Students, staff grapple with ways to better inform the UVa-Wise Community
Typically, the dean of students at any college plays a vital role by providing social programs and support for students. This includes planning and executing college events related to student services and overall making the campus experience both memorable and enjoyable. UVa-Wise, however, has not had a dean of students for some time now.
Since November 2014, Rusty Necessary, vice chancellor for enrollment management and student life, has also been serving as dean of students at UVa-Wise. The position was previously held by Jewell Worley, who is now the associate vice chancellor for compliance and conduct at the college. The responsibilities typically given to the dean of students are now shared, with Necessary taking on many of these responsibilities.
Since the transition, Necessary has added advising for the Student Government Association and the direct supervision of the student life staff to his list of responsibilities.
The Student Life program at UVa-Wise offers students many interesting and unique services, programs, and learning opportunities to compliment the college experience and education. This is done through work with several different programs and units at the college, including the Center for Student Development, Collegiate Ministries, Multi-Cultural Affairs, Greek Life, and Intramurals and Outdoor Recreation. These events and services range from speakers and educational events to ski trips and counseling services.
The services offered by the Student Life program and others on campus are wonderful opportunities for students to broaden their horizons and maintain a safe and healthy life style while in college.
“The student life program has and will continue to play an integral role promoting student success and supporting the academic mission of the College,” Necessary told “The Highland Cavalier” in a recent email. “With this transition and the support of Chancellor Henry, I am working with members of the student life team to restructure the student life area to better support the needs of an increasingly diverse student body. New opportunities exists to strengthen the student life area as it relates to personnel and programming, so I want to be very deliberate in approaching this exciting opportunity.”
Necessary added that he and those he works with are “committed to maintaining a high level of excellence in student life programming.”
For many students on campus, the problem is not that there is a shortage of programs, services, and events offered, but rather that they do not know about them. Many students stated that they don’t find out about events soon enough to make time for them in their schedule or don’t find out about them at all until after they’ve happened. Others, when told about many of the services that the college offers to students for free, stated that they were unaware that the college even offered them.
“Mostly, if not all the time, I find out about the college events through my email,” said freshman Sasha Owens. “I think it’s actually difficult to keep up with the events simply because many students do not read all of their emails, they scan through them.”
Owens said she thought having more people involved in spreading information on events would help.
Owens is not alone about her views on getting event and program information. Education major Tyler McFarland said he also struggles keeping up with the barrage of emails.
“I believe as a student, a strong social media game would be key,” McFarland said. “Everyone is on social media and you’re always scrolling through, so if you see a tweet or a post you may take a second to pause and read it.”
The Internet does not offer all the solutions. A look at the “Clubs and Organizations Directory” page on the college website uvawise.edu showed at least three entries that have not been updated for the 2015-2016 academic year.
While organizations are responsible for notifying the college about updated information on club leadership and advisors, “The Highland Cavalier” emailed officials handling the updates in August about changes in chief editor and advisor entries for the current academic year.
Several students also spoke of how they had preferred the time when the college had the ‘Highland Happenings,’ an email service where students received email notifications every morning with that day’s events, deadlines, etc. That program was replaced this year with a weekly newsletter email that students receive every Friday. This change, however, came after input from students last year on how they would like to receive information about college happenings and events.
While the position of dean of students is in flux, faculty, staff and students continue trying to find ways to improve the college experience for all students.