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Thursday, May 17, 2018
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From the Vice President for Student Affairs

Posted: Thursday, May 17, 2018

Student Affairs Realignment

I am pleased to announce some realignment within the division of Student Affairs. This structure will become effective July 1, 2018. This realignment is being driven by a number of factors, but most centrally by the needs of students. Over the past several months, I have worked with our constituents to identify priorities and opportunities related to the overall divisional structure. It is important to note that a key factor in the realignment efforts was to bring about improvement with no increase in expenses. This was accomplished in the following ways:

  1. Informal and formal meetings with several groups of students including commuters, various class levels, residential students, and student clubs and organizations.
  2. Engagement of the division in identifying opportunities for making student learning and cross-unit collaboration central to our work on behalf of students. This included exercises in envisioning possible structures for the division, identifying priorities, and developing concrete plans for initiatives.
  3. Examining findings from the campus’s National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) data.
  4. Examining the division of Student Affairs and the college’s strategic plan to ensure that education and student engagement remain the core drivers of the work and vision of all units.
  5. Identifying opportunities to coordinate and enhance unit-level work to refocus strategic investment in efforts related to retention and, where possible, save money.

These efforts have resulted in the following changes within the division of Student Affairs:

  • Refocusing of Residence Life to center on residential learning and experiences that support student engagement and retention. This is especially critical as we conceptualize and support the work in the new honors residence, Bishop Hall, as well as expanded living-learning communities. By focusing on learning, retention, and education, we will continue to partner with Academic Affairs in supporting high-impact practices and delivering a stronger residence hall experience.
  • Developing more robust student life and engagement through coordination. The Campbell Student Union will serve as an anchor hub for leadership, learning, and engagement. A one-stop-shop approach will result in the expansion of opportunities to support students of diverse identities, aligning the efforts of student life to encompass mentorship and enhanced leadership development, and creating signature learning and engagement opportunities. The leadership of this area will be coordinated among New Student and Family Programs, the Student Leadership and Engagement Office (formerly the Student Life Office), and the Student Union. Administrative offices will be located on the fourth floor of the union to allow for improved coordination and planning of programs as well as better support of individual students.
  • Expanding case management services to support students in crisis and those with other concerns that might affect their retention. The Dean of Students Office received emergency grant funding during fall 2017 to assist students with various financial needs, which has proved successful in several cases. Regular follow-up with these students as well as others who have been referred by faculty or staff members, through the Care Team, is essential in using a micro-approach to support early intervention. This will become more critical as the Bengal Success Portal (Starfish) is widely implemented across campus.
  • A broad wellness focus for assisting students in managing stress, transition, and other concerns. This effort began in fall 2017 with the refocusing of the Weigel Wellness Center. This has led to expanded offerings of wellness initiatives such as the Orange Shirt Challenge, yoga, and meditation and the creation of spaces such as the Tea Room. We will continue to enhance and expand these efforts to the residence halls as well as select off-campus locations. Additionally, Sarah Young, Dean of Students, has been asked to lead a divisional group to identify more opportunities to help connect students with dimensions of wellness related to spirituality and faith.
  • Coordinated communication, assessment, and budget management. All these efforts require units to have robust and coordinated plans to communicate with students, identify and measure impact, and continue to attend to needed fiscal stewardship as the campus moves forward. These efforts will be supported by decentralized multi-fund budgets and centralized within the division, overseen by the Vice President for Student Affairs Office.

The updated version of the organizational structure for the division (PDF, 26 KB) is available on the Student Affairs website. I look forward to all the great work our newly aligned divisional team will accomplish. We stand ready to partner with our colleagues across campus to support our students and welcome your further ideas. Please feel free to share them via e-mail at gordontw@buffalostate.edu.

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