I hope that your week has gone smoothly and that you are getting used to this "new normal." I am grateful that I, my family, and my loved ones, are safe and well. I hope this is true for you, too.
I want to share with you how the Student Affairs Division has adapted to the recent challenges presented to us because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many of us, a great number of our students are feeling overwhelmed and disconnected. We know a sense of belonging, connection, and engagement are of paramount concern to most people during this difficult time, and we see, daily, how important these issues are to our students. Working with partners across the university, we have looked carefully at our “usual way” of doing things to truly drill down and determine the best ways to focus on the goal of engaging our students. As we have created new ways of doing things, we have thought carefully about how our efforts can be even more intentional and successful, and have formed a new group dedicated to this critically important work: The Student Support and Engagement Team.
Since spring break, more than 650 students have been contacted by members of the Student Support and Engagement Team to offer support, guidance, and a listening ear. In the course of these initial check-in conversations, students in need have been referred to a number of existing university resources, including tutors, emergency funds, Disability Access and Advising, counseling, case management support services, and several other offices and employees. The Student Support and Engagement Team, along with colleagues from across the university, has also been coordinating the transition of face-to-face student programming into virtual engagement opportunities. Educational programs—like the Six O’Clock Series, leadership trainings, virtual Q&As, student organization meetings, and award banquets—as well as many popular entertainment opportunities (such as Netflix watch parties, Trivia, and Bingo), have been adapted to a virtual format. Please check out the latest version of the Student Affairs Digest, Issue 16, for details about weekly events.
Thank you for willingness to collaborate with us and for all that you do to support our students, including those referred to you through the Student Support and Engagement Team. If you know of a student who you feel would benefit from this service, we encourage you to email firstname.lastname@example.org with the student’s name and any additional information you may have. We look forward to assisting more students and helping them get back and stay on track toward success.
Like the rest of the university, Student Affairs is committed to helping our students flourish, particularly in these uncertain times. We pledge to continue our efforts to engage and support students, albeit in a different format, and we are fully devoted to this work. Despite these very different and changing times, this commitment to student success is constant.
I appreciate the opportunity to check in with you all, and I continue to send you well wishes and positive thoughts.
Tom SegarVice President for Student Affairs