA staff conducted origami activities with participants to help them de-stress, and provided coloring activities to instill a sense of mindfulness in students.
- In Fall 2019, the PLCPA participated for the third time in the Student Organization / Campus Information Fair. The PLCPA promoted its EPS 1201 / EPS 5201 Course: “Global Exchange: New York City as a Classroom” with an interactive subway map game, candy pizzas, and flyers for the course.
- In Fall 2019, the PLCPA welcomed a new cohort of government-sponsored students from Kuwait in its Pre-University Program (PUP) and undergraduate (UG) courses.
- In Fall 2019, the PLCPA participated again in FDU’s International Education Week as committee members and volunteers. The PLCPA hosted a “Timed World Map” activity and a table on “Herbs and Spices from Around the World.” During International Education Week, the PLCPA also sponsored its annual “Global Selfie Scavenger Hunt.”
- In Fall 2019, EPS 1109 students worked on final projects that addressed sustainability initiatives for the FDU campus at large.
- In Fall 2019, EPS 5109 students created final projects with SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-based) evaluation criteria of AFS student proposals on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- In Spring 2020, the EPS Program moved all of its academic support services online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Program completed over 300 individual interactions with students via our remote Zoom workshops.
- In Spring 2020, the EPS Program created its first iteration of an online post-test (final exam) for its international students.
- In Fall 2020, the EPS program finalized its iteration of online post-testing, allowing for students to complete the exam proctored and asynchronously.
- In Spring 2021, the inaugural launch of an online placement exam and post-test exam were successfully executed amongst EPS students.
- In Spring 2021, the EPS Program’s proposal to create a new intensive Pre-University Program (iPUP) was created and submitted for approval. Four new EPS courses were created for this program, to be launch in Fall 2021: EPS 1004+1014, “Practical English I & Practical English I Lab,” EPS 1005+1015, “Practical English II & Practical English II Lab,” EPS 1006+1016, “Practical English III & Practical English III Lab,” and EPS 1007+1017, “Practical English IV & Practical English IV Lab.”
- In Fall 2021, the iPUP program welcomed its first two students.