Student Affairs – Hawk Life with Laurie

Endings and beginnings. It is that time of the year when we shift our focus to the natural cycle and rhythm of closing up another semester on campus. We are bidding students and employees farewell and good luck. For some of us, we are leaving behind colleagues and work that have had great meaning and impact on our lives. As of May 15th, 2017, I too, will be transitioning to a new role as senior advisor to the president until I retire on October 31st, 2017. This year on my blog, Hawk Life with Laurie, we highlighted Everyday Superheroes. My only regret is that there simply are not enough days in the year to recognize all of the superhero staff members in our Division.

Student Affairs - Hawk Life with Laurie

I believe every one of us shows up on a daily basis wanting to be an everyday superhero to someone. I know my life has been profoundly impacted by the lessons I have learned from my friends and colleagues in Student Affairs. During this time, I gained a new perspective on the importance of the work in this Division. Whether it be phone calls from parents or visits with students, I heard time after time about the extra effort that our Student Affairs staff have extended that made all the difference in the UND experiences of these parents and students.

I’ve also gained an immense appreciation and admiration for the hard work that administrators embrace on a daily, nightly, and often weekend basis.  I am excited for the Division as Cara steps into her new role as Interim Vice President for Student Affairs and Diversity.  She has the knowledge and more importantly, the passion for this work, which will propel the institution forward.  I am leaving her in the capable hands of Rachel Osowski and Lynette Geatz, two of the most professional and driven women I have ever had the pleasure to work with. In closing, I leave you with this quote which sums up my perspective on life: 20 years from now, you’ll be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. Mark Twain.

Diversity & Inclusion and its Importance on UND’s Campus

There have been some recent changes to the composition of the Division of Student Affairs.  As of February of this year, we are delighted to have the majority of the departments from Diversity & Inclusion back under our umbrella!  Diversity & Inclusion is comprised of American Indian Student Services, International Center (continues to report to the Vice President for Academic Affairs), Multicultural Programs and Services, the Pride Center and the Women’s Center. As some of you may recall, many of these departments reported to the Vice President for Student Affairs previously and I truly believe having them rejoin Student Affairs aligns with our divisional values and our unwavering commitment to service to all of our students.

Diversity and inclusivity are two of the core values of UND’s Strategic Plan and to have the staff from these areas at our Student Affairs Council meetings as well as divisional events, assists us in ensuring we are offering the most beneficial resources and providing the best service to our students of underrepresented minority populations. We are celebrating Time Out Week this week and so I have asked my colleague and Associate Vice President for Diversity & Inclusion, Sandra Mitchell, to guest post for this blog entry to speak a little about the theme for Time Out Week.

Hawks are clan animals in some American Indian cultures. There are several tribes throughout the United States with Hawk Clans (families) including the Chippewa, the Hopi, the Menominee, the Huron and Iroquois tribes, and the Pueblo tribes of New Mexico.  It is said that when this majestic bird enters one’s life, it is time to focus on what is ahead and prepare for leadership.  This symbol is an encouragement to pay attention to what is around us and fly higher.  How fitting that this symbol in American Indian culture is now the symbol for the University of North Dakota!

This week is UND’s annual Time Out Week, an event that features speakers, entertainment, workshops and other activities to learn about American Indian culture.  I hope that you will take the opportunity to support the students in UNDIA and ISA for this long-standing event.  The theme is “resilience,” a word also often associated with the hawk in American Indian culture and a word that certainly has significance to us as Student Affairs staff.  All students face situations that test their resilience.  For minoritized students however, these tests are often magnified by being in an unfamiliar and often unwelcoming environment that was not “designed with them in mind.”

We are very fortunate to have staff members like our two Everyday Superheroes Stacey Borboa-Peterson, Director of Multicultural Programs and Services, and Courtney Souvannasacd, Program Coordinator for American Indian Student Services on our team.  Each day these individuals work tirelessly to help students of color to be successful at UND.  Both of these superheroes show students, as well as faculty and staff, what it means to truly support students as they navigate both the ivory tower and its shadows.  Whether it is guiding students to appropriate academic resources or providing a much-needed listening ear when feeling isolated as one of few students of color on campus, each of these individuals help students to build resiliency.  Like the hawk, they help students focus on what is ahead and encourage them to fly higher. Let’s go Fighting Hawks! Laurie

Creating welcoming spaces for our students in and out of the classroom

As many of you may know, I have dabbled in the space arena at UND for the past several years.  My space portfolio began with the collaboration with students to envision the building that is now the Wellness Center.  From there I went on to serve on the Wilkerson Commons project and the McCannel Hall and Chester Fritz Library renovation committees.  I co-chaired the University’s Master Planning committee and served on the Space Management Committee. Through my appointments on these various projects, one thing continuously has bubbled to the surface: in order for students to realize their full potential, we need to create spaces that meet their needs both inside and outside the classroom.

The spaces we offer need to be welcoming for students of all capabilities, they must be functional, foster a space for active learning, be versatile and moldable, and they must encourage collaboration.  I think my biggest “Aha!” moment was when we restructured the space in the lower level of the Memorial Union.  Each time I have gone down there since it has been renovated, the space is reconfigured in some way—a clear indication to me that having a space that is flexible to students and suits their needs will encourage active learning and will be a draw for students.  While the change is most noticeable on a physical level, it is the change in human behavior that makes the most difference.  The active learning that it has recreated outside the classroom is invaluable to the success of our university and our students. While thinking on this topic I also thought it would be appropriate to tap the resources of my colleague, Connie Frazier, the Executive Director of Housing and Dining Services, to lend her knowledge and expertise on the topic and so I asked for her input, as well.  Her entry is below.  Thank you for all you do to make our spaces welcoming for our students!
Much more than a pretty place. In the rush and hustle of daily human interaction, it is easy to overlook the complex and sometimes subtle interaction that we have with our physical spaces.  We become so accustomed to our surroundings, that we often simply do not take the time to stop and really look at them the way a student, visitor, guest or others do. As a result, we might be missing facilities or space-based cues about how our physical environment and spaces might be helping (or maybe hindering) student engagement and community development. Drs. James Banning and Carney Strange, leading scholars in the area of campus environmental theory, tell us that facilities and spaces play a significant role in student engagement and success.

First, people must feel a sense of SAFETY and INCLUSION in the space, only then do they begin to ENGAGE with others in the space. As engagement grows, individuals start to feel an emotional connection and attachment to both the place, and to others with whom they share the space. In short, engagement fosters COMMUNITY. How then, do we utilize our spaces and facilities to promote safety, inclusion, engagement and community? One of the simple things we can do to increase our awareness of our physical environment is to take the time to do an “environmental” walk-through. For many of us, a routine “walk-through” of our facilities may mean we are doing inventory, putting the furniture back in place, conducting head counts to assess utilization or doing a general visual sweep of the area to determine cleanliness or some other “maintenance” purpose.
The next time you walk through your physical space, take some time to observe it as an environment for student learning and engagement.  Does this space convey a sense of personal and psychological safety? Is it inclusive? Is there evidence of involvement with and in the space? Can you see “community” happening here?  It is also important to keep in mind that sometimes it is as much about what is not present or happening that is the cue. You may find it helpful to ask a colleague to lend a pair of “fresh eyes” and perspective by asking someone from outside our your “environment” to walk through and share their impressions. We need a variety of spaces in our environment to build and maintain balanced communities.

Ten kinds of spaces for supporting security, inclusion, engagement and community.

Welcoming – A space that creates a sense of belonging and security. What is the “tone” of the space? Formal? Informal? Is it an open space or closed space? Does the “tone” match the intended use and audience of the space?

Inclusive – Affirming and supporting all identities.  Are there pictures, symbols, colors, patterns, artifacts or other visible cues that let me know that “people like me” are acknowledged, welcome and included? Are there any of these things present that might say “I am not included.”

Functional –  Does the facility support the critical tasks and activities intended for the space?

Sociopetal –  Does the space encourage spontaneous human interaction?  Is there room in the circulation areas where I can comfortably step aside to talk as part of an informal encounter (supermarket isle meetings) without “blocking traffic?”

Flexible – Is it adaptable to multiple purposes and participants? Do all the chairs have arms or are some armless? Are desk or table heights adjustable? Are tablet arms only on the right-hand side?

Esthetic – Does it inspire creativity and uplift the spirit? Are there inspiring artifacts, symbols, interesting art, music, color, pattern, light, text or words?

Reflective – Does it encourage quiet individual imagining and meaning making?  Are there places or spaces where I can find a quiet, calm “sheltering” place to sit and think or reflect?

Regenerative – Does it restore energy and motivation for persisting?  Is there a space that makes me feel energized? Where can I go to mentally or emotionally recharge?

Distinctive –  Is there something about the space that is unique and memorable?

Sustainable – Is the proportion and scale comfortable?

As we continue to engage in discussions about campus master planning, consideration of our physical facilities is especially timely. It is an opportunity for student affairs professionals to contribute to the discussion of campus environments, particularly physical environments, as more than bricks and mortar. Rather, they are the literal building blocks of the student experience. Let’s go Fighting Hawks! Laurie.

Student Involvement & Activism

As Student Affairs professionals we are often in a position in which we are guiding our student leaders or asked for advice or support on current social change situations facing students today.  This places us in a position of authority but one of opportunity for learning, as well.  The landscape of the college student experience is changing and in moments of off and on-campus activism we are gifted with an opportunity to be thoughtful and purposeful in our guidance and response. Most often our guidance takes a formal path where we are meeting with our student leaders one-on-one or with a student organization during one of their regularly scheduled meetings.  These are regimented opportunities to encourage these individuals to flex their leadership muscles, to encourage them to reach for the stars, teach them that it is okay to fail, help them recover gracefully, and to learn and do better or differently the next time in instances that do not end well.

Then there are the rarer, but even more pivotal opportunities in our careers when we guide our students in a more impromptu setting.  It is those crucial moments when we are faced with a challenge or situation and we must act in a way that role models for our students the right, just, and ideally peaceful approach to handling difficult and challenging situations. Our actions are under the microscope of our colleagues and students and we are poised to set a good example. So how do we handle such situations when we are the ones in the spotlight?  I have read a couple of articles recently regarding the enhancement of the student involvement and leadership experience. We are prone to reaffirming for our students what a positive and beneficial experience their leadership role is for their future employability and development. That is the obvious response but the less explicit, is the refreshing approach they take to leadership and what we can learn from them. The following are five “gifts” (full article here) we can receive from our student leaders that will deepen and develop our approach to, and appreciation for, leadership and management.

– Naïve enthusiasm and optimism adopt a “take a chance” attitude; put aside your reservations or thoughts that certain actions or behaviors will not produce the intended outcome; try to look at situations with a fresh set of eyes and be willing to relinquish control on the situation to just see where it goes.

– Flexibility and adaptation it’s all part of the role and “roll with it” mentality; give each task you are faced with equal importance and passion; be willing to do anything and everything; believe that no task or request is beneath you.

– Passion and a sense of justice allow your passion and drive for justice to melt into your presentation of topics; be authentic by being genuine and forthright about your passion, you will persuade stakeholders inside and outside the institution. Be careful to not become complacent and attempt to approach each situation without bias and predictability.

– Keep it real keep things simple and on-the-level; resist the urge to overcomplicate things;  try to whittle each situation down to bare bones and then build up from there. Remain focused and intentional about the issue at hand.

– Make it fun remember to maintain balance in our work; look for opportunities to weave enjoyment and fun into our work, when appropriate. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

There is so much we can learn from our students.  I encourage you to go back to your roots, think of the passion you had when you were first hired into the position you hold now.  Are there any (or all) of the 5 gifts that you could revisit and embrace more fully?  Sometimes it is just a matter of changing your mindset or being more present every day in our jobs.  I would like to challenge you to choose one of the five gifts above and to work toward weaving it into your work over the course of the spring semester.  Write it down, brainstorm ideas of how you might act and react differently to situations that arise.  Commit to the gift and try something new weekly to incorporate that gift into your office and daily work.  Warning!  You may see a shift in how your colleagues and the students you work with and for respond! Let’s go Fighting Hawks! Laurie.

The University of North Dakota TRIO Programs

Last week I had the privilege to give the welcome for TRIO Day.  I was delighted to be invited and honored to be able to speak to the attendees, as it is a program near and dear to my heart.  In fact, I am a graduate of the TRIO program here at UND.  It seems like only yesterday that I was a single mother of four boys, working three jobs, and trying to determine how I was going to establish a solid and secure future for myself and family.  I walked into the TRIO office and immediately was greeted warmly.  I was offered guidance and assistance from the staff and they were able to help me determine a plan and course of action.  I went on to receive my bachelor’s, master’s, and finally my doctorate degree in Physical Therapy–all from UND.  If it had not been for the staff and resources in the TRIO department, I am not sure I would be sitting here writing to you today from this interim VP seat!  So, I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight the TRIO department and staff and I have asked the TRIO director, Derek Sporbert, to provide a little history and background on the TRIO program.

The University of North Dakota TRIO Programs have been proudly serving low income and first generation students for over 50 years.  TRIO is the largest Department of Education grant program and its purpose is to assist low-income and first-generation students in achieving academic success.  TRIO was established by the Department of Education in response to President Johnson’s “War on Poverty” in 1964. UND was awarded its first TRIO grant in 1965 and since that time, UND has added five separate TRIO grants each of which serve a specific age demographic.  The TRIO Programs at UND include: Talent Search (middle school and high school students); Upward Bound, (high school intervention); Educational Opportunity Center (adults re-entering secondary/post-secondary education); Student Support Services (enrolled UND undergraduates); and McNair (UND juniors or seniors interested in PhD. research).   TRIO Programs have been supported at UND for over 50 years, making UND one of the longest continually running TRIO programs in the country!

The focus of the programs is primarily to work with students who come from low income and/or first generation families.  The program helps students explore, enroll and succeed at postsecondary education.  Pre-college programs (Talent Search, Upward Bound, and Educational Opportunity Center) work to educate students on the necessary high school course selections, college tours, career exploration, financial aid, money & time management, study skills, and a host of other services to prepare area students for college coursework.  TRIO college programs (Student Support Services and McNair) focus on postsecondary success, study skills, course selection, academic tutoring, and in the case of McNair; faculty mentors, undergraduate research, graduate school exploration and preparation, and PhD track academics.

Throughout TRIO’s history at UND, its greatest resource has been the tenacity of the students it serves.  Selena Garza, a UND senior majoring in Criminal Justice and Psychology, recently reflected on her experience with TRIO and McNair.  She had this to say,” …if it weren’t for TRIO & McNair I wouldn’t even have had the idea that I would be able to continue my education past my bachelor’s degree…I wouldn’t have known the first thing about making that a reality.  Coming from (my) background…it wasn’t until I gained the support of my fellow scholars, mentor, & Patrice Giese (TRIO advisor) that I realized I really can do all of these things & that nothing is out of reach for me…I not only can but WILL make all of my dreams a reality.” Let’s go Fighting Hawks! Laurie

Cabinet of Student Leaders

This week I wanted to take some time to bring you up to date on a group that I meet with monthly, the Cabinet of Student Leaders (COSL).  In the past, the purpose of the meetings with this group was to act as an advisory group to the Vice President for Student Affairs.  The student leaders were asked to provide input and feedback on services, programs, and overall concerns of the students on campus.  When I stepped into this role I knew I wanted to continue the tradition of convening this group but I wanted the format to be a bit different and more concentrated in content for each meeting.  I also knew that I wanted the meetings to be a joint effort with Student Government so I met with Brandon & Blake, our student body president and vice president, and they were thrilled to partner with me and were quick to impart their ideas and plans on what direction this group could go during this academic year.  I also enlisted the assistance of our office’s Graduate Student Assistant, Steph Lee, who happens to be a former member of the COSL from her days as a Student Ambassador.  She has been instrumental in the execution of these meetings and does all of the behind-the-scenes work from ordering the food to contacting panelists and securing the location.  I am lucky to have her knowledge and expertise and because she was a member of this group during her undergrad, she imparts a unique perspective that I appreciate, as well.

The Cabinet of Student Leaders represents some of the most diverse student organizations on the University of North Dakota campus.  Representatives of approximately 20 organizations meet on a monthly basis with Brandon, Blake, and myself to discuss topics related to today’s students. At the beginning of the fall semester, the COSL identified approximately 10 topics that they wanted to learn more about and engage in insightful dialogue with campus and community experts. To date, topics have included issues such as creating a community that is welcoming for diverse students, looking at budget cuts and their impact on students, and diversity and identity. At our upcoming meeting, the leaders are scheduled to meet with President Kennedy on February 8th to learn more about shared governance. At the most recent January meeting, we focused on community engagement. We heard from three students from Dr. Soojung Kim’s Capstone course in the Communication Department.  The students reported on research that they had completed in conjunction with the City of Grand Forks. The research looked at ways of making the Grand Forks community a place where students would want to stay and start their careers and lives.  The Cabinet of Student Leaders made suggestions such as having speakers at the fraternities and sororities, allowing class credit for attending the annual Pow Wow, and ensuring that the Essential Studies program engages students on issues of diversity that are meaningful for our campus and our state.

Students also delved into deep conversations regarding the Essential Studies programs and whether they were truly fulfilling the expectation of diversifying their knowledge.  They discussed items such as experiential learning and engagement and the concept of study abroad and ensuring that the UND experience is one that provides for well-rounded citizens and developing critical ideas that are challenging and pertinent to our global society. Student Body President, Brandon Beyer, expressed his appreciation by stating that “the Cabinet of Student Leaders has allowed the continued gathering of some of our most involved student leaders on campus. These individuals might not otherwise have been given the opportunity to collaborate and address some of the most pressing issues at the University of North Dakota if it were not for the COSL”. I am pleased with the direction these meetings have taken and I look forward to the spring semester. Let’s go Fighting Hawks! Laurie

Wishing you a happy and healthy 2017

Greetings and Happy New Year!  I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and also had the opportunity for some rest, relaxation, and time with family and friends. I hope you feel refreshed and renewed and ready to tackle the spring semester. As I look forward at the spring semester there are so many positive things on the horizon.  One of which, is continuing to see our strategic planning mission progress.  A multitude of work by so many dedicated staff, faculty, and students went into the first part of the process of crafting core values and strategic initiatives, refining SMART goals and communicating key aspects of our planning process to state legislators. As we embark on this next semester and continue the important work regarding the strategic planning process, I want to invite and encourage you to attend one of the upcoming Campus Conversations.  These are scheduled for January 19th from 3:00-4:30PM and January 24th from 10:30AM-12:00PM both take place in the Memorial Union River Valley Room.  These will be opportunities for you to hear from President Kennedy and to share your insight and feedback on the tactics for each SMART goal.  More information on the Strategic Plan can be found here.  I look forward to seeing you at one of these sessions.  Your input is critical in this process!

A new year brings occasion for reflection on the previous year but more importantly, an opportunity to make plans and develop aspirations for the upcoming year.  For some that may be to eat more healthfully, spend less time on social media, or spend more time with family.  I know traditionally the goal for a new year is to start exercising or eat more kale:).  Well, there’s someone I know pretty well that makes fitness and healthy eating a part of her everyday life and so I’ve asked Rachel from my office to share some tips and advice that have worked for her to help make her health a priority.

1. Get up earlier. Start setting your alarm to get up just 20-30 minutes earlier each morning and use that time to do some push-ups, jumping jacks, ab crunches, stretching or yoga just do something to get your heart pumping and to wake up your mind first thing in the morning. It sets the tone for your whole day and you’ll feel more energized and focused.
2. Get prepared. Prepare a space in your apartment or house to exercise or practice yoga daily. Things to consider adding to your space: yoga mat (or a towel), dumbbells (soup cans work, too), bottle of water and an iPod to play inspirational/motivational music. Prepare your kitchen. Eliminate unhealthy “trouble” foods from your fridge and pantry.  Consider donating them to a local food shelf. Prepare your mind for success and be healthy-minded. Commit to your 20-30 daily minutes and stay focused and present while you practice.  This is dedicated “you” time so try to eliminate distractions of phone, email and interruptions.

3. Get organized. Plan your workouts for the week. Try to incorporate a little bit of cardio, strength training and stretching into each 20-30-minute slice of time.  For example, the following is a 15-minute total body work out that does not require any special equipment: 5 push-ups, 15 squats, 10 ab crunches, 5 lunges on each leg, hold a 15 second plank (do this 5 times through) and finish with 5 minutes of stretching.  Another tip is to type up your workout plan for the week and print it out and hang it in your workout space check each day off as you complete the workout! Use Sunday afternoons to meal prep. Plan your meals for the week and make what you can in advance cut up veggies and fruits and put in individual bags, portion out trail mix, make a large pot of chili have some that night and freeze the rest in individual containers to have later in the week; bake or grill chicken breasts to warm up later in the week along with a bag of steamed veggies for a quick week night meal. Layout your workout clothes or pack your gym bag the night before. If you’re prepared and not rushed you’ll be less likely to talk yourself out of that morning sweat session or hitting the gym after work. Make a playlist make it motivational and inspiring. There are lots of stations on Pandora and Spotify, too! Get it on your calendar. Put your workouts on your calendar like any other appointment.  Set the appointment to send you a reminder.  Don’t cancel on yourself!

4. Get inspired. Use Pinterest to look for different workouts or healthy meals. Make a board that is dedicated to health and fitness and refer back to the board when you need ideas or inspiration.  (I used Pinterest for the workout noted above by entering key words “20-minute total body workout without weights”.) Consider creating an accountability account on Instagram. I created a separate account for my health and fitness goals so I don’t feel like I’m pushing them on anyone else.  Follow others who inspire you or healthy chefs who post yummy, nutritious meals.  This is also your place to unabashedly post sweaty selfies and other motivational photos or quotes that you can always go back and refer to when you need a little inspiration.  It’s like a photo journal of your fitness journey!

5. Get in the habit. Keep going, keep practicing, keep setting small goals. Remember that it takes 21 days to form a new habit so consistency is key.  Keep setting your alarm to get in your workout first thing in the morning, and before you know it you’ll look forward to it and your body will learn to expect it. Don’t be tempted to take weekends off. They account for almost half of the month so don’t be tempted to skip your sweat sessions on Saturday and Sunday.  These are great days to try a new class at the local gym or to do a follow-along workout on YouTube!

6. Get hydrated. Keep a water bottle at your desk, in your car, and right by you when you work out. It increases your metabolism and helps fight fatigue. Try to drink half your body weight in ounces each day (your weight X 67% = ounces of water to consume daily). Try adding lemon or cucumbers to keep it interesting!

7. Get your food from the perimeter of the grocery store. Stock your fridge and pantry with healthy foods and snacks. If you stick to the perimeter of the grocery store for your proteins and produce you are more likely to avoid processed cereals, snacks and junk food.  Aim to make the majority of your meals consist of lean meats, lots of greens, fruits and veggies. Keep your meals simple and quick. Pinterest is a great resource for this and you’ll find lots of blogs that post healthy meals that cater to all sorts of diets and restrictions you may have.  My favorite meal is grilled salmon drizzled with olive oil, black pepper and dill and then I steam some asparagus on the side.  Experiment with new recipes on the weekend when you have more time.

8. Get your friends and family on board. Let your spouse, significant other, family and friends in on your goals to be healthier. You can’t force them to do it with you but you can encourage them and set an example! Make going to the gym a family affair. Play a game of flag football or go sledding together. Find an accountability partner. Working out with someone else is often all the motivation you need to get up for your morning workout or to make it to that spin class after work.  Having someone else there sweating with you and cheering each other on is a great way to keep each other accountable. Try new healthy meals your friends and family will enjoy. Again, Pinterest is a great resource you can even take your favorite comfort food and make it healthy with some easy tweaks on ingredients.

9. Get moving and get results. Try to make sure you’re moving at least a little every hour. I have a sit/stand station at work but find that I prefer standing. I feel more alert and conscious of my body and muscles.  I find myself standing up straighter and even sucking in my stomach while I’m standing. Set a SMART goal to obtain results make sure it is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. For example: I will lose 15 pounds in 10 weeks. Be hard on yourself to achieve goals and push harder but go easy on yourself if you slip up the most important thing is to stand up and get back on track. Don’t let one slip derail your goal-learn from it and do better tomorrow.

10. Get some sleep! Aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Our bodies need this time to heal, restore and recharge and you will be more likely to get up for that early morning workout if you have had adequate rest.  
*Disclaimer I am in no way an expert.  I am not a dietitian or personal trainer.  The tips I’ve listed above are what work well for me and have been instrumental in incorporating health and fitness into my daily life (several of the ideas are from books, blogs, and actual personal trainers or fitness enthusiasts).  My only hope is that you will find one or two tips above that resonate with you and inspire you to be an even better, healthier version of yourself! I find that when we take time to take care of ourselves, we are better poised to be patient, present, and purposeful for our students.  Whatever your goals and resolutions, I wish you success, health, and happiness in the coming year and always. Rachel. Let’s go Fighting Hawks! Laurie

Fostering a campus environment of inclusion as we approach the holiday season…

A big “thank you” to Stacey Borboa-Peterson, Director of UND’s Multicultural Student Services, as the guest writer for this week’s blog post. The holidays are rapidly approaching and many on campus are interested in ways they can help to celebrate and foster the inclusiveness of all faiths, those of both believers and non-believers. This has provided the opportunity to boost education and understanding around the varied cultural, religious, national, and ethnic traditions or practices that students, staff, and faculty may be observing during the coming months.  Inclusive campus environments help in fostering a feeling of belonging for all members of a campus community and can be nurtured through awareness and understanding.

Below you will find an interfaith holiday calendar, provided by campus partners at the Christus Rex.  I have limited the listing to religious holidays occurring through the month of January, but if any of you are interested in the full academic year, please feel free to connect with me and I will pass along the document in its entirety. On a very related topic, Interfaith Week at UND will be held January 29 through February 4.  This event is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about some of the religions listed within the calendar.

Religious Holidays Year 2016-2017

The list that follows is not exhaustive; it includes major festivals and holy days for many, though by no means all, religious traditions represented at the University of North Dakota. (If it does not include an important date in the religious calendar of your particular tradition, please let us know.) Every effort has been made to insure that this information is accurate. Note that some holidays in some traditions are tied to the lunar calendar or to particular cultural patterns that vary by region or by sect which make their location in the calendar somewhat more fluid.

Islamic Holidays: Regional customs or moon sightings may cause a variation of the date for Islamic holidays, which begin at sundown the day before the date specified for the holiday. The Islamic calendar is lunar and the days begin at sunset, so there may be one-day error depending on when the New Moon is first seen. For holidays associated with Christianity, the following notations are used to denote observance by particular strands of the Christian tradition: RC-Roman Catholic P-Protestant O-Orthodox

Student Employment: an often overlooked high-impact practice in Higher Education…

Earlier this month we had the pleasure of hosting Denny Olsen and Maggie Towle, from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.  Maggie and Denny presented on the work they’ve done in the learning outcomes for student employment arena.  They shared their successes and were very forthcoming with their learning outcomes.  Following their general presentation, they conducted a more intimate working group session where they shared even more in-depth information on the processes and theories that have been most successful for them since the inception of their program over ten years ago.  We were pleased to hear that they believe UND is poised to implement some of their programming and materials.  Specifically, they complimented our Division of Student Affairs for the work that’s already being done.  I want to commend the Student Affairs Assessment Committee and the staff in the Student Academic Services departments on what they have accomplished thus far as I know that this is a labor of love for them and that the work in on-going.

Student employment learning outcomes is a common thread that continues to weave its way through my work in student affairs and I’m finding it is spilling over into my work with the Strategic Planning process, too! As the Strategic Planning Steering Committee delves deeper into the core values and strategic initiatives for OneUND, there has been considerable interest from around campus and in the community as to broadening our scope from teaching to education.  We are hearing that there is a desire to be more inclusive and intentional about out-of-classroom learning opportunities.  From student organizations to intramurals, there are opportunities to provide our students with learning outcomes such as communication techniques, decision-making skills, leadership skills and professionalism.

The Division of Student Affairs, as I mentioned earlier, has embraced student employment as a priority.  We proudly employ over 750 students in our Division alone!  We have a Student Employee Working Group which consists of a graduate student representative and staff from the Student Employment and Career Services Office, Wellness Center, Dining, Memorial Union, Financial Aid, the Chester Fritz Library and Academic Services Technology.  This working group’s focus is to share best practices from their respective areas and to align the student learning outcomes with the top skills that employers are looking for.  The working group also provides support for those offices employing students.  We are invested in our student employees and are committed to preparing them for their future in the work place and for “real life” in general.

Our Division has developed a Student Learning Outcome Model.  Offices can use this model as a tool to provide ongoing feedback to the students we employ.  This tool, coupled with services available in the Career Services department, such as resume-building and cover letter writing skills, assist our student employees in translating their on-campus work experiences over into their after college environments.  Communication, both verbal and written, has emerged as the single most important objective that we want our student employees to gain from their time working with us.  We have heard from student employees that they appreciate this model as it clearly outlines expectations, helps them set goals and provides them feedback.

I am delighted that we are on the right track as a Division and I’m excited to see where we can incorporate some of the new knowledge we gleaned from our partners at U of M to make our model better.  Investing in our students’ success is a path that ultimately leads us to produce UND students poised for success outside the classroom and that is why we do what we do. A big “thank you” to Dr. Lisa Burger, Assistant Vice President for Academic Services, and Ilene Odegard, Director of Career Services, for providing input and supporting documentation which has been incorporated into this week’s blog post. Let’s go Fighting Hawks! – Laurie
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