As I complete my first year leading the Division of Student Affairs, I want to thank all of you for your support and commitment. This has been a Division effort, and we have come together to work with and support our students, during rewarding and also challenging times.
I’d like to focus first on the excellent work you all have done. There is a lot to celebrate this past academic year, with your innovative programs, facilities and services for our students. I am pleased so many of our staff are recognized as thought leaders, presenting at many national conferences and sharing their expertise. Both the Office of the Dean of Students and Counseling and Mental Health Center’s programs were honored by the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA) with NASPA Excellence Awards. We also celebrated Recreational Sports’ 100-year anniversary and the newly-renovated Wright Whitaker Sports Complex. Listening to our students’ call for more food options, University Unions brought a variety of food trucks to campus.
Some of the highlights of our year will shape our work as we move forward. The Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs was instrumental in creating a Hate and Bias Incidents Policy and also the University Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan. They will focus our commitment to create a more inclusive community that fosters a safe and welcoming learning, teaching, and working campus environment. Along those lines, our new Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI®) Council comprised of 20 staff leaders are available to facilitate an understanding and development of intercultural competency skills.
I launched Let Us Know to elevate ideas, opportunities, best practices and creativity from our most valuable resource — our staff. We also engaged peer faculty, alumni and students. I look forward to sharing the next steps soon to help shape our strategic vision, refine our scope and strengthen partnerships across campus.
The Division has also been represented and actively involved in initiatives in the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost. Project 2021, a program to shape the university’s basic infrastructure, will help all departments and units adapt to new ways of learning, life and career preparation, and the basic science of education. The College to Career Task Force is another project that will help make sure students are prepared for life after graduation. Hosting breakfast meetings with academic deans during the year has also strengthened our ties.
We also worked hand in hand with students on many issues, including a heightened environment of activism and demonstrations, and a variety of offensive and threatening postings. A tragic murder also rocked our community last month. Through it all, you all came together to take care of each other and our students. I thank you for your care.
Summer is upon us and that means we will be hosting our new student and family orientations, as well as planning for the upcoming year. While this time does not slow down for everyone in the Division, I hope you all take a moment to reflect on the year and find what you need to reenergize.
Dr. Soncia Reagins-Lilly
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students