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Staff members navigate the campus as ‘students’

By : Anita Knopp Doll

As part of their list of assignments, Lucy Friend of the Registrarís Office and Barbara Dickman of Residential Life visit the Greenhouse where they must identify what adaptation the Pandanus plant has made.
It was going to be a busy day for Jacqueline.

The computer engineering junior had more than a dozen errands, including stops at the Greenhouse, the Registrar’s Office, Health Services, the Library and even a visit to the President’s Office in the Administration Building. Fortunately, she had lots of help.

In fact, more than 80 employees from the offices of Undergraduate Admissions, Financial Aid, Enrollment Management, Registrar, Residential Life, Student Accounts and the Call Center got a chance to help Jacqueline and 15 other fictitious students navigate University offices and requirements as part of a special Student Adventure retreat on May 21. The retreat brought together staff from seven offices for a program designed to help employees learn more about the campus, gain an understanding of the demands on students and get to know each other.

“We were trying to break down the silos that can separate offices and services,” said Sandra Starke, vice provost for enrollment management. “We all serve students and we can do that best if we know each other and understand the requirements and hurdles students must clear every day.”

Starke said Enrollment Management has held an annual retreat for several years, but expanded the effort this year to other offices it interacts with to encourage greater teamwork and information sharing.

Dennis Chavez, director of financial aid, said the day gave staff the opportunity to view the campus through a student’s perspective. “The environment we work in should not be about us, but what the students see and experience,” he said.

Retreat organizers compressed a number of student experiences into the day. The program started in the Events Center with the presentation given to newly admitted students by Cheryl Brown, director of admissions, and concluded with a graduation ceremony and the awarding of diplomas by registrar Jennifer Schorr. In between, employees were divided into teams, each assigned a student identity, and asked to complete a list of errands in various offices around campus.

“I’ve been here for almost 20 years and I never saw what I saw today,” said Patricia Brennan, a keyboard specialist in Residential Life, at the closing session.

Patricia Yeager of Student Accounts agreed that the day had given her new insight into the campus. “We see so little of the rest of the campus from our department,” she said.

Others expressed pleasure in visiting such places as the Greenhouse, the Memorial Garden and the University Art Museum for the first time. One team completed the tasks from the perspective of a student in a wheel chair.

Jenae Schmidt, assistant director of undergraduate admissions, said she was impressed by the friendliness of the people her team encountered. “It was fun getting to know everyone else.”
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Last Updated: 10/14/08