The Common Reading Program is designed to promote literacy and discourse at Vaughn College. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to read the selected book and attend the newly launched Vaughn reading series to discuss the selection.
During fall 2013, 150 students and staff attended the combined sessions. Students read aloud excerpts from the novel and led group discussions inviting student-to-student, student-to-faculty, and faculty-to-faculty dialogue to enhance critical thinking that can be applied to academic and professional careers.
The book selected for the 2013—2014 academic year, "Kindred" by Octavia E. Butler, is a contemporary novel written in 1979 by the first African-American woman to obtain recognition in the science-fiction genre. The story of a black woman who travels back in time to the antebellum south, touched on thematic topics such as race issues, tolerance, acceptance and forgiveness.
"We were happy with the turnout and engagement at the sessions," said Tomasita Ortiz, English curriculum developer. "Students commented that the discussions have benefited their public speaking ability and found them useful for essay writing and life in general."
According to a post-survey in October, 85 percent of those who read "Kindred" enjoyed the novel and found it relevant, and 89 percent of students, faculty and staff found the discussions engaging.
An excerpt from the book was first provided to students during the summer new student orientation. A new book is chosen each summer and is read for one year during the summer, fall and spring semesters.
As part of this year's program, a "Kindred" book trailer using text, photos, videos, and sound clips was produced by students Nicole Gil, Shaquille Foster, and Christian Mendez, to entice others to read the selection. You can watch the book trailer here and send recommendations on book selections to Tomasita Ortiz via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.