The year 1986 was the height of the Cold War. That year saw the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle, the creation of FOX Television and the introduction of Nintendo. In that same year, Dr. Ralph G. Anttonen began the Exploratory Program. Many people in the administration thought this new program was a good idea, but were reluctant to fund it and therefore the program had a very small budget. The program was relatively small and comprised of only 15 advisers and 137 students. Since the administration was not prepared to fund a program like this, there were no student workers or computers to help handle the data. Everything had to be done manually. There wasn't even a secretary or real office for the program, just a room in one of the houses on campus. However, this would all change.
By 1994, the Internet Revolution was in full swing. The first internet commerce sites were launched, the first online bank was established, as well as the founding of Yahoo! and Netscape. This year was also important for the Exploratory Program. The Exploratory Program had grown to include over 50 advisers and almost 300 students and a new sub-program, the Improve My Performance Program (IMP). This program was designed to help struggling Exploratory students improve, as well as maintain their grades. It focused on time management and study skills. The program was originally open to anyone who needed help, irregardless their majors. The response to the program was so successful that the program had to be limited to just Exploratory Students whose GPA’s were below a 2.00. This year also saw the addition of a computer, secretary and more student help. However, these resources and personnel were limited and the program still did not have the full support of the university administration.
The Exploratory Program was enhanced greatly in 2002 with the introduction of the Freshman Housing and Seminar. This program was designed to assist students in the adjustment to college life and to help give them an idea of what would be expected of them from professors. However, a very significant event occurred in the fall of 2003 when the program was awarded the NACADA Certificate of Merit in recognition of "Outstanding Institutional Advising Program." Recognition for the program strengthened, both from our administration and from a national standpoint. In 2004, the Exploratory Program’s fifteenth year, there was a tremendous growth in technology and entertainment in the world. In this time, the Exploratory Program has also grown immensely. The program included more than 100 advisers and over 300 students. Student help and a secretary became permanent additions to the program. In addition, the Exploratory Program embraced technology and used it to improve the program. Some improvements included the development and then further re-design for the "user friendly" web page you are viewing right now, a brochure explaining the program and the addition of full multimedia presentations at orientation.
Currently, the Exploratory Program is flourishing. The program still includes over 100 advisers, but has over 700 students! The program now offers a three-credit general education freshman seminar, available to all first year students. The courses are taught by faculty from academic departments and many of the faculty can be referred to as "senior" scholars. Another improvement made to the Exploratory Program is the more advanced training sessions. The training programs for both new and veteran advisers include more information about student cultures, technology and counseling services.
The Exploratory Program has become one of the most successful programs at Millersville University. From its inception in 1986 to present, the Exploratory Program has been helping students to choose a major and graduate from Millersville University. The road to success has been long and hard but the program has prevailed. The future of the Exploratory Program is bright. There are new ideas constantly being introduced and perhaps in a few years there may be something else to write about. As for now, the Exploratory Program will continue to grow and do what it has always done, help students.
If you would like to view a PowerPoint Presentation about the history of the program, click here
Dr. Ralph G. Anttonen
Millersville Faculty Emeritus and Founder of the Exploratory Program
To see the progression of the program, view the statistics by just clicking on one of the following links:
Statistics as of Spring 2012