Today's Update: Tuesday, January 26

January 26, 2021

Dear Student Life Team, In Student Life, one of our bigger challenges in the age of COVID is how to keep students engaged. Student engagement, involvement and sense of belonging to the campus community have been consistently shown to play critical roles in student success. It’s one of the areas where we need to be our most innovative, since many of our standard practices are unavailable.

For our Student Life team, however, lessons we learned from the fall have led to some Scarlet and Great new concepts. Over the break, I asked a group to consider this important topic. The idea is that we have done a fantastic job bringing students back and delivering virtual programming, so now, how can we take it the next step further? How do we increase facilitation of student engagement – with other students and with other opportunities - before, during and after the programs?

One recommendation is that all virtual programs offered by Student Life should include at least one interactive component and at least one connection to another program/offering. This is explicitly an effort to get students more deeply interacting with others, and to get them thinking about other programs/services they can take part in.

Many of the other recommendations are for specific units. Here is a summary of what the group is suggesting:

  • Increased and targeted marketing of the Student Wellness Center’s Wellness Coaching programs to provide students with more opportunities to engage in wellness either individually or a group setting.
  • Train and support student organizations to deliver extraordinary student experiences through effective recruitment, member engagement and leadership development.
  • Create informal, peer-led cohorts aimed at building community and fostering relationships over four weeks supported by Student Activities.
  • Create Multicultural Center cohort groups for students identifying as first-generation college students and for students identifying as multi-racial/multi-ethnic.
  • Revamp the Residence Life Community Vision Plan and the Paraprofessional Staff and Student Connection Guidance to enhance engagement and programming efforts to ensure they are conducive for virtual and face-to-face interactions that truly build community.

Special thanks and High Fives to the work group in this effort:

  • Matt Couch, PhD, Interim Assistant Vice President and Senior Director, Student Activities
  • Anne McDaniel, PhD, Executive Director, Center for the Study of Student Life
  • Michaela Martin, Assistant Director, Student Wellness Center
  • Jen Pelletier, Associate Director, Student Activities
  • Marci Shumaker, Senior Associate Director, Recreational Sports
  • Quantá Taylor, Assistant Director, Student Activities
  • Qiana Smith, Interim Director, Residence Life
  • Angie Wellman, Associate Director, Multicultural Center
  • Kate Butler, Associate Director, Sorority and Fraternity Life
  • Harry Warner, Associate Director of Outreach and Engagement, Counseling and Consultation Service

Keeping students engaged and involved is a key component of our work. This work group has given us a Scarlet and Great game plan for success.