The Center for Student Engagement will spend the fall gauging student needs in its broad attempt to provide more focused support for each class year of students, its newly-hired leader said Wednesday.
Associate Dean of Students Tim Miller said the organization will use focus groups to better understand student needs before implementing any new strategies as part of one of the largest departmental overhauls in University history.
“We’re still figuring this out,” Miller said. “We don’t want to throw stuff at students without knowing why.”
The center was developed after a year-long review that urged the Dean of Students Office to restructure into a four-part model that will emphasize student class years.
Staff in the Dean of Freshmen’s Office, the Guide to Personal Success program, the Student Activities Center, Mount Vernon Campus Life and Housing Programs will be realigned into four teams targeting freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors, as well as graduate, distance and professional student experiences.
Under the class-based model, student organization advising will not automatically be grouped according to class year, but will instead follow a hybrid model in which existing professional staff in other student-life programs will be paired with student organizations with similar focuses.
Miller said the University was looking at the needs of sophomore, junior and graduate students in particular, because there are fewer resources currently available for these populations.
Though Miller said students may notice some programmatic changes as part of the switch, he hopes students will continue to have the “same high-quality experiences.”
Operationally, the different parts of the CSE are now “more tightly connected” than before – a link that facilitates stronger communication among staff from formerly distinct departments, he said.
A separate entity dedicated exclusively to operational duties within the Dean of Students Consortium will reduce the resources allocated to administrative services in each department, Miller said.
“We wanted to streamline as much as possible to spend more time engaging with students,” Miller said.