Strategic Directions

Drop Shadow

Student Life: Strategic Directions Workshop, February 8, 2005

[pdf file for printing]

Theme: Improve the campus climate to facilitate integrated campus life and learning experiences.

General Questions:

  1. What can we do to improve campus life for undergraduate and graduate students?
  2. What steps can we take to improve the learning environment over the next five years?

Discussants: Merrick Marino (discussion leader), Lupita Jewell (recorder), Larry Barnett, Pauline Berryman, Beth Dobkin, Tricia Bertram Gallant, Larry Gardepie, Augie Garibay, Jack Kelly, Erica Lovano, Chris Nayve, Karen Reed

Summary of Major Ideas

1. Improve students’ academic life experiences.

  • Reset the tone of orientation, with more focus on academics and less on social activities. Engage faculty in orientation.
  • Develop connections for faculty and alumni to reach out and share in teaching. Bring alums into the classrooms to share real life work experience and knowledge.
  • Require computer literacy to take students beyond e-mail, chat, and music.
  • Require Community Service-Learning project during the intersession time period.
  • Require participation in a wellness activity (e.g., yoga, aerobics, conditioning) to promote the value of a healthy lifestyle.
  • Start classes after 9 a.m. to sync with students’ biological clocks.
  • Find out why graduate students are coming to USD, and ensure that USD meets their expectations.
  • Consider a faculty exchange program to increase diversity and exchange of ideas.
  • Develop a mandatory senior project or portfolio to focus on integration of experiences and reflection of development at USD.
  • Set standards in for hardware and software applications throughout the entire campus, and include the purchase of a new computer and software specific to USD standards as part of tuition for new students.
  • Educate students about the Catholic tradition of USD and its influence on a student’s overall educational experience at the university.

2. Improve students’ social and extracurricular experiences.

  • USD student programming lacks a feeling of student interest and involvement. There’s no focus—everyone is doing their own thing. Find out what students really want. Develop projects and programs across divisions to reduce the “silo effect.”
  • Does USD need to create social life for students to stay connected? Or should students be responsible for developing and cultivating their own social lives in the greater San Diego area where there is already so much offered—culture, diversity, other universities?
  • How does USD’s gender imbalance affect the culture of the college? How does it affect our classes and programs?
  • Orientation sets the tone of involvement for incoming students. Currently it sends a message that USD does everything for them so they can be detached.
  • Inform students about current institutional issues and allow them to learn by working to develop solutions instead of giving them the final solution following closed door meetings.
  • Put one or two students on the Board of Trustees so decision makers hear directly from students about issues that will affect them.
  • Create a University Alliance with alumni as a way to communicate with USD leadership to share resources and ideas. Create alumni /student connection programs that give more business and internship access to students.
  • Require student organizations to co-sponsor events with a faculty member or department. Funding would come from a central account and would be proportional to the number of co-sponsors involved.
  • Create a learning environment where academics are cohesive with activities and events. Engage students academically in their free time.
  • Teach students to use the Student Development Transcript as an effective “skills and resume building tool,” reflecting over their experience each year at USD, to document their participation and leadership in activities beyond the classroom experience.
  • Students expect the college life experience to include binge drinking. USD’s statements to students and public need to reiterate that this will not be tolerated.
  • Improve the image of Public Safety from organization that punishes students to an organization that helps students in need.
  • Build upon what is unique at USD and use it to develop a sense of belonging to something special, building a legacy connection and a culture of philanthropy.
  • Identify student rites of passage at USD, raise awareness of them, and expand them to involve today’s students.
  • Develop rituals that can motivate students to better identify with the USD community.
  • RAs could be trained to help students develop a connection to USD.

3. Make our facilities more open and versatile for students.

  • Create gathering spaces for students that are open after business hours. Food services, library, gym, and computer labs should be open much later, including weekends. We need a more welcoming environment where students can use current spaces during non-school hours.
  • Graduate students need a place to gather, particularly at night.
  • Meet the interests and needs of older students with more “adult spaces” where students over 21 can gather and faculty/staff can model responsible social behavior.
  • Create informal meeting spaces where students can gather for intellectual as well as social needs. Commuter students need places to go on campus to create a sense of connection and belonging for them.
  • Create a public square—we stifle the very identity we’re trying to create by not providing spaces for students to connect. USD needs spaces for posting free, unfettered expression of ideas, activities, events, and needs without asking permission.
  • Provide students with more competitively-priced residence options.
  • Most of our efforts to establish “connections” are directed at first-year students; we need to develop ways to keep second-year students connected.
  • Redesign our RLO communities to make them effective.
  • Create more faculty housing near USD to improve opportunities for faculty/student contact. Create more spots for residential faculty to serve as role models and relate to students in real life.
  • Become a wireless campus.