Picking Cotton is the University of Kentucky’s 2015 Common Reading Experience Book

The University of Kentucky has selected Picking Cotton, the memoir co-authored by Jennifer Tompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton, for the 2015-2016 Common Reading Experience!

All matriculating first-year students will receive a copy of the book from the university when they attend their two-day “see blue.” U Orientation over the summer. Before returning to campus in the fall, they’ll read it and complete a brief assignment in preparation for K-Week 2015, the new student transition and welcome week held just before classes begin. During K-Week, they’ll meet with other new students and upperclassmen serving as Peer Leaders to discuss Picking Cotton.

An initiative of UK’s New Student and Family Programs, Student Affairs, and Undergraduate Education offices, the CRE is meant to introduce new students to scholarly discourse and composition; to provide new classmates with a shared intellectual experience; and to engage the entire UK community around timely and relevant topics through yearlong programming on campus.

Throughout the 2015-2016 academic year, the university will hold events related to the book and its themes and topics: racial dynamics, sexual assault, criminal justice in the U.S., guilt and innocence, memory, and forgiveness.

The University of Kentucky realizes the immediate relevance of these topics for students embarking on their college experience just now in the United States; the university also recognizes that issues like sexual assault and racial dynamics must be approached with great sensitivity. The university has taken care to notify readers that the book may be an emotional trigger for some, especially for survivors of sexual assault. Wherever appropriate, students participating in the CRE are entitled to academic accommodations or alternatives.

Though the book’s complex topics and themes present some challenges for a diverse campus community, this year’s CRE also represents an opportunity for the university to emphasize its policies regarding sexual misconduct, mandatory reporting by UK affiliates, and racial discrimination, harassment, or bias, as well as valuable campus resources like the Counseling Center, the Office for Institutional Diversity, the Office of Institutional Equity and Equal Opportunity, and the Violence Intervention and Prevention Center

University President Eli Capilouto writes about this, shares information about related resources available on campus, around Central Kentucky, and nationwide, and expresses the importance of the Common Reading Experience to the UK community, in his compelling welcome letter to the newest class of Kentucky Wildcats. Click on the thumbnail at right to read the letter.

The University of Kentucky is one of fourteen schools that have adopted Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption for a common reading program. For more information about the book and about authors, speakers, and activists Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton, click here and visit The Innocence Project.

Picking Cotton • St. Martin’s Griffin • 320 pages

University of Kentucky Selects No Impact Man for the Common Reading Experience

The University of Kentucky has selected Colin Beavan’s No Impact Man for the 2011 Common Reading Experience! All incoming students will receive a copy, customized with the UK Common Reading Experience logo on the cover and an introductory letter from the president of the university bound into the front pages. They’ll read the book this summer and arrive on campus in the fall ready to discuss No Impact Man—the book, the author, the philosophy, and the initiative—with faculty, staff, and upperclass student leaders.

Discussion groups will meet during K Week, UK’s welcome week for new Wildcats, held before fall classes begin. To help break the ice among new classmates, students will bring the assignment they’ll have completed over the summer: a QLC reading response that poses three questions:

Q – Indicate your favorite quote from the book, and explain why.
L – Indicate what life lesson you have taken away from the reading.
C – Indicate which character or person in the book with whom you most identify, and explain why.

This approachable assignment will get students engaged with No Impact Man and help them collect their thoughts about the book as they read. Their prepared responses will become a natural foundation for conversations that could continue throughout the school year.

The programs and events planned to surround the book by the CRE Programming Advisory Board and the UK Office of Sustainability will provide plenty of opportunities to continue those conversations. A farmer’s market, several film screenings, and a visit to campus by Colin “No Impact Man” Beavan himself are on the schedule, along with a host of events to take place during “Make an Impact!” Week in September. “Make an Impact!” Week, UK’s spin on the No Impact Experiment, is a series of themed days that each emphasize a different conservation challenge: Energy, Water, Transportation, Food, and Service.

The University will also host its fifth annual Big Blue Goes Green showcase to promote “current and on-going sustainability-related efforts at UK, and to recognize the work of the individuals and departments or units responsible for these programs.” Students can lunch on a locally-grown meal prepared by UK Dining Services and find out how they can get involved.

Students are already reading No Impact Man, and they’re already getting excited about the No Impact philosophy!  Civil Engineering major Jordan Ellis prepares his roommates-to-be for a semester of trash-free fun on Twitter:

More schools that have adopted No Impact Man for common reading programs are listed here. Read about other schools that have taken on the No Impact Experiment challenge here at Macmillan Reads or at NoImpactProject.org.

No Impact Man • Picador • 288 pages

Macmillan’s Common Reading March Madness Picks!

Colleges and universities of all sizes in all regions are gearing up for the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament and Macmillan wants in on the bracketology!

Click for a closer look:

Macmillan is not affiliated with the NCAA, ESPN, or HP. Bracket Source: ESPN

Since I’m all about selecting winning books for common reading, I based my bracket picks on the schools that have adopted Macmillan titles for their programs. When neither school had—at least, not this season!—I went with the lower seed (those picks are noted in black). When Macmillan adopters went head to head, I used seed positions to make my predictions, as well.

I proposed the common reading bracket with tongue in cheek, but my little experiment has been fun and informative. Here we have a whole new perspective on the trends and the diversity in common reading selections at schools across the country.

As you can see, the competitors are very well read!

In the East, Ohio State is the favorite with Elie Wiesel’s Night, Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed, and Colin Beavan’s No Impact Man. First Four victor Clemson has previously adopted Ron Rash’s novel One Foot in Eden, and they’ll be reading his Saints at the River this fall. Common reader MVP No Impact Man is the Fall 2011 book at the University of Kentucky. Nickel and Dimed has been the common reading title at both UNC, Chapel Hill and Syracuse University. The UNC Tarheels have also read Picking Cotton and The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, while Syracuse has adopted A Long Way Gone. The University of Washington represents with Elizabeth Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe.

Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone dominates in the West, where the universities of Texas and Tennessee have both selected the book. Hampton University first-year students have been reading Daniel Black’s They Tell Me of a Home just this year and Temple’s have read Elie Wiesel’s Night. Number two seed San Diego State University has adopted Ray C. Anderson’s Business Lessons from a Radical Industrialist.

Next, we go to the Southwest, where Boston University has favorites Nickel and Dimed and A Long Way Gone on its roster. The University of Illinois has also adopted Nickel and Dimed and the University of Akron has chosen A Long Way Gone. Class Matters has been read campus-wide at the University of Richmond, while Saint Peter’s has adopted Night. Florida State students submitted their own “This I Believe” essays when the university picked This I Believe—how many of the Seminoles wrote about basketball?

Finally, in the Southeast, University of Pittsburgh students have read Anne Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. Utah State has adopted Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone and Wofford College freshmen have read Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and Ron Rash’s One Foot in Eden. Students in the University of Wisconsin system, from Parkside to Marathon County, have read everything from This I Believe II to Deep Economy; I hope they’re all united behind the Badgers from Madison! But can sixth-seed Saint John’s take Katharine Weber’s Triangle all the way to the championship?

The Big Dance begins tomorrow—what book are you rooting for?

P.S. For more unconventional bracketology for academics, check out The Chronicle of Higher Education‘s Tweed Madness!