» By Isabella Davis
While most of the construction on campus can easily be viewed by every car passing by, some renovations have been a bit more subtle. The former Student Life and Leadership office is now equipped with new carpet, fresh paint and a new name to accompany the change in their mission statement.
It is now known as the Student Life and Engagement department, a title Victor Felts, director of the department, considers much more appropriate “because it better communicates what they do,” he said.
The renamed Student Life and Engagement department has decided to change their business model, so while they will still incorporate leadership, they are going to focus on getting students more involved.
The department’s goal is to promote a connection in students “through programming, involvement and leadership development.”
Taking cues from President Timothy Hall, the Governors Programing Council and the Vice President of Student Affairs Sheryl Byrd, the Student Life and Engagement department has concluded either the students of APSU aren’t interested in leadership programs or already consider themselves leaders and therefore don’t need to attend the programs.
Student Life and Engagement has shifted their priorities, looked at the numbers, cut out programs and are quickly progressing in a new direction.
In the words of Felts, in agreement with Byrd, “Having more programs isn’t necessarily better … having better programs is better.” With this mindset the department has chosen select programs, based on attendance and interest, to focus on and make fulltime projects that are all targeted at getting students engaged.
As an example, Felts is personally working on the First Friday Program, an event project taking place on the first Friday of every month starting in September.
Similar to an activities fair, it is an event where different student organizations can come and set up an activity booth for fellow students to visit and participate in, while also learning about the student organization hosting the booth.
“We are really trying to go for the ‘wow’ factor. We want the students involved, during the week, as well as on the weekends,” Felts said. APSU is known by many as a “suitcase school,” a place where students come to class for the week only to return home every weekend. This is just one of the things the Student Life and Engagement department would like to change.
The long-term goal of this change is not only a more involved student body, but rather a more successful student body. National statistics show that students who are more engaged in their school get higher grades, are more likely to graduate and reach a higher level of achievement.
The Student Life and Engagement department, along with many other organizations around campus, want to encourage more student involvement in order to assist them in their academic success.