The Division of Student Affairs at the University of Rhode Island is directed by the Vice President for Student Affairs. The Vice President oversees the Office of Campus Life, the Office of Student Life, the Counseling Center, Career Services, Athletics and Recreation, Residential Life and Dining, Health Services, the Memorial Union and Bookstore, Multicultural Student Services, International Student Services, Student Activities, Special Programs for Talent Development, and student services at the Providence Campus. This division works in close cooperation with other divisions, especially the Divisions of Academic Affairs and Business and Finance.
The Division of Student Affairs at the University of Rhode Island is guided in part by the ethical standards set forth by the American College Personnel Association (ACPA), which are as follows:
Professionals in this area have a responsibility to be competent in performance and personality, to focus on student learning and development, to have a judiciary and cooperative relationship with the institution, and to have a responsibility to the community. Professional staff in the division have a minimum of a master's degree in College Student Personnel and Counseling or a related field as well as two to three years of experience when hired.
In addition to the statements cited above, the Quality of Student Life Committee developed the URI CORNERSTONES - a listing of principles and values by which the University community is guided. This statement was endorsed by the Student Senate and Graduate Student Association and appears in all university publications for students.
In 1993, the Division of Student Affairs drafted a three year "long-range plan" in response to the President's call for a "New Culture for Learning." This plan was intended to help guide allocation of resources, coordinate activities, develop professional staff, and design and improve programs. The plan cites several theoretical underpinnings which serve as the basis for programs and services. These include the work of Astin, Blocher, Kuhand and Boyer. In addition, the work of the Wingspread Conference on Student Learning serves as a guide to this division as it promotes the use of active learning, faculty/student contact, and more time on task. Finally, the Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) is cited as a guide in helping the division to be focused on the importance of providing foundation skills and preparation for competitiveness.
The mission described in the long range planning document is to create and maintain conditions which enhance learning and personal development. Through learning opportunities -- teaching partnerships, activities, services, counseling, and advising -- the division attempts to ensure a diverse, ethical and respectful community that fosters students development and empowers students to lead their local and global communities. Consistent with the above cited mission, the division offers a wide variety of opportunities, services and programs for all students at the University.
New Student Programs and Academic Advising. The Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, primarily through University College, oversees new student programs, enrollment management and academic support services including advising, learning assistance, and honors programs. The divisions of Student Affairs and Academic Affairs cooperate on a regular basis to provide programming and assistance to students in topical areas such as leadership, violence prevention programs, and social support programs in areas such as health and wellness.
All new students are assigned to University College where academic advising for all declared majors is done by faculty members and advising for undecided majors is done by faculty and professional advisors. Students transfer out of University College when they are admitted to their degree-granting college, usually in their third semester and no later than upon reaching 75 credits. All academic actions concerning University College students are handled through the college's Scholastic Standing Committee. Other support services include the Program for Academic Skills and Success (PASS), an intensive tutoring and academic skills program for new students who get below a 1.0 grade point average, programs for students on academic probation, student athletes, and students undecided about their choice of major. University College also sponsors the freshman honor society, Phi Eta Sigma.
In each of the academic degree-granting colleges, students are assigned to faculty advisors in their particular major or specialty areas. Assistant deans in each college advise new students, do transfer evaluations, and handle various administrative duties. Each college is using computerized degree audits more and more and project that career- oriented counseling will be a bigger part of the advising process.
The goals of the orientation program, through New Student Programs, are to introduce new and transfer students and their families to the institution, and to ease the transition to college through an understanding of the culture and the academic and administrative systems of URI. Full two-day orientation programs are offered in the summer during which approximately 95% of new students attend and register for classes. An orientation program is offered in August and January as well. Dialogues on relevant developmental and social issues, training in e-mail and the World Wide Web, math placement tests, individual appointments with faculty for course registration, co- curricular registration, and housing choices are all a part of the orientation process. In addition, a Welcome Week in the fall includes a Leadership Institute -- a two-day intensive program held at the Alton Jones Campus -- offered to selected new students who are nominated by their high school guidance counselors.
Retention continues to be of great concern; therefore, purposeful activities which increase a student's interaction with faculty, advisors, staff and other students in meaningful ways has been a focus for improvement in retention rates. The importance of the first year to a student's success and satisfaction is well understood, and many avenues are used to increase a student's sense of belonging. Students are encouraged to become involved in the University and broader communities as well through such intentional planning as the development of a service learning component for all new students. The Assistant Dean for New Student Programs in University College works in a coordinated effort with the University Year for Action Program (an academic internship program), the Volunteer Clearinghouse, and the Feinstein Enriching America Program to develop community service programs that serve the entire first-year class (as part of a required community service component of the URI 101 Traditions and Transformations seminar) and serve the remaining University community in its needs for community service opportunities.
The Office of Student Financial Aid. The Director of the Office of Student Financial Aid reports to the Dean of Admissions, who in turns reports to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. The distribution of financial aid is based on 33 formulas which describe variables in students' profiles. The United States Congress developed the methodologies for determining these aid formulas. Need-based scholarships are met through federal and state dollars, as well as URI endowed scholarships and private scholarships. Several categories of merit-based scholarships exist including some in academic departments, endowed scholarships, and URI Centennial Scholarships.
The Centennial Scholarship Program has been very successful in recruiting and retaining top academic achieving students from Rhode Island and beyond. Centennial Scholarships are given to superior freshman candidates and have a value of up to full tuition, depending on the level of academic achievement. Awards are based on courses taken in high school, grades, rank and standardized test scores. The awards are renewable each year as long as the student maintains continuous full-time enrollment and a 3.0 grade point average or higher.
Records. The University has established clear policies regarding information about students, retention, safety, security and disposal of records. These policies respect the rights of individual privacy; records are confidential and maintained in the best interest of students.
Office of Career Services. A broad range of career development and placement services are offered to nearly 4000 students and alumni each year. Services include career counseling and testing, group educational sessions, resume critique, career library, JobLine (allows students alumni and employers 24 hour access to listings), and on- campus interviews. More than a placement service, the staff help students develop decision-making and job search skills, where students learn to communicate with employers, locate and evaluate written and computerized career information, and manage a professional job search. Career services also helps employers to identify URI students and alumni with appropriate qualifications for internships, jobs, and graduate and professional school placement. (See section on Appraisal and Projection for changes in Career Services)
Health Services. On-going programs for students include physician/nurse practitioner services; nursing services; specialists physicians clinics (dermatology, gynecology, internal medicine, orthopedic, psychiatry, surgical); health screening (cholesterol, HIV, tuberculosis); women's clinic; counseling services; and health education. An extensive health education program sponsors numerous events including flu clinics, health fairs, condom awareness , AIDS awareness, Great American Smokeout, wellness clinics, and presentations on health-related topics (e.g. sexuality, CPR, over-the-counter medications, nutrition, stress management, birth control).
Health Services has focused much of its efforts on upgrading the Medical Management Information Systems and telephone systems, resulting in a telephone triage program. A team approach is being used in the delivery of services, and hours for the Women's Clinic have been expanded. The health fee for students has been held constant for the first time in many years, concurrent with negotiated agreements for third-party reimbursement for office visits. This year the Student Health Insurance Committee was successful in negotiating an agreement providing increased coverage at a significantly reduced price.
Substance Abuse Services. Based in the Office of Student Life, this office sponsors a range of activities aimed at reducing the risks and consequences associated with alcohol and other drug abuse. Consultation, peer education, in-service training, early intervention programs, and referral information are among the services offered to the University community. Two grants awarded in 1996 have significantly bolstered funding of these initiatives. Under the sponsorship of various academic departments, students frequently complete internships in Substance Abuse Services, incorporating their interests in college student development, psychology, marketing, nursing, journalism, fine arts, public relations, multimedia technology, pharmacy and research. A three-credit course is offered to students who want to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to work effectively with their peers. A new peer education program for student athletes will begin in fall 1997. The JADE (Judicial Alcohol and Drug Education) Program balances enforcement with education when students are referred through the judicial system for violations of campus drug policies.
The Counseling Center. Comprehensive counseling and mental health services are offered through individual sessions and psycho-educational programs to help students integrate psychosocial development with academic and intellectual development. Short- term counseling, consultation, training and supervision, neuropsychological testing, and research are all a part of the program. Approximately 1000 students each year participate in these therapeutic services. Additionally, graduate and professional school examinations and test preparation programs are offered to students and to the public.
New initiatives include neuropsychological testing to meet the needs of students with learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder and other cognitive deficits that interfere with learning. Diversity training has been provided by the staff to other University departments and offices. Alcohol treatment and education is provided by a Substance Abuse Specialist and other staff to find new treatment modalities, conduct research projects, and develop educational interventions. Student development research is collected as well to assess student needs better and identify changing issues.
Student Discipline. Policies on student rights and responsibilities, including grievance procedures, are described in a variety of policy statements that are included in theStudent Handbook . The University Student Discipline System is administered through the Office of Student Life. The University Board on Student Conduct hears cases of alleged violations of community standards of behavior or University policies. The board is comprised of six students and one faculty member. Student members represent graduate students, fraternities and sororities, residence hall members and commuters. Minority group representation is also taken into consideration in the recruitment and selection process. Appeals on conduct board decisions are directed to the University Appeals Board on Student Conduct which is comprised of one student appointed by the Student Senate, one member of the faculty appointed by the Chair of the Faculty Senate, and a chairperson appointed by the President of the University. There is a fraternity and sorority conduct board for hearing cases involving infractions by entire chapters.
A number of co-curricular services and programs that promote equal opportunity and diversity are also available.
Special Program for Talent Development (SPTD). This program recruits and advocates for the admission of ethnically diverse and/or low income students who do not meet regular admissions criteria but who have the desire for higher education and a record of past academic achievement. SPTD helps to prepare students for college by providing academic skills testing, financial aid counseling, academic advising, and other general information during the students' senior year of high school. Students accepted to URI through this program complete an eight-week pre-matriculation curriculum, emphasizing fundamental skills while they earn college credit. The program provides on-going financial aid, academic advising, tutoring and peer counseling and support for all four years of college. Sixty-five to seventy percent of admitted SPTD students graduate. In the 1996-1997 academic year, the program served 560 students in Kingston and another 220 through the College Readiness Program in Providence.
International Students and Scholars. This office is the University's official link with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and the U.S. Information Agency, advising students, faculty and staff on regulations pertaining to students and scholars from abroad, completing forms as necessary, and filing reports as required by law. Its responsibilities include orientation programs for new students and scholars; crisis management; advising students on financial matters, immigration and visa problems; academic and personal concerns; liaison with sponsoring agencies and embassies, campus offices and departments; and social and cultural activities to promote inter- cultural awareness and celebrate diversity in the campus and local communities.
Disability Services. This office advocates for, mediates and consults with students who have temporary or permanent physical or learning disabilities or who need help with accommodations or access to academic services. Services provided include accessible transportation, access to adaptive equipment, student note-takers, student readers, portable tape players, sign language interpreters and tutoring, as well as general advocacy with faculty and other University staff.
Student leadership. Leadership development and participation in campus organizations and governance is fostered through several avenues. There is now a new Center for Student Leadership Development which oversees many of the credit and non- credit courses offered as part of a leadership track. We offer participation in the Leadership Institute, FLITE (Freshman Leaders Inspired To Excellence--a course for incoming freshman interested in leadership development), a follow-up course for leadership development, workshops in leadership, ropes course training and community service. A leadership advisory committee is now creating a Leadership Minor which is interdisciplinary in nature and will include core courses in leadership theory, leadership skill development and training, internships and other integrative experiences.
There are over 85 officially recognized student organizations open to all students. Student Senate recognizes student groups and appoints students to University committees and dispenses both undergraduate and graduate activity fees.
Multicultural Center. A variety of programs and services are available which celebrate diversity including lectures, concerts, seminars, symposia, dinners, performances and retreats. Training in multiculturalism, leadership development, conflict resolution and coalition building have been a focus of the various seminar workshops. The center offers assistance to eleven student organizations through the Multicultural Student Council. The Multicultural Center sponsors two interactive community-building retreats (Bridges and Unity Weekend) which have the goal of facilitating communication between different groups on campus. These differences cut across such distinctions as race, ethnicity, gender and socio-economic class. They are both based on the National Coalition Building Model. The Unity Weekend retreat involves about 30 students, along with faculty and staff, who spend several days away together to focus on diversity issues. Bridges involves about 100 students and is shorter in length, but shares the same goals. Currently, a new Multicultural Center is being built located in the heart of the campus. This will dramatically expand the capacity of the center to deliver services and programs to students, faculty and staff with the goal of creating a learning community committed to multiculturalism.
Women's Center. Programs and services for all students who are interested in various social, cultural and education programs on gender issues are available. The center promotes leadership activities through the Women's Leadership Summit and the Women of Color Conference and nurtures adjustment to campus life for Latinas through a peer mentoring program called De Mujer a Mujer.
University Chaplains. The University chaplains provide religious services and counseling to the campus community. Services include advising campus groups, teaching and programming. The chaplains are available to all students, staff and faculty on a 24- hour basis. The chaplains represent the Roman Catholic, Jewish, Episcopal, and Protestant communities; referrals are available to representatives of other faiths.
Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation. Athletic programs focus on "student first, athlete second." This dictates the practices that coaches use, including the scheduling of practices and events (e.g., no events are scheduled during final exams, away games are clustered, night travel is favored to minimize absence from classes). There are special advisors trained to work with student athletes, and semester-long orientation classes are available (e.g., URI 101 sections for varsity and intercollegiate team members). Intensive advisement is provided for members of high impact teams (basketball and football) and all at-risk athletes. This advisement is developed with and housed in Talent Development.
Currently, special housing for athletes is being considered. Remedial and tutorial support is provided through URI's Learning Assistance Network with financial support from the Athletic Department.
URI observes all NCAA rules concerning standards of integrity, fiscal accountability, and public scrutiny. Feedback from various constituencies such as alumni, parents, students, media, faculty and administration is common and used to improve programs.
Control of the programs lies with the Director of Athletics who meets with an advisory board and reports to the President. The Board of Governors for Higher Education has an Athletics and Recreation Committee which considers various issues and policies for this department as well. Budget allotment is administered by the Vice President for Business and Finance, whereas the departmental budget is established by the Athletic Director. Evaluations of administrative staff, coaching staff, athletic programs, scholarships programs and fiscal appraisals are done on an annual basis.
Intramural sports is founded on the philosophy of "something for everyone." A variety of sports and levels of competition are offered. A mix of traditional sports such as flag football and basketball, and the not-so-traditional sports including volleyball triples and indoor wiffle ball, balance the program. An active women's league, three levels of men's competition and a co-recreation division ensure there is structured competition for intense, recreational and social participants. Club sports include crew, cricket, cycling, equestrian, fencing, hockey, lacrosse, rugby, sailing, skiing, volleyball, and water polo. The office of intramural sports is housed in Mackal Field House. Intramural indoor events are held in Mackal, Tootell East and West Gyms, and the Tootell Aquatics Center. Mackal Field House and Keaney Gymnasium are the sites for many of the department's special events.
Additional Support Services. Several offices supplement service provision to a variety of student groups. For example, the Memorial Union offers space and technical assistance for support services and activities for diversity and equal opportunity; Housing and Residential Life offers programming and diversity training; and the Student Senate Multicultural and Equal Opportunity Committee coordinates multicultural events and celebrations.
The special learning needs of students are attended to by many offices including the Counseling Center, Disability Services, the Learning Assistance Network, the Writing Center, Career Services and University College. These offices provide a variety of tests and assessments for academic, personal and career concerns. Disability-related assessments are provided as well. Programs for students on academic probation as well as for honor students are included. General tutoring as well as skill development in writing, time management, reading and memory improvement, test anxiety, note taking systems, organizing papers, and personality inventories are all available at no charge to students.
Commuter Student Services. More than half of the undergraduate population live off campus, some with their families, but most in summer housing leased to groups of students during the academic year. The Memorial Union provides a commuter study room, computer center and lounge. Also located in the Memorial Union is the Commuter Center which offers an Off-Campus Housing Office, student-to-student advising, programming, a campus newspaper column, and other services especially for commuter students.
Dining Services. Services include three full dining halls, a cafeteria in the Memorial Union called the Ram's Den, and a warehouse which includes storage and food preparation and sales. All meal programs are on computer cards which include other financial services such as vending, bookstore accounts and banking.
A broad array of campus facilities and operations complement the student services available to students on campus. Facilities and funding to implement services and programs are adequate. That does not suggest, however, that the University is without issues in this area. Programming space in the residence halls could be better and is being addressed via an extensive renovation plan; a new addition to the Health Services Building resolved a long time facility issue; and the new Multicultural Center will add significant space for services and programs.
Office of Housing and Residential Life. The goal of the Department of Housing and Residential Life is to provide quality housing at a competitive price, in both residence halls and graduate and family apartments, which supports the educational goals of the University as well as the developmental needs of its student population. Additionally, all housing should provide safe, clean, and well-maintained accommodations and a sense of community which encourages personal rights and responsibilities, conformance to Rhode Island laws, respect for human dignity, support for diversity, and pride in the University. Student development programs are provided by a staff of full-time, live-in Hall Directors, Graduate Assistants, and undergraduate Resident Assistants (RA) under the direction of a central management team. The average RA to student ratio is 1:35 in traditional residence halls. In addition to the broad-based student development programs offered in the residence halls, five special theme-living options are offered. Residents are encouraged to participate in residence hall councils and other campus leadership activities. Community standards and campus conduct codes are enforced by staff members and are adjudicated primarily by a Student Conduct Coordinator and the Assistant Director for Student Conduct.
The Memorial Union. This facility houses 30 organizational offices, the administrative offices of the Vice President for Student Affairs, the Assistant Vice President for Campus Life, the Office of Student Life, the Office of Student Involvement and Experiential Learning, and the Center for Student Leadership Development. There is a bookstore, computer store, convenience store, full cafeteria and restaurant, mail room for all residential students, a coffee house, photo copying service, a flower shop, a travel service, an optical shop, a video games room, a hair salon, a student-operated cafe, various fast food establishments, lounges, and vendor spaces. A 1992 rehabilitation added 25,000 additional square feet to the union building.
The Mackal Center. This 80,000 square foot recreational facility, opened in April 1991, has a gymnastic center, indoor track and fitness center. This sports-oriented facility is designed to accommodate a wide range of individual and group recreational activities. Major renovations in the adjacent Keaney Gymnasium provide locker room and shower room facilities for participants. All students are assessed a usage fee on their term bills, while others using the facility are required to pay an annual or seasonal membership fee to support the operation, staffing and programming costs of the facility.
In 1994 the division's personnel completed an extensive self-appraisal instrument (the Campbell Organization Survey) and, based on these results and in the context of their vision and mission statements, adopted an assessment of learning model called LEARN (learn, evaluate, apply, revise and norm). The division determined that it would focus on the processes of learning and training, recognizing that the mission to instruct was shared with both the Academic and Student Affairs divisions, and that more active learning, both in and out of the classroom, should underscore all of their efforts.
During 1996-1997, two major endeavors reflect the recognized agenda for teaching and learning in the division. These are the creation of a Professional Development, Leadership, and Organizational Training (PDLOT) program and participation by most Student Affairs personnel in URI 101: Traditions and Transformations, a required seminar for all first-year students to address transition and learning needs.
Another example of how the LEARN method has worked concerned the issue of substance use and abuse at URI. Data collected from the Weschler Study on Substance Abuse lead to significant changes to the University's alcohol policy, increased educational programming and counseling and two successful grant applications related to substance abuse. One grant addresses violence and substance issues and aims to change student habits and norms regarding social events. In addition, additional funding was provided to student organizations for non-alcoholic weekend programming.
The division's appraisal also pointed to a need for better communication within and between areas, a need for continuing data collection as a guide for decision making, attention to having the division's mission statement be more democratically adopted, and a need to address serious and continuing problems with the fraternity system.
Co-curricular goals and needs of students are regularly and systematically evaluated and are then used to revise goals and improve achievement. The division of Student Affairs is giving renewed focus to managing with data in terms of evaluating past performance, describing present populations and anticipating future student needs. Currently, descriptive statistics are collected on students concerning the following factors: drug and alcohol consumption; social and sexual behavior; use of time; physical and mental health issues; attitudes toward race, gender, class; and learning styles.
Staff attrition in the Office of Career Development over the last several years has resulted in the vacancy of two full-time professional positions and one staff-support position, while students and alumni have increased expectations for career-related services. Despite understaffing problems, Career Services have improved in terms of JobsLine, increased number of in-class presentations, increased "quick-questions" walk- in hours, updated and enhanced career library resources, decreased turnaround time for employers using on-campus interview programs, and World Wide Web job information services. Still, there is a need for more staff, expanded hours of operation, and more special programming (e.g., mock interviews, career panels, career fairs, dress for success nights, job matching services, dinner etiquette events, and career development courses). A mentor program is being developed to match students with alumni in various fields and more focus on data collection is being made to track students and their needs better.
Facilities and funding to implement services and programs are adequate. That does not suggest, however, that the University is without issues in this area. Programming space in the residence halls could be better and is being addressed via an extensive renovation plan. During the last five years, 16 residential halls have had roofs replaced, 22% of all bathrooms have been renovated, 8 new hot water systems have been installed, and new security access systems have been installed in all buildings. The newest building is 26 years old and the average age of the buildings is 45 years. The demands of the Americans with Disability Act has helped to drive other changes in the structural redesign of the halls. While the National Association of College and University Business Officers suggests that residential life departments should reinvest 4-7% of their income to deferred maintenance and renewal, we presently reinvest approximately 2%.
Focus on the Greek system, and in particular the fraternity system, has resulted in several new policies. At URI there are 27 Greek organizations, 23 of which have houses on campus. The University owns the land for all but three of these. Currently, there are problems with poor physical upkeep, cash-flow losses, and the fact that most houses are maintained by sophomores only (upper-class students tend to move off campus altogether), which have left this system in need of direction and overhaul. The Office of Campus Life has become an active manager of these organizations, exerting more administrative control by supervising house managers (who are graduate students), focusing on leadership development in the houses, increasing fiscal stability by controlling expense and debt collection, and working to improve public image. The Office of Campus Life will have approval and veto power over all operating budgets, charge fees for needed changes or damages incurred, have the authority to expel members and enforce membership guidelines, and conduct annual assessments.
The University is currently working on a physical unification of Admissions and Financial Aid and other student support units into a one-stop student service center. Part of the plan is to upgrade technological infrastructure to provide faster and better customer contact and service.
Health Services will continue to have a proactive and aggressive review of services, continued increase of third-party reimbursement services, upgrade of facilities and management information systems, and ongoing training in total quality management for improved communication with students and among staff members.
The Student Leadership program is currently undergoing a reorganization to refocus resources in this very fast growing area. New assistant director for leadership and student leadership coordinator positions have been developed and are now filled. A curriculum-based leadership program and minor are now under development, and include faculty and staff from several academic colleges, Student Life, and University College. In addition, a life-skills training program is being developed creating partnerships with offices such as Financial Aid and the Finance Department to establish a student financial advising center covering issues like loans and credit cards.
The educational support staff for the Athletics Department, which provides advising and tutoring services for student athletes, will be increased and moved to the Athletic complex. Fiscal responsibilities will continue to increase as the department becomes 60% responsible for its operating budget within the next three years. An associate athletic director for business and finance position will be created. Title IX requirements will maintain pressure to add more sports for women. A plan to accomplish this goal was completed prior to the recent NCAA Certification Review.
The University has a plan to build a new 500-bed residential facility with suite or apartment style units and continue to rehabilitate the remaining residential buildings. A feasibility assessment for the project has been funded. The Department of Housing and Residential Life is currently planning more theme houses (wellness, first-year students, German, Engineering, Honors) and will need to consider accessibility under ADA in these plans.
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