Goldsmith Named as Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid

On Saturday September 24, St. Mary’s College of Maryland announced that Patricia Goldsmith would take over the position of Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, a position previously held by Professor of Psychology Wesley Jordan.

Goldsmith accepted the job after a several month-long search beginning last semester. She will join the college in January 2012 after leaving her position at Scripps College. While at Scripps College, Goldsmith has served as Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid; Vice President for Enrollment, Marketing, and Communication and Financial Aid; and Vice President of Institutional Advancement.

In a press release issued by the College, President Urgo stated, “We are pleased to welcome Patricia and we are excited to apply her varied skill-set to the role of Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid.”

In the same press release, Goldsmith stated that she was “drawn to St. Mary’s because of its unwavering commitment to academic excellence and diversity.”

Goldsmith holds a master’s degree in Theological Studies from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature from Hamilton College in New York.

From the staff desk: Is the administration transparent?

Lately, it’s as though students are often questioning how much the administration is on our side. The new Public Safety certifications, i.e. the ability to perform arrests under Maryland State Law, caused many students to speak out against the administration and their methods of disclosure. It seems that a new divide has been created between the students and the administration that is quickly growing out of control.

In our workings with the administration at St. Mary’s, I have often felt as if there is definitely a true, sincere effort on the part of the administration to listen to the students and make sure that they have a say on what is happening on campus.

Take the Chick-fil-A argument, for example. From the beginning, the administration listened to the voices of the students who protested against the vendor being on campus. Forums were held, SGA amendments were made and the voices of the students were heard.

As a campus, St. Mary’s is generally a place where students can be found having heated debates about issues that concern them, something that generally occurs in a place where you are taught to educate yourself on the issues; however, what I think often happens here is not that the administration does not listen to the students, but that the issues are sensationalized via a game of never-ending telephone.

One person hears or reads something, tells their friend who then tells their friend something different and so on so forth. Next thing you know the facts have morphed so no one knows what the truth was to begin. Sometimes we build issues up to make them seem much more controversial than they are in reality. No one means to do this but it is generally what happens on a campus this small.

In the Orientation Issue of The Point News, we published the Public Safety story inside the paper as opposed to on the front page, an action that some saw as irresponsible on our part. When we read the story we were intrigued by the content but we did not find it controversial enough to add it to our front page.

Perhaps we would not have placed it where it ended up if the hurricane had not hit, but in general the consensus was the story was less important than others. This was a call of judgment, not an attempt to bury a controversial story. We never anticipated what we would hear on campus that Friday when the paper was distributed across campus.

It was not until several days later that anyone on the staff realized what was being said about the story.  A massive game of telephone was afoot and rumors were spreading like wildfire. Suddenly, the administration coupled with Public Safety to destroy our lives and had the audacity to wait until school started to inform us.

Almost overnight a feeling of fear and animosity sprung up against Public Safety and both The Point News Online and SMCMLOL was flooded with comments by concerned students. St. Mary’s suddenly became a burgeoning police state and even alumni were concerned enough to comment on the story.

To those of us who read the article, it was made perfectly clear that we were being informed before the training took place and that the certification was a safety initiative not a way to further control students.

Dave Zylak, the Director of Public Safety himself, made it clear that for the most part (99.9% of the time), things will stay the same as they have ever been. He even went so far as to comment on The Point News website and offer students multiple ways to being their questions to the forefront. That seems pretty transparent. The question there becomes, how many students who wrote about the evils of Public Safety and the administration online actually have gone to those open hours.

While it can be understood how reading about Public Safety’s new certification to make arrests now, could be translated as the officers being able to ‘ruin your life’ for some simple college antics, the general attacks on the administration on the idea of full disclosure are not fair to the people who are being attacked.

Perhaps there is a growing police presence on campus but maybe we should not be so quick to judge the administration and Public Safety for taking the steps to maintain our safety and their own safety. Obviously this is a touchy subject but as educated individuals we must maintain perspective and not instantly go on the attack.

What we do see is the great effort put forth by the campus administrators to make sure that students know about the issues that affect them. And to those people who do see problems, why not go to a forum or Office Hours and discuss them? Make your voice heard, but do so in a way that is both educated and respectful. And let’s maintain St. Mary’s civility, not just amongst ourselves but also towards those with whom we may disagree.

Hurricane Irene Hits St. Mary's

This past weekend Maryland experienced Hurricane Irene in the middle of St. Mary’s Orientation. The torrential downpour and 75 mph winds delayed orientation activities and move-in for returning students. Irene’s main destruction hit Saturday night, forcing the school to push back move in day until Aug. 29 and the first day of classes to Aug. 30. To accommodate first day delay, classes will be held on Labor Day.

During the storm the school had many students for whom they were responsible, not only first-year students who were on campus for orientation but also early returners.  The College dealt with the hurricane by utilizing the Emergency Response Team chaired by Laura Bayless, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students. The team plans for emergencies and maintains a before, during, and after response protocol. “Seventy two, 48, 24, 12 hours before the event…what are you doing? What about during and after?,” said Bayless. The Emergency Response team includes the Director of Public Safety; Associate Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life; the Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs; the Health and Safety officer; the Assistant Vice President of Campus Operations; a representative from CTSS and Public Relations; the Assistant Vice President of Grounds; the Director of Bon-Appetit; Kelly Schroeder; and the Vice President for Planning Facilities. The President’s Cabinet also aided in developing the Emergency Response Plan.

In the case of Hurricane Irene, the plan was to keep the students who were on campus as safe as possible. Students were required to check in to their Resident Assistants (RAs) Saturday between 4:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m., and during this time they received food and water. At 7:00 p.m. a mandatory lock down took place during which students were to remain inside their residences from 7:00 p.m. Saturday until 3 p.m. Sunday. The college kept students, parents, and staff alerted to the hurricane precautions via e-mail, a policy which worked well until the power went down around 5 p.m. on Saturday.

While most students waited out the storm in their residences, Professional Staff, Maintenance Staff, Public Safety Staff and Residence Life staff worked around the clock to keep students safe and comfortable. “Professional Staff gave each Residence Hall Coordinator (RHC) a mountain of paperwork-fliers to post around the residence halls, roster to sign students in, and copies of the College’s hurricane protocol. The RAs headed by the RHC took attendance of everyone in the building including the “refugees” from the evacuated Calvert Hall and elsewhere on campus,” said Jon Swain, RHC for Dorchester Hall.

Not only did the RAs and RHCs check in students and hand out food but they were also responsible for keeping a nightly fire watch when the campus lost power and the residence halls lost battery backup to the smoke detector system. “The RAs and RHCs were responsible for conducting firewatch rounds every fifteen minutes from Saturday evening until Monday morning when the power returned to normal. This meant that the RAs got very little sleep for those two nights, as they were responsible for standing fire watch shifts 24 hours a day,” said Swain.

RAs and RHCs were not the only personnel getting very little sleep and maintaining nightly rounds. Maintenance staff and Housekeeping staff were also on duty for over 24 hours. They cleaned up spills, fixed leaks and help keep water damage at an absolute minimum. “Many of these people were working all night, and well into the next day. They deserve our utmost praise for their hard work during the weekend and all hours of the night,” said Swain.

After the storm passed through St. Mary’s the College had to deal with the aftermath of the storm, aftermath that was not as bad as some parts of the county but which still left a mess to be cleaned before the first day of classes. The traditional residence halls were without power for a day after North Campus and Queen Anne came back online. This left the RAs and RHCs in these halls to deal with hundreds of concerned students, many of whom were first-year students. This lead to many North Campus RAs and RHCs  coming to the aid of their co-workers and friends. “The Office of Residence Life takes pride in the “safety net” of friends it produces in its Residence Assistants and Residence Hall Coordinators. Even RAs who may not know each other still reached out a helping hand,” said Swain.

The damage done to the school’s structure was slight and a majority of the problems were dealt with quickly. “We are very pleased it was less severe than it might have been,” said Associate Vice President of Planning Facilities, Chip Jackson. “Physical plant, grounds, students, and faculty responded in a tremendous way. We had staff stay the night through the hurricane to make sure facilities were taken care of.”

“We have had rooms [flooded and] fallen trees and lamp poles. There is still data being collected on all the issues caused by the storm. I am confident damage to student  housing and academic spaces are being dealt with,” said Jackson.

Summer Sees Staff Changes

Last year during a President’s Council meeting, it was proposed that the positions of Assistant Director of Student Activites and the Judicial Affairs officer should be two different positions instead of a joint position held by one person.

Before this decision, Clint Neill held both positions; now he has decided to retain the position of Assistant Director of Student Activites so that he can better focus on the needs of the students and not be split between two positions. “It was too much for one person, ” said Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Laura Bayless. “We were only able to do the most basic things.”

However, now that the positions have been split, each director can focus more heavily on his or her specific field. Neill now has the time to focus more fully on campus-wide programming such as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer programming, civility involvement, and leadership development.

Taking over Judicial Affairs will be Regina Curran J.D. Curran worked at Coastal Carolina University and obtained a Juris Doctorate in Public Law from Roger Williams University.

Dean of Students Laura Bayless was recently promoted to Vice President for Student Affairs, a position formerly held by Mark Heidrich and Mike Freeman. Bayless was awarded the position by President Joe Urgo after she took on extra responsibilities last year. She will be building on her responsibilities from last year.

A new Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty was named this fall. Beth Rushing was named via the Board of Trustees and began her position on July 1. Rushing was found from Isaacson Miller, a search firm employed by the college. “The search committee did a great job of putting material together to help candidates understand the nature of the job and the particular strengths of St. Mary’s,” said Rushing. “When I left my campus visit, I knew that this was the place I wanted to be, and I was thrilled when President Urgo called to offer me the job.”  She was previously at Washington State College. In a press release Rushing stated, “For many years I have admired the public honors college mission at St. Mary’s. Liberal arts institutions are unique in their holistic focus on students. They create the conditions for students to expand their skills and knowledge and deepen their understandings of themselves as citizens and stewards of the world. St. Mary’s fosters this through close student-faculty interactions and an amazing array of co-curricular opportunities for students.” Rushing plans to spend some time this year listening to what the campus community has to say and use these conversations to guide her in the upcoming years. “The results of this conversation will be a set of strategic priorities that we can all agree upon, and that will guide our work for the next several years,” said Rushing. So far Rushing says she has been “extremely impressed,” by a warm and welcoming community here at St. Mary’s. “I’m looking forward to learning how to sail, to attending our theater and music performances, to cheering our athletic teams, to classroom visits and crepes in the Great Room,” she said. Her email is brushing@smcm.edu and she is also available on Facebook.

Ciji Tidwell, formerly the Area Coordinator for International Support Studies has left the college. According to Kelly Smolinsky, Tidwell left to be with her fiance and the search for her replacement is underway.

Sharon Murray, formerly the Administrative Specialist to the Dean of Students has retired from her position at St. Mary’s. According to Bayless, Murray is enjoying her retirement by reading on her Nook, cake-baking, and making band camp uniforms for Leonardtown High School.  “She loved her job, but could retire, and so she did,” said Bayless. Murray’s position has been replaced by Lisa Youngborg.

George Waggoner, former Director of Campus Technology Support Services, has retired from his post this summer. Tom Botzman, Vice President for Business and Finance, said that Waggoner “tried to do what is best for the students and facilities but he [also] tried to do what was best in his heart and I hope that I can say that about anyone who can retire.” Currently, Michael Gass is serving as interim Director of Campus Technology Support Services. Under Gross, IT will be looking to address services that are redundant in the system and upgrading Blackboard.

Another change in the Technology Support Services Office was the departure of Erik Horton, Web Programmer and Development Specialist. Horton left to accept a position as a Network Engineer for CSC. He accepted this position, he said, because it was “[his goal] to make [his] way out of a web development field and into more of a networking role.” Horton also stated that the abrupt departure of his former boss David Emerick contributed to his sudden depature, although he states “my interest in a different field has always been there.”

Correction: As originally published, Clint Neill’s name was spelled with one ‘L’.

College Implements Blackboard 9 Trial Run

This Fall St. Mary’s will be piloting a new Blackboard program, Blackboard 9, which will eventually become the Blackboard site used by the entire campus.

The reason that the school will be upgrading their Blackboard system is that the school’s contract with the previous/current system manager expired this past May. “[The expiring of our contract] requires that we create an evaluation and look at our options on continuing afterwards,” said Learning Technology Support Coordinator, Jennifer Wright, “We could possibly have continued with the system that we have but that would not be the system that was going to be supported in the future.” When the older Blackboard edition expired the campus saw this as an opportunity to look into upgrading their system. “The new version has a great deal more features and a lot of advantages over the old system,” said Wright.

The campus will not just be thrown out to deal with the new program – a pilot trial is in place which will allow certain classrooms to utilize the program before it becomes campus-wide. The piolt program is not the only way for faculty to become familiarized with the program. “There are various options for various ways of accessing training throughout this semester and the upcoming semester to make sure that anyone who is using the system has the availability of support in terms of developing a course and then continued support during ongoing courses,” said Wright.

What are the differences in Blackboard 9? There are a variety of features such as blogs, wikis, and journals in the system and there are different grading options. The reason for the change is to adapt the software to the college and making it work efficiently for the classes. By spring 2012 Blackboard 9 will the the only system the college uses.

St. Mary’s College of MD is a Pretty Awesome Place

The recent 7% hike in tuition prices has left many St. Mary’s students and potential students questioning whether they should shove out $25,360 for in-state tuition, and has every out-of-state student second guessing the $37,437 price tag that comes with a liberal arts education at a small, public, honors college. St. Mary’s is a small school with a big price tag. With the start of another school year many incoming students may be questioning whether they made the right choice to come to this school. While returning students are cringing at the price tag and the ever amounting debt they will soon face, most of us have come to realize that a college education from St. Mary’s is worth the ever-growing cost.

The Washington Post recently rated St. Mary’s as the fourth most expensive public college in the United States. Yes, $25,360 is a ridiculous amount for a public, instate college, and $37,437 is an even more ridiculous amount of money for a college that has only about 2,000 students (which is a generous approximation) but those of you who are reconsidering your choice should consider the price of doing business. Not only does your tuition cover class fee’s, housing, meal plan, etc. That money goes towards retaining all of the facilities and benefits that students enjoy, one of those being the amazing waterfront most of us list as out favorite part of St. Mary’s.

If the waterfront access is not enough to convince you that you made the right choice in coming to this college then look at the community you have been accepted into. Besides the waterfront, one of the main things that draws faculty, staff, and students to this school is the warm and welcoming St. Mary’s community. For those of us who have been here for a few years, we know that the sense of connectedness is not just a myth written on the admissions website. People really do have bonfires at The Point and someone will inevitably bring a guitar and a majority of the campus will show up, take their shoes off and relax. This sets us apart from other schools were you fall into a clique, sorority, fraternity, or you just become a number. It may seem like a drawback but the fact that there are less than 2,000 students at this school makes it really easy to form a bond with your fellow classmates.

Even if you aren’t really into the whole Bonfire at The Point thing than you find that you will soon be going to campus events and meeting people in various clubs, sports, and classes that you somehow know. The joke here besides doing something stupid and yelling “Honor’s College,” is that St. Mary’s is so small that everyone knows everyone else. You soon learn that it is weird when you meet someone and realize you have never before seen them on campus. As corny as it sounds, when you come to St. Mary’s you come to a community that is ready to accept you.

If all of this waterfront/community stuff doesn’t make you want to love St. Mary’s despite the exuberant price then look at the facts of what you get despite the small size. St. Mary’s students have every advantage that students who go to larger school have, in my opinion we have even more perks. We can boast the highest graduation rate of any public college in Maryland, we have a 90% retention rate, 66% of alumni seeking employment find jobs 4 months after graduation, more than 60% of alumni attend professional or graduate schools, and 92% of our students are accepted into medical school. All of this information comes courtesy of the Admissions Office.

St. Mary’s also has some of the best professors, with 98% of them holding doctorate degrees and some Fulbright Scholars. These people are not only teaching you but they become mentors and friends during your four years at the College. So for your money you are getting taught by the best and brightest who happen to be people who are warm-hearted, love teaching, and generally care for their students. This is something that is difficult to find in even the smallest colleges in the nations, but something that comes in handy in multiple situations.

So basically I say that if you are fortuante to be able to afford St. Mary’s than take every opportunity that the college has to offer you. As I am sure many of my fellow students will attest, this place offers a great education and is a wonderful place to spend four years of your life.

Three Minute Review: Mother Hicks Dynamic and Fun

This weekend the play “Mother Hicks,” directed by Associate Professor of Theatre Holly Blumner, opened as part of the Theater Film and Media Studies (TFMS) Department’s  2010-2011 Theater Season.

The play takes place in 1935 in Ware, Illinois, when the country is suffering the effects of the Great Depression. The play centers around the characters Tuck (junior Chris Murk), Girl (first-year Katie Henry), Mother Hicks (junior Briana Manente) and their struggles as outsiders.

Tuck is both deaf and mute, yet through Blumner’s use of sign language and the interpretation of other characters, Tuck narrates the play. Tuck uses only sign language and a wide array of facial expressions to communicate throughout the play. Chris Murk as Tuck signs so beautifully that it is shocking to learn that he did not know sign language before this play. He expresses himself so well that the audience has to simply look at his face to tell what he is thinking.

The two female leads, Katie Henry and Briana Manete are no less impressive with their speaking roles. In fact, the two female leads really bring their characters to life through their use of dialect. Henry’s ‘Girl’ is such an Illinois tomboy that when she is on stage the audience is completely enraptured by her. Henry could not have been better cast to play such a character. She lends so much spunk and childlike disobedience to the character, that you nearly forget she is a first-year in college and not a young girl.

Manete’s ‘Mother Hicks’ is also enrapturing to watch. Accusations of being a witch have isolated Mother Hicks from the rest of the community and Manente’s portrayal uses this forced isolation to create a gruff, independent, yet pitiful character.

Like Henry’s portrayal of Girl, Manete brings her character to life so wonderfully that when she steps off the stage as herself you half wonder how she will receive you.

Overall the play was wonderfully done. All of the actors were at the top of their game, the use of sign language was interesting and dynamic, and the costumes and props were wonderfully authentic.

The only point of contention was the way the stage was designed. Its diamond pattern meant that often characters would stand where only half of the audience could see them. For a majority of the play this was not a problem, but for some scenes one had to guess what was occurring since it was impossible to see.

Tickets for Mother Hicks can be reserved by email at boxoffice@smcm.edu or phone at (240)-895-4243.

 

Counterpoint: Walking At Graduation

Recently a heated debate has sparked over the new changes to St. Mary’s graduation ceremony. If you have not heard about these new changes-we will now graduate via last name instead of major- then you clearly do not have a Facebook page. Seemingly overnight a group named “SMCM 2011 Majors Should Walk Together” formed and since then students who disagree with the decision have been encouraged to storm the President’s inbox with emails. While my own graduation is a year away, every time I see the invite to join the group and take a stance against this injustice I cannot help but question the motives of those so thoroughly against walking alphabetically; then after I question their motives I go back to more important things, like homework.

Naturally, people get upset when you attempt to change a long standing tradition, especially when they feel as though they have not been consulted over the change. This seems to be the source of a lot of anger from the St. Mary’s student body, or at least that is the impression I received when I decided to check out the Facebook group one night during a fit of procrastination.

Before reading the wall I assumed that the idea of walking alphabetically was either generally accepted, or people had better things to do with their day then contemplate who you will be standing next to when you walk. I soon discovered that I could not have been more wrong.

People are really up in arms about this and have even started a letter/ email group to President Joseph Urgo and Assistant Vice President for Academic Administration Mark Heidrich. When I read some of the posts I could not help but burst out in a fit of laughter at how seriously some people are taking this.

As someone who could care less about who I stand next to when I graduate I have a very difficult time taking this action seriously, and am actually a little upset that my fellow students will start a counter boycott towards a movement to ban Chick-fil-A but the second you suggest they have to stand next to someone they may not know they unite against the administration. I am all for student activism, in fact one of the things that I love about St. Mary’s is that my fellow students care so much about having their voices heard. However, I feel like the energy that is being expended on this campaign could be better placed elsewhere.

Sure the sentiment is understandable – my last name starts with a “Z” so once again I am graduating dead last – but is graduating by major really the most important part of your college graduation? No. Probably not. Not once in this entire argument have I heard anyone mention the fact that if we manage to make it past four years and graduate college we are pretty darn lucky.

Who cares what major we graduated in? In twenty years that is not going to matter for a majority of us.

What should matter is that we managed to survive four years of class, lab, professors, and campus life and made it out of here in one piece. Whenever someone begins a discussion about how by not graduating by individual major we are not being recognized for our individual achievement I have the urge to scream out that we are all being recognized as being college graduates.

If people are so worried about individual recognition than let’s add personal bios to the entire ceremony so we can make sure everyone receives their due. Just kidding. Graduations are already boring enough.

 

Traveling Exhibit Aims to Break Down Boundaries

Students walking by Boyden Gallery in the last few weeks may have noticed a new exhibit being housed in the gallery entitled “Between Fences.” Between Fences is a Smithsonian Institute traveling exhibit that has been touring Maryland since September 2010.

Michael S. Glaser, Professor Emeritus, wrote a letter introducing the exhibit in which he describes it as “[an exhibit] designed to encourage local communities to consider the various ways fences are experienced.”

“Local fences play a large role in how we see ourselves as members of our Southern Maryland community,” writes Glaser. He also wrote on the mission statement of the exhibit, which is to “encourage us to think more deeply about how we are defined by the fences in our lives.”

The exhibit is composed of numerous installations concerning fences, both metaphorically and physically, and how those around the Southern Maryland community are breaking down fences and communicating.

Glaser wrote, “Local exhibits will embrace a rich mosaic of diverse groups, such as, the Patuxent River Keeper, the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission, Daughters of Abraham, Calvert Marine Museum, Walden Sierra, the Patuxent River Naval Air Station, and the Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributions, to name a few.”

Each participant set up an installation to be in the gallery as a way to explain how their organization works to break down fences.

Most of the installations utilized pictures and information about their organization to express how they were breaking down fences, but some took it even further and used other forms of art to express themselves.

The installation “And They All fELL Down: English Language Learners in U.S. Schools, by Katy Arnett and the Members of the Student Education Association,” created large, colored puzzle pieces which each held a fact about English Language Learners in the Unites States education system.

The Walden group’s “Air it Out: A Clothesline Project,” displayed artistic t-shirts as a way to express the fences faced by those who have been victims of abuse.

While each group had smaller installations which they had creative control over, the center of the exhibit holds large information concerning fences and their history in the United States.

These posters show fences as they have evolved in utilization and material throughout the United States.

Taylor Swifts’ New Album Speaks Now

If you have never heard of Taylor Swift then you have clearly been living under a rock for the last several years.

This past Tuesday, Swifts third studio album “Speak Now” was released. This latest album is expected to be one of (if not the) highest grossing album of the year, and considering that Swift has sold over eight million albums this is not a far out idea.

“Speak Now” shows Swifts evolution from her teenage years, as well as her evolution musically. Swift’s previous albums were a heavy mix of country and pop, allowing her to move comfortably between the two genres and to gain mainstream success.

The new album, however, is very much a pop-rock album as opposed to Swift’s usual pop-country combination. The song, “Better than Revenge,” is a very fast paced, guitar-heavy, revenge song reminiscent of Paramore, as opposed to the country sweetheart Swift.

“Better than Revenge” isn’t the only song loaded with heavy guitar; songs like “Sparks Fly,” also features heavy percussion and electric guitar and less of the acoustics that Swift has made a name from.

The new pop-rock sounds, coupled with Swift’s voice and jaunty and sometimes scathing lyrics, lead to a unique sound for the 20 year old.

The album’s title track, “Speak Now,” is actually one of the less enjoyable songs on the album. While it is still listenable, the song’s lyrical placement is not on par with some of the other wonderfully composed songs found on the album.

The song itself-basically about asking someone to leave his bride at the altar- is trite when compared to emotional gripping songs like, “Back to December,” that litter Swift’s album. The song itself is not well written and lacks the flow quality found throughout the album.

The tune itself is catchy, but as a whole it is generally one that can be fast-forwarded.

The best song on the album was the very first single released by Swift. “Mine”- a song that seems to be about falling in love- has everything a good Taylor Swift song should. With a balladic story enclosed in a pop tune with a video reminiscent of “The Notebook,” “Mine” manages to encapsulate everything that Swift seems to be saying with “Speak Now.”

While the album probably will not make a Taylor Swift fan out of anyone who is not a young female, the album itself is a wonderful collection of songs about growing up and moving in and out of love, something that Swift writes about like a pro.