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LVAIC Student Affairs Professional Development Conference Offers Presentations from Across LVAIC Community

January 28, 2019, @ 10:06 AM
Presenters shared their research and findings regarding assessment in different aspects of student affairs at the 5th annual Assessment Symposium and third session of the LVAIC Student Affairs Professional Development series at Lehigh University on January 24.

Presenters shared their research and findings regarding assessment in different aspects of student affairs at the 5th annual Assessment Symposium and third session of the LVAIC Student Affairs Professional Development series at Lehigh University on January 24.

As part of the on-going LVAIC Student Affairs Professional Development Series, LVAIC partnered with Lehigh University to host the third session of this series on Thursday, January 24, 2019 at Lehigh University in conjunction with Lehigh University’s 5th Annual Assessment Symposium.

Focusing on a range of topics, the day began with a keynote address from Khanjan Mehta, Vice Provost for Creative Inquire and Director of the Mountain Top Initiative of Lehigh University. This session offered an overview of moving students from simply engaging with the university to engaged scholarship and spreading that engagement into lifelong learning and connection with the institution with a greater impact. He described a growth mindset to adapt to today’s changing learning environment, wherein the university teaches students to accept failure rather than fear it as part of the learning process.

Following the keynote, several concurrent sessions regarding varying topics in student affairs offered insights on how to use assessment to adjust to best practices in student development and engagement. One such session featured Jan Schuumacher, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and Director of Student Engagement of Muhlenberg College, and Steve Dutton, Associate Director of Student Engagement for Clubs and Organizations and Fraternity and Sorority Life of Muhlenberg College, offered a presentation on how they utilized student feedback to completely restructure transfer student orientation. The pair outlined the ways in which they redesigned transfer student orientation from a one-day presentation from the Admissions Office into a four-day program that allows transfer students to integrate into the Muhlenberg College community along with first year students without requirement enormous additional resources.

Following this presentation, Yenny Anderson, Vice Provost for Institutional Research and Strategic Analytics of Lehigh Univesity, outlined her research on academic advising for second year students. Anderson presented the findings of years of research in which students expressed their perspective from transitioning from first-year student advising to second-year student advising, often receiving a much less personal experience and creating retention concerns among colleges and universities nationwide.

Another group from Lehigh University paired to share their process for using student feedback to adapt their first-year experience in conjunction with research on the changing landscape of higher education. Nicole Burke, Assistant Director of First-Year Experience of Lehigh University, and Stephanie Burke, Assistant Dean and Director of First-Year Experience of Lehigh University, shared the research currently being conducted on iGen, or Generation Z, as this incoming group of college students begins changing the expectations of and demands on higher education institutions. These presenters shared the ways in which this incoming generation struggle with social scenarios and prefer digital communication, creating challenges for higher education institutions seeking to engage students in the on-campus experience. They provided recommendations for the ways in which they are implementing this research and student engagement feedback into their first-year experience programming, and shared ways in which other colleges and universities can utilize similar information with their own students.

Yet another presentation from the day offered feedback regarding emotional support animals on college campuses. Barbara Ryan Hausman, Director of Academic and Accessibility Services of Moravian College, Kelly Waechter, Counselor of Moravian College, and Tracy Hill, Associate Director of the Counseling Center of Moravian College, outlined several examples of the ways students’ needs and requirements for emotional support animals are impacting colleges across the country. In some instances, they outlined scenarios in which emotional support animals on their own campus were both detrimental and enormously beneficial for their students. They also shared recommendations for colleges handling these rising concerns and the ways in which our campuses must prepare for the next generation of students who have required more support and requested the highest number of support animals that our colleges and universities have seen.

The day concluded with a panel presentation regarding the under-served student, offered by Mary Alice Ozechoski, Vice President of Student Affairs and Traditional Enrollment of Cedar Crest College, and George White, Managing Director of Student Access and Success of Lehigh University. Each showcased ways in which demands of under-served students are rising on their campuses and highlighted ways in which their colleges are finding unique ways to reach these students. Further, they offered recommendations for other colleges and universities to implement simple changes that would offer a huge impact on this population. They also outlined the ways in which reaching and retaining these students offers a high-yield benefit to the institution in creating loyal alumni long into the future.

This outline offers a snapshot of some of the many concurrent presentations offered throughout the day. A full outline is available on the Lehigh University Student Affairs website.

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