National professional organization honors three SU Division of Student Affairs units
National professional organization honors three SU Division of Student Affairs unitsMarch 19, 2007Matthew R. Snydermrsnyder@syr.edu
As more than 7,000 student affairs professionals worldwide make final preparations for the 2007 joint meeting of the field’s two leading professional organizations, presenters and attendees from Syracuse University are getting ready for the annual conference with particular enthusiasm. Here’s why: During the March 31-April 4 joint meeting of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) and American College Personnel Association — College Student Educators International (ACPA), three units of SU’s Division of Student Affairs will be honored with NASPA Excellence Awards. SU is the leading winner of these awards, which are among the most prestigious to honor student affairs’ transformative contribution to higher education.
The Counseling Center’s “Campus Connect: A Comprehensive Suicide Prevention Program” will receive the 2006 NASPA Silver Award in the Health, Wellness, Counseling category; the Office of Multicultural Affairs’ “WellsLink Program: An Academic and Leadership Excellence First-year Experience Program at Syracuse University” will receive one of two Silver Awards in the Enrollment Management, Orientation, Parents, First-Year, Other-Year category; and the Office of Off-Campus Student Services’ “Off-Campus/Commuter Services” entry will receive the Bronze Award in the Off Campus, Commuter, Non-traditional, Graduate, Professional category.
Silver Awards represent the nation’s second-best programs in that category; Bronze Awards go to the nation’s third-best programs in a given category. The 2006 Excellence Awards honor 18 colleges and universities in nine categories. SU is the only recipient to have three entries honored; only two other institutions in this year’s field received multiple awards.
“This is an outstanding example of how Scholarship in Action empowers our staff, our students and the broader community,” says Barry L. Wells, senior vice president and dean of student affairs. “By applying cutting-edge research and assessment to best practices in the field, the first-rate professionals of the Division of Student Affairs create new ways to fulfill the promise of a Syracuse University education. Not only does this meet the evolving needs of our students and other constituents, it also facilitates the sharing of new knowledge and contributes in important ways to the practice of higher education. I am delighted to congratulate my staff on these remarkable achievements.”
Entries in each award category are independently reviewed by a cross-section of experienced NASPA members on criteria including positive impact on student learning, transitions, retention and/or success; relevance to institutional mission; demonstration of success in addressing student needs and/or critical campus issues; collaboration with academic affairs and others outside student affairs; and evidence of sustainability. This is the second year the Division of Student Affairs has won NASPA Excellence honors; last year, in the award program’s inaugural year, Health Services’ orangehealth-e electronic newsletter won a bronze award.
The Campus Connect Suicide Prevention Program, presented by Counseling Center Director Rebecca Stefan Dayton, provides a comprehensive and collaborative approach to suicide prevention and campus wellness. The program involves engaging the entire campus in improving the emotional health of students through awareness campaigns, gatekeeper trainings, life skills seminars and easy access to mental health services. The key goals of the Counseling Center’s program are to enhance the University’s capacity to build connecting relationships and to teach students effective means of tolerating distress. This programming, combined with funded research (including high-profile grants from the likes of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) and Counseling Center staff’s leadership in the field (including Dayton’s appointment as a national trainer in suicidology) offers promising direction to the field of college mental health.
The WellsLink Program, presented by Office of Multicultural Affairs Associate Director Paul Buckley, is a signature academic and leadership excellence first-year experience program. Named after Wells, the program offers a comprehensive first-year experience for students of color who are not otherwise supported by athletics or any federal or state-funded retention programs such as the Higher Education Opportunity Program, Student Support Services or the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program. In four years, the program has grown from a small pilot into a program serving 55-65 students in each class; first-year to sophomore retention rates are at 98 percent; and a coming expansion of the program will be funded in part by grants from the FUBU Foundation.
The Office of Off-Campus Student Services (OCSS), overseen by Director Laura Madelone, was founded in July 2002. The role of the OCSS is to provide services and educational programs that support student independence and citizenship development. The office has created vibrant connections among various University and neighborhood stakeholders to protect the rights of students living off campus, contribute to students’ safety, help students to act responsibly in nearby neighborhoods, and foster students’ meaningful integration into the community. OCSS has received consistent feedback from local residents and students that these efforts have built a stronger community and improved quality of life in the neighborhoods surrounding SU, an outcome that is especially important as the University expands its engagement with the Syracuse community.
With more than 11,100 members at 1,400 campuses, and representing 29 countries, NASPA is the largest professional association for student affairs administrators, faculty and graduate students. NASPA Excellence Awards recognize the contributions of members who are transforming higher education through outstanding programs, innovative services and effective administration. The awards continue NASPA’s tradition of recognizing institutions and programs that maintain high standards and quality programming to which all institutions should aspire.