Welcome to the 2015-2016 academic year! If you count all of the years that I have been in higher education, this is the beginning of my thirty-eighth academic year. Who knew that when my parents dropped me off at Wittenberg University to begin my freshman year, it would be the first of many academic years to come. I remember feeling anxious, excited, and full of expectation. Now, many years later, as August turns to September and our campus comes alive with students, my feelings are very similar to those that I had on my first day as a new student, just for different reasons.
Like many of you, I began the summer with a list of projects I wanted to complete. I also wanted to make sure that I took time to exhale and recharge. For the most part, I was successful on both fronts. I enjoyed vacationing with my wife on Martha’s Vineyard, reconnecting with very dear friends during a long weekend in Colorado, and attending our thirty-third annual family reunion at the beach. Not all of the projects on my list are finished, but I have made good progress on the most important ones.
I want to say how much I appreciate the contributions that each of you make toward the meaningful experiences of all UD students. Although I can’t predict what the year ahead will bring, I am fairly certain we will have our challenges in addition to our successes. Regardless of the hurdles that we encounter, I am confident that each of you will continue to give your best and that together we will help our students grow closer to achieving their highest aspirations.
I look forward to working with all of you in the current academic year, and by the way, I have taken the plunge and am now on Twitter! Please feel free to follow me @DawnThompsonUD.
All the best,
In this Issue
Our New Senior Business Administrator | Celebrate Our Recognition | Explore Caesar Rodney Fresh Food Company Dining Hall | What are you Most Excited About for 2015-16? (poll) | Employee Wellness: Adding Exercise to Your Daily Routine | Perkins Live & Trabant Now | Interview with Frank Newton | Welcome New Staff
Dawn Thompson is pleased to announce that Laura Gleason has been selected to serve as the Senior Business Administrator as of August 17, 2015.
“I am excited to work with Laura in this new position. More so than ever before, strong fiscal management of the Division budget is imperative to maximize the use of limited resources and provide optimal stewardship of a complex budget,” Dawn said. “I believe Laura’s strong financial management, analytical and writing skills will benefit the Division and allow us to continue to provide a great experience for our students.”
In this role, Laura will provide central support and oversight to the financial and human resource functions of the Division. In addition, Laura will serve as a member of the Student Life Senior Leadership Team and work closely with the Vice President to carry out divisional initiatives such as long-range and strategic planning for the Division to support the University’s strategic plan Delaware Will Shine.
On her new position, Laura states, “I am excited about the opportunity to develop and manage a central administrative function for the Division, to collaborate with Student Life departments more closely, and to help to strengthen and unify the Division through strategic planning, improved processes and procedures and communications. I am also thrilled that I am able to continue to work with such an amazing group of talented and dedicated colleagues.”
Since joining the Division in 2013, Laura has worked closely with University-wide events such as Parents and Family Weekend, and as the Senior Business Administrator, Laura will assume full oversight of this event. Laura will also continue her work as a core group member of the Campus Coalition for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Prevention and will co-chair an Alcohol Coalition strategic initiative working group.
As Laura serves to fulfill a much needed leadership role for the Division, it is important to her “that all of the departments think of me as a resource for them, as someone who will represent their needs and concerns, and as someone who can help engage our Division and bring it together—to help us see the collectivity of what we do—in many different ways.”
Laura has been with the University of Delaware since 2010 and holds a Master of Science in Organizational Effectiveness, Development and Change and a Bachelor of Arts in English, both from the University of Delaware. Laura and her husband have three children, two of which are currently students at UD. In her free time, Laura likes to run, hike and spend time outdoors with her family and their black Lab, Suzi.
Bright Initiative Award: 2014-2015 Academic Year
This past spring the Recognition Committee revealed the winners of the Bright Initiative Award, which recognizes great ideas successfully implemented by Student Life staff that directly benefit the student experience at UD. Out of nine submitted nominations, the committee chose three award recipients, each of whom won a trip to the UD Creamery! All nominations were required to be implemented in the current academic year (Summer 2014-Spring 2015), respond to a current need, demand, or problem within the Division of Student Life, and yield a positive result that benefited students. Read more about this year’s award winners!
Study At Home
Sponsored by Residence Life & Housing, this Winter Session program allowed students on campus to participate in a series of interactive events, hands-on workshops and trips, resulting in exposure to opportunities and experiences both on and off campus similar to those they may have found while studying abroad. Students discovered local points of interest, such as the UD Green House, and explored nearby cities on history and culture-focused trips to Philadelphia and New York City. Follow-up assessment found that 100% of participants agreed that their winter session experience was enhanced through Study At Home, and that they would participate in similar events in the future if offered again. About 78% of students indicated that they made relationships with individuals that would last beyond winter session.
Serving Better Together
Through the Winter Session program “Serving Better Together” co-sponsored by Residence Life & Housing, Office of Service Learning, and Religious Life Caucus, students had the opportunity to join others across diverse religious and non-religious backgrounds and create relationships while engaging in meaningful cultural dialogue through service. Some highlights of the initiative include on campus learning sessions led by Interfaith Youth Core representatives, community service action through Habitat for Humanity, and ongoing group book discussions. Follow-up assessment showed that about 93% of the student participants felt strongly that they could better articulate a connection between their worldview and service to their community, and 100% of participants indicated that they could respectfully participate in an exchange of ideas with a group of people with worldviews other than their own.
Collegiate Recovery Community
The “Collegiate Recovery Community” (CRC) initiative stemmed from the need to establish support for students entering the University who are seeking recovery from drug or alcohol abuse while still thriving in their academic journeys. The initiative connected students in need to peer support and community resources and campus partners, and also included weekly meetings to provide a safe space for students to continue their long term recovery efforts. The CRC directly reached at least six students and has added more to its email list. A non-profit charity organization, Transforming Youth Recovery, awarded a $10,000 grant to the program to assist in its development and growth into a sustainable community. The CRC has continued to grow in support and momentum since its inception.
How Do I Nominate?
The nomination form for the 2015-16 academic year awards will be available in Spring 2016 time. Winners are selected in May. We encourage you to start thinking now about what initiatives you or your coworkers are working on that you may want to submit for consideration!
Spotlight Award: 2014-2015 Academic Year
The Spotlight Award seeks to recognize Student Life staff throughout the year who individually contribute to the work of the Division while shining within their department. Nominees are reviewed by the committee and one winner is announced each quarter, dependent on the nominations received. Nominations can be based on a variety of reasons including mentoring staff, consistent dedication to the position, leadership within a team, initiative development and execution, and overall contributions. Congratulations to the 2014-2015 recipients: Linda Stacy and Katie Morrison!
Summer 2014 Recipient – Linda Stacy (Student Health Services)
Linda Stacy is the Administrative Assistant for the Director of Student Health Services as well as the HR Liaison for the department. Her dedication to the position, perpetual smiling face, and preparedness were among the most noted characteristics recognized. She consistently participates in numerous University-wide and departmental events throughout the year, including New Student Orientation and Orientation Leader training. She serves as a great source of information for our students. She was described by her nominator as “extraordinary, enthusiastic, and delightful!”
Winter 2015 Recipient – Katie Morrison (Residence Life & Housing)
Nominated under her former position of Complex Coordinator for the Rodney Complex, Katie Morrison was recognized for fostering a welcoming environment in the halls and engaging students in the campus community, as well as logistically preparing for the closing of West Campus at the end of the academic year. Beyond the complex level, Katie is selfless in committing her time to other important work. She serves as Co-Chair of SAPE (Sexual Assault Prevention & Education), Co-Chair of the Sustainability Task Force, and serves on the Title IX Education Committee as well as the 1743 Committee. She was described by her nominator as “a superb mentor” and an “invaluable asset to her department” while “consistently serving others.”
How Do I Nominate?
Nominations are accepted on a rolling process from one quarter to the next (Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer). The deadline for Fall 2015 submissions is September 30, so be sure to nominate a full-time Student Life staff member who you think deserves to be recognized for their outstanding contributions! Click here to login and complete the form!
The Caesar Rodney Fresh Food Company Dining Hall is officially open! We’re sure that you’ve heard about all the wonderful food stations, spacious seating and great layout, but have you had a chance to go inside yet? If you haven’t, you’re in luck. Come with us on a quick tour through UD’s latest dining hall. And if it’s mealtime for you, check out what Rodney’s offering right now.
In our semesterly poll, we want to know what you’re most excited for this academic year! Have one that isn’t listed? Write it in the “other” box!
In our last issue, we asked you what strategies you would like to employ to improve your work-life balance. Many of you selected “building physical fitness into your schedule,” so we talked to Employee Wellness’ Ryan Keenan for her top five tips on doing just that!
Download the infographic here.
Frank Newton is the Acting Vice President and Chief of Staff in the President’s Office under the leadership of Dr. Nancy Targett. Frank began his career in Student Life and uses many of the skills and lessons that he learned from his Student Affairs background every day. Scott Rappaport, Assistant Director for Student Employment and Internship Programs in the Career Services Center, sat down with Frank to ask him a few questions about his background and his new role at the University of Delaware.
Scott Rappaport: Where did you go to school and when did you know you wanted to work in Higher Ed?
Frank Newton: I did my undergrad at Framingham State University in Massachusetts; I majored in economics with a speech and theater minor. I was an involved student leader, so early on I got involved in a group called SUAB, which is the Student Union Activities Board. As a student I was also an Orientation Leader, Resident Assistant, and for my last two years I was elected as the Student Trustee, so I served on the Board of Trustees as an undergraduate. That experience really sparked my passion for Higher Ed in general. I had really good mentors and when I was figuring out what to do career-wise, as I was applying for jobs but also applied for grad school and got into Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I worked in Residence Life while in grad school.
SR: What was your first professional position in Higher Ed?
FN: After grad school I got a job in Residence Life at Keene State College in New Hampshire, which is a small public college. It was a really good place to be a generalist and work all around campus. It was residence life position but it was really an overall student life position because of the size of the campus. Keene State was one of those places where you could really do a lot of different things and have connections across campus. I was there for five years before coming to UD.
SR: What was your first job at UD?
FN: My first job was as Assistant Area Coordinator in the Gilbert and Harrington Complex. At the time, it was a 1200 student, upper class complex on East Campus where I supervised 40 staff.
SR: Is there one thing that you have done in your career that has significantly helped you to make the jump to the next level?
FN: This might sound schmaltzy (such a Frank Newton Word), but I think a lot of what my philosophy has always been is to really find out as much about other people and what other people do so that I know the things that are going on around campus. I think that is how we help students and how we help one and other. It is how we can leverage things. So getting outside of whatever bubble we are in, because it is really easy, especially at a campus this size to live in a Career Services bubble, or live in a Residence Life bubble, or any particular building. Finding out what is going on around campus and making relationships — I think is what helped me more than anything. It has helped me with finding opportunities but also with my everyday interactions.
SR: Is there anything in your career that you would do differently looking back?
FN: Honestly, I would probably go back and get my doctorate earlier. I went for a lot of years thinking that I didn’t need it, and quite frankly probably didn’t, but it was a free benefit here and it took me a good amount of time to think why am I not taking advantage of this. It doesn’t have to be a doctorate, but taking advantage of the resources here, finding other additional coursework and opportunities is something that I did professionally but not academically. Whether someone is getting an MBA or a Masters in something else or in this case the Ed. D., is important and it really helped me think and problem solve differently. I can now formulate how I approach things in a different way. It is not so much even about the content, but about having gone through the process. So I probably would have done that earlier.
SR: What were your first thought when you were asked to take your current role as Acting Vice President and Chief of Staff in the President’s office?
FN: So it started with lots of conversation and lots of speculation, as I believe was happening all around campus. When Dr. Targett asked me, which was when the Board had asked her, one of the things that we had talked previously about just in general was just to make sure that when you are in those kind of positions, Provost, or President, that you have someone with you who can do a couple of things. You want someone that can tell you the real deal, so someone that you can always ground truth things with. You also want someone that is going to tell you when something feels like it might be a mistake and someone that really just has your back. You want someone that knows you. I have said for many years that Dr. Targett should be a President somewhere, so it was not a surprise in that regard, but my first thought was “Wow!” and the sense of responsibility that goes along with the role. I go through waves of it being overwhelming in some ways, certainly humbling in many other ways. As I said before, I am honored and humbled, especially as a UD alum who has worked here almost 22 years. The fact that Dr. Targett and the Board of Trustees have trusted me in this role is especially humbling. Working with all the great students, faculty and staff here on campus has been amazing and we get to continue, just in new ways. Dr. Targett and I have actually had a discussion at one point saying, “remember all the times we sat around this table thinking what we would do if they just put us in charge for a month?” Well, we now have those moments.
SR: So it’s funny that you said a month, my next question is what have you enjoyed the most in your first month in the role?
FN: I would say a couple of things. I have been really pleased at the welcome that we have gotten not just from the campus but also from the community. I think that people seem genuinely excited about having Dr. Targett in the position. It is nice that people want us there and that we can make some good headway on some things that continue to move the campus forward and be in a great place when the new President gets here.
SR: How as your background in Student Life helped you in this role?
FN: (A light chuckle) It helps me everyday. I think that what Student Life has prepared me for is that you are ready to shift or adapt at any given moment. It’s pretty hard to surprise someone that has worked in student affairs. I think that it has helped to keep my focus on students because lots of times it is easy to get distracted by the other pieces. Keeping students in the forefront of all of the things that we are doing, whether it is new buildings or budget issues or a crisis situation, to keep students as the core reason that we are doing this work is really what drives us. My experience with crisis response has allowed me to keep a cool head about things and really has helped me to work with others to collaboratively solve problems as they come up. I don’t think that anyone thinks that I have all the answers, because I certainly don’t but I think what student affairs helps people to do is really work as a team to figure out who needs to be in the room and what voices need to be at the table.
SR: What would you like the Division of Student Life to know about the upcoming year and working with you and the President’s Office?
FN: We really have two goals moving forward. One is to continue the positive momentum that the campus has as we get ready for a new President. Dr. Harker and the last grouping of all of us that were here when he was here have moved the campus forward in positive ways and we want that to continue. We also are going to do some outreach and we are very open to hearing what the issues are and trying to solve them. Keep doing great work, the Student Life division here is really strong and our students have a great experience as we all know, and we just want to continue to move that forward. This is a great place, and we just want to continue to make it greater. This is about the people, students, staff, and faculty that make UD what it is today.