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 Tuesday, January 13, 2009 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


Empowering Student Success
Guest Columnist Julie M. Wong, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

Imagine the end of Spring Commencement: as students leave the ceremony, each is given a parachute and they board an airplane. The plane drops them off at various places around the world. Students might land in New Orleans, Washington, D.C., London, Amsterdam, Rome, Croatia, Shanghai, or Dubai. Be assured, they will land on their feet and excel in their chosen field, be it education, music, psychology, business, government, engineering or science. Our students will not only succeed in their chosen field, they will become involved in their community and eventually be leaders in their new environment.

In order to prepare the next generation of global leaders, Student Affairs is focusing on three new initiatives. The first is Student Success and Retention.

We are developing strategies to ensure that every student is involved in at least one activity on campus, such as a club or organization, honor society, internship, intramural team, fraternity or sorority, staff position, leadership program, study abroad, or research opportunity. Alexander Astin from the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles maintains that students who are involved on campus tend to have higher grades, better retention rates, are more likely to graduate, become better alumni and have an overall better experience in college. At CU-Boulder, we want to go one step further than just getting students involved on campus. We want students’ experiences to be diverse and progressive.

A student may start out as a participant or general member of our community, and is encouraged to increase their involvement level to coordinator, chair, and maybe even to an executive leadership position. This involvement will develop skills such as intellectual agility, inclusive excellence and collaboration and service, which are skills necessary to be successful in a global, technical and changing world.

Student Affairs especially wants to target a middle group of students − those not in leadership or honors programs or those not involved in student support/mentoring programs. This middle group represents the majority of our students, who must find their way on campus and learn how to navigate a complex organization. Our emphasis focuses on engaging students so that they can create and become a part of smaller communities on campus, which also will enable them to be stronger members of a community once they graduate.

The second priority in Student Affairs is Health Promotion, with an emphasis on alcohol education. Responsible leaders have healthy and well-balanced lives, both inside and outside of the classroom. It is no secret that we have alcohol challenges on campus and in our community. Alcohol is not a unique challenge for CU-Boulder; it is a national challenge. In a 2008 College Alcohol Study, 65 percent of our students reported occasional binge drinking. To put this in perspective, the national average for binge drinking is 43 percent.

Alcohol education is about social responsibility. Our approach is not to stop students from drinking, but to reduce the percentage of people who participate in high risk drinking. We have adopted a strategy that blends prevention, peer education, policy enforcement and collaboration with the Boulder community. Our goal is to reduce high risk drinking by approximately 20 percent over the next three years with the following programs:

• The Parent Project, a research-tested prevention initiative implemented in 2005. It provides information to parents on how to talk to their student about alcohol use before coming to college.

• AlcoholEdu for College, a science-based alcohol prevention course. This past year, 4,700 out of 5,800 students voluntarily took this course before they started in the fall semester.

• BASICS (Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students) is a tested, science-based intervention program that empowers trained student staff to educate their peers.

We have recently clustered the health and wellness departments within the division of Student Affairs, i.e., Wardenburg Health Center, Counseling and Psychological Services, Recreation Services and Health Promotion Services (formerly Alcohol and Other Drugs Program), so that they can better work together to create a synergy that will improve the overall health and wellness of our students.

Our third priority is Fundraising and Development. Our development priorities are to raise $17 million for the Center for Community and to increase the Parent Fund by $100,000 each year over the next several years. The Center for Community (C4C) is one of the most exciting new buildings on campus. The building will manage the largest dining facility on campus, as well as a number of student services such as Career Services, Counseling and Psychological Services, the Center for Multicultural Affairs, International Education and the Office of the Dean of Students. Our Parent Fund enables Student Affairs to fund new initiatives and programs such as student internships, the Colorado Creed, Late Night programming and an after-hours care hotline.

Recently, Student Affairs reorganized to focus expertise into three main areas of student life: Enrollment Management, Health and Wellness, and Student Success and Retention. Our 970 full-time employees and 1,750 student staff within 27 departments assist in our mission to empower student success.

We look forward to the new year and we welcome your suggestions to help create positive experiences for our students outside of the classroom.

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