Jazz CD helps UMass Dartmouth freshmen adjust to campus life

'Jazz For Success' named student services 'Program of the Year' for Massachusetts and New England

An innovative faculty-driven strategy at UMass Dartmouth that uses jazz music to help freshmen make a successful transition to university life has been named “Program of the Year” for both the state of Massachusetts and New England by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). 

Jazz for Success, created and produced by Dr. Norman Barber, provides strategies, timely information, and creative ideas to encourage first-year students during their all-important first year on campus. During the 2004-2005 academic year, Jazz for Success was distributed to over 1,100 first-year students. 

“One of the most appealing features of Jazz for Success,” said Barber, “is the introduction of outstanding members of the faculty and administration – individuals who seek to challenge students in using self-awareness and critical thinking to examine the values, dreams, and expectations they bring to the campus environment.” 

Jazz for Success also features the music of professor Royal Hartigan from his 1993 CD “Blood Drum Spirit.” The smooth jazz format that characterizes Hartigan’s music helps to create an atmosphere in which students can relax, learn strategies to manage negative emotions, and explore campus resources. “I really like the format, the music, and especially the concept. This is definitely something that is unique and appealing,” said Mary Stuart Hunter, Director of the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience & Student in Transition. 

Kevin Jose, Class of 2008 said, “Jazz for Success delivers on its purpose of giving important information for students to excel in college.” 

In selecting Jazz for Success “Program of the Year” for the state of Massachusetts, the 
selection committee noted, “We were impressed with the collaborative nature of this project. On most college campuses, it’s sometimes difficult to get faculty and administrators in the same room, let alone collaborating on the development of an innovative project. And yet, that’s exactly what Jazz for Success has accomplished.” 

Craig Hutchinson, Vice President of NASPA Region I, praised Jazz for Success for “its ability to connect with students by converting a popular digital music player into an educational tool” that can transform the way in which we communicate important cultural values in a college environment. 

“The possibilities of digital music technology, in the classroom and beyond traditional ideas of teaching and learning, are unlimited,” said Barber. “When Jazz for Success was first developed, we videotaped the presentations made by participating faculty and administrators. So, we now have the potential to create a quick-time video that can be downloaded onto one of those new iPods, thus, allowing students the chance to not only hear the recorded messages, but also to see the presentations at any time.” 

At the November 6th NASPA Conference, Jazz for Success was selected “Program of the Year” for the state of Massachusetts. It was also selected as the Region I (New England) Exemplary Program for national recognition. In winning this honor, Jazz for Success has been nominated for a NASPA Excellence Award, which will be announced at the National Conference in March. 

“What made this project a success was having the ability to work with so many members of the university community, including staff in the photographics department and Sarah R. Hughes, who designed the initial logo for Jazz for Success,” said Barber. “We have a lot of talented faculty, administrators, and students at UMass Dartmouth. And, I really appreciate the opportunity to work with them in turning creative ideas into educational programs that enhance college teaching, learning, and student development.” 

Barber hopes to complete Jazz for Success II this year. This CD will also be a collaborative initiative, but it will include outstanding student leaders – individuals willing to share their strategies for success - in the classroom, in the residence hall, and in life.

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