Since becoming Vice President for Student Life, I have had the opportunity to meet so many students, staff, faculty, alumni, and community members who have proudly displayed their affection for Rensselaer.
During the past few weeks, I have witnessed individuals and groups engaging in dialogue, articulating their values, and reaffirming their commitment to this institution. While there is not always agreement, I do believe that everyone is united in this commitment. One thing that I have learned is that there has not been effective communication between Student Life and our students. Communication—including all parties—is essential for this community to maximize its success and achieve shared goals. This involves sharing information and building trust—and the willingness to admit when things are not working.
It is my goal to improve the relationship between students and Student Life, and I want to hear feedback from students about their experience—so that we can work together in enhancing the student experience for current and future Rensselaer students. I am committing to a number of initiatives to increase interaction and hopefully improve communication between Student Life and students:
- Development of a Vice President for Student Life Advisory Committee, comprised of students, including the Chair of the Student Life Committee of Student Senate;
- Clearly identified opportunities to engage students in the Student Life performance planning process;
- Addition of an online mechanism for students to submit ideas related to enhancing the student experience that will be discussed with Student Life directors;
- Regularly scheduled open student forums between the Vice President for Student Life, Student Life staff and students;
- Monthly discussions in the Commons—residential commons, Greek life commons, and off campus commons for students to raise questions or issues of concern;
- Opportunities in every Student Life department for student input;
- Continued opportunities for student involvement and feedback in search processes for Student Life leadership positions;
- Regularly scheduled open “drop in” office hours for students to meet with the Vice President for Student Life.
Upon reflection, I personally could have provided more opportunities for open discussion around ideas, including the development of the new Executive Director for Student Activities position. I apologize for any confusion or misunderstanding this caused—particularly to student leaders involved in our Rensselaer Union. Please know it is not anyone’s intent to destroy or hurt the Union, diminish student responsibility or change the way the Union operates. As I commit to strengthening opportunities for feedback and dialogue, I welcome ideas from students on how we can work together to develop and maintain good communication. In that spirit, and because I am quite certain you will have many great ideas of your own, please let me know your thoughts. I look forward to our good work together.
Frank E. Ross III, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Life