The Moreau First Year Experience course sequence, FYS10101 and FYS 10102, has become an integral part of the lives of first-year students at Notre Dame. Currently in its second year, this course is designed to help them make a transition to life at the University by facilitating the integration of their academic, co-curricular, and residential experiences. The instructors for the course, drawn from units all over campus, are the heart of this experience.
Mr. Tom Guinan, Associate Vice President for Administrative Operations for Notre Dame International, is an example of a non-traditional instructor who relishes the opportunity to connect with first-year students.
“A call was put out for staff who would be interested in helping this new program get off the ground, and I thought it seemed exciting,” he says. “I really did believe in the idea. It provided an opportunity for an administrator for myself to interact with students, which is something I’ve always wanted to do but had never had much opportunity to do.”
Guinan, who is in his third semester as an instructor, says he feels as though he gets a lot out of this role. “I was a bit surprised at how well I got to know the students in my class, especially after the first semester; not only through their classroom participation, but also through their written responses, which are submitted online the night before class.”
“Students put a great deal of trust in their instructors and sometimes share sensitive or personal information. This is something that I appreciate and do not take lightly.”
Though Guinan says he truly enjoys working with students, it was not an easy job for him from the start — being new to teaching, he had a lot to learn. “Since I am not trained as a teacher it was hard not having certain techniques to deal with certain things. For example, I was initially a bit unsure about how to go about discussing difficult topics, or how to encourage students who were a bit less talkative to engage in class.”
Despite his concerns, Guinan's students appreciate what he brings to the course.
“He made a class that met at 5:05 as enjoyable as it could have been." says Justin Vince, one of his first students. "Instead of lecturing and talking at us, he listened and offered advice, and he was able to identify with what we were going through in our first semester as college students. I mean, after all, he was once a first-year student at Notre Dame too. It was more like talking with a friend than it was fulfilling a requirement.”
Sophomore Lauren Fox also speaks glowingly about Guinan’s class. “He focused on exposing us to various aspects of the Notre Dame community," she says. "One of my favorite activities in Moreau was taking a tour of the food services building. It was refreshing to take what was like a 'field trip' in the midst of all the stresses that we face as college students.”
A Moreau First Year Experience class has a maximum of nineteen students, requiring 116 sections each semester to serve the just over 2,000 undergraduates who enter Notre Dame every year. More than 120 campus leaders are hired each semester from over 50 academic and administrative units, bringing many people who have not been involved previously in standard classroom instruction into this new learning experience.
Thomas Guinan was appointed Associate Vice President for Administrative Operations for Notre Dame International (NDI) in April 2013. He is responsible for coordinating all support functions relevant to conducting academic programs overseas. Prior to joining NDI, Guinan was Associate Controller. He started working at Notre Dame in 2002, after working for 9 years at Ernst & Young in New York City.
Guinan is a Notre Dame alumni with undergraduate degrees in accounting and theology and a master’s degree in theology. He earned his MBA from Columbia University in 2001 and his CPA in 1996.